How our energy monitor makes us smarter about our energy use
Aside from the balance owning on your monthly power bill, do you have any idea how you use power, or where to begin if you wanted to reduce your power bill? That was us last month – wanting to reduce our power consumption but not really knowing the best place to start.
Last month, Nexgen, a local renewable energy company, installed an energy monitor and over the past few weeks we have been able to track our home energy use using an app on our phones. Based on the real-time data – and other cumulative energy use information the monitor provides – we have been able to start making changes to reduce our monthly energy use.
What our energy monitor teaches us about smart energy use:
- Every little bit counts. We all know to turn off the light when we leave a room but sometimes it’s easy to get lazy, or forget or deliberately leave lights on to make a room feel more welcoming. But there is nothing like an energy monitor to remind you that turning out even one light does make a measurable difference and if you practice that behaviour throughout your house the savings will add up.
- The clothes dryer consumes a lot of power. We have used clothes drying racks for years, especially when it isn’t practical to use our clothes line. But during the past year we (me) we were using the racks less and relied on the dryer for most of our washes. The drying racks are back in steady use after watching our power use spike on our energy monitor one Saturday afternoon when we loaded the dryer and turned it on.
- There is such a thing as a low impact cup of tea. Using an electric kettle to boil water is more efficient than a stovetop kettle but an electric kettle still consumes a lot of power. It’s a good reminder to be smart about kettle use. Only boil as much water as you need for a pot of tea and make sure to only boil water if you actually need it. (I know I’m not to only one who has boiled a kettle of water and then forgotten all about it.)
- We thought that our chest freezer was a huge energy hog but it turns out that it doesn’t register a lot. And since my last column I received a great suggestion to freeze containers of water outside overnight and place them in the freezer to improve its efficiency. We’ll still likely replace the freezer but there isn’t the same sense of urgency now that we understand its power draw.
- Just as we thought, the shower consumes a huge amount of power. In fact, there is no single thing that causes as much of an extended spike in power use in our home as a hot shower. And the spike continues long after the shower has finished while the hot water tank heats replacement water. Taking shorter showers is our goal. We don’t set an egg timer when the kids hop in the shower – yet – but we’re quicker to bang on the bathroom door to tell them they have been long enough.
None of this learning is revolutionary but being able to see the power impact of our daily at-home activities has been enough to encourage us to change our behaviour. Our next power bill will be the true test of our progress.
The impact of a shower on our home energy use:
How turning out the kitchen lights impacts our home energy use: