Don't breathe. And unplug that coffee pot please.

Many readers this week posted comments to Extreme energy makeover: Home office edition, which chronicled my attempt to squeeze as much energy consumption out of my office as possible. While many of the comments revolved around a debate as to whether or not global warming is real, others provided some interesting - and humorous - insights.

It’s clear that readers are thinking about the issues of energy efficiency and what makes sense. That’s a big change from even a few years ago.

Here are the more interesting responses.

Save the planet: Don’t breathe

In the story I mentioned both energy savings and the pounds of greenhouse gases that my localy utility would avoid producing in meeting my lower energy demands.

“Be aware that every time you exhale you place C02 into the atmosphere. The best way to reduce this is to occasionally hold your breath, as you get better you'll be able to hold you breath for longer and longer,” says Colm Tourque.

Replace that monitor? Not so fast.

Others thought I was hasty in replacing my monitor.

“I agree with factoring in energy efficiency when purchasing new electronics like LCDs over CRTs. ...But, I disagree with replacing screens for efficiency or in the name of "an investment rather than an expense,” says Jerry Trantow.

Anonymous adds, “So he saved $18/year by spending $200!!! What happened to the CRT? What did it cost in energy to make/dispose of the LCD? People do crazy things in the middle of hoax-ful hysteria.”

True, it may not make sense on economics alone to replace a new CRT with an LCD. In most cases people will replace a CRT when they replace the computer or when the CRT nears end of life.

In my case, the CRT was nearing end of life, but my decision was based in part on other benefits to upgrading to an LCD, as mentioned in the story. That said, there were some items, cited further down in the story, that I didn't replace because there were no benefits other than energy savings and the payback just wasn't there.

As for that old CRT, I still have it in the closet as a backup. In fact, I didn’t throw away anything. Everything I took out of service was either given away or kept on hand for emergencies.

It’s the coffee maker that kills you

Don’t just stop at measuring power consumption in your office, says Aron Smetana: Look at the appliances in the rest of your house too. “…one of the more innocuous power hogs we found was the coffee maker. We discovered that coffee makers typically draw 1,000 watts while in use and if a glass carafe style, while keeping the coffee warm. We switched to one with an insulated carafe and no warming plate….”

I was curious about this, so put a Kill A Watt meter on my coffee maker, which sometimes sits on for hours at a time. The warming plate pulls 985 Watts.

Build your own home micro turbine

Another reader says he plans to cut his energy bill by producing his own. “…we are planning solar panels on the roof and also are looking at a small series of marine wind turbines that power boat batteries. One small marine wind generator (unless one uses gears with an automobile alternator with propellers) can be hooked to an old chimney that is no longer used and if it makes too much noise, I'll sell it to a boat owner.”

Smarter power strips

I mentioned smart power strips and UPSes that sense when a computer goes into sleep mode and power off controlled outlets. Readers offered up other alternatives.

Jerry Trantow says: “To turn equipment off automatically I use a Cables To Go Mini Power Minder. This uses a USB port to control a relay. I have this USB port set up to turn power off in sleep mode and plug a power strip into it. Everything plugged into the power strip will draw zero current when the computer is off or in sleep mode. In my case, the $15 for this device paid for itself within months.”

A spokesperson for Watt Stopper/Legrand chimed in that it makes a power strip with an occupancy sensor (motion detector) that can shut off devices plugged into controlled outlets when you leave the room. “This could have been used to add additional incremental savings for the times when the office was unoccupied,” says a spokesperson. (Details on the device can be found here (PDF file). Actually, I did consider using one. However, for someone like me, who sits still for long periods of time, this could be rather annoying.

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