Thursday, June 22, 2006

Let's talk energy use

I've learned to read my electricity and natural gas meters, and I just read my electricity meter. At first I was shocked: so far this billing cycle (mid-June to mid-July), we've used 304 kWH in eight days! A total of 38 kWH/day! AAK! Um, er, wait a minute...

For context: my numerical goal is to keep our June-July-August electricity use very even and much lower than our usual peak summer use. For some reason we typically increase our electricity use in May-June, use a LOT more in June-July, somewhat less in July-August, and a LOT more again in August-September. I think the double peak is from my "oh aak it's so hot!" ... "I can handle this" .. "oh aaak it's so hot I can't stand it any more!"

In terms of numbers, last year's mid-May to mid-June "shoulder season" use was 1140 kWH, June to July was 1510, July to Aug was 1228, and Aug to Sept was 1459. Mid-Sept to mid-Oct dropped back to "shoulder season" use of 1012 kWH, and then it stayed lower until this May. So... 1140, 1510, 1228, 1459, 1012 kWH.

This year we've used: 1055 kWH in mid-May to mid-June, and then 304 kWH so far for the current billing cycle of mid-June to mid-July. The good news is that, compared to this cycle LAST year when we used 1510 kWH total or 50 kWH/day, this year even with the hot, hot, hot weather we've used just 38 kWH/day. HOORAH!!!

I think our biggest-use electrical appliances are:
- Air conditioner/heat pump
- Clothes dryer
- Fridge
- Freezer
- Computer and peripherals
And then I guess the clothes washer and dishwasher. Bringing up the rear are the TV, DVR (always on), lighting (nearly all compact fluorescents now), stereo. And the little power draws of clocks (including that in the coffeemaker and the microwave oven!), battery rechargers, power transformer cubes, and a few recharging cordless things.

We're using the a/c fairly frugally, not using the clothes dryer at all, and I'm trying to keep the computer off midday... but not completely succeeding lately. I'm going to try the computer's "sleep" mode when I step away for a few minutes. I've become goofily vigilant about unplugging all of the little rechargers when they aren't actually charging anything. My dear husband tells me the laser printer "sleeps" when not in use, so that's reassuring. I'd love to put the microwave and stereo on power strips and turn them completely off, but that may not happen unless/until power prices become much more painful. Same with the computer printers, and some peripherals that have those transformer cubes making heat from our electricity!

The oven, stove, furnace, and water heater use natural gas, or else they'd be near the top of the above list. In fact, with little oven, stove, or furnace (!) use this summer, the main natural gas use right now is the water heater.

So, that's where we are right now. Woohoo! 38 kWH/day in the Oklahoma summer!

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