Energy usage log

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jennypenny
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by jennypenny » Tue May 10, 2016 11:40 am

According to the electric company, we average over 1400kWh/month. That seems like a lot compared to everyone else. I'm trying to figure out why. I don't use the heat or AC much. I keep all lights off during the day and I'm hyper about turning them off at night when no one is in the room. We don't watch TV during the week except for the occasional sporting event, so those are off.

That leaves the following contenders for power hogs ...
refrigerator in garage (from 2000)
chest freezer in garage (also from 2000 and very large, but I keep ice bags in it to help keep it cool)
can lights (recessed lighting) that I have in my LR, Kit, and finished basement
other appliances, although they are all 2009 or later
dryer, but I only use it on linens, not on clothing
Lamp post with 100W bulb (we don't have street lights and there's a lot of peer pressure from neighbors to leave it on all night)

I don't have energy efficient light bulbs because I'm still using up my stock pile. If it turns out that the can lights are the biggest draw, I might consider buying LED lights for them (is the quality of light as good?). If it turns out the outside fridge is the biggest culprit, I would consider getting rid of it. It's always full, so I'd have to think about how to handle that. What else could it be? I don't even use a coffee pot. I use a french press and a kettle. I use the treadmill for 1-2 hours/day. Could it be pulling that much juice?

henrik
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by henrik » Tue May 10, 2016 11:55 am

It might be worth measuring some of those things (the treadmill, the fridge+freezer) with something like this.
Don't discount computers, even laptops if you use them often and leave them running/charging.
Replacing the 100W bulb with a 9W LED should pay for itself quite quickly if you have to leave it on all night all the time.

henrik
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by henrik » Tue May 10, 2016 12:09 pm

jennypenny wrote:(is the quality of light as good?)
I have replaced most of my frequently used lights with LEDs. Not sure what you personally mean by quality of light, but what I get from LEDs in the 2700-3000K colour temperature range feels a lot nicer and more natural to me than what I had with incandescent bulbs before.
Color Rendering Index or CRI attempts to rate a lamp's ability to approximate an ideal, continuous spectrum source. 100 is the highest possible CRI score, though some types of artificial lighting -- ahem, many traditional street lights -- can actually score in the negative numbers. For filmmakers, CRI is a yardstick of limited usefulness because a simple number such as "85" can't explicitly tell you which points along the spectral output may suffer, or even how many such points that output may have. On the other hand, a spectral power distribution graph of sufficiently high-resolution will tell you pretty much everything you need to know about a lamp's spectrum, but information may not be readily available.
http://nofilmschool.com/2014/02/why-hol ... s-in-la-ny

This photo from the article linked above is what originally inspired me to try out LEDs. Rather illuminating (haha).

Image

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jennypenny
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by jennypenny » Tue May 10, 2016 12:20 pm

@Henrik--I have trouble with my eyes and don't see very well by the end of the day. I can feel disoriented if the light isn't good enough. I carry around a flashlight for when I have to read something, but I still walk into shoes and furniture and such when the light is too soft or too harsh (casting too many shadows). I know ... picky picky. Maybe I'll switch out the lights in one room and see how it feels. I can definitely switch out the lamp post that I leave on all night.

Do you know if the kill a watt might damage the treadmill? I'm afraid of shorting it out -- it wasn't cheap.

jacob
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by jacob » Tue May 10, 2016 12:59 pm

@jp - I'd be very surprised if the kill-a-watt isn't essentially a glorified amp-meter and thus a passive component which means that it won't interfere with electronics or any kind of inductive loads (like motors). The P3 is rated for 1875W so as long as you stay somewhat under that the P3 will survive.

Another way to guesstimate the treadmill load is just to look at the specs of the treadmill. If it's e.g. 1500W that's at maximum speed. Power usage should be quite linear, so if max is 12mph and you run at 6 mph, then it uses around 750W, more or less.

Big sinners tend to be desktop computers left on at all times (in screen saver move). If the software isn't set just right, they'll still be consuming 400-1200W. Other big users I see are multi-bulb lamps where people put in five 100W incandescent bulbs and then leaves in on 16 hours a day.

Before I gave away my P3, I measured the whole [RV] and it turned out that our inefficient fridge accounted for over half the total usage.

George the original one
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by George the original one » Tue May 10, 2016 2:39 pm

Electric dryer, water heater, oven/stove, refrigerator, & computers are the big draws (excluding heating/cooling) in most households. I suspect in my household that the computers, water heater, and electric dryer (wife's preference over drying rack) are the significant factors in our bill, though I don't how much/little the well pump contributes.

