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We Use More Energy than Average?

There was a statewide green homes open house last Saturday that I missed (for the Boston Local Food Festival), but in looking through the homes on the website I was amazed to see that one listed their yearly electricity usage as 7,200 kwh for a two-family house. 3,600 per household seemed high to me, so I added up our usage. (A year’s worth is found on the NStar site). The result? 1,693 kwh.

Intrigued, I went online to look up average household electricity use. It’s an astonishing 11,000 kwh a year. Compared to this, the 3,500 kwh green home is efficient, but they both seem inflated. I don’t know why this is. We don’t have air conditioning, which is the single largest energy hog, but our refrigerator (the second largest) is kind of old and not particularly efficient. We do use fluorescent light bulbs, don’t use the heat dry setting on our dishwasher, and plug our electronics into a smart power strip, but I’m not sure those things would add up to that large of a difference.

On the gas side, we use much more than the green home: 114 MMBTUs per year to their 87 MMBTUs—for both households. The average? 86 MMBTUs per household (in the Northeast).

Why the discrepancy? Well, we do have a gas stove, hot water heater, clothes dryer, and furnace.  We specifically got a gas dryer because it’s more efficient than an electric one, but line drying would be more efficient than that. Also, we’ve weatherized our drafty old apartment quite a bit, but I think there’s still more we could do. More involved things, like installing more insulation, a more efficient furnace, or a solar hot water heater (like the green home has) we can’t do because we’re renting.

It’s a little dispiriting to see that we actually use more gas than the average household, and it outweighs our using less electricity. As renters, I’m not sure what else we can do other than turn the thermostat down some more. (And I hate being cold.) I think we’ll start rack drying some of our clothes and see if that makes a difference before doing anything drastic.

One year ago: Don’t Throw It Out.

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