Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

I have cut my hydro bill by 22%

with 10 comments

Today I got my Hydro bill. The regular monthly payment has been cut by $10. The previous amount was set by the consumption of the previous owner. I have not replaced any of the major electrical appliances and I heat the house and the hot water with gas.

So how have I done it?

First, all the light bulbs are now compact flourescents: I have only one tungsten filament bulb left and that is over the stairs where my step ladder does not reach. Second I have all my collections of energy users – the computer, stereo and tv on breaker bars. With one flip of the switch the whole lot powers down. Even battery chargers consume power when there is no battery in them.

If I turn my appliances off but don’t unplug them will they still use up some electricity?

No. And that applies even if the plug is switched on or if the socket has no on/off switch. The exceptions are appliances with a standby mode, which include most battery chargers. As a rule of thumb, if there is a light on, a clock ticking or the transformer feels warm, it is using electricity. And that can be a substantial proportion of the amount the appliances consumes when in use. A television set-top box, for example, uses around 18 watts while it is on and almost 17 watts on standby.

source: New Scientist

Third, I wash my clothes in cold water and run the dishwasher only when it is full. And I do not use my microwave to defrost things. I just leave them on the stove when it is off. The metal conducts heat from the house into the package – if it is on a styrofoam tray I turn it “face down”. All that means is thinking about taking something for supper out of the freezer mid afternoon rather than 2 minutes before I want to start cooking.

So I reckon my very modest outlay on bulbs and breakers will pay off in less than a year. $120 buys a lot of CFs!

As my efforts to renovate continue I anticipate replacing all the major appliances with modern Energy Star rated units. The fridge will be the one I will spend most on, as that is one of the greediest units. The new dishwasher will have the option to air dry – right now I just turn it off and leave the door open, but then I have to run a fan to get rid of the moisture.

I will let you know when they cut my hydro payments again.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 26, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Posted in energy

10 Responses

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  3. The new hydro rate structure should also have kicked in for your last bill, so the kilowatt hours would be a better representation of whether you’ve reduced usage compared to the previous owner. The new rate structure has a lower rate than before for those under a theshold and a higher rate than before for those over the threshold.
    Anyways, if you aren’t in the second high rate tier (while living in a house) – you’re doing well.

    Ron C.

    November 26, 2008 at 4:29 pm

  4. Ron

    Hydro does not tell me what the kWh were before I moved in. And you are right. I was on the Conservation Rate for the last two months.

    Stephen Rees

    November 26, 2008 at 6:35 pm

  5. A tip: Invest the $5 or so and buy a refridgerator/freezer thermometer, 10 months of the year I can set the dial at 3.5 instead of the default 5 and still maintain 40F or lower. While nothing makes the meter spin like an electric clothes dryer, fridges and freezers are cycling on and off 24/7.

    Eventually you’ll have a year to year graph available online at Hydro’s website; converting the living room tri-lights, the ones that are on for 6 hours in the winter, probably are the reason for the 1 to 2 kw/h per day drop in the past 3 years (ie, Oct 05 was 14 kw/h per day, Oct 2008 was 12 kw/hr per day)

    David Banks

    November 26, 2008 at 9:26 pm

  6. Cast iron frying pans are great for defrosting; they do indeed do a better job at defrosting than a microwave; though given that on defrost microvwaves typically run at 30%040% power, it’s hardly worth worrying about the cost in a pinch…. at that point you have to start worrying about running the electric kettle for tea. Mine is rated 1500Watts, that’s 3 times my tiny microwave. Of course you could use a manual kettle; you didn’t say if you cooked with gas too. There’s Carbon tax on a gas stove, but not on an electric.

    Did you think of the Stove and Fridge, when you ennumerated your remaining incandescent bulb left? Not that they are used much…

    David Banks

    November 26, 2008 at 9:41 pm

  7. Buy a front loading washing machine- use less water, less soap and less energy to heat the water as well as a clothesline.
    Fill the dishwasher up before using.
    If gas stove and replacing going from pilot to electric ignition will save.
    Our biggest power savings comes from running dishwasher at same time as convection oven, all power on circuit shuts off. Of course nothing gets cooked or washed either….

    Only thing with CFL’s… replaced my halogen fixtures with new CFL fixtures, under Hydro rebate program. The light bulbs are going strong, but the fixtures are a mess. The on off switches don’t work, the cords are all wonky and shut off if stepped on. Will have to replace the Fixtures soon and at $30.00 or so each have to save a lot of electricity to cover that.

    Water Conservation: Follow Bermuda rules for the toilet – yellow be mellow, brown flush it down.
    Get a water meter – free installation maybe still in effect in Richmond. In Surrey found over a year paid about $300??? and flat rate would have been $700.00
    Use fish tank water to water garden in summer.

    Bernadette Keenan

    November 30, 2008 at 3:54 am

  8. I found that laundry is a point in domestic life where you can save in more than power costs. I wash in cold water, but I also dry t-shirts, jeans and sweaters over a clothes rack. They take about 24hrs to dry, but the big savings is in the extended life of those clothes.

    T-shirts with any kind of printing, jeans and other clothing take a real beating in the dryer, and by keeping them out to air-dry I’ve found that those items hold up for a lot longer. The only things that don’t air-dry well are towels and bed linens, which seem to never get the same softness they get from the trip through the dryer.

    Todd Sieling

    December 1, 2008 at 1:23 pm

  9. Dryer lint is of course beaten out of your clothes by the dryer. Like most condo townhouses, our strata rules positively forbid the use of clothes lines. I think legislation is needed to forbid this kind of rule, which is based on out dated notions of “what looks nice” as opposed to what is energy efficient.

    Today I pulled on a sweater – and have not got the heat on. It is perfectly comfortable

    Stephen Rees

    December 1, 2008 at 2:53 pm

  10. For towels, you can partially air dry and then finish in the dryer or vice versa.

    Sungsu

    December 1, 2008 at 2:58 pm


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