Bright Lights, Big Bill

Goal #2 for 2006 is to reduce our household’s collective energy consumption on as many fronts as we can. I thought we’d start with electricity since that’s the only utility that we pay for in our apartment. (Yes, I know that we have to be just as concerned with the fossil fuels that we don’t pay for with our greenbacks but which our earth dearly pays for. But I’m all for starting somewhere, and the utility that affects my pocketbook seemed like a logical place.)

Step One: Data Collection. I finally signed up for online access to my account with our electricity provider. Why didn’t I do this earlier? Now I can save paper by not getting bills and save money by not using stamps. Duh. After an easy online registration, my account information popped up on the screen. Here, in a handy bar graph, is our apartment’s electricity usage over the last year:

I also downloaded this chart of our kilowatt usage for the past 12 months:

01/06/06 – 160
12/06/05 – 116
11/04/05 – 201
10/04/05 – 201
09/06/05 – 179
08/04/05 – 139
07/06/05 – 112
06/06/05 – 112
05/10/05 – 90
04/07/05 – 90
03/08/05 – 114
02/05/05 – 139
01/06/05 – 86

Step Two: Data Analysis. A couple of things are pretty obvious from this data. First, the kilowatts used in January 2006 (160 KWH) are almost double the kilowatts used in the same month last year (86 KWH). Second, I can’t blame the high kilowatts of the past few months (December doesn’t count because we were out of town for a few weeks) on the short days of winter when January, February, and March of last year saw much smaller electricity usage. Third, the electricity usage increased in September when our daughter was born.

Step Three: Conclusions. While we think that we are doing well with electricity conservation, we obviously need to do better. We certainly can do better because, well, we did just last year. What could have caused this spike? I think we’ve gotten a little lax about leaving the computer on during the day rather than putting it on sleep mode. Also, the Bean goes to sleep with music on and sometimes the small cd-player in her room is, um, left on during the day. We also seldom used the guest room that is now converted into a nursery. That means we’re using electricity in another room.

Step Four: Action Items.

  • Turn off the darn lights! And computer! And stereo!
  • I love the idea of CFL bulbs, and I have one in a lamp in the living room. I plan to replace the other bulbs as they burn out. I just can’t bring myself to replace them before then. You know, the whole waste not, want not thing.
  • Finally get that carafe I’ve been wanting so that we don’t have to leave the coffee maker turned on all morning.

Step Five: Solicit assistance. I’m determined to get February’s kilowatts below 160. So tell me: what else can we do? What am I missing? And how many KWH is your household using per month?

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