Monday, July 4, 2011

Ups and downs of electric use

How are we using our electricity?  There are easy ways to tell (see the posts below) how much our simple electric devices are costing us, but it's harder to figure in appliances that cycle off-and-on.  It's not easy to directly calculate the energy costs of dryers, refrigerators, cable boxes, or ovens.  And even if you DO the computations for all of those things (wow, are you amazing!), how do you know you didn't miss another energy hog?

Here are two web-based ways to look more carefully at your own energy use:
  1. Electric company graphs and
  2. a cool website.
1.  Our electric company hooked us up to a meter that can read out how much energy we use hour-by-hour.  As a mathematician, I love graphs, and it's fun (for me, at least) trying to read our lives into them.  

Here's a pretty typical month for us.  You can see we tend to use a lot more electricity on or near the weekends (the lighter colored bars).  Why?  That's when my husband does the laundry; the dryer uses a lot of electricity, enough that you can easily see it on the graph.  

The graphs can even go more fine-tuned than this.  Here's a glimpse into our energy use this past Friday.

I added the words (fortunately, the electric company doesn't snoop on my life like this).  But it's pretty easy with this to look back on a recent days' activities and see the electric impact those activities had.  I'm scratching my head to remember what I was doing between 9 and 10 a.m. on Friday -- that might be running the dishwasher.

2.  The website "Saving Electricity" has a lot of quirky, fun, and readable information.  [I have a small problem with the title of that web-site.  Few people actually save electricity -- have you ever seen a bucket of electricity out in the garage?  But the title "Using Less Electricity" isn't as catchy, I know.]   

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