• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • raven ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Burra Maluca
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Miles Flansburg
  • Devaka Cooray
garden masters:
  • Dave Burton
  • Anne Miller
  • Daron Williams
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • James Freyr
  • Bryant RedHawk

Give yourself a boost: measure electricity use (Urban, cold climate, US America, coastal, no kids)  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 1118
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
55
kids trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This gave me a boost to feel a) like I'm making progress b) a little bit superior to other Americans (hey, sometimes we just need to feel smug :) :, and c) more clear about how to make actual further progress.

This doesn't include heating (which is, meaninglessly, a separate category of my life because we use natural gas.  We love making our monthly non-tax-deductible donation to the natural gas company and all of its projects, like running a pipeline through Dorchester or someone's gravesites), and we just really hate money so we're really glad to have an excuse to get rid of some of it on the regular.

I probably made some omissions, some errors, and numbers were based on the Internet, so %100 accuracy is guaranteed.  I highballed when there was a range given for an appliance.  Paul's strategy of using the electric bill is probably more accurate, but I live with 4 other people so it is more illuminating to look at what I am using alone in terms of length of time using a given appliance.  Also, maybe I have forgotten some appliance.  My electric clock radio/alarm is a constant power drain, I didn't get to that one this time.


The main point is this gave me ballpark sense of things, and a good bit more clarity than I'd had before I did it:




10,766 kilowatthours (kWh) == average American



(--> about 4 tons of CO2 emitted  (8760 lbs) for average Massachusetts resident per year)



My use:

Fridge (1/5 of house fridge responsibility, I live with 4 other people)
                                                                         280 kWh/year

Village baseboard heating, 1 night*      240 kWh/year

Computer — ??65 watts x 10 hours/day = 650 wH/day               237 kWh/year.  

Kitchen light 100 watts? 3 hrs/day is my responsibility —>          109 kWh/year
        (I doubt I spend that much time in the kitchen at night,
           and I usually turn off all but one light)
AC -- my share of responsiblity 99 kWh/year

Washing machine, 1300w (worst case) for 45” (inflated)

* 26/year =  25 kWh/year

bedroom light/heater 40 watts                 x 1 hr/day =                  14 kWh/year
       (this one needs refinement, I don't use it in summer,
           but do turn on a CFL at night, and in winter
           I probably use it for 3 hours at night)
Fan. 20 watts? = 10 wH/day x 50 days/ year =                                 .5 kWh/year

Toaster--occasionally—500watts for 5 minutes?
= 50wHx180days/year     7.5kWh/year

Computer, sleeping 1.4 W x 14 hrs/ day x 365 =                              7.2 kWh/year

Dryer (once, mold prevention on a rainy day)   5kWh/year (nat gas)

Village space heater, one night           5kWh/year
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
         1022 kWh/year total






Total = 1022 kWh/year.  I”m at %9.5 of national average.



Additional notes:

I'm actually on wind power.  But I wanted to know worst case scenario--I am imagining finding out that the embodied energy of the wind turbines is actually huge, or the power company lied, or something...?)



AC? I have basked in it some.  Say 3 hours/day for 20 days in a year, plus 5 overnights in the living room when my room was too hot (way overestimating here)

900 watts.  So—54 kWh/year for 20 days' daytime use, + 45 kWh/year for 5 nights, = 99 kWh /year





Dryer once

So add 5 kWhs/year for the dryer.            5 kWh/yr



Fridge—1/5 of its average 160 watts.

Let’s say it’s running 24hours/day x 365 days/year:

1400 kWh/year / 1000 w/kwh / 5 people = 280kWh/yr.



* the "village"--my community--is in a transitional, getting re-established phase. I had to spend the night alone in a lodge, made to hold 10-20 people; there was no other source of heating that night but my laptop computer charger.  I don't remember whether I did turn on the baseboard or not, and to what temperature, but I am assuming I did.  This is a really rough estimate, based on square footage  (from memory) of the entire lodge.  I think what I actually did was set the baseboard heating to 50F and then sleep with the computer charger under the blankets with me.  I also know someone had left the heating on, to like 70, for who knows how long before I got there, and I don't know why, it may have been that someone thoughtfully wanted to make sure I wasn't cold.  I don't take that responsibility on my accounting here, but I do intend to communicate next time, Pleaes don't pre-heat the building for me, it's a lot more costly than you might think.  I'm sure I turned it down as low as I could and still fall asleep, so about 50 degrees on a 30 degree night.
.  

