How much electricity do you use?
October 14, 2009 12:21 AM   Subscribe

In the interests of science, please tell me how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) your house or apartment used last month and how much it uses in the middle of winter. If possible include variables like whether you use electric heat, air conditioning, electric or gas hot water heater, etc.

The US DOE says the average American house uses 900 kWh a month. I'm trying to get a smaller but more personalized sample from metafilter users. kWh may also be marked as "units" on your electrical bill. I'm working on a design for some small and medium solar power setups and am trying to figure out whether the average person lives within the production capacity (budget $$$) of the total package of equipment.

If I can draw a broad generalization, mefi users tend to have a larger than usual number of computers and electronic gadgets, but may be more environmentally conscious than the average North American. This means that you may tend to avoid gratuitous use of laundry dryers and other power-sucking appliances. Please mention if this is true if you are telling me how much you used on your last power bill.
posted by thewalrus to Science & Nature (25 answers total)
300. 400 in depths of winter. (extra for lights, hot water circulating pump; electrically not particularly green)
posted by coffeefilter at 12:44 AM on October 14, 2009

Gas dryer, water heater, furnace, everything else is electric, no AC.

300kwh in general, gas fluctuates very widely from season to season as we only use the heater in the dead of winter.
posted by iamabot at 12:54 AM on October 14, 2009

230 kWh a month average when I don't use the heat.

542 kWh in January last year (electric heat).

Average 337 kWh a month including winter months.

But I don't pay for my hot water or own an air conditioner.
posted by Ookseer at 1:22 AM on October 14, 2009

4-bedroom house in the UK, with 2 adults, 1 child. We use 250 kWh of electricity per month. The central heating and water heating use gas, and use an appalling additional 2000 kWh per month in winter and 360kWh/month in summer. No a/c.
posted by beniamino at 1:29 AM on October 14, 2009

Response by poster: I'm curious, how is gas consumption is measured in kWh? Isn't it in therms or BTUs?
posted by thewalrus at 1:31 AM on October 14, 2009

Related: Google PowerMeter.
posted by devnull at 1:36 AM on October 14, 2009

The gas meter measures in 100s of cubic feet. 100 cubic feet is about 30 kWh (example calculation here)
posted by beniamino at 1:45 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Bill date / KWH
10/06/2009   2,370  
9/04/2009   3,025  
8/05/2009   2,978  
7/07/2009   2,203  
6/05/2009   2,200  
5/06/2009   1,278  
4/04/2009   1,350  
3/07/2009   1,578  
2/05/2009   2,159  
1/06/2009   2,073  
12/05/2008   1,511  
11/04/2008   2,103  
10/04/2008   2,567  

Las Vegas, NV
posted by Rendus at 2:01 AM on October 14, 2009

Last year we had an average of 330 kWh per month, no difference between summer and winter. (Germany, 70 sqm apartment with 2 people, no ac or dryer but dishwasher, laundry machine, one quite powerhungry computer, laptops, TV, fridge with freezer, sound system, frequently used oven).

Gas: 780 cubic meters for the year, during spring/summer (April - September) it's only about 10 cubic meters per month for hot water, in winter (November - March) it's also used for heating and an average of 120 cubic meters per month. (1 cubic meter = 35.3 cubic feet)
posted by starzero at 2:35 AM on October 14, 2009

Last month it was 750 (2 people), but that was about 125 higher than typical because I accidentally left a dehumidifier on the "continuous" setting all month, and we had a lot of rain. Last winter it ranged from 514-636 per month. 2 computers, electric dryer (supplemented w/some hang drying), dehumidifier (in summer), fridge, dishwasher, window AC, woodworking machinery and a mix of fluorescent and incandescent lighting.
posted by jon1270 at 3:38 AM on October 14, 2009

My average is about 300 kWh from October to May, and 600 from June to September. Because I'm running central air in the summer but rarely using heat in the winter. My average per month over the whole year is about 400 kWh/month.

3000 kWh, Rendus?!? That sound you hear is the sound of the earth sobbing.
posted by Justinian at 3:59 AM on October 14, 2009

Here's my info. Things to consider: I live in Canada, in a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment with AC, fridge/oven/dishwasher, four bearded dragons (more importantly, their fluorescent and heat lamps which are on for a good portion of the day), computers and other misc gear (but no washer and dryer). Also, this includes the heating up of our water, and there are no gas elements so it includes the use of our oven/stove.

Date / kWh

2009-08-18 3414
2009-06-17 1707
2009-04-19 2681
2009-02-19 3467
2009-12-17 2316
2008-10-21 2127
2008-08-19 3009
posted by Meagan at 4:34 AM on October 14, 2009

9/16/09 1667 kWh

Smallest bill in the last year - 2/16/09 586 kWh
Largest - 7/16/09 2250 KwH

Gas - 2/5/09 10.1 MCF
8/5/09 1.5 MCF (whatever that means)

I am on Electric A/C, gas heat, live in Dallas (3 br house). We have new appliances (and use CFL bulbs) so probably use less as far as those types of items are concerned but as you guessed, more computers/tvs/etc than the average house probably has.
posted by getawaysticks at 5:04 AM on October 14, 2009

We have a one bedroom condo near DC, and everything's electric except for heat, the stove, and the oven. We have AC but don't really use it -- we do use fans, though.

