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Energy Usage

I mentioned last January that we got stuck with a big ($500) utility bill that month. There was no question in my mind that our energy consumption was off the chain because of a record-breaking three-day cold snap. Now that I’ve got a year’s worth of utility bills, this is even more evident.

Here’s a handy chart from Entergy.

Energy Usage

And here’s the detailed breakdown…

Month kWh Used Days Billed Avg. Daily Usage
11/10 711 30 23.7
10/10 874 29 30.1
9/10 1661 29 57.3
8/10 2112 31 68.1
7/10 1393 30 46.4
6/10 1400 30 46.7
5/10 598 32 18.7
4/10 706 30 23.5
3/10 2574 29 88.8
2/10 2955 32 92.3
1/10 5947 34 174.9
12/09 2459 30 82.0

As one can see at a glance, we consumed about twice as much energy in January as we did in the month before or after.

I’m particularly happy to have this baseline data, because we are getting some insulation underneath our house Monday. As I mentioned in January, there was a study which looked at four different ways of insulating beneath raised homes right here at the Musician’s Village in New Orleans. After some nagging, I finally got Dr. Samuel V. Glass to send me a preview of the study, “Moisture Control in Insulated Raised Floors in Southern Louisiana.” Glass is a research scientist in the little-known field of “Building Moisture and Durability” at the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin. The authors are presenting the research at a conference in December so it’s still not public, but you can view a news-style summary.

The main concern most people in these parts have about insulating underneath relates to moisture accumulation in the warm months. Moisture can lead to termites and mold and other bad things. From what I got out of the study, I think the number one thing that can minimize moisture problems is to just not set one’s thermostat too low in the summer.

Other than that, they seemed to find rigid foam boards and closed-cell spray foam to be the best. We are going with the latter from GreenBean. Closed-cell is purported to be the most expensive option, at least in terms of materials; it is costing us just over $2,000. I think I can also file for some sort of tax break before the end of the year.

So we’ll see what our energy consumption is like over the next year and compare. I’ll get back to you in November 2011.

Published inEcologyFinancial ShitOur House


  1. Jack Schick Jack Schick
    B. Hey B…..You there?
    You are the Star
    in the Faith of the New Orleans Residential Future!
    This article from points out some possibly plan-altering realities.
    Did you know about these archaic, ancient 25-Hz pumping systems in the city?
    I didn’t.
    Hell, we assume so much.
    I figured all the big hype about Corps of Engineers, and the revitalization plan,
    hell, who would’ve thought this old crappy system was still even POSSIBLE??
    much less a vital part of a 24-hour pumping to maintain your drainage.
    Do you GROK, B.?
    If the power goes down in a multi-day crisis, you FLOOD!
    Your “dry land” is completely artificial…pumps running constantly is why you
    have a street to bicycle upon.
    Does this sound like Wise planning? Reliance upon a nearly-dead system
    which is not even scheduled for serious upgrade?

  2. Brenda Helverson Brenda Helverson

    As I understand it, the old pumping systems are in place because they basically work OK. Yeah, its an old design, but you might be surprised how many utilities use facilities that were invented in the early 1900s or even before then. Materials and techniques have changed but engineering is still engineering.

    Twenty five Hertz power sounds ancient, but it is easier to generate using slow-moving sources of torque. For many years, Los Angeles generated 50-cycle power and required motor-generator sets to interface with the power grid. And IIRC, 25-Hertz power is used in the mining industry.

    Imagine the logistics of changing out the entire system. You would have to either retrofit the existing installations and plan for down-time of each pump or you build new parallel facilities. Entergy would undoubtedly love the additional income but the City may be generating power more cheaply than it could buy it.

  3. Brenda Helverson Brenda Helverson

    And then I became curious. From Wikipedia:

    “25 Hz origins

    The first generators at the Niagara Falls project, built by Westinghouse in 1895, were 25 Hz because the turbine speed had already been set before alternating current power transmission had been definitively selected. Westinghouse would have selected a low frequency of 30 Hz to drive motor loads, but the turbines for the project had already been specified at 250 RPM. The machines could have been made to deliver 16⅔ Hz power suitable for heavy commutator-type motors but the Westinghouse company objected that this would be undesirable for lighting, and suggested 33⅓ Hz. Eventually a compromise of 25 Hz, with 12 pole 250 RPM generators, was chosen.[7] Because the Niagara project was so influential on electric power systems design, 25 Hz prevailed as the North American standard for low-frequency AC.”

  4. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    Dern Good Report, Helverson.
    I wouldn’t chooze to
    live in a sump-pump reservoir.
    Like the big Moly mine underground…I took the tour.
    You have a Map of all the levels and tunnels and test bores.
    It’s a whole underground city, almost…Sci-Fi Moon-is-a-Harsh-Mistress type
    place you would use for the Set.
    The Map reflects the reality of accessible levels,
    as long as the constant pumps are running.
    Otherwise, the whole works floods back to equilibrium with the
    prevailing water table.
    Something like twenty-seven production levels were allowed to flood
    the last time they shut-down and mothballed the mine. Can’t afford to run
    pumps unless the Cash Flow justifies it.
    You guys live in a questionable location, and the Cash Flow may not
    justify the continued Pumping of places which could, Eco-Activist-Wise,
    be considered a Protected Wetland.
    Where was the High-Water Mark?…That is your new Military-Enforced
    Boundary, to be returned to the muskrats and pelicans and Tidal Estuary
    Forces. Aren’t we proud of How Green we are?
    Stop the Pumps! Restore the Atchafalaya Basin. Allow Mother Nature in Her
    Full Gaia Life-Affirming Wave of Restoration.
    Stop the Pumps!
    THEN talk about Green Political activist issues, and sorry if this went off your
    insulation topic, B., You see, I have the picture in my mind of your
    $2000 brand-new insulation being bathed in the fragrant waters of the
    next flood-up incident, which is freekin’ Guaranteed to manifest, maybe next Fall.
    You could buy a cheap mobile home and park it somewhere on the Escape Route for that $2000. A back-up Car, parked in a storage locker.
    And Helverson, Keep up the Good Work.
    Discretion is the Better Part of Valor.

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