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Home Frugal Living Learn How to Calculate Your Household Power Consumption

Learn How to Calculate Your Household Power Consumption

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There's no getting around it, electricity prices are not about to go down any time soon. This is why it's so important for households and families to learn which household items, like appliances, are the biggest energy consumers and to take steps to limit their use of those items.

Households should approach electrical power consumption as if it were a business, dividing their costs into two categories: fixed and variable.

Fixed costs represent items that can’t be shut off or eliminated, such as that GE refrigerator, Kenmore stove, furnace fan, etc. You must be as objective as possible when listing fixed items, as there isn’t any room for the personal comforts on this list, only the necessities. This list will become your baseline, or better yet, your power consumption goal for the household.

All of the other power-consuming items in your home--lights, computers, hair dryer, etc--are your variable costs. To start reducing your monthly energy bills, focus on this list of items.

Once you’ve created your two lists, you must then calculate the amount of power that each item uses. Start with the fixed costs, as these should be the easiest to calculate because their consumption should be based on a cycle. For example, a fridge may cycle an average of 4 times an hour for 5 minutes, 24 hours a day, 30 days a month, and, therefore, the calculation:

Watt hours = (4 x (5/60)) x 24 x 30 x 700 (running wattage) = 168 000 Wh or 168 KWh

Refer to the table and the calculation samples if you need any further help. For the purpose of filling out your list, do not use or attempt to use the starting wattage. Starting wattage will be explained and used in a different context in a future article.

Don’t concern yourself with being 100 per cent accurate with this calculation. You can refine this calculation as you get more familiar with your power usage. Having gone through each item on your ‘fixed’ list, you should now have your household’s total fixed power usage. Total all of the items and you now have your household power usage GOAL.

NOTE: Resist the temptation to put a dollar figure to this baseline as power costs per KWh can fluctuate, and it could skew your household GOAL. The ultimate goal should be to reduce power consumption and the dollar savings will follow.

Secondly, variable costs can be calculated in exactly the same manner, however, you must determine the amount of time per month that you use each particular item. Once you’ve tallied up the power usage of each item on your ‘variable’ list, you can evaluate your household energy consumption, and either eliminate some of these variable items completely or at least limit their power usage.

Appliance / Tool

Running Watts

Starting Watts

Cordless Phone

5

5

Printer

8

5

Laptop

20

20

Desk Top Computer

250

250

Incandescent light bulb

60

60

Alarm / Radio Clock

100

100

Humidifier

100

100

LCD 40" TV (TYP.)

200

200

Plasma 40" TV (TYP.)

300

300

Dehumidifier

350

350

Blender

385

385

Home Alarm System

500

500

Coffee Maker

800

800

Furnace Fan (1/3 hp)

700

1400

Fridge / Freezer

700

2200

Garage Door Opener (1/2 hp)

875

2350

Microwave

1000

1000

Iron

1000

1000

Washer

1150

2250

Toaster Oven

1200

1200

800 PSI Pressure Washer

1200

1200

7.25" Circular Saw

1400

2300

Dishwasher

1500

1500

Table Saw

2000

2000

Oven

2400

2400

Central Air Conditioner

3500

4700

*NOTE: This is the typical wattage for these items, however, you can check wattage on the appliance / tool for higher accuracy.

A Starting Watt is best described as the amount of energy that's needed to overcome inertia. The best example of an appliance which requires a large starting wattage is a central air conditioning unit.  In an unpowered state, the fan blades within the central air unit have high inertial forces, meaning they tend to want to stay at rest (static). To overcome these inertial forces, your A/C unit must draw large amounts of power to free the fan from its static position. This high wattage, however, is only temporary and will drop its power consumption as the fan reaches steady operation.

A Running Watt is best described as the amount of energy that's needed to operate an appliance or tool. Typically, appliances and tools will be labelled with their running watts.

NOTE: If you are unable to find the power consumption labelled on your appliance or tool, you can calculate the approximate power usage by multiplying the unit's voltage by the current (amps) that it draws.

Example: Corded 1/2" Drill

110 volt (drill plugged into home (North America) wall socket)

10 amps (labelled on drill)

Power (watts) = 110 volts x 10 amps

Power = 1100 watts

Now, the most important of the calculations: we can figure out how much money it will cost you to run an appliance, tool, etc. by calculating the KWh, which is the unit of measure that hydro companies use to figure out your monthly bills.

KWh (Kilo watt hour)

Example continued....

Drill used for 1/2 an hour

Power = 1100 watts = 1.1 KW

KWh = 1.1 x 0.5

KWh = 0.55 KWh

These simple calculations can be used to approximate your monthly electrical bill. Use the table above to help you calculate the power usage in your home. NOTE: once you've calculated each appliance's KWh, sum all values and multiply by your region's (i.e. Durham Region) average electrical cost to reveal your approximate monthly electrical cost.

Example

Total KWh = 0.55 + 1.1 + 4.5 + 2.1 = 8.25 KWh

Durham Region Average cost per KWh = $0.08

Cost = 8.25 KWh x $0.08 = $0.66

 

This isn't the best example of a monthly bill, but it shows the calculation. Also, there's a product that you can buy and use with each appliance or tool to find its actual power usage, however, it does require investment dollars, probably in the neighbourhood of $50 or $60. To note, the starting watts are more of a concern for people who are aiming to go off the grid (i.e. solar/wind), because they must keep in mind that there's a spike in power during initial appliance and tool usage. We could talk about that further, in another article.


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Frugal living is waste free! Frugal living requires practical skills. Frugal living is applied thrift. Frugal living means spotting fads. Frugal living embraces efficiency. Frugal living is made up of thousands of money saving tips. Frugal living facilitates faster debt repayment. Frugal living accelerates wealth creation!

 


 



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