Home utility usage: how much do you use?

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edh
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Home utility usage: how much do you use?

Post by edh » Sat Jan 23, 2016 4:51 am

I know energy efficiency is one of the big concerns for silent computing so here is another extension to this: how efficient is your home?

Obviously there may be different energy sources used and therefore let's standardise on kWh for all forms of energy and m^3 for water.

I live alone in an 82m^2 flat with modern appliances and very high levels of insulation. The U value for the roof is 0.1! All services are metered and natural gas is used for the hot water and heating. I have a very high tolerance of the cold and heat from surrounding properties means that I haven't had to use the heating this winter at all. Even if I go away for a few days in sub zero conditions the temperature only goes down to 14C which is tolerable for me. It's 16C inside today and I'm not complaining. Electricity is used for all cooking. Both toilets have reduced flush function which does reduce water usage. I'm at home some days for work, other days I'm out. Some weekends my girlfriend comes to stay, some others I'm away.

Some minor improvement in electricity usage might be possible by replacing CCFLs with LED bulbs but this is only worth doing financially as the old units fail. Likewise as appliances reach EOL replacement with newer more efficient versions may yield some reduction.

Here is how much I use per year:
Electricity - 1231 kWh
Gas - 2048 kWh
Water - 17.8m^3


Does anyone have lower figures than these?

washu
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Re: Home utility usage: how much do you use?

Post by washu » Sat Jan 23, 2016 8:02 am

I won't even try to compete with your numbers as my house is more than 3X the m^2 and has a family of 5 living in it. I'm also assuming where you live has far lower climate extremes. Heat is a requirement when it is -20C in winter and while it is possible to suffer through the summer without AC, having it is the norm here as well. While I don't know the exact U values, my house is quite well insulated especially compared to my much older previous residence. Despite being about 2X the size of my old house, my heating and cooling costs have gone down significantly.

LED bulbs may not be that much better in pure numbers over CFLs, but they do have some other advantages. The few watts of difference is almost all heat which is a strain or the AC and not worth it over a tiny bit more gas in the winter. Depending on your lighting needs, non-standard LEDs can save quite a bit as well. Accent lights put into unusual places are often very low power and can still provide enough light. That of course is very dependent on your lighting needs. Instant on especially when cold is great. Along with that they survive high cycling (turning them off and on repeatedly) far better than CFLs so no issues with lifetime turning them off. I personally find they are much closer to their rated colour temperatures as well. I even replaced some big T8 tubes with LEDs.

Appliances can save more than you think, especially if older.
Fridge: The big one if old, replacing an early 80s fridge saved us over 100 kWh/month
Dishwasher: Our new one uses small fan to circulate air to dry instead of an electric heater
Washer: New ones, especially front loaders use far less water
Stove and dryer: Not much you can do except convert to gas.

I still have a few things to do. My AC is old, replacing it will cut my summer electric bill by about 30%, but is a few thousand $ to replace with a decent one. Stove will be converted to gas, dryer later as it is brand new. All my windows and doors are new and efficient except one so that is on the replacement list. I'm looking into getting solar panels if the ROI is worth it. I have a long but narrow roof section that basically faces south so I'm hoping that would be a decent place to put them.

CA_Steve
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Re: Home utility usage: how much do you use?

Post by CA_Steve » Sat Jan 23, 2016 9:08 am

Does anyone have lower figures than these?
Wait, let me move into my solar powered yurt and I'll get back to you. :)

I've been slowly reducing my home's footprint over time. Won't be able to get near your figures due to square footage and having a yard. However, it's been fun holding with the philosophy of "the new thing must use less than the old thing it's replacing". I moved to CCFLs a long time ago and, like washu, found that just replacing the refrigerator was a huge drop in power use. In the last year, I've been replacing CCFLs with decent LEDs. The power savings are minimal, but I found the CCFL's lumen output had really degraded over time and the LEDs (GE Reveal) had superior color quality. Plus, instant on/off vs the slow CCFL warm up, compatibility with dimmers, and relatively rare buzzing (only one lamp out of 20 vs a handful for the CCFLs) made it worth the purchase. Actually had to install dimmers in a few rooms as the LEDs were so much brighter than the CCFLs :)

The biggest deal in my area is water use. My community's been overusing the local aquifers for years and are looking at potential salt water intrusion from the ocean unless we drastically cut use / recharge the aquifers / find other water sources. This has lead to some fairly intensive conservation practices and some eye-opening results for me. I thought my drip irrigation system was in good shape until I found out how much water I was using compared to the neighborhood average. So, I turned it off, let the grass wither, pulled out a few high water use shrubs, let a few others live or die on their own, and went to a hand watering scheme for flowers, and the rest of the shrubs and trees. This cut my outdoor water use from about 12 units (100 cu ft) to 2 units/mo. I replaced two 1.6 gal/flush toilets with 0.8gpf versions and went with a high tech jet nozzle styled shower head that ends up using maybe 30% of the previous head. My hot water heater is on the opposite side of the house from my kitchen. So, when I need a little bit of hot water I just heat it up in the microwave for 30 sec rather than run the hot tap. All in all, in the rainy season, I'm using about 25 to 35 gal/day.

edh
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Re: Home utility usage: how much do you use?

Post by edh » Sun Jan 24, 2016 1:31 pm

washu wrote:I won't even try to compete with your numbers as my house is more than 3X the m^2 and has a family of 5 living in it.
Single living is quite inefficient in itself so you per person figures might actually be lower.
washu wrote:I'm also assuming where you live has far lower climate extremes.
-21C to 36C are the local records where I am so probably about 10C less extreme each way. It's been a mild winter and -6.5C last week was the lowest it's been, still no heating :lol: . One of the advantages of a maritime climate however the wind is a major disadvantage for housing and makes draughtproofing a more major issue. I've taken this point seriously and gone round doors and windows after moving in to find any gaps and deal with them.
washu wrote:Heat is a requirement when it is -20C in winter and while it is possible to suffer through the summer without AC, having it is the norm here as well.
Air conditioning in homes in the UK is extremely uncommon. Yes, our summers are cooler which does help on this but also such things would require enormous momentum to become the norm. I hope they never do as air conditioning is horrendously wasteful and home design can avoid it anyway. I have a heat exchanger system on a whole house ventilation system so that waste heat can be recovered but if it's hot you just open the window and let the breeze cool you down. Even in warmer countries in Europe air conditioning isn't so common as the houses tend to be built more suitably for the climate.
washu wrote:Fridge: The big one if old, replacing an early 80s fridge saved us over 100 kWh/month
That must have been a terrible fridge! A new fridge would have paid for itself pretty quickly.
washu wrote:Dishwasher: Our new one uses small fan to circulate air to dry instead of an electric heater
Modern dishwashers can be more efficient than washing up by hand. The best strategy is to use the 30 min program if available and let everything drip dry inside the machine. Drying uses so much more energy.
washu wrote:Stove and dryer: Not much you can do except convert to gas.
Cooking on gas isn't actually more efficient. It may be cheaper but not more efficient, sometimes quoted as low as 39%. The percentage of energy transmitted to food on a gas hob is substantially lower, what is more important is to change to an induction hob which is most efficient (up to 84%). Less waste heat is expelled into the room as it heats up the pan directly. In the UK gas appliances are becoming less common, possible because electric cookers have improved so much but also because gas appliances have to be installed by someone on the gas safe register, this cost quickly outweighs any cost savings for a couple of decades and also means you're less likely to blow up your house.
CA_Steve wrote:I found the CCFL's lumen output had really degraded over time
I've noticed this too. Their temperature dependency is also a big problem if you're letting things get down to 16C. I'm personally not a fan of dimmers as they tend to feel cheap and nasty and sometimes bring out their own buzzes in bulbs. Their non-compatibility with CCFL has held back conversion of some people from filament to CCFL too.
CA_Steve wrote:So, I turned it off, let the grass wither, pulled out a few high water use shrubs, let a few others live or die on their own
If you think about it those plants were never supposed to live in such a climate anyway. You can of course collect rainwater for watering plants instead of using freshwater.
CA_Steve wrote:I replaced two 1.6 gal/flush toilets with 0.8gpf versions
Are dual flush toilets common in the US at all? Toilet designs are one of those very esoterically nationalistic things. Ever used one of those Dutch toilets with the little shelf that you can examine your stool on? Or the French ones which are a hole in the ground and a pair of footprints? Or the Japanese ones that talk to you politely then wash your behind? For Europeans coming to the US it's amazing that you have this great lake full of water that is then disposed of by this cataclysmic spiralling away down the u-bend before being refilled. Does this design impact water efficiency is what I've always wondered? We all poo and wee the same way so why is it that every country designs it's toilets so differently?!? This can not help energy efficiency.

Legally new toilets in the UK are limited to a 6 litre full flush and a 3 litre half flush is common but these volumes can be adjusted down on most so that a 2 litre small flush could be used. A replacement mechanism for an existing toilet is very cheap so can have an impact in a year.

CA_Steve
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Re: Home utility usage: how much do you use?

Post by CA_Steve » Sun Jan 24, 2016 4:41 pm

Are dual flush toilets common in the US at all?
Scarcity breeds invention. Show me a community with unlimited water and I'll show you 3.5gpf toilets :) Nothing happens country-wide as far as water conservation goes. It's mostly water district (company) by water district and occasionally state governments make declarative statements. Back on point, dual flush has been available for many years.

xan_user
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Re: Home utility usage: how much do you use?

Post by xan_user » Sun Jan 24, 2016 6:28 pm

Are dual flush toilets common in the US at all?
whats common around here is to only flush when needed, and usually just find a tree for #1 anyways.

Nec_V20
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Re: Home utility usage: how much do you use?

Post by Nec_V20 » Wed May 04, 2016 3:40 pm

Gotta love the US, they are only behind where we in Germany were by about two decades.

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