For most of us the seasons have changed yet again. As we enter Fall, the leaves change color and the kids head back to school.
With the air conditioner off for the next few months you expect your electric bill to be a bit more affordable. However, we’re always consuming electricity in different ways; some more obvious than others. Here is a list of energy usage lifestyle changes we might go through so keep in mind there are always ways to reduce waste, especially the hidden ones.
1. Back to School means Back on the Grind
The kids have assignments due, tests coming up and group projects on the go. They’ll be home quite a bit and most likely strapped to their work stations and means of communication – expect heavy use of desktops, laptops and mobile phones that need plenty of charging. The lights stay on as they study late into the night, and may even fall asleep without noticing.
Power bars are a great way to give someone extra energy when they need a snack. But electric power bars will be what saves you money and time! While the thought of unplugging and rearranging your often tangled wires seems inconvenient, organization is the key to simplicity. Create a centralized “charging station” where everyone can plug in and load up, and place lamps near desktops to have a more concentrated light. While we’re on the topic of lighting, go around the house and replace any incandescent bulbs with either CFL or LED lighting – with a long school year ahead it’s better to do it sooner than later.
If it’s convenient, utilize your local library as a way to promote further learning and energy conservation. It’s often quiet, climate controlled and full of resources that are available at little or no cost. It’ll also be nice and quiet at your place!
2. More Activities means More Everything
It may seem like since the kids are away for a good part of the day that less energy would be required throughout the house. However the busier you are, the more demands you have to fulfill. You’ve added to the wardrobe some new school clothes and athletic gear, so expect hunger, water use and laundry to all pile up once the tough gets going.
Preparing multiple meals at once is a great way to reduce your energy bill. The stove and oven are considered a major appliance, and lots of use will result in higher bills. Using a microwave to reheat food is a far more economical choice and easy for all. Also, do bigger chores like laundry on the weekend and if you run the dishwasher daily, run it full during off-peak hours or before you go to bed.
Waiting in line to have a shower or fighting over who has been using up all the hot water can be a bad way to start the day. Incentives are always a good way to push people into the right direction. Give everyone a challenge with bragging rights (and possibly more), on the line. Run a ‘speedy shower” contest – where everyone times each others’ showers throughout the week. The person with the least time in the shower will get the most time somewhere else such as a later curfew, longer playing time etc…
3. Entertainment to Stimulate the Senses
Gaming consoles, gadgets and personal video recorders are often essential tools a hard working student (or parent!) utilizes to unwind during a long day. What many people may not know is just how much electricity is being consumed through these forms of entertainment. Since the PVR is awaiting the command to record at specified time slots, it remains on 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Consoles are also big energy eaters, so keeping them on when not in use does more damage than you think.
Watch the shows you and your family have pre-recorded altogether. If it’s a certain weekly reality show or game show, make it a point to be involved as a group. Of course the PVR is meant for convenience, but it’s always more fun with friends. Delete any unnecessary shows still lingering and if you have an On Demand option for television shows on the internet, give it a try. Ensure the PlayStation and XBox are off if not attended to.
Take entertainment to the outdoors. Once the weather really gets nippy, going out to enjoy it will be far less likely than the present. Toss around a football, bring out the nets for street hockey and use up the BBQ while you still can so you can cook an energy efficient meal with your loved ones by your side.
Enjoy the season!
Many of us are lucky to live in a time where electricity is always available. Gone are the days of oil-drenched torches to light the way along with hand-washing laundry in big vats of boiled water and soap…Nowadays, we have the technology of washing machines and central cooling to keep us comfortable and content.
When something that was once so difficult to achieve becomes readily available, it’s easy to take advantage of it and misuse its purpose. Have you ever run the dishwasher when it was not full? Have you left the house with the music or basement lights on? Do you open the fridge and stare for an extended amount of time before you decide what you’d like? These are things that were not possible to the hard working pilgrims of the past, and they wouldn’t be too excited to see how careless some folks can be when we don’t consider what we’re throwing away.
Our obsession with comfortable living makes it nearly unfathomable to sacrifice modern day luxuries. No air conditioning? No way. Hang drying laundry? That’s a lot of work. Of course, we pay big dollars to make life easier so there shouldn’t be an argument…you get what you pay for! Electricity abuse is something we justify, when we don’t want to face the truth. But the truth is, why waste what we have, just because we have it?
Let’s try to make our ancestors proud, and only use what we need. Having awareness of our energy consumption is the first step to making change. Maybe you’re not interested in saving the environment, but you want to save money. Maybe you do care about the environment, but have a hard time letting go. What about the children of the future? If we don’t show them we value our resources, how will they?
Look into our real-time electricity monitoring, and make this challenge fun. See the impact you make by turning off a power bar loaded with electronics. See the money you save when you use your appliances at night. Little by little, we can make a difference, and using Eyedro will certainly help.
Sometimes a consistently high electricity bill can be a complete mystery, despite your best efforts to uncover the truth.
One recent Eyedro customer had been struggling for a couple years with extremely high bills but couldn’t identify the cause. “There were a lot of different factors in play and several changes had taken place in a short amount of time.” The homeowner had done a significant addition to his home; increasing the size among other things, but also installing a hot tub and geothermal HVAC system. “I knew the geo system would increase my electricity bill. I also knew increasing the size of the home would have an impact.” However, the increase was not in line with his expectations.
