Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Monitoring Our Electricity Usage

When I get an electricity bill, like most Australians these days, I hold my breath and look first at the dollar amount on the bill. Comparing bills over the past few years by how much they have cost you is slightly misleading, though, given that electricity unit prices in WA have increased by 62% in the past four years. You could have been using the same amount of electricity over this time, and still be receiving substantially higher bills now than you were in 2008.

This is why the second thing I look at on my power bill is the units we use, per day, on average.

When we moved into this house, I knew it wasn't very energy efficient the way it was. I wanted to make some changes to reduce both our outgoing expenses and the impact our energy usage has on the environment. To do this, I needed to start tracking how many units of electricity our household uses daily, on average. I went back a few bills and was horrified to discover that our usage had crept up as high as 38 units/day, averaged out over a billing period. I jumped onto Energy Made Easy to find out what the average usage in our location is for a family of our size. I discovered this:

Our energy usage was almost double the average! Energy usage is one area of life that I want to be below average in. So, we made some changes.

We switched the incandescent globes in every light socket in the house for low voltage CFLs.

We had an electrician come and swap the old ceiling fan with three decorative lights to a more streamlined, ONE (energy-saving) light ceiling fan.

He also removed the power-guzzling heat lamps from both bathrooms. Sure, we could have just left them and vowed not to use them, but that wasn't working too well for me.... they really do warm you up! He replaced them with a simple, CFL compatible light/fan combo.

While he was here, the electrician also installed LED downlights on the front deck which are far more energy efficient than the regular porch light.

We bought an Ecoswitch so that we can turn our TV/DVD/speakers off in one go, so that they don't have to remain on standby when not in use, and we don't have to move furniture every time we want to get to the switch.

We also bought an E-Co Shower Diamond Shower head, which only uses 7.5 litres/minute (normal showers use 20-30 litres/minute) and it really doesn't even feel like a water saving shower head. We also have the Every Drop Shower Saver installed, which allows us to cut the water flow while we lather up, without losing temperature. As our water is heated by electricity, both these devices save on the cost of heating too much water. The kids have a bath, and our tank is only 50litres, so it works out that they each use about 17 litres of heated water, which is the equivalent of Nath or I having a two and a half minute shower.

We put in this.... we only have to use this in dire emergencies.

We also made the decision to forfeit having a pool, as all of our research informed us that pool pumps are the single biggest user of household electricity. We switched it off, and are currently researching converting it into a food-producing aquaponics set up (fresh trout, anyone?)

In the future I would like to install one or two skylights, and make the switch to solar hot water. Eventually, I want to install solar panels, but the more changes we can make now, the smaller system we will need to buy.

Yesterday we received our bill in the mail, and I was delighted to see this:

We can (and will!) still improve on this number. Next on the list is to teach my daughters that light switches work both ways.

Do you monitor your electricity usage?
Any great energy saving tips for me??


  1. Love your ideas. If we could afford it, my partner and I would get solar panels. What you have put into practice so far is very achievable for any household. May I ask what the approximate cost was?

    1. We are in WA, and I'm not sure how prices compare across the country, but our last bill was $200 for 2 months. That includes a 100% Earth Friendly Tariff. I hope to get that down further as time goes on and we make more changes. We would love solar panels too, it's on our 'one day' list, but to maximise the benefits, I feel that we have to reduce our use as much as possible first. Thanks for stopping by :)


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