Home Electricity Consumption

A few friends were talking recently, and we realized that for each of our families, our home electricity consumption is MUCH lower than the “average Saskatchewan home”.  In Saskatchewan, the average home uses 8000kWh of electricity each year.  In my house, we use 3300kWh/year ($700/year).

After having this conversation, I came home and asked my 20 year old if, compared to her friends, she thought we were depriving ourselves of anything in our efforts to reduce energy use.  She said “no, we just turn stuff off”.

It’s hard to say what we DON’T do, compared to “average” (some might say “normal”) families, but I thought I’d introduce you to my family and house, to see how we compare to yours.

There are three of us, my husband, daughter and I (plus a dog, and one 10 gallon tank of fish).  We live in a 1440ft2, 1930, 2 story house in Saskatoon.

I work from home about 3 days/week.  Emma is a student, so is either on her computer or out.  Jim is at the office “9-5”, and often works on his computer in the evening.

We don’t have energy intensive hobbies – none of us are video gamers, bakers or do woodworking.  Other than the lawnmower, and a rarely used weed eater we don’t have any power yard and garden tools.  We plug in the car occasionally.

Because energy efficiency has been important to us for a long time, we’ve had compact fluorescent lights since the 80s.  All appliances are ENERGY STAR, our furnace is high efficiency.  We don’t have an air conditioner, but we do have ceiling fans in our bedrooms.  We don’t have any electric heaters.

What DO we have?  Each of us has an ENERGY STAR® laptop computer.  I connect mine to an ENERGY STAR monitor when I work at home.  We have an ENERGY STAR laser printer.

In our kitchen we have an ENERGY STAR, one door, bottom freezer fridge (no ice maker), stove, oven, microwave, kettle, blender, mixer and grill.

We have one, 42” ENERGY STAR TV, which is on far too much (average 3 hours/day?).  When the TV is on, so is the cable box, DVD player or WII console.  If the TV is off, it’s all off.

Our washing machine is, you guessed it, ENERGY STAR.  Our dryer is ancient (~1989), but only used for about 2 loads/ week.  The rest of the laundry hangs to dry.  We have an apartment sized chest freezer that is also ancient (1985).

We just got a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) installed, so our electricity use will go up a bit this year.  Hopefully our humidity and gas use will go down.

We also have power tools – drills, saws, compressor etc. – that come in very handy for doing home renos, like adding insulation.

I won’t list “all those small things”, like clock radio, electric razor, smart phone, etc.  But it’s worth looking at them to see how many you use how often.

Basically, EVERYTHING is turned off when not actively in use.  Many of them are also unplugged, to reduce phantom load.

I think there are three keys to our low electricity use:

  1. Almost all our stuff is ENERGY STAR
  2. Although we have too much “stuff”, I suspect we have less stuff than “average” families.
  3. We turn stuff off.
  4. We ALL work toward reducing energy use.

So, your turn:  How does your list differ from ours?    What can you change to become “below average”?

angie smallAngie manages energy conservation projects for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, and is an active member of McClure United Church.  You can contact her at angieb@environmentalsociety.ca

“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1)