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How many Kilowatt Hours (kWh) do you use per day/month? Help me figure out why we're using 57.4...

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

 

There was an old thread http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/1161294/your-average-kilowatt-hour-kwh-usage-anyone-care-to-post-theirs 

 

 

Helpful, but I'm wondering about more recent. Or maybe there was more recent and I can't find it! I hate how the search feature here always returns things from 2005-2009 first. Makes me irriatated! LOL

 

 

Anyway, we just moved into an old farmhouse and I'm appauled at our bill. I can't figure out where it's all going! I purchased a house and took over billing in October. It sat empty until end of January when we moved in. Our first bill was for 32 days, and 1365 kWh $141.83. Second was for 1664.00 and only 29 days and was $172.05. Avg daily temp was 27 & 26 degrees respectively, so cold.

 

This doesn't even include the fact that we've gone through nearly $300/$400 in heating oil each of those months in ADDITION to the electricty as the actual furnace is run on fuel oil! For the period covered by the March bill, we used 123.4 gallons of fuel oil ($425.26).


When we weren't living here, I had gone through and unplugged EVERYTHING other than one phone/answering machine and the furnace was at 50. The water heater was drained/off during this period (and since replaced). And had two lights (CFC bulbs) on for 2 hrs/3 hrs each that came on with a timer. My bills were $18-20 for electric, so I have been SHOCKED by how high they are. I can't figure out where it's all going when we are here. Fuel oil was about half as well, though it was warmer most of the months we weren't here.

 

I do 2-3 loads of laundry a week  (1 hot, others cold) and do dry them. I will eventually hang to dry, but I don't know if it will make that much difference.

We have an outdoor 'flood light' on a motion censor in our driveway, but this was on when we were gone too. (Though probably didn't come on as much when we were gone as no one really came up to the house. Comes on probably 2-4 times a night now as we take our dog out that door to the potty. Only on for 5 mins each time.)

We are home A LOT as we homeschool, live very rural, and we cook 95% of our meals at home from scratch.

We turn off lights when we aren't using them.  

All have CFC bubs with the exception of a bigger flourescent fixture in the kitchen.

We heat with heating oil with an electic fan/distribution system. (The furnace is less than 5 yrs old.)

Auto-thermostat and it's kept at 60 day/55 night, and we did have some severely cold weather (below zero) during both of these periods where it felt like it ran non-stop just to keep it at that.

BRAND new supposedly energy efficient water heater installed in March when my bill was actually higher!?

I covered ALL windows in the house with blankets to try to keep some heat in.

1/2 of the house has newer double pane energy star windows but the other half does not.

House is SMALL. Only about 900 sf living space, then another 200-250 sf of a covered porch/laundry area that doesn't get heated directly, only what comes out of the house as go in/out and a small vent into laundry area from the furnace room in the cellar (dirt floor) below the main part of the house.

 

Use propane for our kitchen stove.

 

The fridge (which I had unplugged when we were gone) is REALLY old. Maybe 15-20 years? Could this be using a ton of electric? We have three computers--two laptops and a desktop. Two used for school for boys probably 4-6 hrs a day they are on, and mine seems to be perpetually on as I'm looking up this or that or just goofing around. So we run a modem/router/one phone-answering machine combo. And, I have a combo printer that has a power save and shuts itself/screen off when not in use and I don't unplug it. I sew and am good about unplugging when not in use.  

 

Everything else we are really good about unplugging when not using--coffee pot, toaster, cell phone chargers, etc--all get pulled out of outlet when not in direct use.

 

 

Any ideas??? I feel like we are always cold and in the dark and STILL spending FAR too much!!

 

My plan is to get a wood stove before next winter to help with the fuel oil expense, and because we have no back-up heat source here and I don't like that. Perhaps replace fridge? Look at insulation? I'm at a loss as to what would really help since when we weren't here....it was so low.

 


ETA:  I pulled the bills for kWh while we were gone.

 

Jan 30 days:  61 kWh used for the ENTIRE month. This was with the furnace turned way down and our fuel oil consumption was 1/2 the current fuel oil consumption (so should I assume that using 2x that would be about 120 kWh for heating? or is that a bad assumption). Having 2 lamps on a few hrs a day. Outdoor light. Phone plugged in. (Fridge unplugged. Water heater drained and off.)

 

Mar 29 days: 1664 used (57.4 kWh a day!) So basically we're using in a day what we used in a month not here?? That just seems impossible since we are so careful (or so I thought....)

