In early August, we had to bring our electrician in to diagnose a problem in the dining room. The overhead light refused to come on. Was it the switch, the light, something else? It's hard to diagnose when your electrical skills end at changing a light bulb and flicking a switch on and off.
Well, Jeff found an unpleasant little short in the line, so we wound up disconnecting things. A downside of the lath and plaster construction of our walls is that any replacement doesn't have the lego-like simplicity of drywall. It would be a Project. Here's what the inside of our walls likely looks like.
At the same time Jeff was diagnosing our troubles, he was also clipping together our new whole-house energy monitoring solution. This did have a lego-like simplicity. You clip monitors around 16 circuits and get second-by-second energy usage in a handy phone app.
Here's the marketing shot of what we were installing. This was my dream; the whole family around while I shared dazzling insight after insight.
And here's what it looked like installed. Not bad.
Well, I haven't gotten the family to circle round me on the couch yet, so y'all will have to do. Here's what the big picture looks like for roughly 4 weeks of usage.
And here's a blow-by-blow view of Monkey furiously working her way through four things at once on the computer in the living room.
Let me present a list of ten things I've learned.
- We have a 200 amp service and our max 15 minute usage thus far has been about 10 kilowatts. A 200 amp service has a practical max of about 40 kilowatts, so our max usage has only been 25% of capacity.
- Our furnace, which has been off all this time, is drawing over 4kwh per day, 12% of our total usage. And it's off! 😡 Some appliances have a high standby power usage and this may be one of them. Can we turn it off at the switch? I dunno, stay tuned.
- The big dogs of power usage are the electric dryer, the water heater, the car charger, and the AC. Who draws most when it's on? Place your bets now, I'll tell ya at the end.
- We have a big whole-house fan that goes in a window. At full blast, it consumes 15 times less electricity than our AC.
- Our Pacifica has consumed 60kwh so far. It's been a partial month with a trip to Iowa. A more realistic "full load" for a month might be triple or even quadruple in winter since batteries perform better in the summer than the winter. But that would still only be a total bill of $20 for electricity for the car.
- When our AC is on, our daily power use triples.
- Old wiring may not be what you expect. Monkey's bedroom is on the same circuit as most of our bedroom. We discovered in the winter we couldn't run multiple heaters at max as the bathroom and back bedrooms are on a circuit together.
- You can use this rich data for automation, though I haven't done much. You can tell when dryers are done, when bikes are finished charging and more.
- We have two mystery circuits that I still haven't figured out what they're attached to. And one of our measured circuits has consumed nothing in the past month.
- As promised, our "big dog" appliances ranked by ascending power hungriness: AC (3kw), Water heater (4.5kw), Dryer (6kw), Car charger (7kw). Woof!
Thanks surrogate family for joining me on my surrogate couch.