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Watch Duke Energy – Problem (Probably) Fixed - Day 2

By Sid of Stone Marmot

Feb. 24, 2015

(Update: Feb. 25, 2015. I finally got hold of someone knowledgeable at Duke who confirmed what I originally suspected. The reading in question really was 3847 and just got misentered into the system. Full details in "Day 3" of this series.)

I just photographed my electric meter today, Feb. 24, 2015, at 2:09 pm. Figure 1 shows the reading that would be used for the “Present (Actual)” reading on the electric bill. It reads 3860 kwh, one more than yesterday. This reading typically increases each day by either 1 or 2 kwh unless I am doing something major, such as laundry, which I don't do until I have a full load. It usually takes me 3 to 4 weeks to get a full load of laundry (actually, two loads, one goes in the dryer and the other on a drying rack; some stuff shrinks too much in the dryer). The days I do laundry this reading changes by 5 to 6 kwh typically.

Figure 1- February 24, 2015, meter reading of net power flowing into house.

This reading may change by 2 each day during colder weather due to more hot water use. I don't run my water heater all the time but only when I need hot water. I rarely use hot water in the summer since I take cold showers (not really cold since my house came with the water heater located in the attic, so it is kind of solar heated by attic temperatures in the summer).

Figure 2 shows a photograph of the reading that would be used for the “Current Received” value on the electric bill. It reads 13,811 kwh generated (actually, net power flowing out of the house). When yesterday's reading of 13,806 kwh is subtracted, it shows I only generated about 5 kwh of surplus power this past day. This makes sense since it has been mostly cloudy. This could be as low as 1 or 2 kwh a day if it is really raining a lot. It rarely shows no change between days, maybe only once or twice a year.

Figure 2- February 24, 2015, meter reading of net power flowing out of house.

If you read any of my other articles from previous years, you may have noticed my electric use was higher five years ago when my solar electric system was first installed. I have done a lot of stuff over those five years which cut my already low power consumption almost in half. Those changes included sealing my air conditioning ducts, adding attic insulation, completing the radiant barrier in the attic, and having foam injected into the cavities of my block walls. Injecting foam into the cavities of the walls actually contributes little to improving the insulation value of the walls. But it does a great job of sealing any cracks in the walls. You'd be surprised how many cracks develop in a block wall over 50-plus years.

There was a step change drop in my power use around May 2013. That was because I bought a laptop computer at the end of March, originally for use in giving presentations. But I quickly realized my laptop used about 25% of the power of my tower computer. Actually, the laptop uses less than a tenth the power, but by the time you add the charger and modem, the total is about a quarter of what the tower and associated peripherals used. So now I use my laptop for over 90 % of my computer needs. Since I use a computer a lot and prior to buying the laptop my computer was the second highest total power user in my house, this made a big difference.

In May 2014 I had another step change drop in my power use. This was mostly because I replaced my refrigerator with the most efficient refrigerator I could find. Since my refrigerator is the single biggest power user in my house, this made a big difference, about 10 to 15 kwh less a month. I also made some other changes, like replacing my most used CFLs with LED bulbs. But this impact was maybe a tenth as much as replacing my fridge.

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