aslant: (elle s'amuse)
[personal profile] aslant
After a month of using little to no electric lights, our kilowatt-hours went down:
March 2013: 505 kWh
April 2013: 398 kWh
(April 2012: 538 kWh)

PGE helpfully tells me that the average temperature this April was 52°, compared to 51° last year.

Disappointingly, lowering our kWh usage did not affect our bill hugely:
March 2013: $58.52
April 2013: $48.25

...but there is a slightly bigger difference year-to-year:
April 2013: $48.25
April 2012: $62.96

Due to random legislated energy credits and miniscule rate changes, I don't view year-to-year as truly apples to apples, but it's still interesting. We could probably go further to reduce our kWh usage...for example we could install a motion sensor on the inside entry light (the only one that stays on continuously for convenience...already an improvement from the 3-4 lights we used to leave on at night for convenience) and we could unplug the power strip that has the tv/xbox power bricks on it.

We have nearly used up two 12" taper candles, and about half of a 6" pillar. The tapers were on hand, the pillar was new. We have a lot of natural light, so we didn't use candles except for tasks at the very end of the day.

Even if we didn't reap a jackpot here, it was a successful experiment, and one I'll continue to follow. It creates a natural bedtime barrier for Penny -- she now knows that when it's twilight, we get into our pajamas, and then just a short window of time for bedtime snack and last playtime before it's too dark. This is way, way easier than parental-imposed deadlines that are inevitably delayed by child-whines. I notice a HUGE difference in the family crankiness-o-meter when we stay up watching movies on the weekend now, bedtime is just a crabbiness pit of despair.

I'm more reluctant to stare into my phone or stay up late reading a book, so I infringe less upon my sleep time. This also fixes a bad habit of mine on nights when Kirk is working late -- I'm less likely to stick my nose in a book and ignore Penny's bedtime until it's too late, now. Kirk often stays up later than Penny and me, with Netflix or a lamp to read by, so our guidelines have been flexible. A few mornings in the kitchen I've thought, it's just so damn gray and dim in here but I haven't actually wanted to turn on the lights, they feel very unfriendly now. There was one morning when I got up and wrote by candlelight before dawn, and it was neat to blow out the candles when the light began coming in the windows. I bitch about our stupid nontraditional condo a lot, but it's situated nicely -- morning light in the kitchen and dining area, evening light in the living room/play area.

There are a few silly things that could probably improve with lamps -- brushing teeth and reading bedtime stories by candlelight is not really necessary, but we're used to the routine now and will probably keep going. I do think Penny is less resistant to lights-out time when it's a candle versus a lamp.

So we're not in it for the money. But the original goals of moving Penny's bedtime earlier and reducing weekday screentime were easily achieved, and I am definitely still in it for the general improved rhythm of our evenings.

Date: 2013-04-30 07:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] duchess-k.livejournal.com
This is all really cool!

Date: 2013-04-30 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aslant.livejournal.com
:D

I have a friend on FB who is also doing the screen-free week (via the campaign for a commercial free childhood) and I'm excited that for the first time, it feels like we could do it, no big deal, as opposed to prior years when I thought oh my GOD no way never nuh-uh.

Date: 2013-04-30 07:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] duchess-k.livejournal.com
It wouldn't fly at my house. Sigh. I would be down, and the children would survive, but Gerry counts on PBS Kids to fill in the cracks during the day. We only watch PBS or DVDs; there's no commercial TV on ever. Which is better, and I'm glad my kids aren't exposed to regular commercial airtime. But still, I'd love to have even less...but I'm not the stay-at-home parent, so I avoid dictating such terms to him.

Date: 2013-04-30 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aslant.livejournal.com
Commercials are thee devil! At xmas time Penny would ask for stuff (those light-up plush slippers?) that I know she picked up from random commercial tv at daycare. They don't watch too much of it and do plenty of outside time, but still...ugh. Evil brainwashing. Also, I think with two at home I'd want some downtime with ipad/netflix too...

Date: 2013-05-01 01:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kore.livejournal.com
It sounds like its been so relaxing for you all,and kind of fun for penny with the candles and everything. I was using a kerosene lantern for awhile at the cabin in co... But those kind of stink and are a mess... Hmm. Do you have a fireplace? Not that that sounds very inviting in soon to be summer.

Date: 2013-05-01 11:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mordicai.livejournal.com
How much did the candles cost?

Also, from a health perspective, do you know about these...computer programs that red shift your screen? I dunno the name, but they basically red shift it in the morning & later in the day, in order to mimic sunlight for your diurnal rhythms.

Date: 2013-05-01 12:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aslant.livejournal.com
The tapers were a gift years and years ago...the pillar was a nice one (and I was wrong, it was 5") that Kirk bought, it was probably $7 or $8?

I had heard of the red shift programs but forgotten until now -- thanks for the reminder!

Date: 2013-05-01 01:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mordicai.livejournal.com
Just factoring it into your $avings.

Date: 2013-05-01 01:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aslant.livejournal.com
We're gonna do Xbox/tv brick OFF unless in use for May and see if that makes a dent. But eventually central air will be more necessary, and that will just toss all our savings away. But then again, I didn't start this with savings as the main goal, it just seems like a handy way to quantify one part of it, I guess.

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