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Re: Energy usage log

Post by jacob » Tue May 10, 2016 3:42 pm

Some anecdotal commentary from a household where the electric bill is really low (usage in the winter is less than fees and taxes).

* We have deliberately avoided desktop computers. When I bought a new computer last year (for the tax deduction :mrgreen: :roll: ), knowing that I'm online some 12+ hrs/day, I deliberately picked an Intel NUC, which has about the same footprint as a laptop (20W) and "sleeps well". I really lusted after a "big machine" but figured the running costs would be brutal with my nasty habits. (I never switch it off).
* Before we got the propane stove installed, we cooked everything in the microwave. THAT showed on the electric bill. Imagine running it for half an hour to cook pasta! Well, it was either that or sitting outside in the winter with a coleman stove.
* Right after we met, I started training DW to European light-habits ... meaning, when we leave a room, the light gets switched off. Also, we don't have big bulbs everywhere. Haven't gone as far as LED either.
* We have a small under the counter fridge and a small toploading freezer which is much less space than most. Also both energy star. These are almost always full. This is possible because we cook mostly from stables.
* Stove, furnace, water are all propane. No dryer.

So overall, we have about 50-100W of constant zombie loads (computers, modems, and routers); two loads (reefer/freezer) that are less than average; and otherwise big loads are only on when being used. Consequentially, installing solar would absolutely not be worth it! Indeed, considering switching off electricity entirely might be more optimal :o The only impact factor is A/C in the summer. We have a central unit that's set at 85F and a smaller unit in the bedroom we run all night during the worst months. The A/C shows up on the bill.

enigmaT120
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by enigmaT120 » Tue May 10, 2016 4:53 pm

jacob wrote: This is possible because we cook mostly from stables.
I always knew horses had to be good for something.

George, I think water pumps use quite a bit of energy. But I can't say if it's more or less than the water heater. Several years ago we had a pretty severe drought and my spring slowed way down, so that I was only using the water for cooking and dish washing. I would haul water up from the creek in buckets to flush the toilet and bathe in (if I didn't just wash soapless in the creek). My electric bill for those couple of months was less than half of normal. I don't remember the kilowatt hours, but my normal usage came to about 60 bucks a month back then (pre-solar panels) and was under 30 for a couple of months. Pumping and heating water are big, and there's no natural gas to my place and I don't have a propane tank.

Lucky C
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by Lucky C » Tue May 10, 2016 5:04 pm

133 kWh/mo. on average, $30. 2 working adults in 700 sq ft apartment.
Heat and gas cooking is included in rent.

123 kWh/mo. average excluding the summer months, 165 kWh/mo. average in the summer. This top floor apartment gets stiflingly hot in July and August and an extra $10 or so for some modest AC use is well worth the price.

Jacob, have you estimated at what level of power consumption you might consider solar being worth it?

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Re: Energy usage log

Post by jacob » Tue May 10, 2016 5:09 pm

@enigmaT120 - Argh... I find it neigh impossible to escape those horse homophones! ;-)

@Lucky C - I haven't done the math beyond the back of the envelope. The thing is, given that we own the house, it would take decades [for us] to recover the outlay that support a normal consumer system (even a "small one", say 2000W) and we'd move out before that. In terms of selling it wouldn't be worthwhile to put in "an extreme system". A temporary system wouldn't be worthwhile to haul around given the low probability of needing to reimplement it. Point being, in terms of looking at alternatives, going without electricity at all would be easier than going with solar. Point being, our energy usage is too many Wheaton levels removed to adopt the "consumer alternative energy approach". Sort of same reason we're not buying a Tesla S.

IlliniDave
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by IlliniDave » Tue May 10, 2016 5:24 pm

For the month ending 5/9 I came in at 402KWH, nearly identical to the same period last year. That's about as low as it gets for me unless I stop cooking, use no lights, or use no hot water. Had the HVAC off for the entire time.

disparatum
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by disparatum » Tue May 10, 2016 10:39 pm

Ours was 94 kwH for the last month in our 1 bedroom apartment. We have gas and electric. The gas bill is usually around $8/mo. We cook all our meals, but usually make things in big batches. I turn off the gas when we're not using it (I read that keeping the pilot lights lit can accounts for about 1/3 of a person's gas bill). We each have a laptop and we unplug the tv when we're not using it.

Probably the biggest money saver is living in southern California...

henrik
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by henrik » Wed May 11, 2016 10:48 am

@jp - I guess then you just have to experiement to see what works for you. My experience is that the spectrum from good quality LED bulbs makes things easier for the eyes (compared to incandecent bulbs which are basically just candlelight on steroids). Colour temperature is important though. I wonder if there are showroom type places where you can try out different types of lights in a fake domestic setting...

