Long Term Household Energy Profile   Leave a comment

The first thing that I did as part of my personal energy audit was update my household energy usage log. Since 2005 I’ve meant to get into the habit of logging gas/electrical usage when I pay the bills the same way I log gasoline usage after I enter receipts into Quicken. However, I just never got around to it. After spending a couple of hours entering in six years worth of data, I think I’ve received the appropriate self-kick in the butt and will start dutifully logging each month from here on out. This is one step to the audit that is really easy to skip by just logging onto your gas/electric account online since I think most companies give you easy access to one or two years of usage in a simple table and/or graph. The benefit of entering it into my own spreadsheet is that I can play with the data. For instance, at the old house we did have gas, which was billed in therms. Using my spreadsheet I can really easily convert therms into kilowatt-hours and add them together. It was actually astonishing when I did that because 1 therm is approximately 29 kWhr, so the blips for summer cooling almost disappeared under the magnitude of the winter heating peaks. Another benefit of the spreadsheet is developing a long term profile:

Annual Household Energy Usage Comparison Chart

Annual Household Energy Usage Comparison

 

Analyzing our profile like this provides a lot of good information. For one thing I had been thinking for the last seven years that in Sacramento where it regularly tops 100 degrees in summer and rarely drops much below freezing even at night in the winter it would make more sense to focus on cooling rather than heating improvements. But that is not necessarily true, as the energy used to heat that uninsulated leak-bucket where we used to live dwarfed the energy used to run the two window air conditioners and a passel of fans in the summer. Speaking of fans, the second summer that I lived in Sacramento I went without air conditioning just to prove to myself that I could (I love heat, the question was if I still loved it when there wasn’t a cool room to retreat to). According to my energy profile I used MORE electricity the summer that I DIDN’T use any air conditioning. Granted it’s not a big difference, so it might not be statistically significant, but it does mean that I can absolutely say that turning off the air conditioner didn’t save me anything. I did have a fan running either on/near me or drawing cool air into the house almost every minute that I was home that summer, so apparently a fan can actually use as much electricity as an air conditioner. And compared to subsequent years when my husband (then-fiancee) insisted on air conditioning, I just use less electricity in summer period.

Oh, and not that we needed the confirmation that our new house is better construction/more energy efficient than the old, but the thick black line is the energy usage for the new house. (Note that the August point is for the month we were cleaning the house and not yet living in it.) That graph got a happy dance from me.

I’m curious if anyone else ever studies their long term energy profile like this.

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Posted July 27, 2011 by mayakey in energy use, home

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