Sunday, March 1, 2009

Outwitting the price hike in power

West Australians are looking at considerable increases in energy costs over the next 12 months, particularly in electricity.

Our household energy use is fairly consistent at 19 units per day. This is not too bad for a house with 4 adults, and 8 computers. It could be better of course and the price hike is a good time for us to evaluate our strategies for saving on energy use and to start to make that 19 units go down some more.

We already have low energy compact fluorescent globes in all the light fittings which can take them. One of the issues for us is that the ceiling fans in most of the rooms have a light fitting which will not allow a compact fluoro. These ceiling fans are economical forms of cooling, and we also use them in winter to circulate the warm air from gas heating, but they are costly in terms of lighting.

Recently we installed two cheap wall lights from Ikea in our bedroom. We just got fed up with table lamps which were unstable and this seemed a great way to overcome the problem. One extra advantage is that we can put compact fluoros in these light fittings, which means that we can save too.

We have set ourselves up with power boards which allow us to turn off major electrical items like the TV when we have finished with them, but it is hard to develop the habit of actually doing this in everyone who uses them.

This week DH installed two of these wall lights in our family room. This room often has the light on, even when I think the light is adequate, because my DD or DS are in there with their laptops and they want a bit more light. If we can train them to use the wall lights rather than the light which is part of the ceiling fan, we can save here too.

The main big user of power, according to advice from the electricity company, however is the 'beer fridge". Like most West Australians we have an elderly fridge on the back patio and we use it to store our cool drinks and to hold party platters when we are entertaining. It was made before the idea of low energy refridgeration was thought of. I can't imagine not having the useful storage capacity of this fridge, but I recognise that this particular model has to go.

I think it is time for a more modern drinks fridge which can keep things cool without guzzling the power. We have a street verge clean up soon so I think this one is going out. I am looking for a second hand fridge of a newer type which will hopefully put our energy use under 18 units per day. I wonder how low we can go?

I can encourage everyone to turn things off at the wall, but I find that kind of habit is hard to develop and easy to lose again. That is why structural changes are most successful in our house. How about yours?


ecosopher said...

Hi EMW, found your blog on ALS a little while ago and love it :) Did you know Perth has a Freecycle community, you could get rid of your fridge that way (since it still works) and then it gets passed on to someone who needs it - just a thought! Best, becca.

jonno said...

EMW uses Freecycle a lot and has even made a promise for Lent to get rid of at least one old thing a week during Lent using Freecycle.

ecosopher said...

Great idea - what a good resolution for Lent!

earthmotherwithin said...

We have just bought a new fridge quite cheaply -with a great reputation as a power saver. My DS has a friend who had to move out of home and he so wanted to help her set up herself. Without a fridge she could not buy food cheaply or store it safely, so the old fridge is getting a good home after all.