Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Electric Company

I consume a lot of electricity. I have recently been trying to come up with ways to save money on my utilities. My saltwater aquarium is partly to blame. My koi pond is also partly to blame. Turning off the pumps and lights and such would unfortunately kill the livestock. It turns out that Fort Collins probably has one of the best electrical rates in the country, so I shouldn't complain. Still, it turns out I have some good options.

The default electrical rates are a straightforward computation of dollars per kilowatt hours consumed plus a nominal connection fee. In Fort Collins this rate is a very reasonable 6.498 cents per KW. One neat option is to go to demand based rates. This cuts the price per KWh by more than half down to 3.085 cents. The catch is that they also track your PEAK energy consumption each month. The peak watts (on a 15 minute running average) gets multiplied by the demand rate of $4.293 per KW. So if you have a lot of relatively low power devices which run all the time (like, say, pond and aquarium pumps, computers, and wall warts) then you can save a significant amount of money. If you have a lot of high wattage devices which can potentially run all at the same time then you have to watch out. I happen to have a very high efficiency central air conditioner, a high efficiency washer/drier and a high efficiency dishwasher. I also have a gas range and a gas water heater. I figure I can cut at LEAST $20/month on my bill by going to demand rates. I am going to have my rates changed this week after I check my nighttime power and peak daytime power and do some math. There is a $20 fee associated with the change, and I can only do it once a year.

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