My Year Below Average Part II

Let’s take a moment to recap in case you missed the last column: I am pretty average.  I was bored and felt inspired to do something to combat global climate change and I found a whole bunch of cool stats about home energy consumption by state on a website call EnergyLocal.  I set a goal of keeping our home’s average electricity consumption below 500 kwh per month aiming to be below the North Dakota average.  Now you are caught up to speed!

Before sharing a few of my methodologies, ideas, and observations on this adventure, I feel as though it is important to note a few things about our home.

1) Our home is well insulated.  When we purchased it, the home inspector said this several times.  In fact, he commented on it so many times that it made me think quite quickly that this may not be the case if every home that he sees.

2) Our home had quite a few LED lights installed already.

3) Our home heats with a natural gas furnace.  The only electricity use tied to heating is the circulation system.

4) We do not have children and we travel quite a bit for work.  This means that there are only two people around to use electricity, do laundry, or shower at any given time.  The dog is smart, but has yet to figure out light-switches or refrigerator doors.  Don’t worry though, she has mastered the “I will corral my people over to the treat cabinet without them even noticing it” tactic quite impressively.  And shake.  We know shake.

So with those details in mind, I started out on this adventure.  The first thing I did was enroll in the app that our member electric coop offers to customers.  This technology allows users to see an hour by hour graph of electricity usage.  Daily and monthly options are also available for a macro view of your habits.  (A word of warning: if you are someone who has a tendency to nerd out over small, highly detailed tidbits of information for hours on end, this may not be the activity for you.  It is a slippery slope my friends…)  I took 500 and divided it by the number of days in the month to create a daily goal of energy consumption.  Any day under that mark was a positive (net gain) day and any day over was a negative (net loss) day.

Then, with data in hand, I started observing.  I noticed a few things that were pretty obvious, like “We use a lot more electricity on days we are home than on days we are traveling” and “We don’t use a lot of electricity at night.”  Simple things like that.  Over time, I began to notice some nuance in the energy consumption of our home, observations such as “Heating my oven takes a lot of electricity, but running the oven once it is on is a relatively small amount of electricity.”

After the end of the first month (it was August by the way), we sailed in comfortably under 500 kwh and I was hooked.  I also began keeping a mental tally of how many kwhs we were under each month, knowing that the goal was 500 kwh average and every month under that mark meant there was wiggle room if one of the future months ended up having a drastic change in energy consumption.  September turned into October.   Winter turned to spring.  Some months were excellent for energy use; others not so much.  And before I knew it, we arrived at the end of July.  The moment of truth was here..

Find out how this adventure ends in the final installment of this three part commentary! 🙂

Josh Wolsky

Developer & Writer @TheMinot Voice, Fan of the Souris River, SavorMinot Advocate. Fortunate to be a 'former' City Council member ;)

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