Monday, December 20, 2010

The Electric Bill

Today our electric bill arrived in the mail, and running an indoor farm does mean a higher than usual bill. (The chickens do have their very own compact fluorescent bulb though, and I plan on switching it to an LED light due to the mercury in cfls. Can you tell I am feeling very guilty writing this post?) Anyways, enough of me trying to squirm out of the subject....I did promise we would write about our energy bill so below is the low down.

This December we, used an average of 13 kWh a day. Last December, we used an average of 8.3 kWh a day. So what accounts for the differences? Well last December we did not have:
  • The chickens' light, which goes on at 7 am and off at  5 pm
  • The perchs' bubbler and the light for the greens growing above the fish
  • The grow light over the lemon tree, carrots, peppers, and other assorted plants in the living room
  • The AreoGarden which is currently helping sprout the purple potatoes

So our average cost per kWh was $.16 which means we spend an extra $.77 a day and $23.1 a month running the "farm." According to the US Energy Information Administration, each kWh emits an average of 1.27 pounds of carbon. So therefore we are adding 5.97 pounds of carbon to our footprint a day! (Can you feel my "greenie" heart sinking in shame???)  The interesting debate comes in when you factor "food miles." It is estimated that food transport is 83% of the carbon footprint for food consumption ( So is our meager two eggs a day offsetting our additional 5.97 pounds of carbon emissions? I doubt it. I have no way to calculate it though. However, I imagine that we come out way ahead when you factor in the summer time garden and all the food we canned for winter. So while the winter farm is a total energy hog, at least we have fun. (Yes, I am trying to justify this!)

For entertainment, I decided to see just how much electricity the average American family uses. According to the Department of Energy, the average is 920 kWh per month. ( Yikes!! Even with the farm, we used 442 kWh a month which is 478 kWh less than the typical family. Phew, am I glad I switch all our light bulbs to cfls! : )