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Save more for the ride

energy efficient light bulgThe “Save More for the Ride” blog section is devoted to energy efficiency and my own personal experiences and observations on this crucial topic. If you have already have a solar system – or when you do go solar, clearly, the more sparing you are with your home electric use, the higher the percentage of the electric miles you drive which will be what we at SolarChargedDriving.Com call Sun Miles™ -- solar-powered miles driven by an electric vehicle (EV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) whose batteries have been charged using solar energy. “Save More for the Ride” focuses on different – and often cool – things you can do to reduce your home electric use and therefore save more of the annual electricity generated by your home PV solar system for, that’s right, the Ride!

Family of 4 uses less than 200 kWh in month

family-mountain2editors-blog-entry3Can an American family of four use fewer than 200 kWh of electricity per month?

Turns out it can!

We used just 186 kWh of electricity in the month of May here in our 2,100 square foot Aurora, Colo. home – and we didn’t go back to the dark ages in order to do so. We also generated 840 kWh of electricity with our 5.59 kW solar system, or more than four times as much electricity as we used!

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Can a family of 4 use less than 200 kWh a month?

dryer-google

The spikes in our daily electricity use you see in this Google PowerMeter snapshot of our April 2011 electric usage are a direct result of us running our dryer (the middle gray line = 10 kWh).

editors-blog-entry3Call me crazy, cool, or just plain weird, but we’re going to try and use less than 200 kWh of electricity for the month of May.

[No, we do NOT yet have an electric car. That’s because we live in Colorado, not in California, Washington, Arizona, or another of those lucky few EV rollout states in the U.S. Obviously, with an EV, a 200 kWh month wouldn’t be possible!]

As far as I know, we’ve never come in under 200 kWh for a full month here in our 2,000-square foot (this total includes a furnished basement), 3-bedroom home, where four of us have lived for the past five years. But we’ve come damn close, dropping coming in as low as 220 kWh for a full month of usage several times.

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Sometimes it's better to be below average

utility-meter1editors-blog-entry3Ever wonder how your household electric use and costs stack up against those of others in the U.S.?

Wonder no more.

SolarChargedDriving.Com stumbled across a great electric use and cost resource on the web recently: ‘The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Average Monthly Electric Bill page’.

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Heat with solar PV -- or drive on it?

envi-heater--collageeditors-blog-entry3We’ve produced 2,300 kWh of electricity more than we’ve used since we went online with our 5.59 kW home solar system in late June 2010 here in sun-soaked Aurora, Colo.

Thanks to our utility’s ‘indefinite rollover option,’ this means we’ve been able to bank these extra kWh hours for future use.

With winter approaching, thankfully, rather gradually so far – we have not turned on the heat once yet and it’s the end of October – a decision about whether to use some of these banked kWh to heat our house is fast approaching.

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Turn on the heat? No way!

thermostat-home-inside

Our thermostat shows 66 degrees after having been pushed there not by our furnace -- which we haven't turned on once yet this year -- but after having been pushed up naturally by a balmy 75-degree, late October day in Colorado.

editors-blog-entry3Heat?

Who needs it?

We don’t – at least not until November this year, a record for us here on Colorado’s Front Range.

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