26 May, 2011
Reno post #008 – The hydro hydra
Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno
Thank you for your comments and tweets about my post yesterday. Piper is better today. Phew.
The Hydra is a multi-headed mythical beast you might remember from Herculean stories. If you cut one of its heads off, more sprout up to replace it. A nightmare, really. You wouldn’t want to meet that thing in a dark alley, no sirree.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the rising costs of our utilities and trying to figure out if there’s something we should be doing when we renovate the house, something in addition to putting in a high-efficiency furnace.
I think our hydro consumption is kind of like that hydra. We – as a society – are concerned about replacing a few incandescent bulbs with CFLs but then again we have more television sets, computers, and a whole host of other electrical devices than ever before, all rearing their heads, draining our power resources.
Would it be terribly tacky of me to ask you to share what your last hydro bill looked like and describe your household usage? What do you think your biggest hydro issue is? And how is the new “time of use” billing affecting your family?
I think it might be interesting to compare notes.
Our billing period is two months long. We’ve haven’t been incorporated into the world of time-of-use yet, but it’s coming.
Our last bill was $120.43. It’s more if it’s an especially hot summer, but I’m not sure how this compares across the board. I think it’s pretty good for a family of four in a home that’s approximately 1500 square feet in size.
What we do
- We turn off lights when we’re not using them.
- Most of our lights are CFLs.
- We wash most of our clothes in cold water.
- We have a natural gas-powered clothes dryer (which is a huge savings for us).
- I line dry a lot of my own clothing (mostly because I want them to last longer).
- We use the shortest cycle on our dishwasher and only run it when it’s fully loaded… and we don’t use the “dry” cycle.
- We have one television, which we turn off when we’re not watching.
- We run the air conditioner only during the warmest evenings on the hottest days of the summer (although we had to run it recently because Mark’s allergies have been particularly bad this season).
- We have a kettle to boil water for tea (we don’t use the stove for this).
- We use the BBQ more often than the oven in warmer weather.
- We try to cook efficiently: putting lids on pots, turning the oven off a few minutes before the timer goes, keeping the fridge door closed (and we have a small fridge too, and no second chest freezer).
What we could be better at
- Turning our computers off when we’re not using them.
- Checking that phantom load we’re always hearing about. Speaking of which, did you know you can borrow a tool to measure your phantom load from the Ottawa Public Library?
Anyway, yes. I am worrying about these things, because to have a larger home means that our bills will be that much higher too. And although I don’t think we’re in a position to build solar panels on the roof (as much as I’d like to) I do believe that some extra energy savings can be built into the plan before we build.
All of this aside, I believe that commercial hydro usage is absolutely out of control. Our little families are switching off our lights yet acres of malls and giant office buildings blast air-conditioning to chill-inducing temperatures and keep their lights blaring at all hours. I think something should be done about that too.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!