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Become an Educated Energy Consumer    OttawaEnergyAudit     Thursday 21 January 2021
Current Time-of-use pricing is: medium at 19.393¢/kWh
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Published Columns: January 2006
Curbing Your Consumption:
How Low Can You Go?

By John Ford

It is a new year, and time to make some resolutions. Hopefully ones we can all keep so that the lights will remain on during the coldest nights and the hottest days to come.

So if we do absolutely everything we can to lower our consumption: from buying the most efficient appliances, converting to CF bulbs, and changing our habits: How low can we reasonably expect our consumption to be?

If we pick a family of four, here are some numbers for the best-case scenario without resorting to the exotic.

Parasitic loads, the ones that use power even when off, we have eliminated by using a switched power bar. The doorbell and thermostat remain powered at about 5 watts each for 94 kWh per year. For lighting we allow 4 compact fluorescent lights at 15 watts on for 6 hours per day for 131 kWh per year. If we cook with about 3,000 watts for 45 minutes a day, that is 821 kWh per year. The new fridge uses 525 kWh per year. Laundry we do a load a day, but use a clothesline in the summer. The washer consumes 100 kWh per year (hot water not included) and the dryer uses 1100 kWh. We use the TV and computer for 4 hours a day for a total of 146 and 300 kWh per year. We do our dishes by hand. Our outside lights are on motion detectors and use 45 kWh per year.

The total consumption of our home is now 3262 kWh per year, or a daily average of 8.8 kWh.

Hot water (if you have an electric tank) can add 15 kWh per day or more, almost double our other consumption. The dishwasher can add 1.7 kWh per day plus hot water. Air conditioning can add enough to eclipse all the other uses. My furnace is on for about 500 hours per season, for an averaged daily value of about 3 kWh per day for 6 months. If you leave a porch light on from dusk to dawn and use a CF, add 66 kWh per year (0.18/day).

So allowing for a few luxuries our total is just over 12 kWh per day.

The average home in Ontario uses almost 33 kWh per day. We still have a long way to go.

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John Ford is a technology consultant, owner of a small energy conservation business, and the Green Party candidate.