June 12, 2011

How much electricity does your stuff use?

battery backupSo much juice!

"Shaving the electric bill" brought on quite a few reader comments which you might enjoy checking out (click the link to read the comments).

Based on the interest from readers, I looked up a website that I've consulted in the past. If you would like to learn more about shaving your electric costs and you are not a 'science guy' (like I am definitely not), you might enjoy this website:

How much electricity does my stuff use?

This page includes an interactive calculator in which you can input the type of device, your kwh rate (with some limitations), the number of hours you use the item per day and the number of days you use it per month. The calculator will show you the estimated cost per month and per year.

This is one of the better calculators I've found, since some items are used 24-hours per day (refrigerator), some may be used only on a few days of the month (washer, dryer), and some may be used only for a limited number of minutes or hours each day (microwave, stove, lights, computer, etc.). Mr. Electricity says that his calculators factor in the start-up usage, which is often much higher, as well as the normal running usage. Of course, these are estimates, but enlightening nonetheless.

Determining your kwh (kilowatt hour) rate is easy. If it isn't printed on the bill, just take your total electric costs (don't include extra charges such a public lighting) and divide by the usage, which should be listed on the bill in kwh. On La ENEE's bill it is listed as 'CONSUMO KWH' and the total electric cost is 'COSTO DE ENERGIA CNSUMIDA' plus 'AJUSTE POR COMBUSTIBLE'. For comparison purposes, my cost last month after our big ajuste is US $0.17 per kwh (L. 3.21). In February when our usage was below the magic 500 kwh/month level and before the latest increase, the cost was US $0.15 per kwh (L.2.81).

I delved into some of the other pages based on Patty's perplexing problem of high meter readings for no readily apparent reason. Provided that no one is stealing electricity from her meter (a not so infrequent possibility in Honduras), it may be that inadequate wiring plays a part. I think that this is a frequent problem in Honduras in which in order to 'save money', electricians use undersized wiring. I know that we had constant disagreements with our electrician. Even though we were paying for the materials, he seemed intent on using the smallest and cheapest wires, breakers, etc. That is something to keep in mind if you are building a house in Honduras.

I'm posting some other links from that site that I found interesting:

Electricity myths

Why is my bill so high? — includes some toubleshooting tips that might help you to pinpoint the problem.

Refrigerators — very interesting in that he says that the difference in usage between refrigerators built before 2001 and newer ones is huge. It is also possible that usage between refrigerators built for US standards could be very different from from those made for Central America.

Gas vs. electric was surprising in that Mr. Electricity shows that there isn't as much difference as I thought there was. Of course, as he says, it really depends on your particular cost of gas and electric. We don't have piped in natural gas here in Honduras, so gas appliances run on LPG tanks, like the ones used for outdoor grills, or larger ones in the back yard. I know the cost of gas has gone up, too, but I have no idea how to compare the two.

The website also discusses specific appliances in more detail, solar power, CFL vs. LED light bulbs, and several other topics. I like it because it is written in a non-technical manner easy to understand. I hope you enjoy it.

I'm sure there are other informative websites, so if you know of any others, please feel free to include the link in the comments. I'll read them!
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