My adventures in energy frugality

Posted by Sir Four at 1:44pm Sep 2 '11
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Time to review how it's paying off, but first a quick run-down of what I've done:

- cleaned fridge coils and measured fridge/freezer temps to adjust them upward as much as is safe
- used laptop more than desktop
- put 1-2 box fans in window(s) at night to bring in cool air (no AC needed overnight)
- reduced daytime AC usage
- got new main AC unit (free!) from brother, which should be more efficient than old one
- took short showers
- washed dishes in colder water
- washed clothes in colder water
- air-dried clothes
- unplugged infrequently-used items
- reduced lighting to what was necessary
- took advantage of residual heat when cooking
- turned off dehumidifier in basement
- probably a few more things I'm forgetting

So I was hoping for some good savings. I wanted my electric bill to be under $100, which it never is. Disappointingly, I did not achieve this goal.

My main floor electricity usage for August was 706 kWh. This cost me $129 (electricity is more expensive here than elsewhere...about 18¢ per kWh). Happily, I did reduce my year-over-year electricity use. Aug 2010 was 904 kWh, so I cut nearly 200 kWh. Good--but I expected more.

But.. great success: my second floor electricity was significantly better than last year. This is due to not using any AC at all upstairs for the month of August. Aug 2010 was 366 kWh, but Aug 2011 was 55 kWh--an 85% drop!

Total household electricity use for August 2010: 1270 kWh
Total household electricity use for August 2011: 761 kWh
Diff: 40% reduction in total electricity use, mostly due to no AC upstairs

My big challenge is the main floor--I just expected more of a drop, due to my efforts. I tried an energy analysis tool on my utility's web site; it said that fully 45% of my electricity usage is going to my water heater! I have no idea how accurate this is. It could be wildly off the mark (it's not based on actual data measurements). But if it's even close to accurate, that's nuts. I've got to get a heater blanket and insulation for the pipes going in and out of it.

On the subject of gas, I got an estimated bill this month for 36 therms, $43. Honestly, I don't know how it's possible to use so much gas in the summer when it's just for cooking. Just "feels" wrong to me. Hopefully I don't have a slow gas leak in the house somewhere.

In conclusion, I've got some mixed results: a definite year-over-year improvement, but some disappointment that my other-than-AC-reduction didn't pay off as much as I'd hoped.

Pretty soon my focus will have to shift toward winterizing the house as cold weather nears.

added on 3:23pm Sep 2 '11:
Forgot to mention that I had lowered the temp setting on the water heater, too.
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