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Thoughts on Energy Usage

November 21st, 2014 at 09:28 pm

Our solar panels are on the roof (but not officially hooked up yet - we need to get the building dept. inspection). A friend of mine, N, is interested in panels for his house, so he asked me how many panels we have and how much of our energy use is covered (answer: 7, 100%).

N thought this was pretty reasonable, and so he asked what our annual electricity usage is, and I told him. He looked up his usage, and it's double! (His house is smaller than ours - 1900 sf v. 2250, his family is the same exactly - husband, wife, one daughter, we both have gas cooktops and gas heating, we both have mostly CF and LED with a few evil halogens, no AC, energy star refrigerators; honestly, I thought our use would be exactly the same).

He borrowed our energy meter and has been testing every plug load in his house. We've just shared our gas bills with each other and his gas usage is exactly the same as ours in the summer but double in the winter (even though his furnace is super high efficiency). So they have a less efficient house than ours (smaller, but takes a lot more energy to heat).

That still doesn't explain the electric bill being double what ours is. (At first I thought it might be the electric used by his furnace, but then the summer electric would be back to our level, and it isn't).

We're both really curious about what is going on. We try to conserve, but we are very similar to N's family in terms of habits.

I am still scratching my head over this, and when N returns my energy meter, I am going to do a spreadsheet of each room and retest everything. My degree is in environmentally responsible architectural design, so I understand the house itself, and occupant choices to a degree, but there is something I'm missing.

Have you analyzed your energy usage?

4 Responses to “Thoughts on Energy Usage”

  1. snafu Says:

    Does N's family run a lot of phantom power? Does he use surge protectors/power strips?

  2. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    That is curious - I'm interested to hear what your conclusion are on the matter.

  3. Buendia Says:

    He does use surge protectors, but my tests with my meter show they use either zero (if there's no indicator light) or very, very little (with an indicator light) by themselves. We turn our surge protectors off for certain devices, and I'm not sure he does, but this wouldn't account for double the power usage. Something is going on...

    I will report back if and when we find out what's going on! My suspicion is either lighting, irrigation (we don't have an irrigation system) or the water heater is drawing power as well as using natural gas.

  4. patientsaver Says:

    I had the same question in my head years ago until I found the energy hog/culprit: a dehumidifier I bought at Home Depot that ran pretty much constantly in the summer. I replaced it with another dehumidifier that was very energy efficient and it made all the difference in the world.

    There are a lot of appliances you can buy new and they may seem perfectly fine, but if they're not Energy Star-rated, it really becomes noticeable.

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