After a couple seasons and seeing consistent winter bills of 90 kWh a day (and almost as high in the summer), a portable electricity monitor was used to help identify the problem. The homeowner spent weeks trying to figure out the problem. He was able to load information from the different appliances, but was still unable to understand why the daily usage was so high. “As expected, the geo was using a lot of power, but when it was on, the kWh were inline with expectations.” Still, he believed the HVAC was at the heart of the problem.
Then he installed Eyedro’s electricity monitor. Within a couple days he had identified the source of the problem, if not the cause.
After making several adjustments to their home they knew their bills would increase, but not by that much.
Every day at around 3 PM to approximately 3 AM, there was a dramatic increase in usage. With Eyedro, you are able to identify that it’s a 220V appliance, reducing it to two or three possibilities. In the end, the homeowner was able to confirm it was the HVAC system. However, the system was turned off at the thermostat, meaning no air conditioner or heater running. It was mid-spring and the outdoor temperature was already in the 80’s but cool enough at night to go without HVAC cooling. So what was the problem. It turns out the in-floor system used a pre-heat tank before circulating to the two in-floor zones. While the thermostat was set to “off” and clearly warm enough to not need heating, the pre-heat system was “regenerating” or “pre-heating” the tank for 12 hours a day!
Customer was able to find a 40% energy reduction in his home just by monitoring where his energy was going.
While the exact cause (or fix) has not been identified, with the in-floor system completely shut off manually, the electricity usage has been reduced by about 30 kWh per day, or 40%!
While most people would not be so easily swayed to believe they are past due on their credit card bills, the uncertainty of how to read monthly electricity use (KwH) makes it common for discrepancies to go unnoticed. Over the last month there have been dozens of reports where scammers have been targeting small business and homeowners, claiming they have late, overpaid or unpaid utility bills.
In most instances in cities like Montgomery, Alabama and Eau Claire, Wisconsin, consumers receive phone calls or knocks on their door from people impersonating utility representatives stating if they do not make immediate payments their services will be shut off.
“In order to avoid an interruption of service, the caller instructs the customer to go to a local retail store and purchase a pre-paid bank card for a certain amount. Customers then must call a particular phone number and provide the numeric codes from that bank card.”
– Dixie Electric
Unlike credit cards bills and bank statements which provide details for every transaction, utility costs vary not only by season, but day and time of day. Readings are provided in a lump sum at the end of the billing cycle, making it nearly impossible to differentiate electric costs and consumption other than comparing bills from one month to the next.
The hard pressed situation here is that because modern day society depends on electricity, consumers have conditioned themselves to expect a figure from their service provider despite understanding how the figure is formed.
City of Toronto fixed rates:
Do you as a restaurant owner, homeowner or small business owner understand why your electricity bills are the way they are? If a storm disrupts the meters which track your electricity use, how would you justify the costs? If you’re not mindful of off-peak and on-peak hours how do you process your monthly statements? These are the loopholes in which scam artists find their prey. More specific demographics include the elderly and immigrant families where English is not the first language. Anyone who thinks they’ve been a victim or a potential victim of utility scams should report the information to their local authorities.
If you want to find out how to make sense of your utility bills visit www.eyedro.com
Waterloo, Ontario. May 31, 2013 – Waterloo North Hydro today announced it has invested in Eyedro Green Solutions Inc. eyedro.com, a local software and electronics design company that helps consumers better understand their electricity usage and help them reduce costs.
Through its holding company, Waterloo North Hydro purchased 23 per cent of Eyedro with an option to purchase an additional 10 per cent within a year.
“This is an important strategic investment for us,” said Tim Jackson, Chair of Waterloo North Hydro’s Business Development Committee. “It aligns well with our goals of being a leader in the energy industry and seeking investments that create value for our customers and shareholders over the long term.”
Eyedro is a privately-owned company with a focus on affordable energy management products. Their flagship electricity monitoring products allow consumers to visualize electricity usage in real time which helps them identify waste and reduce electricity consumption and costs.
“One of the few tools available to homeowners and businesses is to monitor electricity usage,” said Trevor Orton, CEO and Co-Founder of Eyedro. “Smart meters are a good start, but real time information is the goal. We are very pleased to be associated with a long standing and reputable company such as Waterloo North Hydro.”
Eyedro is one of the startup companies participating in the Waterloo Accelerator Program and is based at the Communitech Hub. With this new funding, Eyedro plans to accelerate growth of its product development and sales teams. The capital will also allow the company to focus on value-add partnerships with other complementary energy saving products.
“Eyedro is offering a unique and low cost solution to help consumers better manage their energy usage and reduce costs” said Rene Gatien, President and CEO of Waterloo North Hydro Holding Corporation. “There is a growing need for Eyedro’s products due to the increasing cost of energy and conservation initiatives being introduced by various jurisdictions including Ontario. We are very excited to be part of the Eyedro team.”
About Waterloo North Hydro Holding Corporation
Waterloo North Hydro Holding Corporation is a holding company that owns Waterloo North Hydro Inc., the local distribution company and is jointly owned by the City of Waterloo, The Township of Wellesley and the Township of Woolwich.
For further details, please contact:
Waterloo North Hydro Holding Corporation
Rene Gatien, President & CEO
Eyedro Green Solutions Inc.
Trevor Orton, Co-Founder & CEO
eyedro.com & myFreeMonitor.com