Data Nerd: Monitoring my Energy Consumption

EnergyAware Monitor
One of the key factors that influenced our move into the Olympic Village was the advanced features for conserving energy and water. In our old apartment we stealthily replaced the old thermostat with a programmable one, but heating was included in the rent so we never knew what impact it had. Now, our energy use is front and centre – not only do we pay for it, but we have a monitor beside our front door that shows how much electricity, heating, hot water, and cold water we’re consuming in real-time.

That information has allowed us to be smarter about how we consume energy and water, but it does come with a cost. 30% of what we pay BC Hydro for electricity and 50% of what we pay Enerpro for heating and water are flat monitoring/usage fees – $15/month.
pie chart of energy and water consumption costs

Last week we signed up for BC Hydro’s Team Power Smart Reward Initiative which promises to pay us $75 if we can reduce our electricity consumption by an average of 10% for a full year. We’re already very conscious consumers, so normally that wouldn’t be an easy task. However, on May 7 we cancelled our cable account with Shaw and got rid of the PVR/cable box. It’s amazing how much energy the PVR used, even when it wasn’t “on”. Our PVR was consuming 60 watts of electricity 24 hours a day – that works out to $3/month, or 25% of our electricity costs.

Since getting rid of the PVR, our electricity consumption dropped 15% in May and 21% in June. Right now we’re in good shape to get that $75 (plus $36 in electricity savings).

electricity and water consumption between May 2011 and June 2012

Because of the Enerpro billing mess, the city has been paying for our heating, hot water, and cold water bill, but that changed on July 1. Now we’re responsible for paying it (except cold water, but that doesn’t cost much anyway).

Our water consumption is quite low, especially compared to the average British Columbian that uses 490 litres of water per day. We’re averaging 86 L/ day for two people – 52 L of hot water and 32 L of cold water. Now that doesn’t include our dual-flush toilet (which is flushed using rain water, or will be once they fix the system), and doesn’t include laundry (we don’t have in-suite). For the average Canadian, toilets normally account for 30% of water consumption and laundry 20%. So our benchmark for water consumption would be 245 litres per person. That puts our consumption at 18% of the average BC couple.


  1. That’s actually really cool! I’m not much of a data nerd, however I’d love to have a system like that to know what I’m using/spending.

    We had those smart metres for hydro put in a few years ago, and I actually find it impossible to track compared to the old one. The read out numbers don’t make a lick of sense and never match up to what is on the bill.

    With water we just have a traditional water metre which to say I despise…well that would be an understatement.
    When I have to call it in, the city worker is always suspect that I’m fudging the number (I use such little water). Then on occasion the city will send out a bill with what they believe you use, which for me is always 3-4 times higher…Although it works itself out eventually, I think it’s ridiculous to pay that much more just because they guess that’s what I (should) be using.
    Our city actually is increasing the water rates because so many people started to conserve.

    Two months ago I found a rain barrel in the garbage. It has a small crack in the bottom, so I melted thick plastic onto it, and it’s been holding ever since! (plus I have two solid garbage pales full of water!)

    The only natural gas I use is for the water heater. I haven’t had the furnace on in probably 10 years. I spend most of my time in two rooms (bedroom/office and the kitchen). I just use space heaters for when I’m in those rooms, after about 10-15 minutes the rooms are nice and warm.

    You sort of mentioned it, living in an apartment where heating was included. Things might be different in BC, however I find here in Ontario people abuse this. Most apartments — hydro, heating etc. are all included.
    In the summer people leave the A/C on non-stop, winter the heat is let on at high and lights seem to be on 24/7…I think people forget that if you let these things run non-stop, eventually everyone will be hit with higher rent (or higher condo fees). (sorry, just a pet peeve of mine).


    • There have been lots of complaints in our building from people upset about their heating bills – people who never had to pay for heating before. As you can see, our heating costs are minimal (the only significant month was January when we used $7 of heating). However, some people have had much higher heating bills – why? Because they leave there windows open all winter. Sometimes a little financial reality is needed to change silly behavior.


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