Sunday, December 04, 2016

home electric progress 2

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I was actually excited to see my electricity bill this month (haha).

I have been trying to use less peak priced electricity. I went up this month but used less than last year. Lower usage during peak pricing saves on the variable portion of my electricity bill.

Starting in May, I installed timers on the refrigerator, freezer and water heater. That has worked out well and cost less than $100. Throughout a very hot summer I was able to essentially go off the grid for the entire 6 hour peak period each day yet I always had lots of hot water and no food spoiled for me. It was pretty easy.

Now in the heating season, my oil furnace uses electricity, enough to be one of my major electrical appliances (at about 700 watts when running full power). I am controlling the furnace with a programmable thermostat but I haven't tried to align the furnace to not run during the peak periods. The thermostat shifts to lower temperature at night only. I can change it but haven't yet.

I messed up with the change to daylight savings time Nov 6 and the change to the winter price plan Nov 1 however. That didn't get done properly until about two weeks into November, so appliances were not going on and off at the right times and slurping expensive electricity. at almost twice the price. I used twice as much peak as the previous months, 2 KWh average per day as opposed to 1KWh . Sloppy.

I am trying to stay out of the RED triangles. In the winter, there are two red triangles (peak price periods).

The cheap plug in timers I had some problems with. The instructions are a puzzle and difficult to remember. I have to really study each time I want make a change because they make sense but are not intuitive. The two peak periods per day during the winter months makes for an interesting programming challenge. The timers keep pretty good time even through power outages and unpluggings but I did add five minutes to each each setting to ensure I had a error band. The timer display is very hard to see when I am at the appliance so I bought a few spares. I bring them all into a well lit room, figure out how to set one up correctly, program the others the same then plug them back in at their various locations. I then watch their cycles for a few days to make sure I got it right and then forget about them for six months only to have to re-learn them again when the pricing plan changes, or daylight savings.

I would like control and monitoring of each major appliance over my wifi. I can do that for about $75 an appliance. I am experimenting with two types, the Wemo Insight Switch and the TP-Link HS110 Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring. Both have positives and negatives and I am having reliability issues. Both display crankiness if you move them from outlet to outlet but I am moving around more than they normally be. My wired in appliances like the water heater, the furnace and the dryer will need wired in wifi capable versions. Suggestions?

The reports I get from my electricity supplier say that I am doing better than my efficient neigbours. They have improved the customer tools at the Hydro One website. If you haven't looked for a while you might revisit. You have to be registered as a customer to use these. No appliance level data however.

I don't use a lot of electricity but I think I still have room for improvement in reducing and time of use (TOU) shifting. My methods should be usable by someone who uses a lot more than I do and the payback would be better. Common sense required. Your appliances need to be in good condition and properly set for the recommended temperatures before you embark on time shifting them.

I still don't have totals by appliance although I continue to check my usage through my smart meter data. It is heating season now also and the furnace makes the usage graph very much more complicated. More on the furnace coming.

Thanks for your interest.

George Plhak
Lion's Head, Ontario, Canada

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