Friday, 26 August 2011

Hydro...the dependable part time power

One interesting thing about our lot is the fact that hydro and telephone lines run right through the middle of it. That's right, we are 75 feet away from a hydro line and we want to go off grid. The choice to go off grid usually happens because the hydro line is more like 750 meters away. How backwards can we possibly be? We're getting used to the odd glances.
Hydro lines being buried & the temporary panel.

Several confusing calls are made to Hydro to start the ball rolling to connect Priscilla to the grid. I have also ordered a small solar generator. This, I figure, will allow us to practice with using solar power and will definitely come in handy when there is a power outage. Now we just have to get serious at thinking in terms of energy conservation.

One of the fun things I've been doing as my required homework before building a renewable energy house, is using an inexpensive energy meter to find out how much energy we use per day in our home in the city. Ras is amused at my crazy obsession with this and realizes that I will come back to normal once I know how many watts absolutely everything in our house uses. This turns out to be a very eye opening exercise and explains why every hydro bill is slightly higher than the last. Long story short, I have been able to reduce the energy consumption in our house by close to 3 kWh per day, bringing the average daily summertime usage down to 10 kWh/day for our 1100 sqft home. Phantom energy use in today's electronic equipment is massive and, thankfully, avoidable. When I read that the average total daily usage for an off-grid home, that's anywhere from 2-3 times bigger than ours, is about 4 kWh/day I realize I still have some work to do. So I've told Ras that we can only use 3 kWh/day at Priscilla because I cannot bear the thought of using/paying for any more hydro than we already do. Reduce 3 in the city to use 3 in the country. Not sure, but I think she shot me an odd glance. Although, Ras will have no need to worry, after a week at Priscilla with power we are using about 1kwh per day, as long as the fridge is running on propane.

The waiting game we played with Hydro was tons of fun. Every week we were told we would have power at Priscilla and every week we were still in the dark. This game lasted for 2 months. We excelled at using candles, battery-operated everything and propane. And just when our solar generator finally arrived we got hooked up to the grid. Just as well, the sun decided to go on vacation that week anyway. Does anybody know where I can find Murphy? I've got a noose with his name on it.

Hydro Hog...the fridge, not Ras! Note the swank retro interior style.

Just for fun, take a guess at how much energy a 1989 Priscilla fridge uses on a daily basis...8 kWh/day!!!  I am not impressed. That's certainly more than my little solar generator can handle and almost as much as our whole house in the city uses. This is totally unacceptable. I think I'll look into that dehydrated food the astronauts eat...

More later,

p.s.1. Ironically, I was editing this post during a power outage in the city (love the battery powered iPad) and the solar generator is at Priscilla.

p.s.2. I thought this was funny. This is a quote from the email I got from our electrician to let us know we were finally to be connected to the grid.
"Hey Girls, you will be happy to know your power is to be connected this coming Monday August 8. Hydro One called today to confirm.  So one more weekend and you will have the dependable part time power the rest of us have."

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