The next time I asked someone to borrow a space heater.

However, the expenditure is pretty crazy high from this one night of inefficiency debaunchery, and so it almost tops my list.  I don't know more exactly the amount of watt hours, because the wattage cycles on and off, of course.

Baseboard heating —40 feet by 60 feet = 2400 x 10 (figure from a website)  24,000 watts? x 10hours = 240 kWh, x 1/year = 240 kWh/year.






------------------
side note:
Carbon emissions:

Carbon emissions per mWh of electricity produced (
876 lbs/ mWh = .876 lb/ kWh


my transportation emissions I work out to about 1600 lbs, my electricity if it were Mass. average, not wind, 876, I used about a megawatt--so about half my transportaiotn sins.  .  And much of that transport is the few long trips to the village.  
 
gardener
Posts: 2713
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
530
books food preservation hunting solar trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was sitting at 2,880 KWH per year before we got a plug in Prius, need to recheck.  But at that rate we were at 26.75% of the average.  Yay!  Plus we pay extra to get it from a windmill.

No a/c, gas range but we have an electric tank water heater.
 
Posts: 10
Location: New England
bike food preservation forest garden
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We're also in the Northeast and use natural gas for cooking and heating, so when I'm looking at our energy picture, I convert those therms in kwh and add it together with the electricity. Since so much of the US uses electric for heating, I think leaving that out biases your estimates if you're looking at a truly nationwide average.

Our household of seven uses 4,000 to 7,000 kwh of gas + electric per year, but the mix varies a lot over the year. This summer, with two window A/C units running as needed, sometimes our energy was > 50% electric, while in winter months it can hit 98% natural gas.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 1118
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
55
kids trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks!

Well, my natural gas usage is much worse.  I've decided to turn my heat all the way down in my room again this year and borrow the massage chair butt warmer, if that's OK with my housemates.

I don't have the numbers in front of me, but as I recall it was 2 therms a day for the house (5 people) in summer, and up to 16 a day peak in winter.  I'm gonna make a really rough average of 10 therms a day, times 365 days/5 people is about 700 therms, x 29 kWh/therm = 20,300 kWh.  
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 1118
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
55
kids trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jeff Sullivan wrote:We're also in the Northeast and use natural gas for cooking and heating, so when I'm looking at our energy picture, I convert those therms in kwh and add it together with the electricity. Since so much of the US uses electric for heating, I think leaving that out biases your estimates if you're looking at a truly nationwide average.

Our household of seven uses 4,000 to 7,000 kwh of gas + electric per year, but the mix varies a lot over the year. This summer, with two window A/C units running as needed, sometimes our energy was > 50% electric, while in winter months it can hit 98% natural gas.



I think I follow what you're saying, the average is based on people who heat with electricity plus people who heat with gas.  

Is there any national average of sum usage of electricity and gas combined?
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 1118
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
55
kids trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Thanks!

Well, my natural gas usage is much worse.  I've decided to turn my heat all the way down in my room again this year and borrow the massage chair butt warmer, if that's OK with my housemates.

I don't have the numbers in front of me, but as I recall it was 2 therms a day for the house (5 people) in summer, and up to 16 a day peak in winter.  I'm gonna make a really rough average of 10 therms a day, times 365 days/5 people is about 700 therms, x 29 kWh/therm = 20,300 kWh.  



So, about 2 therms a day of our house of 5 goes to cooking and the gas dryer, and about 14 in the coldest days is going to heating.

I really want to change this.  I live with an elderly person, so there's hesitancy.  But we all do care about sustainability.  A rocket mass heater would be waaaay illegal...but maybe we could at least turn the heat off in rooms where no one is?  or come up with some other solutions?

