During the Live Net Zero contest I continue to be surprised by how much I have learned through each challenge. The electricity challenge occurred during a particularly busy time in our household, as week two saw both our new windows and insulation installed. Furthermore, we had two speaking events occur this week in which we had the opportunity to spread the net zero word. First was that I presented information about the Live Net Zero contest and our home upgrades at an event I planned through my teachers’ union, the Halton ETFO local, which resulted in new members for the Climate Justice and Sustainability committee I created and several questions about what people can do in their homes.
Also, the neighbourhood climate action group that we created ran our first event: we organized and led a walking tour of our area stopping at various homes who have made upgrades and discussing ideas and the current programs in place to help homeowners looking at climate-focussed solutions for their homes. To top off the chaos of this particular two-week period our car was also in the shop!
However, we have reduced our electricity significantly, which is very exciting. I have started a new habit that while my morning coffee brews, I log into the Alectra site and see how much power we used the day before. And I am happy to share that it has dropped significantly! I do think that our household is going through a transitional phase: using an electric heat pump and the arrival of colder weather will increase our electricity use, but new windows, insulation, and electricity conservation have worked together to reduce our bills.
On November 19th we used 32.69 KWH of electricity, which cost $2.84. A week prior, November 12th, we used 57.73 KWH of electricity, which cost $5.02. On both days it was approximately -1 degrees Celsius. A difference in 25.02 KWH of power, and $2.18, which isn’t a huge amount of money for one day, but for a month is over $60.
Another example of how we see success in our efforts is that on October 22nd it was warmer outside (10 degrees Celsius), meaning we used less energy for the heat pump. Even with that notable difference we used less energy on the -1 degree November 19th than we did on this warmer day! On October 22nd we used 42.48 KWH, costing $3.14, which illustrates that we have made behaviour shifts to reduce our energy consumption.
Some of the things we did….
- We did not use the dryer at all, except for two occasions (see #2).
- We conducted a test of wool dryer balls: three balls that when you add them to your dryer absorb moisture and reduce the drying time. We put in a control group of sheets and towels, and then repeated the same process a week later with the same-sized load. The dryer balls reduced the drying times by approximately one third.
- We talked repeatedly with our kids about turning their lights off. Many changes were observed … but there is still room for growth.
- We searched for all of the phantom power being drained in our home—those devices that continue to drain energy even when they are off. We systematically installed power bars that are easily turned off when not needed, and in places without a power bar we developed habits to unplug items.
- We got rid of our fake fireplace. I love(d) that thing! And have used it for years as our home was so drafty. However, with our improved home envelope it is unnecessary and a huge waste of energy.
- We used the Instant Pot more – it uses waaaay less energy than an oven. I discovered an awesome Instant Pot banana bread recipe (the boys call it more of a banana cake …it is pretty tasty)!
- We paid close attention to time of use for running the dishwasher and washing machine.
- We vacuumed the dryer vent.
- We are transitioning to glass containers in the fridge.
- We used the meter to determine how much energy costs, helping to inform our electricity use.
- And, perhaps most importantly, we shared the information with our neighbours and friends!