Monday, July 04, 2016

the base load

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For the next test, I have my refrigerator, freezer and water heater temporarily OFF. These are automatic appliances that come on by themselves if I let them. I want my electricity draw to be as little as possible for this next test.

I don't have air conditioning. My heat source is oil which uses electricity for the compressor, ignition and fan. During summer in Canada I do not need heat. When trying to figure out my energy usage, I find it easiest to have as few appliances coming on by themselves so summer is an ideal time for me. I can concentrate on one at a time.

Today I am going to check my base load, sometimes called "phantom power" but that slightly different. Phantom power in the context of house electric energy is energy to "keep alive" an appliance so that it can come on instantly. More correctly would be called phantom energy. In my case, I need the network to be fully running and the Blueline Bridge to be operation, in order to capture my energy data. I don't need to watch it, I just need to have data captured so the computer and the printers and the scanner and the rest can be OFF and the power bars switched OFF to reduce phantom power. I also went around the house and pulled out a few things that use phantom power. The network is part of what I call my base load, which I need running, not stuff I don't want and can unplug. The base load is always there, always costing money, peak or non-peak, even though it is small.

Base load is the same term that the generators of energy (like OPG and Bruce Power) use. It is always there. They worry about the peaks over the base load.

The sun has gone down. I have only a couple of lights ON and those are LEDs. I visited the washroom using a flashlight rather than the usual house lights. I am not running the microwave, the stereo, a TV, the central vac, or any other major appliance.

For the next test, I am trying to be as quiet as a mouse electrically. What is my electrical energy usage with as little major loads as I can manage?

Over 200 watts! 218 to be precise. Rose to 230 watts while I typed this sentence. I have turned OFF the water heater, fridge and freezer off at 9:45. My background was more in the 350 watt region before that.

This is my electricity usage for the last six hours. The most noticable thing is the spike from the water heater coming on as it should at 6:05pm. As of a couple days ago, my water heater is not allowed to come on (inhibited) during my peak period which is 12:00noon to 6pm.

I was not home during most of this chart. Perhaps just the last 1/2 hour. This is my house doing things on its own. The water heater, the fridge and the freezer, a few lights, a few chargers, two CO2 monitors. All by themselves about 300 watts.

I am typing this one a desktop system, with the network and WIFI running. The Blueline network bridge is relaying my electrical energy information to the cloud. I am connected to the web on machines that eat 110 volts AC from my connection to the grid. Probably my computer and network account for about 150 watts of that, more or less constantly.

And there is a lot of other stuff connected as well. The mobile phone, the microwave oven, a couple of clocks and radios that plug in and are "always on".

I went on a binge and unplugged all of those things about 9:50.

It is shortly going to be 10:15 and I will shut down my computer, but not the network, for (hopefully) 1/2 hour.
This is the result of turning off the compuers and most everything else except for the Blueline bridge and my WIFI and router which are necessary for the Blueline hardware to do it's job.

The small spike just before the shutdown happens because I had to start a second computer from "sleep" in order to shut it down in a true power OFF which included shutting off the power bar which controls some ancillary hard drives and other potential electricity users.

I think I read that as about 50 watts. Not bad to strive for as a minimum during the peak period? Or perhaps even less?

The McMaster study wants to measure changes in behavior with my assigned plan C$0.54 peak/C$0.11 non-peak, no other costs (no delivery cost, debt repayment, etc)

What if my electrical use went to near zero during my peak billing time? This would be worth doing for a 54/11=5:1 ratio in cost! I might be able to achieve that outside of the heating season. A bit of battery backup?

During winter achieving less use will be difficult with the added load of the furnace, water heating (the basement is cooler) and lighting (the nights are longer). Cutbacks in the peak billing period will be more difficult. The base line will probably rise and I will measure it then.

Thanks for your interest.
George Plhak
Lion's Head, Ontario, Canada

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