Coffee Makers

A blog entry on coffee makers seems an unlikely topic for a wind blog.  But coffee makers use a lot of power in aggregate, and I recently purchased a new one that will make better coffee, save power, and save money in the long run.

I have to have a cup of coffee in the morning.  In fact, I am drinking a coffee as I write.  I used to have the conventional drip coffee maker, that used filters, and had a burner to keep the coffee warm.  The coffee pot was usually kept warm for 3-4 hours.  The carafe was the conventional glass type, which has no insulation.  There was energy and cost associated with producing the filter, and with running the burner.

My new coffee maker probably cuts energy consumption for my habit by 30-50%, for while much of the energy is used to make the hot water, more energy was used in the burner, and in making the filter.

Lyle and Tami, my brother and sister-in-law, switched to the new fangled French press coffee maker.  You boil water on the stove, and pour the water into the carafe that has the coffee grounds in the bottom, wait a few minutes, then push the plunger.  It supposedly makes better coffee, but I can’t tell the difference.  They then pour the coffee into a thermos, and take it to work.  I suspect the energy savings with this type of system is marginal, and while they save by not having a burner, they have to heat a kettle, and all of the energy used to do that is lost, with the exception of the hot water that they use.  Of course, the French Press coffee maker is the latest in trendy gourmet coffee making, and we can’t underestimate the importance of that.  It is a practical system if you want to take the coffee with you.
My new coffee maker has a filterless basket.  It has an insulated carafe that the coffee drips into.  So we have eliminated the burner, the filter, and we don’t have to heat the kettle – all the power is used just to heat the water.  The coffee maker is made by Black and Decker, and I found it at Canadian Tire.  Although the coffee maker costs more than a burner type, eliminating the electricity used by the burner and the eliminating the filter will offset the cost differential over time.  Coffee snobs – er – experts, say that coffee that sits on a burner for more than 10 minutes loses some of its taste.  So I supposedly have better coffee too.

A study I found on the internet said that the US uses 4,000,000,000 kWh to make coffee, at an annual cost of $400 million in electricity.  That is the output of about a 500 MW plant running 24/7 – similar to the recently refurbished Pickering reactor for which we paid $1 billion.  That’s also 4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions if coal is used to generate the power, as it is for 60% of US electricity.

Coffee makers, like many home appliances, have significant operating costs because of the energy they consume.  Often, the operating cost exceeds the cost of the appliance.  By doing a little research, and making the right purchases, we can collectively make a big difference.

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