January 21, 2017

How much energy do we waste per day?

Let's start with our energy source we call the grid connect system.

Over 70% (and possibly closer to the 80% mark) of energy that is created for the grid connect system is lost in getting it from the source to your home. For every 100 tonnes of coal burnt to make your energy, only 30% of that at best makes it to supply to your home, to your power point in the wall.

Imagine how much energy the world would save if we can fix that leak!

The use of any energy is best used at the source of where you intended to use it.

Unfortunately, most of us make our decisions in life a for a financial reason. And the less energy we have available as a planet, the more expensive it will get- like anything, the rarer it is, the more it will cost.

So, if you want to learn how to save some money whilst helping to save our energy resources for future generations, read on.

The easiest way to save money on energy is understand it, and how you get charged to use it.

The best tool I have found for this is a watts clever meter. Once programmed, it will tell you how many watts your house is using, and keeps a track of your history. It even shows you, in a financial display, of how much per hour your house costs to run.

I have just completed a thorough audit on my house, so I can give a real example of what I did and the effects of some simple changes.

The first thing I did after installing was very simple. I just left the device sitting for a few days without touching anything, watching and looking at the history. We were using about 21 kilowatts per day. The house would sit at around about 21 cents per hour when no one was using any appliances.

In the morning when everyone was up going crazy, getting ready for work, all the lights were on, kettle and coffee machine going, the watts clever would show we were spending over $1 per hour to run the house. The same thing would happen at night when everyone got home- it would jump up to almost 80 cents per hour. All in all, on average it was costing us around $6.00 per day to run the house. In the scheme of things, $6 a day to run your house is not that expensive, especially when compared to a cup of coffee in the city is $4.50.

After watching for a few days, I started to see what was power hungry, and what was better than I thought. The first thing that I swapped from electricity to gas was our kettle, I dumped the coffee machine and started to use the percolator. On paper, this one thing alone was going to save us a huge $500 on the power bill annually. In saying that, however, we would still be spending about the same on gas. With gas we are burning the fuel at the source, so it is better for the environment and we will save a little. I also purchased a kettle that tells me the temperature, so I don’t boil it to 100 degrees. How many people boil a coffee and  wait ten minutes for it to cool down?  Every little bit helps- and the tea drinkers can still boil to 100 degrees if they prefer.

The next thing on my hit list was standby items. Wow this was huge! I went around and had a look at everything that was on standby- printers, computers, laptops, Playstation, XBox, DVD players, lots of little stereos plugged in around the house. Remember, this is a house of 5 adults that all have their own space, so there are a lot of things sitting around just waiting to be used.

I made it easy for everyone. For example, in the lounge room, I left the TV and recorder on standby still because everyone loves to record the stuff they watch on TV. I plugged the Playstation, the Wii and the stereo into a power board we had lying around so you can turn them on at the powerpoint when required. I didn't want to make it too much of a shock to the system whilst making an effort to save energy for my house mates.

This one exercise alone took almost 10 cents per hour off our standby rates for the day- it had dropped from 21 cents per hour to 11 cents. That alone could potentially save us close to $900 in energy costs per year.

The next thing on my hit list was the fridges and freezers. This has a few parts to this story.

The first thing I asked is, what is the reason we have 3 fridges and a freezer? I had a look what we had hiding in them, and after some shuffling I turned off a fridge and a freezer. We are also working on our purchasing habits as a household, to further reduce what we have in the fridges to turn another one off. Our plan is to turn another fridge off and turn the large freezer back on, as we get our meat in bulk from our farm. We can also store some of the vegetables we grow in it for longer. This process was hard to measure the cost of, as fridges only run only half the day anyway making it hard to measure it separately.

I also made a few changes in the way we use things- laptops for example, charge them to full, turn off the power and use the battery. The same goes with Ipads and Iphones- charge them before going to sleep and then put back on in the morning for a top up rather then leave them on all night. We also started using our gas BBQ to cook rather than the oven.

Overall, after doing these things, it has taken our daily usage down to somewhere between 8.5KW and 12KW per day, from 21KW on average. You could say that has almost halved our usage on electricity.  Our standby rate at our house is now 4-6 cents per hour.

What I have also learnt is that, for us, once we use 1784KW per quarter they put our prices up (which I didn’t know, due to having gas heating for water I assumed we were just on a flat rate and didn’t have a peak and off peak).  If you do not have gas for heating your hot water, take the time to understand how your peak and off peak rates work- this in itself could save a small fortune.

These little things all added up, and now we are installing a solar system with batteries- because of our reduction we can buy a smaller system!