February 8, 2015

The Price Of Power

"The average American or Canadian household in 2010 used about twenty times more than the typical Nigerian household, and two to three times more than a typical European home."

The cost of electricity is going up and it is a trend that is likely to continue. Such increases will be universal as we try to continue to feed the electricity pig-out that powers our excessive lifestyles.

Before leaving British Columbia we saw our power rate go up, and another 10% increase will take effect April 1 of this year. Even after this year's increase BC will still have some of the least expensive power in Canada (Quebec pays half the rate of BC).

Upon arriving in Nova Scotia we started paying twice the amount for power as we were paying on the coast.

But what if we could get electricity at half the price? While not an option in BC, that situation was on offer here with a change over to Time Of Day (TOD) electric metering. A TOD meter has the ability to measure electricity usage at different rates and times.

Now we continue to do what we can to eliminate power usage, and try to shift as much of our powered activities to low peak times/rates. That means shifting usage to an 11:00 pm to 7:00 am time slot on weekdays (not the most convenient), weekend days and holidays. We have seen our schedule change to take advantage of the half price power.

Our home has a hot water in-floor heating system that uses an efficient tankless electric heater. It is on a timer so we can set it to heat the house's concrete slab at night during off peak rates. Then the system shuts off while the slab radiates heat into the house slowly throughout the day when electric rates are higher.

But in spite of the advances that allow us to pay less for power, conservation is still the best way to go. It doesn't matter how much it costs, we need to reduce our demand for power to a reasonable level that can be supported with sustainable sources such as tidal, wind, micro-hydro, biogas and solar.

"While the US and Canada are up around 4,500 kWh per person (per year), the UK and Germany are below 2,000 kWh.  In Brazil, Mexico and China per person use is just 500 kWh, but growth is very different.  In Brazil residential use per person has been stable over the last 20 years, whereas in Mexico it is up 50% and in China it has increased 600%." - Shrink That Footprint


  1. Thanks for sharing that chart, Gregg. I feel ashamed to see that Australia is the 3rd highest user of electricity.

    A tip for anyone trying to cut back their power usage with kids. I reward my kids if the quarterly bill comes in and we've managed to have a lower usage than the same quarter last year (ie I'm comparing a Summer bill with a Summer bill and a Winter bill with a Winter bill).

    Our bills, which were already lower than average, have continued to decrease over the last 5 quarterly bills. We are now down to just above half the average usage for a household our size - hooray!! I take the kids to a cafe for a piece of cake each time we succeed - it sure beats nagging them to turn things off!

    When they were younger we used to have one day a week where we aimed to use no electricity, other than heating up the dinner, and the fan on our wood fire. This was really fun for them - candle light dinners and teeth brushed by the light of the camping lamp - and for me it meant no washing,vacuuming or charging of technology. I loved it.


  2. I`m glad to have found your blog Gregg. For the last two months I`ve been trying to reduce our power usage and I`m actually having a lot of fun with it. I found out I don`t need as much light as I thought I did. I used to turn on the lights without thinking... Now I turn them on when I need them.. sometimes there is more than enough daylight still available. I`ve reduced the temperature to which we heat our house and I`m amazed how quickly we all adapted to it. I`ve been watching other people in the house and reminding them to turn the lights off. You`d be surprised how many times people turn on the light and leave the room. So far the January bill came in much lower than at the same last year. Hopefully I`m on the right track.


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