Saturday, February 9, 2013

Power Failure

Well, sometimes this blog is just a chronicle of failure, and this time it is our electricity use. I just got the bill, and we used more than this time last year. More! And what is even worse, there is a new little widget on the bill which compares usage to average households. We are using more electricity than an average household of six! Oh, the shame. Here I am, trying to be green, thrifty and responsible, but clearly most other people are better at that than I am..

The Man is going to get a gadget to measure the wattage from individual appliances. We have a suspicion that the pool filter is using a lot of electricity, but there's not a lot we can do about that, as we're not that keen on water-borne diseases.

I have been a bit slack over the summer with bulk cooking. The girls have done quite a bit a of baking on a whim - but really, it's very cheap entertainment, a lot cheaper than laser tag, bowling, or going to the aquatic centre, so I'm going to let that slide, and try to be on my best behaviour now.. cooked double dinners Thursday night, and The Girl made a couple of dozen macaroons with some egg whites loitering in the back of the fridge. And now I have a menu plan for the week, and only plan to turn the oven on once.

And thoughts about other electricity use? The TV has been on, well, a lot over the summer. No one person watches a lot of TV, but we have three, yes three TVs, and we are serial TV watchers, watching different shows in different rooms at different times. And computers - four laptops and an ipad, all plugged in or being recharged continuously. And all those other gadgets.. every night Posy goes to sleep with a lamp on (she is afraid of the dark), listening to audiobooks on her CD player.

In the kitchen? It's not just the oven, it's the blender, the food processor, the kettle, oh my goodness, it's on all day... and I guess that's a clue. Maybe the 'average' household is empty all day. Maybe their electricity use is externalised, at work, at childcare, in the ready meals factory. Maybe my food bill is lower? Maybe.

Still, there must be ways to save some electricity somewhere. Maybe we will be revisiting our television use. Maybe we don't need to use all the appliances. Last week we had our own 'black swan event' - when one flew into the substation powerlines and shut down the power to half of town at breakfast time. I couldn't blow dry my hair! And I made an amazing discovery - my hair looks exactly the same whether I blow dry it or not. So there is one instance of redundant electricity use.

The most disturbing discovery of all. Fully a third of our bill is for hot water. We may have to... think about... shorter showers. Noooooo!

10 comments:

Frantic's Antics said...

God Jo, what a bloomin shame! We have got a device that measures how much we are using- it kind of attaches to the mains by the fuse box and gives us a digital readout. It is scary how much electricity costs. We just try to keep the room we are in lit and turn things off at the wall. I cannot compete with my children's need for computer, games consoles, televisions etc. and I don;t try, but they do know to turn things off and not leave on stand-by. Enjoy your swimming pool- it must be lovely in your hot summers x

GretchenJoanna said...

I think you are right about how many households are empty all day. Maybe it is somewhat analogous to what they say about how the developed nations use so much more energy than the third world: they are also producing more goods or wealth. At least from what I've read, your kitchen is producing a lot of good and healthy food, and at the same time you are teaching the children skills. All that is better than if you all were kicking back (and saving energy?) in town at the fast food places.

Keep up the good work, I say! (We have the same problem with having a swimming pool with at least its filter running and consuming electricity. Ick.)

lucindasans said...

Now I am feeling better. I went off at my children yesterday when I got our electricity bill. It said we used the electricity of a family of six and we are only four! And we have gas hot water. So maybe it's bollocks? A furphy to make us think we are using too much rather than the electricity company charging us too much!

Michele @ The Hills Are Alive...... said...

I can never figure out why ours is so high too but I am guessing hot water and aircon would be the main culprits?

I dont think ipads charging uses that much at all. I think I remember seeing something online saying it was very cheap daily and over a year a minimal cost. Will see if I can find the link

Heather said...

I'm with lucindasans, I think the Electric Company just tells us we are using so much to not get us to complain about the cost. I dread the hot months of summer when the electric bill goes through the roof. All through the year, I am constantly turning off lights that are left on by others in the household (including my husband!) and thinking if I died tomorrow how shocked everyone would be by the electic bill (and the messes I am always picking up, and all the work that I do that is usually taken for granted, etc.) :)
I do wish that my hair dried as nicely without the use of a hair dryer. Making my hair look decent is sometimes the chore I dread most for the day.

Jen's Busy Days said...

Oh No!! Can not give up those hot showers! Do you have a water efficient head? It may help to give better pressure for those who like a firm shower but won't use as much water. A saving for water and the electricity to heat it!

I do think being an at home family makes a difference to an electricity bill although I will be able to give you actual evidence when I get my first quarterly bill with 2 gone to school and not watching so much TV in between homeschool bits. Also all those little fridge visits for a snack must make it work harder too.

Good luck with your investigating!

Best wishes
Jen in NSW

Jo said...

Thanks for all the sympathy ladies. I agree, it must all be a conspiracy by the electricity company... those long hot showers have NOTHING to do with our blowout..
Heather, notice I didn't say my hair looked GOOD, just that it looked THE SAME ;)

e / dig in said...

i only wish here in tas we had choice. hate it when i read newspapers articles about how to save $$ and they recommend "switch your power provider" - uh, would if there was another one to consider!

Amanda said...

I keep getting those letters in the mail showing that we use a bit more electricity than the average "neighbor." I throw those letters away before my husband can see them! I really do have to use the appliances, and we are home most of the time, as well as having a large family and a large house. I don't know where we would cut back. We already got rid of the extra refrigerator and have mostly new appliances. I hope you don't let that power company make you feel bad any more!

Jo said...

e, at least they are putting some new wind turbines up, and we can feel virtuous, if poor.

Amanda, welcome, and thanks for your encouragement. I do agree that we homemakers use more electricity, simply because we are home. Hilarious that you throw the letters away before your husband sees them! My husband would do the same if he could get his hands on them first, because he likes using all the appliances, and I am on the warpath. I'm a bit of a nag..

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