I want to look up the data for the year I turned my radiator all the way off and see what impact that made on our gas bill.

It's weird, when I looked up data for electric appliances, I think an electric furnace was 20kw, so 24 kWh/day wouldn't be much higher than what we've been doing...and I doubt that the electric is running constantly at full wattage.  
 
Jeff Sullivan
Posts: 10
Location: New England
bike food preservation forest garden
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you're dealing with radiators and very few heat zones, you might want to look into thermostatic valves: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermostatic_radiator_valve

They operate on each individual radiator, essentially giving you more heat zones without having to replumb the house.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 1118
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
55
kids trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mass average:

3164 kwh
723 therms
                    x 29 kwh/therm =
20967 kwh
—————————
Mass average:  about 24000 kwh  (for household)



My house’s total, approx:   10x365x29 = 105,850
We have a problem.  
We just had our furnace fixed a year or two ago too.  My landlord gets some kind of subsidy for fuel too, so the money doesn’t reflect the actual cost.
Well, looking at the numbers again, it’s more like 16+2/2 + 12+2/2 + 11+2/2 + 6.5…. about 7.
That’s 7x365x29=74,000kwh .  3 times the Mass. average.  
I don’t think comparing with the Jones’s really matters anyway, even if we were at 10% of the Mass. average it might still be too high…what it should equal to is a reasonable amount of share of the whole planet’s pie.  I don’t know what that would be at the moment, but I’m sure 74 megawatts is way above it.

I am going to bring this up at the next house meeting.  I don't know what we can realistically do about it.  
Even 2 therms/a day (summer levels) seems exorbitant.        
I feel sad.

I really wish it were legal and insurable to have a rocket mass heater where we live.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 1118
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
55
kids trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jeff Sullivan wrote:If you're dealing with radiators and very few heat zones, you might want to look into thermostatic valves: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermostatic_radiator_valve

They operate on each individual radiator, essentially giving you more heat zones without having to replumb the house.



Thanks, we have individual valves on the radiators, the big knob and a mini-knob.  I'll look into the link you sent tomorrow, gotta go to bed now.
 
gardener
Posts: 1520
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
196
food preservation greening the desert solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As long as we're comparing ourselves to "other Americans," I'm an American and my daily life uses very very little energy.

My house is passive solar heated, with a seasonally attached greenhouse that gives me green vegetables all winter, too. For 20+ years my only back-up has been a hot water bottle kept on my feet in bed, heated on the gas stove.

In my new house I installed 400 W of floor heating cable in the living room, which I might use as a temporary bedroom if the upstairs bedrooms get too cold in January, but I think it might not be needed, because my new house has better insulation and weatherproofing that my room at the school did.

The hot water in my new house is a simple thing on the roof, evacuated wall glass tubes with an insulated tank attached, a popular model here. It gives me scalding hot water, even in the morning or on a cloudy day. I'm in the high desert so I've got the ideal solar situation. It came with a backup electric element which I haven't plugged in yet, but I haven't spent a winter with it yet.

I cook on "liquified petroleum gas" using 2 or 3 14 kg tanks per year, so that's not much at all.

My car is a compact Japanese car, but I drive it very little, probably 200 - 300 km per month.

Now that I'm living in a separate house from the school where I lived for years, I have a fridge, so that's a solid usage. The power goes out for hours or days at a time frequently.

I lift water with a 6 hp pump, about 15 minutes every two days in summer, less often in winter.

My lights are all LEDs, so lights, phone and computer are minimal loads.

My grid supply (such as it is!) is from a fairly benign hydro dam in our region, that didn't submerge any habitations or even any significant habitat. At the school our electricity is off-grid solar, so I didn't have a fridge when I lived there, and the water there is lifted by solar panels and an electric pump.

My biggest energy use is probably international air travel, once or twice per year. Phooey! Probably dwarfs all the rest of it combined.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 1118
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
55
kids trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That's awesome!!  Very hope-inspiring.  Thanks for sharing specific numbers.

