What is a kilowatt hour in real life terms?
12/12/2005 09:42:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Unplugged living has a good post about what that little "kWh" from your energy bill is worth in real terms:
One of the most important steps in making the move to renewable energy resources or even just saving yourself some money by cutting back is to figure out what you’re using now. Once you know that, you’ll know what you can do without and the more you can do without, the less you’ll have to generate on your own (and the less you’ll have to spend to buy the gear).
I have been taking stock of what we have been spending the most money on energy wise in our house lately. Especially after I found out that things running on "stand-by" don't really use that much energy.

Here are some more real-life kilowatt hour examples from unplugged living (from sustainable energy blog):
A kWh of electricity means:
  • 1200 electric shaves (> 3 years)
  • Slice 100 breads
  • Drying your hair 15 times
  • 4 TV evenings
  • Listening to 15 CD's
  • Using a (small) refrigerator for 24 hours
  • 20 microwave meals
  • Drill 250 holes
  • 4 evenings of light with 60 W incandescent lamps
  • 20 evening of light with 11 W compact fluorescent light
Aside: I am hoping that "Santa" leaves me a Kill-a-Watt Meter under the tree. Then I can get to the bottom of what uses the most energy in the house.

Related to energy efficiency, here is a great tool that I found that National Grid, our local energy utility provides to its customers online:

electricity use (click for enlargement) Posted by Picasa

It is a historical view of my electricity use over the last year. A good way to put it all in perspective. There is also a chart view available and the same chart and graph is available for natural gas use. The only complaint I have is that the current month is on the left hand side of the graph running back into your history of usage towards the right side. (Chronological graphs usually run the opposite direction.)

Two things you can quickly surmise from my graph: 1. That central AC unit uses a lot of power in the summer months* (but we already knew that), 2. We are doing a good job at reducing our energy use - November down 32% compared with Nov '04, and December '05 down 26% from the same month last year.

This tool will help positively reinforce the changes that we have been making to our home and in our lifestyles.

*I am of the mind that there are pleasures in life that should be taken advantage of while they are around. If, G-d forbid, peak oil comes quickly, I will have not regretted one day of central AC use in the summer. There will be plenty of sweltering summers to sweat through then... Besides, what this graph doesn't tell you is that all of our energy is from renewable sources - wind and small hydro.
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On 5:49 AM , Siel said...

So yr in Syracuse, NY? How're things up there? Cold, I'm guessing,right now --

BTW, I've moved, a little, to greenlagirl.com :)

On 7:39 AM , baloghblog said...

I have updated my link for you now...

It is 7 freaking degrees right now! Brrr. And don't you dare post a comment about how its 75 in LA, I'll delete it!

On 9:24 AM , odograph said...

Yup, I think the Kill-A-Watt is a must-have for the envro-geek. For a case as bad as me, it's practically a video game.

BTW. not to rub it in, but as an experiment in eviro-geek science, I've decided not to run my heater this winter here in coastal southern California. So far so good. The coldest temp in the house was 55F one morning.

If Peak Oil got bad, I'm sure many of the younger and healthier out here could just eat a little more and not worry. Let that natural gas flow north to where it's needed.

On 2:29 PM , thisbiochemicallife said...

Great post!

This has motivated me to check up on my own gas and electricity usage and cut back where I can. I was unaware of that great tool at National Grid, I'll play around with that for a little while and see what I can learn.

I'm surprised at how little energy the cell phone charger used, I wonder how many of the standy-by products that are accused of being energy gluttons actually aren't.

By the way, I think the electricity monitor just made it onto my Christmas list. I don't know if I'll actually save enough money to cover the cost (looks like $25-50) but hell, it sure sounds like fun!!

Thanks for motivating me and undoubtedly others to do something about our energy usage.