"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Our "Owl" is watching us...

I mentioned in an earlier post that I initially bought the Owl electricity monitor for the farm, to monitor how much power we have used and thus enable us to work out how much power we have left in our future deep cycle batteries.  Admittedly, we will not be using a huge amount of power - mainly for our lights and our future TV (in the evenings). Our water (bathroom and kitchen) is heated by our 10lt Kexin gas heater and I have found a solar powered 12vlt freezer, which, once we purchase it, will freeze our food (chicken, preserves, hubby's beer which is just not cold enough and needs a quick chill, etc) as well as 5tl bottles of water, which will be replaced on a daily basis, in order to keep our large cooler box at fridge temperature. Through our frequent trips to the farm we know this system works!

But, until we have our wind turbine and deep cycle batteries, we are using the Owl at home.  It has been tremendous.  On a daily basis we can see, at any given time, how much power we are consuming, what it's costing us, and how much green house gas our electricity consumption is causing.  Each of us, in passing the machine, which is located on our kitchen counter, has said - "wow, we're using that much - what can we switch off?"

The Owl monitor showing (top) energy consumption (the dishwasher was on and (bottom) green house gas emissions

I have kept a spreadsheet of our electricity consumption for the past 3 years - below is a summary of the average electricity consumtion for the month of March in those years:

March 2007 36.414 kWh / day @ 30.05 cents / kWh
March 2008 29.464 kWh / day @ 32.21 cents / kWh
March 2009 22.042 kWh / day @ 47.38 cents / kWh
March 2010 20.862 kWh / day @ 64.44 cents / kWh

Scary to see the price increases - and we have a minimum of 24.8% increase ahead of us - effective in July.  But it has been very rewarding to see our consumption coming down.  It wasn't that difficult :

- I cleaned out and switched off our chest freezer "(out of date' food tends to collect at the bottom anyway and we have two fridges which both have freezers)
- the number of lights we have on in the evenings have been reduced and all our lights globes have been replaced with CFL's
- our geyser is turned down to 50oC (I still have to get a geyser blanket)
- we stopped leaving sundry equipment on standby
- the pool motor now only runs for an hour in the morning and another in the evening - and the pool is sparkling!

This is all good practice for our future farm living - being more aware of everything can only benefit us in the long term.

And it is educating our son, who still lives at home, about his own future place and the real costs of living.


Michelle said...

Wow, Dani, you and the family are doing an amazing job! Congratulations! All your hard work and attention to detail is really "paying off." I've been taking many of the same steps here to cut back on my usage, and they've really helped. Unfortunately, the electric company keeps raising their rates, so I'm still losing ground a bit. But anything helps, so I continue. Keep the faith!