Friday, 25 May 2012

Incandescent vs. CFL vs. LED

I'm going to let my inner geek shine brightly in this post. Some would say, And how is this different than any other day? I might be inclined to agree. Ok...I confess...I am a geek!  Let me tell you why I bring this to light.

As I mentioned in the last post, we have our house in the city, Casa Smalla, up for sale. The Open House is something we all know and understand about this process. So while we were enjoying the beautiful long weekend at a friend's cottage in Georgian Bay, the real estate agent was enjoying some of the weekend weather at our house, two days in a row. Poor fella. You're wondering where I'm going with this, I can feel it.

To prepare Casa Smalla for the 2-hour open house, our agent turns on all the lights in the house and opens the big folding door that looks out over the garden. Then he's ready to handle the onslaught of tire kickers.

Did I mention that the agent turns on all the lights in the house?

So here's where I get my geek on. Burlington Hydro has a Time-of-Use (TOU) website that customers can go to to see when and how much electricity they are using. All very useful to help manage the new higher electricity prices and times, if you care about that kind of thing. I wouldn't have cared about all this 2 years ago. I would have just ranted about the outrageous amounts of electricity this little house (or maybe its occupants?) consumed and left it at that. But since the most important thing about living in an off-grid house is minimizing electricity usage we are now in the training stage of minimizing. Hence my obsession with the kilowatt, or rather killing-a-watt.

Approx. 0.2 kWh hourly to run the things that are always on, such as a fridge.
Usage jumps to 3 kWh hourly when lots of lights are on...yikes!

A quick look at the bar chart from the Burlington Hydro TOU site makes it very obvious how much electricity just the lighting in our house uses. It's also very easy to tell that the real estate agent was, in fact at our house on Sunday with every light in the house on, while we were soaking up the sun in Georgian Bay. That's the only explanation for the huge spike you see in the chart...all the lights being on. Who knew? I was a little shocked to see such a crazy exaggerated chart pattern. 
4 incandescents use more energy in 1 hour than 8 CFLs or 6 LEDs.
All 3 rooms have a similar level of brightness even though the number
of bulbs varies. The hour the LEDs were on barely even registered
any extra electricity usage.

Sleepless nights for me can lead to some odd early morning experiments. So my latest sleepless night was when I got this weird idea to show the difference in electricity usage each type of light bulb causes. By turning a different room's lights on, each for 1-hour over the 3-hour time frame, I could show that all the hype about changing our light bulbs from incandescent to compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED is, in fact, a worthy exercise. The second chart shows the extra hourly electricity usage, beginning with the spike at 4am, of a room that has four 75 watt pot lights. At 5am the 75's were shut off and a room with eight 13 watt CFL pot lights was illuminated. At 6am, the 13's were shut off and a room with six 4 watt LED pot lights was illuminated for one hour. I warned you I was getting my geek on for this post! At this point I'm pretty sure I only have two readers still with me and the rest...well, your eyes have glazed over, haven't they? So a shout out to you, Diane G, and you, Tina L, for sticking with me to the end of this post. You're the only two I can think of that would find this as oddly intriguing as I do.

Why am I telling you this, you ask? I had to write about something while I wait for the composting toilet to show up! Without that, I cannot finish building the outhouse and therefore I have nothing new to report. And I must write! point - light bulbs do indeed make a big difference and I thought you'd like to know just how much. Incandescent lighting can be the single biggest user of energy, apart from clothes dryers and air conditioning, in your home depending on how many and how long said lighting remains on in your home on a daily basis. The rooms we use the most are the rooms with the CFLs and the LEDs. That room with the 75w incandescents...we hardly ever use but apparently the real estate agent does! Note to self: change all remaining incandescents to at least CFLs, if for no other reason than open houses!

Conclusion (I can hear the cheering now), LEDs, although they cost more per bulb, last way longer than either CFLs or incandescents. LEDs use way less electricity than the others as well. And LEDs are less fragile and less harmful to the environment. Here is a chart that summarizes everything you ever wanted to know about light bulb comparison. And, no, I have not taken a sales position with an LED lighting company! Just doing my part to help the environment, and maybe your electricity bill.

Cheers from your friendly LED (Lame Energy Dork)

Thursday, 3 May 2012

This is for real

May 2. We are closing in on one full year since we first wandered through the trilliums at what we now affectionately call Turtle Falls. That Mother's Day in 2011 was a pretty big day. It set in motion a series of events that has changed our lives immensely.

Today was also a pretty big day. The architect, Chris from Vert Design Inc, made his first site visit to the lot. And at the very same time, our house in the city hit the real estate MLS services from Hamilton to Toronto.

Until today, I don't think the reality of the situation had yet sunk in to either of our brains. But nothing says this is for real like signing your name to the bottom of an architect's contract while fielding calls from the real estate agent advising of times of showings for the house.

This is for real. This isn't just a dream anymore. This is exciting. This is scary. But it's all good.

Ras and Chris discuss possible locations for the house
We are looking forward to building a fantastic passive solar house on this crazy-beautiful trillium covered lot. And Chris has agreed to hold our hands through the process. He's brimming with ideas and enthusiasm for the project as much as we are and has made us look at the lot in ways we never had before. He left us this afternoon with some homework, a rather lengthy questionnaire, to complete and many thoughts to mull over. He also left with a few hundred photos that he needs to mull over.

Backtracking a little...this was such an overwhelming day that the small steps we made last week at Priscilla have been relegated to the end of the story. Although, Ras was so excited about the new fridge I'm sure she does not consider this a small step at all, especially since I would hear, repeatedly, the phrase "I love my new fridge" emanating loudly from Priscilla. This little project went surprisingly easy considering I had to take a handsaw to the cabinet face to make the opening a tad larger. And if I can get a smile like the one below every time I take a saw to something then my life is good!

Instructions: Remove smidgen of wood. Insert fridge. Happiness ensues!.

More later,