So I'm gathering its 3x14kg propane per year.  If that's different bc "liquefied" then it's more, but I see 3kg co2 per kg propane, so 106kg about 200-250 lbs.  An eighth of a ton.  Nice job!

Air travel is a huge co2 producer.  At least some renewables (biofuels) are bringing things closer to balancing the books soon, I've read, but that's a tough one.

I want to live in an intentional community in large part because I want to be able to live my values--youre way ahead of even Dancing Rabbit's covenants.

Rebecca Norman wrote:As long as we're comparing ourselves to "other Americans," I'm an American and my daily life uses very very little energy.

My house is passive solar heated, with a seasonally attached greenhouse that gives me green vegetables all winter, too. For 20+ years my only back-up has been a hot water bottle kept on my feet in bed, heated on the gas stove.

In my new house I installed 400 W of floor heating cable in the living room, which I might use as a temporary bedroom if the upstairs bedrooms get too cold in January, but I think it might not be needed, because my new house has better insulation and weatherproofing that my room at the school did.

The hot water in my new house is a simple thing on the roof, evacuated wall glass tubes with an insulated tank attached, a popular model here. It gives me scalding hot water, even in the morning or on a cloudy day. I'm in the high desert so I've got the ideal solar situation. It came with a backup electric element which I haven't plugged in yet, but I haven't spent a winter with it yet.

I cook on "liquified petroleum gas" using 2 or 3 14 kg tanks per year, so that's not much at all.

My car is a compact Japanese car, but I drive it very little, probably 200 - 300 km per month.

Now that I'm living in a separate house from the school where I lived for years, I have a fridge, so that's a solid usage. The power goes out for hours or days at a time frequently.

I lift water with a 6 hp pump, about 15 minutes every two days in summer, less often in winter.

My lights are all LEDs, so lights, phone and computer are minimal loads.

My grid supply (such as it is!) is from a fairly benign hydro dam in our region, that didn't submerge any habitations or even any significant habitat. At the school our electricity is off-grid solar, so I didn't have a fridge when I lived there, and the water there is lifted by solar panels and an electric pump.

My biggest energy use is probably international air travel, once or twice per year. Phooey! Probably dwarfs all the rest of it combined.

 
pollinator
Posts: 596
Location: Southern Arizona. Zone 8b
77
bee bike fish greening the desert solar woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I hate to rain on your parade but...

10,766 kWh is the annual consumption for the average American HOUSEHOLD, not individual.  Since the average household has 2.58 people, that makes the per person consumption ~4,000 kWh per year.  
Note: the above figure is JUST electricity consumption and totally ignores any energy that comes from Natural Gas, Propane, Wood, oil, gasoline, etc.

When considering "average" energy consumption in the USA, heating and cooling account for the majority of consumption.  This includes household in the north that use a LOT of energy for heating, and household in the south that use a LOT for cooling.  If you live somewhere with moderate temperatures (which it appears you do), this obviously means you use considerably less energy than average since you aren't using nearly as much for heating/cooling.

On the other hand, most of the other numbers you posted seem a bit (or a LOT) high.

I actually measure my power consumption for various appliances.  My washing machine only uses 130 wh per load (0.13 kWh), granted it's an energy efficient washing machine, but still even an old machine wouldn't use 10x as much energy.
Note: the figure for my washing machine does not include the energy used to heat water.  We usually was with cold water, but sometimes warm.  I use a heat-pump water heater that averages 1.2 kwh per day.  So (guestimate) washing a load with warm water might use an addition 100 wh for heating water.
FWIW my (energystar) dryer uses about 2 kWh to 2.5 kWh per load (varies depending on what your drying, towels require considerably more than nylon/polyester gym clothes), an older dryer might use 1.5x -2x as much.

At any rate it looks like you might be doing better than average, but perhaps not as awesome as you thought.
 
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My use last year was 4500kwh including electric only heating. I live on my own in a flat in an unheated building. My car and motorbike use is pretty high but I'm trying to reduce that with my ebike.
 
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!