Do you monitor your energy consumption?


Puget Sound Energy uses Energy Guide to provide very interesting analytical tools to see your energy consumption. It’s similar to tools by Google and Microsoft, both of which do not work with my PSE account.

I hadn’t noticed this visual before which compares our energy consumption with other similar dwellings in the area:


I am not quite sure what we are doing better. When I compare it to the same month last year, my total YoY consumption has gone down:


If we assume no other factors have changed then the main difference seems that we had two more people living with us that month. I remember reading somewhere that hot water consumption is one of the main variable factor in energy bills. Less people means less hot water consumption. Maybe that’s all that makes us “better” than others in our area. If this is true, then just by looking at anyone’s bill in our area one could predict how many people live in that household 🙂

Maybe it is due to some other changes we have made e.g. I took down my 24×7 FON hotspot last month. I could be wrong, but I remember from my previous calculations that a 24×7 router adds up to around the same energry consumption as a stove-top used twice a day. Time to put the rusty Kill-a-Watt to some use.


Can you think your way to sharper TV picture quality?


When I first hooked up my Comcast HDTV service to my brand new plasma HDTV, it took me a while to realize what I was watching was not HD quality. Things looked a little stretched out and the on-screen text was not quite as sharp as I had heard HD would be. Having never seen any HD content before, however, I wasn’t sure whether what I was watching was HD or not. It definitely looked better to me compared to what I was used to seeing before.

Only after I got a new HD box from Comcast did I quickly realize the difference. It’s much much better and the sharpness and detail is definitely more pronounced. Now that I know what HD looks like, I can definitely tell it apart from SD. (However, I am still not able to tell the difference between 1080i and 1080p, at least not on a 42” screen.)

A Dutch study wanted to see if simply being told that you’re viewing an HD picture quality would lead to a satisfactory viewing experience.

Two groups of 30 people watched the same video clip, individually, on the same television. Half were told to expect a better experience thanks to HD technology, an impression backed up by posters, flyers and an extra-thick cable connected to the screen. The other half were told to expect a normal DVD signal.

The results? Those who were told to expect HD quality "witnessed significantly sharper, more detailed images." The takeaway: A discerning eye, gullibility, and many other variables notwithstanding, until you can afford to shell out big bucks for a decent set, you can always try convincing yourself that what you have now ain’t all that bad.

I think I agree with the finding and the advice. If you haven’t yet seen what HD looks like, you probably won’t miss it as much as someone who has already experienced it.

[via Lifehacker]