Documenting my attempt to cut my energy usage in half.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Heating the house

I've made a conscious effort this winter to open and close the few shades that are in the house to let in as much sunlight/heat as possible.  Has it made a difference?  I'd like to think it has but I'm not sure how to measure it as it's a passive heat gain and only applicable on days when the sun is actually out.  During the winter months, the heatpump is the major source of energy usage in my house.  Any changes in temperature from year to year make comparing savings extremely difficult.  In the past 7 years I've had my electric bill for January fluctuate from a low of 2900 kwh to a high of 4900 kwh.  So how can I compare?  Unless it's such a drastic change that it cuts my heating in half, any other savings could easily be lost in the noise of how many hot showers were taken, how many loads of clothes, running the dishwasher, etc.

Looking for ideas...

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Energy Detective

This year for Christmas I bought myself a TED 5002-G, handed the box to my wife who put a bow on it and handed it back.  How she always seems to know what I want for Christmas is beyond me.  What a woman!

For me, this thing is awesome.  Mainly because it makes me aware of what I'm doing.  The footprints software can be a little buggy at times especially if you swap back and forth between views.  The load profiling seems to have some issues.  I manually entered load values for some devices (like the hot water heater), and when I go to the load profile page, it can correctly tell me what the current state of the hot water heater is, but it can never find any historical data for it.

Some interesting things I've noticed so far... The house hums along at about 1.5 kwh of background usage.   Is that a lot?  Some of the things that are "always on" are:
  • 1 desktop system with external drive
  • 2 laptops.  Even when they sleep the power supply is always plugged in.
  • My electronics prototyping board
  • Router, cable modem, wireless router, 2x switches, 2x powered cable splitters
  • DVR, AV system, 5x TVs in standby mode, 3x DVD, Cordless phone base plus 2 charging stands
  • 6 lights (4 CFL, 2 Halogen)
This seems like a LOT and I'm sure I'm not listing several things, but it's better than it was!  It's taking some time to convert some of the other residents of the house to my way of thinking.

The hot water heater kicks on more than I thought it would just to keep the tank hot with no usage.  It's an 80 gallon, 5500 watt tank. The energy usage sticker on the side estimates 5200 kwh per year at a cost of $440.  Based on the data that I see from my TED unit, the water heater comes on about once an hour for about 4-5 min (these are estimates since the load profiling is buggy).  That's 9-11kwh every day, roughly 4000kwh per year, just to keep the tank at temp.  With my electricity rates, that's $400+ every year if I never use a drop.

Heating and cooling is by far the biggest use of electricity in my house.