My Renewable Energy Progress

This is the second of a four part series in my self-assessment against Newton’s Take Action initiative, and outlined my progress in the daily activities I do each day. The activities in energy consumption include:

  • Use 100% Renewable Electricity
  • Change Your Thermostat Settings
  • Reduce Always-On Wasted Electricity
  • Get a Home Energy Assessment
  • Change to LED Lighting
Photo from EnergySage

The availability of renewable electricity is widespread through your local utility provider. Over 50% of US consumers have access. The challenge is both awareness, and to a smaller degree incremental costs. Based on a national poll, 70% of the respondents want 100% renewable energy. The options in Newton are through the Newton PowerChoice, which I signed up for a few months ago. It increased my electricity bill by approximately $10 per month. The options and cost structure will continue to improve, and based on the U.S. Energy Information Administration, renewable energy made up 11% of sources in 2018, however, it is expected that renewables will surpass coal and nuclear in the next few years, and will make up the biggest share by 2050.

Many years ago we purchased an automatic thermostat, so that it would automatically set the temperature lower at night, warm up for breakfast then lower it again during the day when we were at school or work. Based on studies by Nest and other independent groups, smart thermostats can save 10-12% on heat and up to 15% on air conditioning. However, it depends on how you use the thermostat. According to Norbord, for every 1 degree Fahrenheit you turn your thermostat down, you will use 1% less energy. I generally like the house cooler anyway (maybe this is based on my Canadian upbringing), so I set the thermostat to be 64 degrees when we are home or awake, and 58 degrees when we are sleeping or at work. The battle of wills I have is a “cold war” with my wife. She gets cold easily and bumps up the temperature when I am not looking.

“Reduce Always-On Wasted Electricity” basically involves devices like phone chargers, computer cords, gaming consoles, DVRs, TVs, and even coffee pots each draw small amounts of power when off, and can together add up to as much as 20-25% of your monthly electricity bill in this ‘standby mode’, according to Sense Energy Monitors. In our house have many devices (iPhones, iPads, portable computers), and we use power strips that help, so overall I would say we do OK here.

Eversource provides a free home energy assessment, which we have leverage in the past. It is pretty much a no brainer since it highlights areas you can reduce energy loss, and often saves money. When we did it, we also got free LED light bulbs for a number of places in our home. It also was a trigger to add insulation to improve our heating bill.

For other looking to lower their impact through energy used in your house, check our what options you local utility has for 100% renewable, and also if they provide any home assessment to identify areas to reduce consumption.

3 thoughts on “My Renewable Energy Progress

  1. I think that Norbord is wrong when they say that we save 1% on energy when we turn the thermostat down 1 degree. If we didn’t use heat at all, our homes in winter would be about 30 degrees. They would be slightly warmer than the average outside temperature, because of our bodies and our appliances cast off heat.

    So, if we go from 70 degrees to 30 degrees, we wouldn’t just cut our energy use by 40% as Norbord suggests–we would cut it by close to 100%. Moreover, we get more benefit when going from 70 degrees to 69 degrees than 31 degrees to 30 degrees, because the differential between our warm inside air and the cold outside air at the higher temperature forces more air exchange between the outside and the inside.

    Thus, the real energy use reduction for reducing our home temperature by 1 degree is about 3%, not 1%.

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    1. Good point. My assumption is that it is in scenarios where with variance is 60-75, and outside is either a lot colder for winter, or a lot hotter in southern climates. Good opportunity either way.

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