Sunday, January 27, 2019

My Electric bill sucked!

Forsyth MO. - It being winter and all, I'd expect my electric bill from Liberty - a Canadian owned company would be higher than on other more warm months. My bill is split to include the last half of one month and the first half of the next (if that appears to be a half-assed way to do things, it is). This money was to be billed in the middle of February 2019 and so helped to keep the customers somewhat confused...

So, in the later part of December 2018, things were pretty consistent while the first half of January could better be described as chaotic! So, what gives? Well, it all come down to a question of the perception of cold. Foe me, anytime the average temperature for the day is at or above 40 degrees, I tend to leave the furnace off and survive suing a pair of space heaters. When, however, the temps wander into the lower regions, I will most always kick on the furnace and suffer the much higher usage of power. That's pretty much what did happen in the first two weeks of January and I can tell you that things did not improve after the 15th! My bill of $133 was figured on a total KwH amount of 884 multiplied by .13006 cents with an added $18 charge to cover 'use fees' and ADP or additional dealer profit. And you know what? I could live with that excepting that the monies all go to Canada...

Monday, December 10, 2018

Whole house versus single room heating!

Dec 2018 average temps vs last four years averages combined
Data valid for Forsyth, Mo.
Taney County MO. - After getting through the first third of December in a somewhat fine style, it was becoming apparent that my cold weather strategy of heating just one room in my condominium was bearing some savings in heating costs. Following are the current temperature and power use averages:

December 2018 - (Days 1 through 10)

Average temperature: 39.0°F (versus a historical average of 35°F)

Average power used per day: 22.7 KwH's

At the current rate and assuming that the temps continued to hover at close to normal averages, I could expect to expend about 682 kilowatt hours of electricity. With the current rate (Liberty Utilities) at .13006 per KwH, that would result in a 31 day total of $88.70. Then after the COOP finishes packing in additional charges of about $18, I would have a bill equaling about $107 for the month.

Now, had I tried to warm the entire 900 square foot condo, I would have averaged about 39 KwH's each day for a total bill of $175! Thus, I will have saved about $68 by choosing my plan of selective heating.

OK, I get you all. Sixty or seventy bucks ain't all that much of a savings. However, it will be exactly that amount of money that the Electric COOP out of Canada will not be getting out of me!

About that graphic on top. After taking the average of the last four years (2014-2017) and then plotting those against what is happening in 2018, it was pretty clear to see the days were cooler than had been the case before. That trend looked to hold true through at least the 22nd day of the month too. Last year I consumed 829 KwH's at a cost of ~$126. With me coming in significantly below that figure, not only was I saving some energy, but I was doing so in colder temps than had be the case some past years! That was good news to me.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Massive power outages strike SW MO!

Liberty Utilities of Canada outage map
Forsyth Mo. - Whenever a power outage affects over seven thousand paying customers for any period of time, (this one lasting over two hours), you can expect that companies like Empire/Liberty a foreign owned power coop might receive a little flack from me, as a result. This outage affected approximately 7800 customers with the true cause being unreported as of this post. (The best thinking was that much of the problems were caused by high winds). And, while this author does not sanction rumors including; upper level mismanagement, antiquated infrastructure or poor maintenance procedures... He does feel inclined to think that where the power is found to be out, that there are likely problems to be found.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Summer time power use for 2018!

Forsyth MO: It was august the 12th and so I was arguably in late summer. I thought it might be of historical interest (at least to myself) to take a gander at the power use curves I was experiencing.

Following are the ground parameters:

Space to be cooled = 900 square feet with a volume of about 7,200 cubic feet.
3.5 ton 2 stage AC unit set to maintain 81F.
Blinds were generally closed.
Normal power use items always on - Computer equipment, fans, flat screen TV
Power appliances cyclical: water heater, refrigerator
Occasional use: Convection stove top, microwave, washer and dryer

The following scatter chart reflected energy consumed as compared to the average outdoor temperatures over a period of 8 days where the daily highs ran a gauntlet from 88 up to 96 degrees. Nighttime temperatures averaged from 60 to 68F. In other words a pretty typical period with partly cloudy skies thrown in for good measure.

Click to enlarge
Understanding that my baseline of power use (ie the average consumed with no AC used) was at about 14 kilowatt hours a day, the trend line that was generated using a scatter chart (avg temp vs kwh) correlated rather well. My average daily use of 25.5 kWh's indicated that my electric bill was going to be ((25.5*30)*.13006) +15 or $115. Not too bad as the average internal temp in the condo ranged from 81 to 84 degrees. Note that whenever the average daily temp drops below 74 degrees, I normally have the AC turned off and so follow a power use level that results in electric bills below $100.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

EdgeStar CRF321SS Mini Fridge review!