 


Edited by Momsteader - 3/25/11 at 4:23pm
post #2 of 35

I'm surprised your bill is so high considering you don't seem to be using a lot of electricty. 

 

First things I'd think of that make the bill increase are things like:

heat (but you're using oil)

hot water (you said was replaced with a HE water heater.. was it converted from oil/propane to electric?)

Then big appliances like the dryer (is it electric?)

fridge (which could be increasing your bill if it wasn't on before but it shouldn't be that big of an increase)

Stove (you're cooking with propane)

Dishwasher (do you have one? and are you using the heated dry cycle?)

Then I'd say all the little things like lights, tv, computers, and stuff like that.  It seems like you're really good about not wasting energy with leaving things on or plugged in..

 

It could just be that since it's winter time, you're using more lights and all the little things are adding up to make it that high....

You might also want to check to see if the rates have gone up recently, I know rate changes and changes in location can make the bill go way up even when you're not using that much electricity.

 

I'd watch the bill over a few months and see if there are things that seem to be affecting it.  If you notice that it's going down because it's lighter out longer during the day you'll know it's the lights.  If you see a big drop in the summer when you're hanging clothes out to dry, you'll know it's the dryer....

 

I'd suggest turning off your main breaker and making sure the meter stops, but since you had the power on for a little while with only a few things and the bill was really low, I don't think that would help.  When we lived in an apartment, we found out we'd been paying for the neighbors electricity for a couple years when we shut off the power in our apartment to do some work and the meter was still running.... I finally called the electric company and got it straightened out, our bill went WAY down...LOL

 

 

Edited to add:

 

FWIW we used 746 kw for the month last month.. it was part feb/part march.  We heat/cook/and have hot water with gas,MIL uses an electric stove downstairs but not too often. We have an electric dryer and we do 10+ loads of laundry each week, we use the dishwasher (no heated dry), no microwave, but I use the toaster oven a lot, have a 8 year old frige (not HE), and MIL has an equally old if not older fridge downstairs, use all compact flourescent lights throughout the whole house and outside, our house isn't really insulated that great.  We have newer windows... vinyl double pane but they leak cold air horribly.  There is always 1 tv and 1 radio on in our house between the 2 floors since I'm home all day with 2 kids.  Our house is about 1200-1400 sq ft.  That seems a little insane that you are using double the electricity that we're using here!!!


Edited by JesKace - 3/25/11 at 4:18pm
post #3 of 35
Thread Starter 

I don't have anything to really compare it to as I've not owned the house long. These two months are first 'real' bills here.

 

Dryer is electric. Water is electric (and was, but was off when the bill was so low.)

No dishwasher.

Lights...perhaps. We did have to turn on by 4 pm on most days and I don't go to bed until midnight or later, but it's literally ONE light by my computer/work area that is on that late.

 

Yeah, I could try the breaker thing, but I think I got a pretty good 'baseline' from not being here. What the basic costs are to have it almost empty.

 

And see my note above I added about how little we used when we weren't here....Am I thinking correctly that if basic heat and 50 gallons of fuel oil cost 61 kWh to 'burn/heat' the house then twice that should only cost 'twice' the electric? If so, heating isn't really costing me all that much electricity each month.

 

I'm guessing the biggest culprit must be the water heater? But, you'd think replacing a very old one with an HE one this month I should have seen SOME kind of change (even turned the temp down!).

 

I tried to call about an energy audit, but I am in a remote, rural area and they aren't doing any more 'this year'. Call back in October......

post #4 of 35

I can't directly compare, but I'll give you my info- our house is about 1500 sq ft.  We have a gas hot water heater and gas heat.  Everything else is electric (stove, dryer).  Also, my dh runs mad computer stuff- iPads, iPods, iPhones, PS3s, Xbox, laptop, printer, extra monitor, surround sound system, and a huge TV that I know is an energy sucker.  And, there are times he's playing on that TV all night long!  Our house is about 11 years old and has pretty energy efficient windows and such.  Our lightbulbs are probably about 1/2 CFLs, and the other ones are regular and most of those are on dimmer switches.  

 

All that being said, our KWh in February (1-28) were only 878, so about 31 kwh a day.  Because we have the gas heat, our electric bill goes up in the summer when the air is on.  And, I'm a little ashamed to admit it, but I LIKE my air conditioning- we keep it set at around 74 downstairs and 72 upstairs, because my husband has to sleep during the day and he likes it cool.  However, even taking that into consideration, our average kwh per month is 1445 (over 2 1/2 years), so an average of 48 per day.  And, overall, we are not very careful about our electrical usage.  (I try to be, but whatever steps I take are usually ruined by the DH's Apple Store- err, I mean, our bedroom).  So, I don't think it's those things you do- turning off the lights, etc, that are making the big difference.  They very much make a difference, don't get me wrong, but I think you need to look at your big appliances to find out why you are getting killed with such a high bill.  

 

Our new dryer is energy efficient, but we've only had that about a month.  Our old dryer was only about 5 years old.  I do boatloads of laundry- like 2 loads a day.  Our stove is probably not energy efficient, and I know our fridge isn't.  (We had to replace our hot water heater and parts of our outdoor unit to our HVAC system- my bet is that we'll have to replace the fridge next.)  I don't believe our dishwasher is all that energy efficient, but I'm so bad about doing dishes, I guess that's not much of a problem!  Our HVAC system is original to the house, so about 11 years old.  That 60 inch TV is a total energy drain.  We have a "smaller" higher-efficiency TV in our bedroom (and by smaller, my DH got a 47") that is SUPER high-efficiency because we never use it.  But, his laptop runs constantly and we are always in a state of something (or somethingS) charging.  

 

We did hook our TV/game systems/surround sound into a surge protector thing that we turn off whenever we aren't using, since they are all "vampire" energy drainers that pull energy even when they are off.  By turning off the surge protector, it's like unplugging them, so that has helped.

 

Is there some way to figure out how much energy a specific appliance is pulling?  I'd place my bets on your heating system and your fridge, if it's that old.  Your new hot water heater should be ok.  Is your dryer very old?  I don't know anything about oil heat, I'm sorry.  :-(

 

Good luck, mama, and sign up for their next available energy audit- even if it's in October.  Maybe it would be worth it to have an independent contractor do an audit? 

post #5 of 35

I just happen to have my electric bill sitting right here in front of me, so I took a peek.

 

Average of 17.8 kWh per day last month, which is a relatively high month. We use more electricity in the spring. We heat with oil, like you, so electricity is not a large factor for our heat. We're fairly conservative without going any unusual lengths. I have to wonder about your hot water heater as well. You could also get a Kill A Watt device, and go to every plug you can find and see what the usage is. Of course some things in the house you won't be able to measure (at least not easily) but it can help you narrow it down if nothing else.

post #6 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrunchyClark View Post

I don't have anything to really compare it to as I've not owned the house long. These two months are first 'real' bills here.

 

Dryer is electric. Water is electric (and was, but was off when the bill was so low.)

No dishwasher.

Lights...perhaps. We did have to turn on by 4 pm on most days and I don't go to bed until midnight or later, but it's literally ONE light by my computer/work area that is on that late.

 

Yeah, I could try the breaker thing, but I think I got a pretty good 'baseline' from not being here. What the basic costs are to have it almost empty.

 

And see my note above I added about how little we used when we weren't here....Am I thinking correctly that if basic heat and 50 gallons of fuel oil cost 61 kWh to 'burn/heat' the house then twice that should only cost 'twice' the electric? If so, heating isn't really costing me all that much electricity each month.

 

I'm guessing the biggest culprit must be the water heater? But, you'd think replacing a very old one with an HE one this month I should have seen SOME kind of change (even turned the temp down!).

 

I tried to call about an energy audit, but I am in a remote, rural area and they aren't doing any more 'this year'. Call back in October......

 

Yeah that's really strange how it's up so high. 

 

I would think your assumptions about heating the house are about right... If you're using double the oil, then I'd say a safe assumption would be to double the electricity to run the system also.. But then again what type of heating system is it?  Is it forced hot air?  If it is, you could be using a lot more electricity just from the fan running constantly to keep the air circulating through the house?  Especially if you said you felt like it was running all the time on the really really cold days.  Then the amount of electricity used could possibly be well more than half.  If it's forced hot water or steam then the amount of electricity you'd use for the system shouldn't be a lot at all. 

 

I'd say having the water heater on and running is going to give you a decent bump in your bill... but not as much as you're seeing unless you guys are taking lots of showers and using a ton of hot water for other things.  But you said you do most of your wash in cold water and with the new water heater and turning down the temp on it should offset any of those costs. 

 

I'm sure the dryer is impacting the bill also.  I know in the winter it seems that I have to dry the clothes longer to get them dry because it's so cold out and my dryer is only 5 years old.

