After a poor April (with no year-over-year change in our electrical consumption), we got a new refrigerator and reevaluated our strategy. Reducing our furnace use helped a lot in the winter, but we barely used the A/C last year, so that wasn’t going to improve this year.
Thanks to the refrigerator, May was a good month. We were able to reduce our consumption by 50%! That brought our total usage for May to 121 kWh, which is a little over 4 kWh a day. Given that, I talked Maggie into trying to reduce our usage to less than 3 kWh a day in June. For comparison, leaving two incandescent bulbs on would use up the allotment for that day.
So June is over; how did we do? From June 1st to July 3rd, we used 79.9 kWh or a little under 2.5 kWh a day! Here’s how we did it.
No A/C – A/C isn’t as energy intensive as heating, at least in part because the temperature difference isn’t as high, but it still uses a lot of power. Running a typical central air system for half an hour can use over 1 kWh. Instead, we used blinds to reduce solar gain, opened windows when it was cool and closed them when it was hot, used the ceiling fan and window fans, and, on one particularly hot afternoon, took refuge in an air-conditioned movie theater.
No hot water – the majority of residential energy use is cooling and heating, including water heating. My best estimate is that our 40-gallon water heater uses 300 Wh (0.3 kWh) a day. We got a solar camp shower and we’ve also taken some cold showers. As a bonus, we cut our water use significantly since you don’t dawdle in a cold shower!
No clothes dryer – Our clothes dryer runs about 2 kWh per load! Now that it’s summer, we’ve avoided using it entirely and line dry everything. It takes more planning, especially since we had so many thunderstorms in June, but that’s quite the energy savings!
Reduced computer use – I have a small netbook that uses less than half of the electricity of my normal laptop. I was able to get even better numbers by using Windows’ power settings to dim the screen and slow the processor. I also made sure to take my charger with me when I worked outside the house. That doesn’t decrease my overall electrical use, but partly offsets the fact that I work from home.
Sharing space – In the evening, Maggie and I make sure we spend most of our time in the same room. That means we’re only running one fan and one set of lights. It’s not a big savings, but it’s also pretty easy to do.
We won’t be able to sustain it into the winter, and some of it is extreme enough that we might not be able to sustain it for more than a month or two. I think we’ll be able to keep it under 3 kWh for July and maybe August, but when it gets cold again, we’ll have to turn on the furnace. We also won’t be able to stop using the dryer entirely at that point. Still, for now, we’re feeling pretty good!