Ever since we’ve moved to the Pacific Northwest I’ve had a slight fascination with our electricity bill, well, after we got our first bill anyway. It was a big one! Or, at least, the bill was much more than I expected.
Obviously, these numbers will vary quite a bit from location to location and dependent on a variety of factors such as how you use your appliances and other electronics, how many people are in the house, whether everything is electric or not, as well as preferences for heating and cooling temperatures… which is what I’ll focus on here.
So you understand me, everything is electric, from the water heater to the house heater; also realize that we do NOT have air conditioning but we did occasionally run a small window A/C unit for about a month in August. If you run an house A/C then the numbers could be even worse in the summer months.
Now, during months where we had the heater OFF I found that we were very consistent in our electric usage and averaged right around 32 kWh per day…. that’s 32,000 watts each day. When put that way it sounds horrible. 😉 This seemed to hold steady from basically May through now.
We also had an anomaly week where we used over 100 kWh filling up and using a hot tub that didn’t last very long. Ignoring the hot tub week, I can safely say that we used (on average) in the low 50’s per day or roughly 20 kWh more than when the house heater was OFF. During this time we still used heat somewhat and probably a few electric blankets.
During months where it was coldest–January and February–we ranged between 56-87 kWh per day and roughly averaged in the mid 60’s kWh per day. Though I only have data from January of this year, I’ll assume that November is roughly equivalent to March and April timeframes where we had a wide range of power usage from 47-65 kWh per day and that December is equivalent to January and February usage.
To summarize usage:
Summer and heater OFF = 32 kWh / day
Spring and heater functioning somewhat = 52 kWh / day
Winter and heater functioning nonstop = 65 kWh / day
As you can see, we used roughly double the amount of electricity with the heater on and running full-time than not. At a cost of $0.10 per kWh that’s a difference of roughly $3 per day. Granted, we actually pay $0.09 at the lower tier and $0.11 at the upper tier and so I simply averaged it at $0.10. Anyway, multiplied over the month we would spend an extra $90 or so more than with the heater OFF.
If I assume that December, January, and February (traditionally the coldest months) are all the same then we average $90 more per month during these months than our baseline timeframe of (mostly) summer months: part of May, June, July, August.
The timeframe around the spring and autumn months, which comprise half the year, average about 20 kWh more than with the heater OFF or about $2 per day… or $60 per month.
Now, if I were able to somehow get by the entire year with no heater–likely not feasible–I could theoretically save about $630 over the year (6 months at $60 more and 3 months at $90 more). Obviously, this isn’t going to happen.
What I can do, however, is to cut back our heater usage. Room temperature is considered 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Most people set there thermostat somewhere in the mid to upper 70’s, it seems to me. Energy agencies–from federal to local–suggest adjusting your thermostat to lower temperatures than that in the winter (to around 68 degrees) which is lower than most people feel comfortable.
I’m advocating going even lower… set it to 55 degrees. This is technically where hypothermia *can* set in. I say *can* because if you bother to put on much–if any–clothing, are relatively healthy, and haven’t been exposed to wetness or a breeze then you probably won’t literally freeze to death. Really. You’ll be cold but you won’t freeze.
You know what I suggest instead? Put on some darn clothing!
In fact, a gripe I tend to have is that all of my family complain about the thermostat setting–it’s currently set at 55 degrees but I doubt it will last if my wife has anything to say about it and she does–because they’re so accustomed to being able to run around in shorts and a t-shirt… literally.
Whenever they complain I tell them to first put on some long clothing, socks, slippers or shoes, and then try a sweatshirt if they must. If that still doesn’t do the trick then we’ll talk about a space heater, heating blanket, and if I must… turning up the heat.
We, as a society, have forgot that we need to learn to “heat the person” again and not literally WASTE both heat and month by heating up the environment. Doing so is perhaps the least efficient way to heat ourselves.
If/when times get tough and people either NEED to cut back on their heating bill because they simply cannot afford it or their utility providers are unreliable then they need to have another plan. Sure, people will learn to make do buy why not learn that lesson now?
Learn simple things like heating the person (with clothing, heating blankets, etc), one room heating (or NOT heating entire floors), the “room within a room” technique to conserve heat, and so on. Learn to “harden” your body against the cold and to not expect or to need as much auxiliary heat.
Doing so could not only make life during a SHTF event more bearable but potentially even save you hundreds of dollars each month if you simply do NOT have to heat the entire house to comfortable levels. Think about it and consider how you can best incorporate these thoughts into your daily life.