We use relatively little electricity because most of our high energy items (furnace, hot water heater, stove/oven) are gas. (This is not an intentional decision that we think is somehow better environmentally, it’s just the way our apartment is set up.) The air conditioning uses by far the most electricity, so our highest kilowatt hour (kWh) months are usually July and August, followed by June and September. We just received a “Personal Energy Report” from our electric provider, showing monthly usage over the past year, and were shocked to see that our electric usage in December was on par with that in June and more than double that in November. And the higher trend continued in January, February, and March. We were definitely NOT running A/C in December or any of the months immediately following.
So what happened between November and December? We purchased a deep freeze. After a decent bit of research, we decided on a chest freezer (rather than an upright), because even the most energy efficient uprights use more energy than the average chest. Since buying used is greener (environmentally and on the pocketbook) than buying new, we were happy to find a 2-year-old chest freezer on Craigslist. So in late November or early December, we wrangled the thing down our basement stairs (a near death experience), plugged it in, and began filling it with food. It allows us to buy certain goods in bulk, thereby reducing car trips to the grocery store, as well as grow extra food (or buy extra local and in season) and preserve it for winter, thereby extending our local eating.
Now, we suspect that it may be chewing through energy like none other. There are a few other factors that may have explained some of the energy increase, but none were consistent over the 4 inordinately high months or fit so perfectly with the timing of the initial increase other than the deep freeze.
We plan to further investigate the matter by purchasing a electricity usage monitor that will allow us to test how much electricity any appliance we plug into it is pulling. I will post the results of our sleuthing as they become available.
Did you ever sort it out? I bought a chest freezer (remarkably about the same time you did!) My electricity bills went up, but I haven’t sorted out if it was the freezer or that we got a new hybrid/heat pump furnace that uses electricity instead of gas. (Well it uses gas when it’s really cold). I’m contemplating buying an energy meter like Watts Up or something like that to try to sort it out. Nevertheless, it was fantastic having garden produce all through the winter!
Well, it wasn’t the freezer. Yes, it’s using more energy than if we didn’t have a freezer, but when we plugged it into the energy meter, the energy use was normal for the model.
We plugged in a couple of other appliances, with no abnormal results there, either. Our hypothesis is either that we have an incredibly inefficient blower on our heating/cooling system which may be getting less efficient as it ages (our heat is gas, but the actual fan runs on electricity), or the electric company was padding their bottom line.