 

I think all the little stuff like the lights and whatnot is minimal on the usage compared to the big things that either make heat, or cool something down.  Hopefully you'll see a dramatic drop once things warm up outside.

 

That kill a watt meter looks pretty cool to see what things are using the most energy.  The only drawback is it's only for regular style plugs (wouldn't work to test out the dryer usage) and I'm sure the water heater is hard wired, so you wouldn't be able to test that, but you could try it out on the fridge and your other appliances.

 

I'd still get on the list for the energy audit even though it's so far away because even if your costs drop over the summer it will help you figure out where you're using all the energy in the winter months.

 

Also, could you call the electric company and see if they can give you an average usage for your area that other customers are using?  Maybe they can tell you if your bill is way higher than people somewhat around you or if you're about the same as them.  They may also be able to give you an average of the last residents of the home if they can look back into their files (assuming the people that were there before you used the same company)?

post #7 of 35

The dryer, the computers etc and the fridge will affect your bill but I've found it all comes down to insulation. I'm not familiar with oil heating, we use electric. (previous owner used oil but had stopped because it was so expensive). We're working on it, but our house isn't insulated very well so our heat is always coming on. Constantly. Even though we keep it fairly cold in here. If you bumped up the thermostat when you moved in, I'm guessing your furnace is coming on more often which then uses more electricity, right? 

 

We have an old farmhouse too and when we opened up the walls we saw a lot of ugly stuff but hardly any insulation (it's actually a log house with many cracks where the wind whistles through). Our windows are fine, it's the rest of the house that needs some help. We're insulating like crazy and thinking about putting in a small wood stove someday. I really, really understand what you're going through. We just paid $700 for 72 days of electricity/heat in the dead of winter. We only pay $40/mth in summer. And our house is cold. Like I said, we've been insulated but it's sort of patchy at this point without whole spaces done yet. I can't wait for warmer weather. 

post #8 of 35

i would think it's the dryer and the electric fan for the heater. those have been the highest for us in the past.

 

i'm sure your bill will go down in the summer, unless you need ac?

post #9 of 35

We have a newish (2005) condo 2bed 2 bath, and it's empty about 12 hours a day during the week, but for about 4 hours a day we have on a bajillion electronic items - we're only at 276 Kwh for February.

 

I would think that your clothes dryer is taking a bunch of it. See if you can get an attachment to vacuum out all the lint, that might help.

post #10 of 35
Thread Starter 

I have cleaned it all out. Will see if that helps. We only do a total of 12 dryer loads for 44 mins at most in a whole month. Maybe less.  I have friends who do that in a week and their bills are lower, so while it might contribute, it's got to be something else. So frustrated at this point!

post #11 of 35

Hope you figure it out; that does seem rather high.  Ours jumped this month up to 44 kWh per day, and I'm not sure why.  This is for about 3,000 sq. ft. in a newer (5 ish yr old) home, and our usage is higher than last month and a lot higher when compared to Feb. of last year.  Not sure what is up - someone mentioned TV's, do the newer LCD and LED's really use that much power, or are they more energy efficient than older tube televisions?  Just wondering about that, b/c we have 3 somewhat large new ones; and only had 1 last year.  But it's not like they are all on all the time.  I am not sure what all is gas in my home, besides the stove/oven, and heat (though I guess that uses electricity to power it, too).  Our gas bill tends to be under $100, but in the summer time our electric bill can be $300+ b/c we run the A/C pretty consistently living in the desert. We do have septic and well water, so our water is all powered by an electric pump - which I'm sure adds to the cost.

 

eta: I just looked through the old thread you linked from 11/09... I said there our usage was 41 kWh, so I guess we didn't go up much vs. that particular month.  For some reason, our use must have went down the last few months and then went up for Feb., if I am reading the statements correctly.  Anyhow, paying $5+ a day for electricity seems like a lot to me when I break it down that way.

post #12 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drummer's Wife View Post

Hope you figure it out; that does seem rather high.  Ours jumped this month up to 44 kWh per day, and I'm not sure why.  This is for about 3,000 sq. ft. in a newer (5 ish yr old) home, and our usage is higher than last month and a lot higher when compared to Feb. of last year.  Not sure what is up - someone mentioned TV's, do the newer LCD and LED's really use that much power, or are they more energy efficient than older tube televisions?  Just wondering about that, b/c we have 3 somewhat large new ones; and only had 1 last year.  But it's not like they are all on all the time.  I am not sure what all is gas in my home, besides the stove/oven, and heat (though I guess that uses electricity to power it, too).  Our gas bill tends to be under $100, but in the summer time our electric bill can be $300+ b/c we run the A/C pretty consistently living in the desert. We do have septic and well water, so our water is all powered by an electric pump - which I'm sure adds to the cost.