I don't have personal experience with the Kill A Watt, I just looked up a product that is sold in the US. I agree with Jacob though, I don't see how measuring the current could damage the plugged in device. I guess an alternative would be to kill all the fuses in your house, just leave the one for your treadmill, run for a while and then check your regular power meter:)

Ydobon
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by Ydobon » Wed May 11, 2016 10:57 am

On a sort of related topic, our electricity usage vs. our solar output was so low that I had to falsify the meter reading for the month :shock:

Apparently the meter isn't supposed to go backwards :lol:

I think we'll generate 1,000kWh+ this quarter.

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jennypenny
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by jennypenny » Wed May 11, 2016 11:01 am

@Ydobon--can you sell it back?

@henrik--Yes, it occurred to me this morning that the easiest thing to do would be to check the meter every hour on a normal day to see when I'm really spinning the meter. No need to buy the Kill-a-Watt then. :)

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Re: Energy usage log

Post by Ydobon » Wed May 11, 2016 11:14 am

jennypenny wrote:@Ydobon--can you sell it back?
Yes, we get c. £0.15/kWh, the system should pay for itself in 7 years (combination of government cash and savings on our bills) + the government cash is index-linked for 20 years. The other fun thing is that there's currently no way of consistently capturing exactly how much power returns to the grid, so it's assumed that we use 50% of what we generate. Cue daft efforts to do everything electrical for 'free' when the sun shines, using up as much of that assumed 50% as possible :D

I read this morning that Nissan are running a 100 car trial in the UK where Leaf owners will be able to sell the contents of their batteries at peak times for cash from the grid. Now I can't see us generating enough to charge a car/driving enough to buy an electric car, but I'm excited that some of the possibilities of a smart grid should eventually be realised.

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FBeyer
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by FBeyer » Sat Aug 06, 2016 12:27 am

Month of July, 34 kWh. Two adults, one child, 90 m2.
I thought that seemed like much, then I read that an average person uses almost 1500 kWh per year... Yay for Scandinavia's never ending summer days!

rube
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by rube » Sun Aug 07, 2016 2:26 am

@JP, did you find out more in detail about the energy usage?

We use about 2200 kWh / year. Almost always somebody at home (family 2 adults, 2 kids). No cooling. Heating and cooking on natural gas. Year round about 90% of our electricity usage is covered by our solar panels.

We still use about 900m^3 natural gas though for heating (and a small portion for cooking). And this 900m^3 is equavalent of much more kWh's unfortunately.

Heating / cooling uses generally uses the most energy of a house (all other can be fairly easy adapted, i.e. changing appliances, light bulbs, HABITS!).
In our future house I want to make it such that nearly no heating or cooling is needed. Most of this can simply be reached by smart designing. Then with some solar panels (which we currently have also) we can have our home energy neutral or plus.

scriptbunny
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by scriptbunny » Sun Aug 07, 2016 8:40 pm

FBeyer wrote:Month of July, 34 kWh. Two adults, one child, 90 m2.
I thought that seemed like much, then I read that an average person uses almost 1500 kWh per year... Yay for Scandinavia's never ending summer days!
Impressive! What sort of appliances are you running? Average in the US is on the order of 15,000 kWh/year so using only 2-3% of that is pretty astonishing!

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FBeyer
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by FBeyer » Mon Aug 08, 2016 3:58 am

scriptbunny wrote:
FBeyer wrote:Month of July, 34 kWh. Two adults, one child, 90 m2.
I thought that seemed like much, then I read that an average person uses almost 1500 kWh per year... Yay for Scandinavia's never ending summer days!
Impressive! What sort of appliances are you running? Average in the US is on the order of 15,000 kWh/year so using only 2-3% of that is pretty astonishing!
I'm almost on the verge of thinking the meter is broke somehow...

We're running a router 24-7 and a stereo with a BluOS node for a couple of hours every day.
An energy grade A++ fridge with a small 3-drawer freezer.
Energy grade A++ Washing machine on the most energy efficient program; runs once per week.
Tumbler, rarely.
Energy Grade A++ Dishwasher runs every second or third day perhaps.
All our lights are saver light bulbs, but the lights are only on about an hour at a time. Sun's up at about 5.30 and goes down at about 21.00 ish... There is no need for lights during summertime in Scandinavia. Actually the bathroom has a sensor that turns the lights on when we enter, which is completely unnecessary, but I haven't figured out how to disable the sensor yet (we moved in one month ago). So we actually use more electricity on lighting than necessary.
Stovetop is induction, so cooking factors into the electric bill as well, but not nearly as much as other more inefficient electric hobs.
Our daughter plays with non-electric toys only.
We haven't owned a TV for 8 months.

