Charting home energy usage

After finishing the epic 1+ year long kitchen remodel, I lost quite a bit of steam to blog and remodel. But the creative juices continue flowing. I am still reading my beloved This Old House magazines and getting new ideas all the time. The bathroom remodel will be next. The planning is really slow going. Meanwhile, I thought I blog about something I’ve been meaning to share for a long time.

Ever since we bought the house, we’ve done quite a bit of home improvement. Back in my college days, I studied HVAC with some classes on power generation. I am really curious as to whether we have improved the energy usage in our home based on the significant improvements we put into it. The only way to tell is to get my hands on energy usage data and a lot of it. It dawned on me that I can grab the electricity usage data from my utility bills. I logged onto my account at the power company website and started copying the monthly meter readings.

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Living without cable

We bid farewell to Comcast basic cable a few months ago. We don’t really miss it. This is after I put together a complicated setup to record DTV and stream movies. None of the gear is top of the line and not the latest and greatest either. But it serves us well.

Transition to DTV

Starting with the TV, it is a Toshiba 50″ TheaterView Projection TV. This is one of those giant old TV’s that is almost as tall as my shoulder when I stand next to it. We bought it used from hubby’s younger brother. Before having this “luxury”, we had a 19″ CRT TV which I sold at a garage sale. Our family room is in the basement. This TV is so big and heavy that there is no way it will emerge from below ground again!

The TV does not have a digital tuner. When there was still a chance to apply for a coupon from the govt for a converter box, I did it just for the heck of it. Basic cable worked just fine on our TV after the transition to DTV was completed in my area. We heard about people making their own antenna for DTV so we thought we give it a try. And to our surprise, our homemade antenna worked very well (with a converter box) in the basement. The channels that came in with strong signals were crystal clear. I doubt any of the old tech antenna would have performed as well before DTV for us.

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Is clipping coupons my only way to save money?

With gas and many daily necessities costing more and more everyday, I heard people talking about various ways to save money. Cut down on driving, quit drinking pop and eating candies everyday, cut down trips to Starbucks, etc. But for me, I don’t have much to cut down to save money. I get an annual bus pass from work so I take the bus regularly. I don’t drink coffee. I don’t smoke. I don’t have a sweet tooth. I don’t wear makeup. I haven’t bought any new clothes for a while. My shoes are starting to worn out and I have bought new pairs many months ago. I even collect paper that has been printed on one side at work and take home only a small amount when the pile of paper is getting too much because I have to make special efforts to use the paper on a printer that is shared by about 15 people. The only money-saving idea that comes to me is clipping coupons but we don’t even have a subscription of the local newspaper. We have basic cable at home which means there are only the local TV stations of the big networks plus 3-5 other channels, no HBO, no ESPN, no CNN, no HGTV which I would love to have since I am a big fan of This Old House on PBS. Continue reading “Is clipping coupons my only way to save money?”