Thursday, March 26, 2015

WTF - Your electricity bill is How Low?

In my normal everyday life, people find out how low my electricity bill is and gasp in amazement. Their bills for their houses, apartments and duplexes range from $200 a month to $1,200. Mine is considerably lower. In fact I am on the residential low use tariff and my typical bill works out as:
$10 basic facilities charge. This is what I consider to be a real rip-off!
$4.24 for subdivision lighting. As far as I'm concerned they can take that lighting away - it doesn't help me see to put my key in the keyhole after dark!
5% paid to the town and they charge that on the basic facilities charge, subdivision lighting and actual electricity.
Then actual electricity used which most months is 100KwH. This works out at $10.
So, my electricity bill is mostly 40% actual electricity used and 60% taxes and fees.

Clearly you can see that I'm pretty miffed that I'm saving the environment and being taxed disproportionately for doing so. If I was burning up 1000KwH a month then I'd still be paying $10 for the basic facilities charge and $4.24 for subdivision lighting plus 5% or putting it another way, $100 in electricity for a total expenditure of $119.95. Taxes and fees would make up a tiny portion of the cost.

Of course, moving into the bus means that I will have to be self-contained for power. That means solar panels, wind generators etc. In winter I heat a small room in my rented hovel. That measures 10 feet by 8 feet by 8 feet or 640 cubic feet. My bus measures 24 feet by 6 feet by 7 feet inside or 1,008 cubic feet. Given that I will be in a position to insulate the bus (which I can't with the hovel I'm living in) and the fact that the bus will be partitioned into smaller compartments, the largest being 504 cubic feet, it will be far easier and cheaper to heat.

People love to ridicule me yet I'm usually right about things. I was told I ate $80 a week of groceries. Hardly - try about $50 a month. No food ever goes to waste in my kitchen. I worked and earned the money to buy it so I'm darned well going to eat what I earned money to buy and am certainly not throwing the fruits of my labors in the trashcan. That's insulting! I was told my monthly electricity bill would be about $250. Try $25 (sometimes less). Now they're trying to say I can't live off green power.

Let's look at the facts. If I bought the cheap Harbor Freight solar setup of 3 solar panels in a 45 watt 12v kit for $190, assuming 5 hours of partial sun per day, that would produce 3.375KwH of power. That's enough to power lighting, laptop, tablet, water pump etc as needed for the entire month. Cooking and showering as well as the fridge require different levels of power. A dorm fridge runs at a 75 watt surge. When its compressor is running, it uses 75 watts. When its not, it doesn't. Opening the fridge when the air inside the house is cooler and closing the door quickly reduces power consumption. Over a month at 30% on, that fridge would consume 18,000KwH. A microwave and a kettle use short bursts of power as does an electric water heater.

Clearly, 3 solar panels is not going to do much for 100KwH lifestyle, which is why people are mocking my decision to ignore generators and propane. For the price of a generator, I could buy another solar panel setup and generate 6.7KwH. Indeed, I have enough roof space to put a darned good solar setup that would supply all my power needs. Equally I can put together a wind turbine arrangement that would generate power whenever the wind blows regardless of whether its daylight. Incidentally, wind power generates far more electricity than solar. A single turbine can generate 600Watts On a windy day that could be 14,400KwH.

Before paying for solar panels, I'm going to have a darned good go at wind power. The components are cheap and in plentiful supply. In fact most of the components can be had from Lowes for next to nothing.

The trick is going to be to install sufficient batteries to enable a decent standard of living when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow. A decent generator would come in at about $500. That would pay for 5 large capacity batteries.

Watch this space for further developments.

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