 

eta: I just looked through the old thread you linked from 11/09... I said there our usage was 41 kWh, so I guess we didn't go up much vs. that particular month.  For some reason, our use must have went down the last few months and then went up for Feb., if I am reading the statements correctly.  Anyhow, paying $5+ a day for electricity seems like a lot to me when I break it down that way.


According to DH, our upstairs TV (about 1 year old) is more energy efficient than older tube TV's.  I think it's an LED, but could be an LCD, either way it's very light and thin.  Our TV downstairs is about 3 1/2 years old.  I don't know if it's a plasma or LCD, but it's freaking heavy and heat radiates off of it after it's been on a while.  He says that TV is less energy efficient than older TVs.  He could be making stuff up so he has an excuse to buy another TV.  LOL  lol.gif

 

post #13 of 35
Thread Starter 

LOL Sharon!  Boys always need a good excuse for a new toy, right? :)

 

I'm ordering a Kill-A-Watt and going to play around with what we've got here to see where it's all going!

post #14 of 35

Get an energy audit!

post #15 of 35
Thread Starter 



I must not have added that here. I am really rural and the company that serves my area does them only Oct to Apr and they aren't accepting any more requests at this time until next Oct which is far too long to wait. I will need to research if there are any private companies that do it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by maptome View Post

Get an energy audit!



 

post #16 of 35

A 15-20 year old fridge can use a lot of electricity.

 

Your furnace/heating system also takes electricity, so being cold out will make it use more.

 

I have an old house too, and I have to agree that there's a shocking lack of insulation in the walls.

post #17 of 35

we used 1018 kwh for 28 days.  after tax was $80.79

gas was 68 therms for $47.22

 

we have people in the house 24/7/  during the day we heat the house to 70, at night we drop it to 60 and use plug in heaters in the bedrooms.  our heat is gas but it uses an electric fan.  we have a new washer and drier both electric.  new fridge, our stove is new and gas.  we use all energy saving bulbs.  we leave the bathroom light on at night for DS2.  During the day we have a least one of the two tvs on and a laptop and computer running,  we usually dont trun the lightd off, like right now we have 5 lights on.  our water heater is a new 50 gallon energy star.  we wash a load of laundry daily.  we dont use a dishwasher.

post #18 of 35

do you have anything pluggedin that you aren't thinking of? We are on our own meter-- and we didn't realize how much our old fridge was costing us. We got rid of that thign quick!

post #19 of 35

An average house in the USA uses 12,000 KWH per year. (a fairly big part of that is air conditioner usage, not applicable for you) Your consumption is way over and it can be brought down. I don't think the new water heater is the problem.

 

The #1 suspect for your situation is the fridge. An older, failing fridge can gulp massive amounts of electricity. You can test your fridge with a Kill-o-watt meter, about $25 from Amazon or your local home center (home depot, for example) Replace it with an energy star fridge.

 

Our LCD TV uses about 125 W. We have it on a smart power strip ($27, amazon.com) so all the accessories get turned off automatically. If you have a big plasma tv it could use much more. You can use the kill-a-watt to test the computers, tv, etc.

 

Since warm weather is approaching, you may want to take advantage of that to do what you can to reduce heating costs. (because heating oil is expensive and could go higher! the furnace also uses lots of electricity to power the blower.) A very thorough energy audit should run about $400-500, including detailed instructions for what you need to do to improve insulation/ building envelope. PM me if you need a name in your area. There are lots of things which can be done for a small older home to keep all of the heated air inside, some are DIY projects.

post #20 of 35
Thread Starter 

Texmati, I don't!   I went room by room in October when the house was vacated (purchased from an estate). There were things here still that we're using until our goods arrive (we moved here from Puerto Rico). And currently 2 of the bedrooms have NOTHING plugged in at all. And I all things in other bedroom (playroom) are on a power strip that is turned off each night. And living room/sewing area again are all on a power strip that is turned off nightly. Only things not turned off nightly are strip with phone/modem/router and there are two lamps plugged in that aren't on power strips. Then fridge/microwave/stove (screen is electronic, useage is gas) in kitchen. Then of course blower on furnace, water heater, washer/dryer. All other things unplugged when not in use.

 

PM'd your Sleepless--would love that info!

 

Beginning to really suspect the fridge...but will find out soon!

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