The Peaksaver program gives you a new programmable thermostat and a wireless energy monitor. The new thermostat works great and has a slimmer profile which is good since we moved it from the existing location in my office (dining room per the original floorplan) and it is now in a traffic area.
The energy monitor is my new favourite toy. I did have to do a bit of reprogramming after the installer left. I think he programmed the summertime time of use schedule rather than the winter schedule. Not a big deal because I am using it mainly to monitor live usage of power rather than actual money spent. The monitor does have the rates and times programmed in so theoretically you can keep track of cost but it will never match your bill 100% because of timing etc.
We received our most recent hydro bill and I will post separately about that. But at a quick glance, the numbers look better than they were trending.
As of November, winter Time of Use (TOU) applies to billing rates. The problem is that the peak rate applies to 5 to 7 pm which is a prime time for most households, including ours. It gets dark so lights need to come on, people arrive home so the temperature needs to be turned up on cold days, dinner needs to be cooked, homework needs to be done, etc. Of course there are activities that we can delay until after 7 pm like laundry and the dishwasher but most of the activities listed are non-negotiable. I think it is a bit of a cash grab to make 5 – 7 pm a peak time. The summer peak time makes more sense when residential can adjust their behavior so as not to compete for power with commercial users. I guess I will be bringing out the candles and feeding the kids at 9 pm!
The difficulty in analysing the data I can download from Whitby Hydro is not having a clear record of what was happening during the time being analyzed. So when I review our consumption, I have no idea what caused the increase (or decrease) in use. So I have decided to make a tracking chart where I can record dishwasher runs, washing and drying of clothes, etc. Also on my chart will be whether I shut down the computers or not as I haven’t been consistent with that. I know this seems super anal but without it I have no clue what is happening to cause my hydro to spike. And in related news, PeakSaver program finally called and we have an appointment booked in December to hook us up. We will also get a new power monitor so that should help with the real time power saving.
When I came home yesterday there was a doorhanger on the front door for the PeakSaver Plus program. Perfect I thought. This ties right into my energy management plan. It was promoted by Whitby Hydro so I knew it wasn’t one of the alternate energy resellers. I was hoping it was a program that would save me money during the peak times because as a home office, I use most of my power during the peak time. But its not.
The program allows the hydro company to cycle down participants power when they are reaching their maximums. This prevents blackouts and saves the utility money by not requiring the purchase of power from other sources. The utility has the ability to turn off your air conditioner, hot water heater, or pool pump for 15 minute periods as required. There is apparently no noticeable difference to the homeowner during this shutdown.
So what’s in it for the homeowner? Obviously, if they are reducing your power consumption during peak times, this should reduce your energy costs. But after researching the program online, it seems most participants have had few reductions over the past 2 years. So to sweeten the deal, PeakSaver is offering 2 freebies when you sign up. A free programmable thermostat that will also allow you to control the temperature over the internet and a free energy monitor. We have a programmable thermostat already but I am hoping they have to come install it and can put it in a different location. Fingers crossed. We also have an energy monitor that we had installed before the smart meter was installed. It hasn’t made it back onto the meter so again, I am hoping they will install that too!
Go to www.peaksaverplus-enrolment.com/ to sign up. Whitby is not the only utility participating so check if yours is part of this promotion. After signing up, apparently someone will be contacting us. I will post a follow up once they do.
I can go online and download the hydro usage for our house. Here is the graph of October 2012. I started this “project” on October 25th so this graph works as the BEFORE snapshot. The graph does correlate to the average temperature which I guess makes some sense for the summer but we try to limit our use of the air conditioning so I am not sure why it should map that closely. I have my suspicions about the validity of the actual data but haven’t kept any logs to match against. That is something I will have to do in the future. We also own a hydro tracking device that we had installed last year but had to remove when the smart meter was installed. The device allows real time monitoring versus the “day after” information I can get from the hydro website. I will have to nag my husband to get it installed again.
The title is not meant to be an introspective rhetorical question. This is the part where I give you the facts that will guide us through my energy project.
- We live in Whitby Ontario Canada in a detached 2500 square foot house.
- There are 4 of us, myself, my husband, and two boys. One is age 16 and one is age 12.
- Plus one very large Labradoodle.
- We are customers of Whitby Hydro and have been on Time of Use (TOU) billing since June 2011. We can access the hourly usage and download the data to excel.
- I operate my accounting and tax business from home which means that there are computers and lights on during the peak times for hydro use.
- We have an above ground pool with a gas heater and electric pump.
- We have a tankless water heater.
- Our house is heated with gas and we have one gas fireplace.
- Our basement is finished and we have an electric fireplace down there that we use to supplement the heat in the winter.
- We are technology addicted and have 2 iphones, 1 Samsung Galaxy III, 2 ipods, 2 desktop computers (1 workstation and one file server), 3 laptops, 5 TVs, 1 BlackBerry Playbook, 2 XBox systems, a wireless network, cable internet modem and a partridge in a pear tree (just checking if you’re still with me LOL). Yes, the list is actually somewhat embarrassing when its all written out like that.
- Most of our lights are on dimmers. Leaving lights on in unoccupied rooms is a BIG issue.
- We have an electric washer and dryer, a dishwasher, electric stove, fridge, microwave, coffee maker, Tassimo machine, toaster, blender, and other small kitchen appliances that we use periodically. All these appliances are relatively new, with the stove being the oldest at 12 years.
- In the basement we have another fridge which is about 12 years old, a chest freezer (about 20 years old), a treadmill, an aquarium (which is currently not in use), a projector system, a microwave, and a dehumidifier.
- One of the bedrooms upstairs is half over the garage (which is unheated) and has a whole wall of windows that face west. We do not have anyone directly across the street so in the winter there is no buffer to the wind. This room ends up cold in the winter and my son uses a space heater to help keep it warm.
I think that is enough to get us started. I will update this info if anything else relevant comes up.
The next post will be a summary of our usage over the past year and how much it costs. From that I will define some goals to start attacking this problem.
I just received our latest hydro bill. And it shocked me. Our hydro bill has always been high, between a home office, techno addicted kids, and bad hydro habits, that didn’t surprise me. But this latest bill was even WORSE than our last bill. Even I thought we were as bad as we could get before this. So something has to give.
I did a bit of research to see how we can decrease our energy usage and thought this would be an interesting exercise. Just how much money can we save, what are the big hits I can get right off the mark, and at what point will we have squeezed as much out of the exercise as we can.
Now don’t be confused. I am not about to become one of those crazy Extreme Cheapskates people. I am not peeing in a bottle to save $10 in water. But there has to be a stop to this madness.
My next post which I will do right now, will be a brief introduction to who I am and the way the house works now.
Of course, I welcome any constructive input that readers can offer. Again, remember I don’t want any wild and wacky suggestions. And of course, I know the common sense stuff, which is what I am going to try to implement first.