Saturday, June 12, 2010

1.3 kWh per day

we just got our electric bill for last month - we used an average of 1.3 kWh per day, for a total bill (including $9 worth of miscellaneous fees) of $14.11.

most of the electricity we use is consumed by our very efficient refrigerator (retrofitted out of an old chest freezer). the rest is used by lights, computers, a random battery charger, mp3 player, or other small items. our bill does not reflect the amount we use to do laundry - we take our stuff to the laundromat for washing, and dry it on a clothesline. we don't have a conventional hot water heater - all of our hot water is heated in a black hose and in a black tank on the roof of our bath house (dish washing and bathing is an afternoon activity). fortunately, we live in a temperate climate, so our heating and cooling needs are extremely minimal. that, and all of my studio equipment (sewing machine and sound equipment) runs off of a solar system that cost around $500.

when we move into the papercrete cabin we're building, we expect to be able to run everything we need off of a very small solar system (under $2000). we've mentioned this before, but we really feel strongly that an important step towards getting off the grid is to minimize usage and maximize efficiency as much as possible first, then buy only the smallest system necessary. it can always be added onto later.


  1. That's awesome...I thought I was doing pretty good with my 10.3 avg last month. But I do have a "real" refrigerator, washer and dryer (which I do still use...clothesline is one the to do list), and I live in the southeast, which is unbearably hot and humid. Yesterday was 100 sucks for your summer electricity, but I've kept my AC on 85 or so unless I'm melting. Then I turn it down to 82 or...gasp...78!

    You guys are an inspiration!

  2. Thanks for your comment, MadameMiM.

    Cooling in the summer and heating in the winter are the two largest energy uses that are hard to comfortably live without. Aside from making a home more efficient (double pane windows, sealing gaps, using curtains, etc), and buying your power from a renewable source if possible, there are not many other options that I can think of.

    We believe that keeping track of our usage, be it water, electricity, or gasoline, is an act of personal responsibility. But we also really enjoy the challenge of looking for ways to balance comfort with efficiency.

    We're glad to know you are out there doing the same.

  3. Great job! We don't have the sun you guys do, but we're in a moderate climate here, so we don't have huge heating bills either. I've been trying to figure out how to get our old windows replaced but haven't managed that yet. It's something that's on our minds though...

  4. Yeah, windows...I've seen beautiful old adobe structures with thin glass windows, countering the effects of the highly insulated walls. Aside from replacing the windows themselves which can be very pricey, here are some ideas we have used/run across:

    Curtains/blankets on windows or doorways...this can either block the sun from coming in or keep the warmth from escaping.

    Giving the windows a second layer...shutters, second window, bubble wrap, plastic, plexiglass...