Tag Archives: energy

Data Nerd: Mysa Smart Thermostats

With BC Hydro currently offering big rebates for smart thermostats, and winter on the way, I thought it would be a good time to upgrade our retro thermostats.

Mysa (a Canadian company based in Newfoundland) creates the world’s best smart thermostats for electric baseboard heating. I ordered 5 of them online and got to work installing them.

Mysa Installation

I wish I could say it was easy to install them. It almost was. But I ran into problems trying to figure out how to wire the ones on the main floor which had an extra wire connecting to the next unit. It was a lot of trial-and-error connecting wires and then running upstairs to turn back on the breaker. Luckily the units are well constructed and even though I kept hooking up the wrong wires, they never exploded on me.

Old Thermostat

Before: Our old school thermostats.

Mysa Happy

After: Our happy, internet-enabled thermostats.

Now I have a lot more data to nerd over, more control over our heating schedule, and the ability to control the temperature remotely from my phone. I love it.

Mysa App Mysa Energy Monitoring Mysa Sensor Data

I still have some scheduling optimization to do, but the biggest take away so far is that our humidity levels are way too high. I might have to find a smart dehumidifier next…

Roomba vs Hoover

Roomba and Hoover

The Roomba I bought 2 years ago is one of the best luxury purchases I’ve ever made. It does such a great job keeping our floors clean and picking up cat hair. But I was concerned with how much power it uses, so I plugged it into a power meter for a week.

Turns out, it uses hardly any energy. After a week of daily cleaning, it only used 0.65 kWh (which works out to less than $3/year). I plugged in our old Hoover and did some vacuuming for comparison, and it uses a lot more power. One hour of vacuuming with the Hoover used more energy than the Roomba did in a week. Although there’s no way I would be vacuuming for an hour a week, especially since we only have carpet in the bedrooms. I guess sweeping is still the most energy efficient option, but I’m more than happy to pay a few dollars a year in energy bills for the robot to do the sweeping and vacuuming for me.

Roomba 770 Hoover S1361
0.65 kWh per week 0.78 kwh per hour
28 W max demand 857 W max demand
$2.81/year ¹ $1.68/year ²

1. Using BC Hydro’s residential rate of 8.3 cents / kWh (which is very cheap)
2. Assuming 30 minutes of vacuuming a week.

Saving Energy, Saving Big Bucks

A year ago, we started the BC Hydro Team Power Smart Challenge, with a goal of reducing our energy use by 10%. We did and our $75 reward cheque just arrived in the mail. We don’t consume a lot of energy to begin with, so we weren’t sure how we’d save 10% of our electricity bill. Our apartment is missing a lot of the big energy consumers – no laundry machine, dishwasher, hot water tank, or air conditioning. And yet, somehow we managed to reduce our use by 15% year-over-year.

How’d we do it? We only changed one thing – we cancelled our Shaw digital cable subscription and got rid of the PVR. That’s it. We still watch a lot of tv with Netflix and streaming tv shows, but we got rid of the PVR that was on 24-hours a day recording shows and sucking up electricity.

One year without cable tv and we saved $780 off our Shaw bill, another $20 of our electricity bill, and we got a $75 rebate cheque from BC Hydro. Easiest $875 ever.

BC Hydro powersmart

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.

Olympic Village Enerpro Billing Mess

Neighbourhood Energy Utility
We got our first Enerpro bill and I’m starting to understand what all the uproar is about.

Here is what our bill looked like for April 23 – June 30 (69 days).

Charge Consumption Cost New Cost(See Update #2 below)
Total $42.61 $30.84
Basic Charge $25.00 $19.00
HST $3.00 $0.00
Heating 1 kWh $0.04 $0.04
Hot Water 814 gallons(3,081 litres) $11.80 $11.80
Cold Water 544 gallons(2,059 litres) $2.77 $0.00

The problem isn’t that we payed $11.80 for hot water (I’ve always had hot water included in rent, but I expected it to cost about this much) or $2.77 for cold water (metering water consumption is new, but will be common practice in Vancouver soon). I’m happy to pay for what I use. I work for an energy monitoring software company, so I recognize the value metering plays in conservation efforts.
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