Documenting my attempt to cut my energy usage in half.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Half Project: 4 Month Update

After 4 months I'm happy to say that I have not gotten bored with my Half Project, in fact I think I have become obsessed with it.   Most of the projects that I have worked on so far have been related to monitoring where I'm at with usage and making minor changes to see what affect they have on usage.

Some of the projects that I've worked on so far are:

  1. Installation of a TED 5002-G Home Energy Monitor.  This has been a wonderful tool for allowing me to see what I'm using when I'm using it instead of finding out at the end of the month.  It also led to the discovery of a thermosyphon loop between the DHW heater and the downstairs heat pump that was causing the DHW heater to come on much more often than it should.
  2. Purchase of a Kill-A-Watt meter.  This has been useful for determining what some of the individual loads in the house are.   Because of this, things like the printer are now on a power strip so that they can be turned off.   Like off, off... instead of the kinda somewhat off but not really off that the power button does.
  3. Shades. Lots and lots of shades.   On all of the south facing windows that aren't shaded by the upstairs deck and most of the west facing windows.
  4. A scan of the entire house with a Fluke thermal imaging camera.  This led to the discovery of some minor leaks around some doors and the attic entrance access panel.
  5. A check of all the duct work and the repair of leaks that had occurred over time.
  6. Some general conservation projects.  This turned out to have a huge impact on reducing my energy usage with little to no changes in my lifestyle.
  7. A change in my driving.  I switched from using the SUV for everything, to only driving it when needed and driving the car for all my errands and trips into the city.
So what does this all mean?  It means that for the first 4 months of this year my energy usage for the house is down quite a bit from previous years and is the lowest it has ever been.

As you can see from the chart above, my usage is below or significantly below the monthly average for the first four months of the year. 

Which means that the total KWH usage for the year so far is well below previous years.  The degree days for this year have been slightly higher than for 2008 but yet I'm still 2000 KWH below the usage for 2008.

Now for the vehicles...  I thought that this would be a major area of reduction in GHG.  Switching my primary vehicle to one that gets 8 mpg more seemed like a sure fire win.  However, that victory has been hidden by two things.  First, a family members failing health has resulted in two 1,000 mile round trip visits to help out.  The whole family went which required taking the SUV.  Second, a change in scheduling now requires me to drive into the city three times a week instead of once a week at 80 miles per round trip. 

Even with all of the extra driving so far this year, I'm still equal on gasoline usage with my 8 year baseline.  

Conclusion:  The results so far have been extremely promising.  My goal was to reduce my usage by 5% per year knowing that some of the changes up front may result in drastic reductions in usage.  That drastic upfront reduction has occurred.  The minor conservation projects that I have undertaken so far will result in at least a 12% reduction in my energy usage and my electric bill for the year is down $379 (almost a $100/month) from last year.  Woot!