Sept 323
Oct 305
Nov 371
Dec 512
Jan 402
Feb 319
Mar 400
Apr 340
May 370
June 346
July 471
Aug 458
Sept 448

I don't know what happened in December -- we did have a Christmas tree up for a couple of weeks, and only turned the lights on for a few hours a night.
posted by amarynth at 5:32 AM on October 14, 2009

1000 sq foot house in a hundred year old house with poor insulation in southern Ontario, five people, computer, dishwasher, oven, laundry and AC (only occasionally used) and ceiling fans in every room (constantly on) are all electric, new high-efficiency gas furnace and gas water heater.
600 kw in August. My bill measures kwh per day so backdating:
Aug 20 kwh per day
Jun 16
Apr 22
Feb 26
Dec 22
Oct 24
The September bill says my average usage per day over the past two months is 20.98 KWH at an average cost of $2.48 per day.
posted by saucysault at 5:36 AM on October 14, 2009

amarynth: is it possible that you spent more time at home in December because of the holidays, therefore using more electricity?
posted by madcaptenor at 5:45 AM on October 14, 2009

Funny, I have an electric bill sitting right here. Only have two months worth of data though:


I don't have a gas bill handy but it has been only a few therms a month over the same period, since it only runs the hot water during the summer.

This is in a three-bedroom house (built 1980) with electric AC and gas heat. The bill will probably be very low this month, since the AC is now off and the heat hasn't kicked in. This will be the first winter I've lived here, so I'm not sure exactly what the bare "housekeeping" load (no AC) will end up being during the winter.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:02 AM on October 14, 2009

My electric is ridiculous.

~600-700 Sq ft apt, 2 people, central AC/heat, brand new refrigerator and efficient water heater that holds enough water for 7 minute showers (all elec) runs us 1500+ kWh during the summer and winter. About 700kWh during spring/fall when the windows are open.

FPL are robber barons, and I have no idea how we use that many kWh. We turn everything off when not in use, especially computers and electronics, and I have a number of Kill-A-Watts that show me how much, roughly, is being used on certain items.
posted by dozo at 6:31 AM on October 14, 2009

Small one-bedroom apartment (350? 400? square feet? I haven't actually measured). Heat, hot water, and cooking are all gas. I have air conditioners which I use in the summer, but my AC usage is probably not as much as some people. One computer (laptop), one television, no fancy sound system, no laundry machines. So these numbers are for running basic electronics, (incadescent) lights, and a refrigerator, freezer, and microwave.

Electric usage for the last year:

September '08: 114
October: 116
November: 109
December: 138
January: 116
February: 120
March: 110
April: 98
May: 130
June: 187
July: 253
August: 247
September '09: 118

In the spring of 2008 I was getting down under 100; I'm not sure what changed. I got a new TV, but the information I found indicates that it actually uses less power than my old one.) My landlord pays the gas bill, so I don't have those numbers.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:31 AM on October 14, 2009

One person spending all day in a super-insulated, passive solar 1000 square foot house, heated with propane (no blower) and wood; propane on-demand hot water. Main electric appliances are an efficient Sears fridge, efficient Fischer&Paykel washer; no dryer. Occasionally use a small Sears window air conditioner or an electric space heater. No TV, but during the period shown below, an iMac was on for way too many hours every day. Most lights are CF. I work at home.

Typical bills:
January 2009 (cold!): 171 kWh
July 2009 (hot!): 104 kWh

A few years ago I went around the house getting rid of or unplugging everything that was adding to my phantom load. I was so successful that the electric company came out and replaced my meter, saying it was registering "too little" usage and therefore must be defective.
posted by PatoPata at 12:10 PM on October 14, 2009

I forgot to mention that my stove is electric.
posted by PatoPata at 12:14 PM on October 14, 2009

In September we used 280 kWh, and the peak last winter (January) was 457 kWh. We have an electric dryer, gas furnace and hw heater and run a dehumidifier constantly during the winter. No AC. The summer low was 240 kWh in August.
posted by periscope at 12:34 PM on October 14, 2009

Roughly 560 kWh per month here, doesn't vary very much through the year. Heating is gas, but everything else (water, stove, washer/dryer) is electric. That's a household of two people.

You know, looking at the numbers, I bet we could shave 10 percent off of that just by getting rid of our halogen torchiere. yeesh. I'd guess a large fraction of the remainder is hot water.

Gas use goes from 6-7 ccf/month to >200 in the depths of winter— it's a rented house, and not very well insulated…
posted by hattifattener at 1:36 PM on October 15, 2009

I thought this power-meter project and associated graphs were interesting.
posted by hattifattener at 2:01 PM on October 15, 2009

If anyone is still reading this, the way I reduced my phantom load was this:

1. Turn a bunch of stuff on.

2. Go look at your power meter. Notice the disk that is moving. That shows that power is being used.

3. Turn everything off. Unplug the fridge if it's running.

4. Look at the disk again. Is it still moving? You've got power suckers. Likely culprits are instant-on appliances like stereo & TV; anything with a clock, like the microwave; and standby stuff like a fax machine. (My fax machine was the biggest power hog.)

5. Unplug all the suspected power suckers until the disk stops moving.

6. Once you've identified what's using power even when it's off, get rid of it, unplug it when it's not being used, get a cheap switch that plugs into the outlet that lets you switch it really off, or install a cheaper inline switch on the cord itself.
posted by PatoPata at 3:59 PM on October 15, 2009

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