After doing a casual review on the EdgeStar CRF321SS 3.1 Cu. Ft. mini fridge with freezer, I decided to get some hard data for anyone who might be thinking to plunk down the money to purchase one. So, here is some of the data I gathered....
EL USB 2 sensor

Observation dates: October 24-26, 2017
Ambient room temperature ~ 76 - 80ยบF.
Sensor: EL USB-2
Kill A Watt
For the period of the experiment (18 hours for the Freezer), I accumulated the following information:

Freezer data
FREEZER: I placed the USB sensor into the freezer at 3:20 PM CST and got the following readings. Note that while this was not a true scientific styled test, I do feel it did represent the kind of performance that customers could expect.... That said, I did take note that the average temperature was 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit. That was above the recommended setting of 0 degrees, but since I rarely keep foods frozen for very long, it was not a big concern for me... Update: Here was the result (the next graph was after a minor setting adjustment):

 REFRIGERATOR: After measuring the data for the freezer, I then placed the sensor in about the middle area of the refrigerator and recorded for 24 hours. Unlike the freezer, which was not opened during the period of measurement taking, I did open the refrigerator fairly often to retrieve food and beverages. Hey, I'm a thirsty sort of guy!

I was somewhat surprised to see the average temperature of 44.5F! But, I was also not too concerned as I use this fridge to cool bottles of water, V8 and Dole peach cups! Having said that, I did up the cooling dial a bit. It had been centered on medium cool in the past. After doing that and remeasuring, I got this data report:
The power used, over a 24 hour period was up to .44 kWh's! Not bad!

POWER USE: After the 24 hours testing period had elapsed, I had recorded power usage at a total of 0.40 kWh's. That averages out to about .0167 kW's per hour for an estimated cost of .002 cents. (I was using using the .13006 rate that Empire Electric charges for electricity, where I live in southwest Missouri). Doing the math, I would expect the monthly cost for this Energy Star appliance to be at about $1.56! Not too shabby!

NOISE LEVELS: Finally, I used a sound app to get an idea of the decibel level of this unit when it was running. It turned out that I got about 28 decibels, or the sound level that rustling leaves would make! Not bad....

BOTTOM LINE: Since June 2017, when I purchased this unit, I've been extremely happy!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Well, it is spring, and storms do come a knocking!

Taney County MO – The National Weather Service is calling for the potential for severe weather from Wednesday, April 25, on through the coming weekend, several days later! That is noting unusual, and if your electric coop has buried your power and communication cables underground, it should be a non event. For those whose cables are hung on poles, rapid power fluctuation and sudden spikes from lightening bolts could destroy some of your expensive electronics! At the very least, power surges will shorten the life of sensitive equipment!

Ten years ago, the probability of any real harm from lightening was a lot less, as most people had little in the way of sensitive equipment to worry about. Today that isn't the case for many! In my home there are tablets, multiple computers, cellphones, digital TV and a host of other devices that depend on circuit boards in order to operate! Even a surge protector may or may not save them from a close-in strike! So, it pays to be weather aware and to perform a few simple steps to make sure that the storms come and go without incident.

  1. Unplug any electronic device that you still want to use after the storm. I generally switch off my computers, routers, TV's and microwave just to be sure they are isolated from power surges.
  2. Consider purchasing a better grade of surge protection. This is especially important for that typical ball of outlets that service computer equipment! Check out this article that describes some of the better units.
  3. Take out insurance to protect you from just this type of problem, if the manufacturer offers it.
  4. Invest in a weather radio with S.A.M.E technology – you'll get timely warnings that pertain only to your county.
  5. Where possible, have your equipment clustered off a few switched multi-outlets. Then, all you need to do is to flip a few switches with it begins to boom outdoors!

Lastly, encourage your city and local electric company to invest in underground runs that will make everyone's life a whole lot more enjoyable!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Empire Electric and their raised rates!

Taney County MO – Recently I noticed that some of my fellow county citizens were complaining about their electric bills, citing large apparent increases. I investigated this and found some potential reasons why their bills may have jumped!

  1. Empire did, in fact, raise its rates recently! Back in September, “The Missouri Public Service Commission on Friday formally approved an agreement its staff and other parties had reached with The Empire District Electric Co. earlier this summer that will result in a monthly increase of $7.60 for an Empire customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month.” This increase went into effect on September 14, 2016! The current rate table for Empire is shown below;
Note that the Summer Season is the first four monthly billing periods billed on and after June 16, while the Winter Season will be the remaining eight monthly billing periods of the calendar year.

  1. Billing by Empire is typically not for the last thirty days but rather about a half month past that point in time. Ergo, my electric bill that just arrived on the 31st of January was actually for the period December 14, 2016 to January 16, 2017. Of some interest, however, in that later part of December we incurred much warmer temperatures than normal. My readings for that period of time are shown below. Note that were were about four warmer than what the 30 year average had been! Interesting....

In addition, the temps from January 1 to January 16, 2016 were also on the warm side of history reading almost five degrees above what is normal! So, one would think that my bill would be a little lower than last year, wouldn't one?

Interestingly, the kilowatt hours used were greater than the same period last year which further exacerbated a bill that had seen significant rate hikes! Is there something wrong here? Yes, I think that there is! Below is a direct comparison between 2016 and 2017 billings: