Monday, September 6, 2010

The new reality of electricity prices in Ontario

I've said many times to my friends, family, and colleagues that the price of electricity in Ontario is going to be the biggest issue in the next provincial election.

Case in point, I received my bill for the month of July. Now understand that July was one of the hottest July's on record in Ottawa, and extremly humid, too, with 150.8 cooling degree days. Compare that to all of 2009 that saw only 180 cooling degree days! So the air conditioning was humming for sure, and given we are in a bigger house with a slighly older air conditioner and less efficient furnace fan, it was the most expensive hydro bill I've ever paid at $124. But it's not the amount, it's the aggregate kWh rate.

Now the popular definition of the kWh rate are the rates set by the Ontario Energy Board. Right now, those are 6.5 cents/kWh for the first 600kWh, and 7.5 cents/kWh for anything above that. But that doesn't help the homeowner understand the total amount of the bill, which beyond the kWh also includes delivery, regulatory, debt retirement, and taxes. So by aggregate rate I mean take the total amount of your bill, and divide by the number of kWh consumed to get the REAL $/kWh rate.

In 2004, my aggregate rate was 12.8 cents. In July 2008, my aggregate rate was 13.1 cents. In July 2009, my aggregate rate was 14.5 cents. Now in July 2010, it's 16.6 cents! And we're not even talking about TOU rates yet at my new home; this is still regulated price plan. Regulated indeed.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Use a timer for bathroom fans

Here's an idea to conserve energy. Install a hard wired timer for bathroom fans. Wait, these aren't your dad's mechanical-turn-past-15 timers. They're electronic and almost silent.

While it's important to get rid of humid air before it can cause damage, There's no sense in running bathroom fans longer than necessary; not only are you consuming energy from the fan motor, it's also exhausting valuable conditioned air from your home, that your air conditioner or furnace has already treated.

This idea was such a hit in my previous home, that my wife asked me to put one in right away in the new place.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Use a motion sensor in your garage

It never fails, you're in the garage and you've got your hands full - with garbage, tools, materials, groceries, kids, etc. So a motion sensor makes good sense for convenience and energy savings. I use incandescent lights in my garage because they're still the best option for cold weather in my opinion, and unlike fluorescent, you can turn them on and off rapidly without premature failure or worrying about warm-up time. This timer is set at a low interval, so the light shuts off after the garage has been vacant for about three minutes. Easy to install as a replacement for an existing switch.