Thursday, May 27, 2010

The switch to time of use rates is on

I received the inevitable letter today from HydroOne informing me I will begin paying time of use rates at my current address on June 26. Good thing I'm moving and the house closes on June 25! I hope the new owners will be able to cope. I applied the two reminder labels with the TOU charts to the dryer and fridge that are staying with the house.

One interesting thing I noticed is that the letter and labels have the Ontario government logo on them. I guess HydroOne wants to remind you who's behind this whole scheme.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Smart Meter Data Collector

Here is an example of a Smart Meter data collector that was installed by Hydro One. In this particular neighbourhood, all the power lines are underground, so Hydro One does not have a utility pole of its own to attach a data collector to. This particular installation piggy backs on the meter serving a Bell Canada DSLAM for high speed Internet. This is a good place to install this since there is no homeowner to complain about this ugly thing attached to the side of their home.

This data collector relays all data via standard cellular telephone technology, and it supports almost every cellular technology, so Hydro One isn't tied to a particular cell phone provider. Must be some kind of cell phone bill!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vampire Loads

I've been looking at the base load of my electricity consumption. The base load is the sum of all the things you have running continuously in your home. Most of this load is the refrigerator/freezer, but the rest of it can be comprised of what are popularly known as vampire loads or phantom loads. Many of these loads can be only one or two watts, but add those up and they can be significant.

Presently, my base load is 0.19kWh per hour, which equals 190 Watts. So even when we're sleeping, we have 190 Watts worth of stuff in our house running, which is like having two 100 Watt light bulbs lit 24 hours a day. To put this in perspective, 190W of stuff running 8760 hours per year will cost the average Ontario rate payer $233 a year! In this graph which shows one weekday of my electricity usage hour-by-hour, the base load is 40% of the daily total. The base load is the easiest thing to reduce and offers the most "bang for the buck" since these aren't typically user controlled things like lights.

To determine what makes up this 190 Watts, I decided to go through my home with a Kill-A-Watt plug-in meter and measure the draw of every device when it's plugged in but powered "off." I only listed devices that had an idle draw of at least one watt. Here are the results of my findings:

Interesting to note that the Bell TV receivers use the same amount of power whether they're on or off, since they are constantly updating the programming guide or looking for new software updates, both of which only occur when the unit is "off." The price we pay for convenience. I guess it beats buying a copy of TV Guide every week. I wonder how much power nationwide Bell's receivers are consuming...

So, out of the 190 Watts I've only been able to track down 135 so far. There are other things in the house that are directly connected to the power supply or run off 220V that the Kill-A-Watt can't connect to:
  • Dishwasher
  • Stove
  • Dryer
  • Furnace
  • Central Air Conditioner
  • Doorbell Transformer (rated for 5 VA)
So to determine the load for each these, I will shut them down on alternating nights and see what the difference is on the TOU portal page.

55 Watts to go - that's as much load as my refrigerator!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

No update on the portal discrepancy

No word from HydroOne on my inquiry regarding the TOU discrepancy. I checked the old numbers and graph I quoted originally; they haven't changed. However, newer graphs seem to be accurate, within a fraction of a killowatt-hour or two. Not sure when the change was made - or if it was a daylight savings time thing all along, and still is.