Computers are all laptops; rarely use the desktop. The oven has been in quite extensive use throughout July.
That's it as far as I know.

We pay no attention to our electric bill at all. We never, ever think about how much power we're using, I guess we just naturally try to conserve energy.

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Kriegsspiel
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by Kriegsspiel » Sat Aug 13, 2016 9:07 pm

jacob wrote:Some anecdotal commentary from a household where the electric bill is really low (usage in the winter is less than fees and taxes).

* We have deliberately avoided desktop computers. When I bought a new computer last year (for the tax deduction :mrgreen: :roll: ), knowing that I'm online some 12+ hrs/day, I deliberately picked an Intel NUC, which has about the same footprint as a laptop (20W) and "sleeps well". I really lusted after a "big machine" but figured the running costs would be brutal with my nasty habits. (I never switch it off).
* Before we got the propane stove installed, we cooked everything in the microwave. THAT showed on the electric bill. Imagine running it for half an hour to cook pasta! Well, it was either that or sitting outside in the winter with a coleman stove.
* Right after we met, I started training DW to European light-habits ... meaning, when we leave a room, the light gets switched off. Also, we don't have big bulbs everywhere. Haven't gone as far as LED either.
* We have a small under the counter fridge and a small toploading freezer which is much less space than most. Also both energy star. These are almost always full. This is possible because we cook mostly from stables.
* Stove, furnace, water are all propane. No dryer.

So overall, we have about 50-100W of constant zombie loads (computers, modems, and routers); two loads (reefer/freezer) that are less than average; and otherwise big loads are only on when being used. Consequentially, installing solar would absolutely not be worth it! Indeed, considering switching off electricity entirely might be more optimal :o The only impact factor is A/C in the summer. We have a central unit that's set at 85F and a smaller unit in the bedroom we run all night during the worst months. The A/C shows up on the bill.
I'm interested in your propane stove. I'm guessing it looks like a regular stovetop since you said you already have a Coleman type stove... does it hook up to a propane tank under the countertop or something?

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Re: Energy usage log

Post by jacob » Sun Aug 14, 2016 9:17 am

@Kriegsspiel - No, it IS a regular gas stove, apartment sized, hooked up to the gas company. Such things use almost no gas. When we lived in the RV, the gas stove ran off of an outside tank (same sized people use for gas grills). It lasted all summer (maybe 8 months?).

Before we got the stove installed (when we bought the house, the kitchen had nothing in it---no stove, sink no working), we cooked outside on the coleman camping stove (the green/red suitcase ones) using white-gas and inside in a microwave.

Now, you could in principle run an inside/regular stove on an inside propane gas tank. My grandmother did that many years ago, but I bet that violates some fire codes? The propane tank was about 3ft tall (50gal?) and sat under the table right behind the stove. Then maybe again, it doesn't I don't know.

enigmaT120
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by enigmaT120 » Sun Aug 14, 2016 11:01 am

People who live in the sticks (no natural gas lines) frequently get big propane tanks to run their stoves, maybe even their water heaters. The truck comes once a month or however often it needs to, tops it up, and the company sends you a bill. I want to do that because I like cooking on gas so much more than I do electric, but not enough to deal with the hassles.

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Kriegsspiel
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by Kriegsspiel » Sun Aug 14, 2016 4:17 pm

Ok I gotcha. I just thought "gas" was always natural gas, not propane. I was thinking it was something like the rural propane tank outside the house like enigma said, but citified somehow. After thinking about it, I figured that wouldn't be possible because it couldn't be far enough away from other buildings.

heyhey
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Re: Energy usage log

Post by heyhey » Mon Aug 15, 2016 5:05 pm

This is a great thread! I've been looking at my consumption in terms of cost, but really, it's more useful to look at the kWh. It's going in the right direction:

Image

I live in a 2-bedroom house with adjoining neighbours on two sides, so only two sides are external walls. I don't have gas so all of my heating, cooking etc is electric. My heating tends to be on from late October to late April. I have storage heaters so there's no thermostat but I check the forecast temperatures every few days and regulate them according to that. The "heating" rate is a low rate for my storage heaters but also for hot water, which is why there's still some in the summer. I've thought of turning the water heater off in summer but then how would I shower? I don't have a power shower, just a hose thing from the bath taps, which takes hot water from the immersion heated tank.

I work from home so I'm home all day and have a desktop computer on most of the day, plus router (I switch it off at night), plus fridge and freezer. Since joining ERE I've tried to do my laundry on the lower night rate (12-7 am).

Last winter was milder than the one before, accounting for some of the drop this year, but some is because of ERE. I've turned off things that I would have left on standby before :)

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