What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Moving Towards Solar Powered Electricity (1)


Hydro One, the hydro provider in Ontario, Canada, has announced a delivery rate increase that will amount to about $4 per month for the average household.  This will add an additional $48 per month to the overall electricity costs.  This charge is over and above the new TOU pricing that will be going into effect shortly.  In addition to that the HST will add an additional 8% on the hydro bill effective July 1, 2010 that will add a good $10 per month to the average household electric bill.  On May 1 the hydro rate will increase to 6.5¢ per kWh up to 600 kWh then 7.5¢ per kWh for kWh over the threshold.  This rate will be in effect until October 31, 2010.  The average household uses 1,000 kWh per month.  Our average use over the last 12 months was 623.25 kWh per month.  So we are just slightly over the 600 kWh threshold but the time period between May 1 and October 31 is the time running the AC is most likely to occur meaning for 2 months we will be paying the 7.5¢ rate at some point.  We are at the point that short of not using electricity getting our usage below our average rate is as simple as cutting all power to our house for a day.  Since that is doable but not the best solution, the push to move to more solar power is on.  Before I discuss that, here is what we have done so far to lower our electricity use.
  • turn off anything that is not being used - Off is better than on as off uses no kWh.
  • CFL - we have 4 fixtures that do not have CFL bulbs in them.  One of these is an outdoor mercury vapour light that sees on average a half hour of use per month if that.  Again lights are off whenever possible.
  • EnergyStar® qualified appliance - All of our major appliances are EnergyStar® qualified meaning they are energy efficient and we chose our appliances so they were on the higher end of the EnergyStar® rating.  Each time we replace a small appliance we look for the EnergyStar® qualification.  While some small kitchen appliances do not have this rating others like televisions, computers, telephones as well as other electronics do have this rating. 
  • appliance usage - We tend to be quite conservative when using appliances so that we get the maximum output while running the appliance the least amount of time.  That means the dishwasher and washer are run only when full.
  • cooking - We tend to consolidate cooking to take advantage of the energy being used to cook one meal to cook more than one meal.  We also use smaller dedicated appliances like the countertop oven roaster rather than using the big oven when possible.  In addition to using eco-friendly cooking methods we use the natural gas grill for cooking during the summer months as it is about a third of the price of electricity  and we often eat raw during the summer requiring no energy usage.
  • dryer - We have a high efficiency gas dryer since line drying is not an option for us.  It is used to maximum efficiency. 
  • energy conservation - Anywhere we can save a watt we do.  We had electronic pest controllers that worked quite nicely to help until we got pest management in place.  Unplugging those and the nightlights saves 52.56 kWh per year ($6.31) which isn't a lot but it is kWh not being used and every kW counts.
Tomorrow I will discuss some of our solar plans.  Watch for part 2.
    Garden Gnome