Still the One

We have had an amazing run of mild weather this autumn and early winter. Even up through Matariki – the winter solstice (fewest hours of sunlight for the year) – we have not needed any supplemental (electric or otherwise) heating for hot water or our living space. This has allowed us to keep our electricity use around one kilowatt hour per day for the last eight months. Our last bill was remarkably low. We used only 23 kilowatt hours in 30 days.


$15.72 includes a 38 cents/day line charge.

But those “cheap as chips” power bills are likely to hibernate until September, as we face two cold months ahead, and most immediately cool, cloudy weather and rain for the next 10 days. But I thought I’d share some of the best approaches we’ve chosen to save energy and money. From big picture to detail, they include:

Passive solar design: Increased glazing on the north side (toward the equator) for free heating.

(Morning photo: Drapes are still closed.)

Insulation: Holds that heat in at night.

Fiberglass insulation has up to 80% recycled content and is affordable.

Thermal drapes and pelmets: This is another form of insulation that happens to open and close daily. Mindfulness makes these much cheaper than double-glazing if you are conscientious about opening and closing them at appropriate times.

Pelmet is an old weather board from the exterior. (Ripped to 150mm and inverted.) Will be painted white to look like a crown molding.

Solar hot water: Electric water heating is one of the biggest additions to a power bill.

One of the best investments I’ve ever made. Thanks Allen!

Under-the-bench-fridge: Our refrigerator sips power while many others gulp it.

Small is beautiful! Big enough if you keep yourself organized.

Compact flourescent light bulbs: This hardly needs to be said, but CFLs use 1/4 the power of incandescent bulbs for the same amount of lighting.

Old reliable. I’m looking at LEDs, but the quality has to go up and price down.

We use heaps of other strategies for saving power, but those will be highlighted another day. Which of these can you implement in your home? What other great energy saving strategies do you employ?

Oh, the sun just came out. Gotta go open the drapes… – Estwing

One thought on “Still the One”

  1. I would love to see a more in-depth discussion of insulation options, e.g. glass fibre vs wool vs some of the paper-based ones, and why you ended up going pink.(I would have thrown "light straw clay" into the mix, but you might have a job getting the building inspector to buy that one, and it's up to a year before you can plaster the inside – you'd also miss out on the thermal mass you were getting from double-gibbing.)

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