Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Ontario Clean Energy Benefit is hurting us

Ontario's Environment Commissioner Gord Miller says in his Annual Energy Conservation Progress Report - 2010 (Volume One): Managing a Complex Energy System, "The 10 per cent rebate on electricity bills is an artificial subsidy on the price of electricity so it encourages consumers to use more." A study by energy analysts estimated that the OCEB could wipe out a third of the planned conservation savings over the next four years.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

PC Power Management

So I have power management installed on my home PC, set to go into sleep mode if I haven't used the computer in a while. But what if I don't want it to go into sleep mode? For example, I'm downloading a bunch of large files that make take hours, or doing a backup over the network which can take all night. I could manually adjust the power settings on my computer to deactivate sleep mode, but I can guarantee you that I'll forget to reactivate it again.

There is a free software solution that I found, called Coffee. This is funny because I don't even drink coffee, but it does work for me. Coffee keeps a computer from going into power saving mode if there is network activity over a user-defined rate. So as long as the downloads keep going, so will the computer. When downloads are finished, then the computer will be, too.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hydro One's Retail Contract Tool

Unlike the Hydro Ottawa portal's contract comparison tool, Hydro One's adds the cost of the Global Adjustment to the graph. The correct amount of Global Adjustment is automatically chosen for you, so all you have to do is input the contract rate from the third party electricity provider. In this case, I would have to find a retail contract for 2.84 cents per kWh to break even with the time-of-use rate equivalent.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Tour of Hydro Ottawa's TOU Portal

Hydro Ottawa is slowly and finally starting to roll out TOU to its customers now, and here is a sneak peek at what their Internet portal looks like. (Click on the images for a larger view).
In the upper right corner of each data page, are buttons to print, or download the displayed data in Excel or PDF formats. This allows the customer to store long term data or run other analysis.

The home page shows some quick overview graphs, including the last recorded day's usage.

The hourly page shows an hour-by-hour view of electricity usage, color coded to match the off, mid, and on-peak periods. The high contrast option, turns all the graphs into an unpleasant black and white scheme, which must be an accessibility function.

The daily graph shows a summary of each day's electricity consumption, along with user selectable total daily cost or consumption.

Much like the daily graph, the monthly graph shows each calendar month's total data.

The billing period graph shows a breakdown of usage for the period covered by any of your previous bills. You can compare one month to the other using the drop down boxes above the graph.

The TOU calculator is interesting, as it allows the customer to use the mouse and pull the three bars up and down to play "what-if" scenarios, then shows the results on the right hand side.

The tiered-vs-TOU page allows you to see what you would pay under the old regulated price plan, vs. Time-of-Use, vs. any arbitrary third party contract. This customer, as an example, is paying slightly more under TOU than the old regulated price plan. If an option becomes available in the future for customers to opt in or out of TOU rates, this page is a valuable tool to determine which is the better deal.

The blue bar showing the value of a third party contract entered at 8.0 cents/kWh does NOT include the Global Adjustment, which is currently running 4.3 cents/kWh!

Here's what happens when the central A/C fires up.

We had the A/C programmed to start in the late afternoon, since nobody was home during the day, and then programmed to shut off at 8pm. Setpoint was 25C and the outdoor temperature was in the 30's with a high humidex.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Got the TOU letter

Our home is being transitioned to time of use rates on June 10. Just in time for the summer.