Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Positive Setback

Today I paid my first full-month electrical bill for the new house.  Ouch.  The fact that the bill came bundled with the notice of a pending rate increase added insult to injury.

The rate plan I'm on charges peak rates from noon to 7pm weekdays and off-peak rates (much cheaper) the rest of the time.  I've been doing my best not to use much energy during peak hours.  I wash dishes, do the laundry, clean the house, watch TV and cook during off-peak times.  I even try not to switch on the lights until 7pm.  However, I can't shut everything down.  Since I work at home, my computer and its friends the modem and the wireless router are usually on all day long.  Air conditioning is the major energy user, though, especially since the Phoenix area just sweltered through the hottest August in recorded history, and September is shaping up to be more of the same.

My sister is an electrical engineer who works for the local power company, and her answer to the heat pump's drain on her bank account was to put in a set-back thermostat.  During the summer she runs the air conditioning full blast all morning at off-peak rates until her house could almost be used to hang meat; then it shuts off for most of the afternoon, turning on again in time to cool down the house (if necessary) before she returns.  Often the house is so cold by noon that it's warmed up just enough to be comfortable in the evening, and she claims to save a bundle during the summer.  I haven't found a set-back thermostat yet that will work with my heat pump, but I'm sure I can with just a little more online research.

I'm not positive that I can follow her strategy precisely; as cold as her house sometimes gets, I might go into hibernation around lunchtime.  Still, if by installing a set-back thermostat I can save even $20 or $30 during the hottest and coldest months, I can stand a little temporary discomfort.  Over the long run, my bank account will certainly thank me.

"And God said, 'Let there be light' and there was light, but the Electricity Board said He would have to wait until Thursday to be connected. " ~Spike Milligan

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