30 July 2014

How much power are you using and what does it cost

We all love it and use it everyday without even thinking about most of the time. I am talking about power, how much we use and how much it costs. Because a tiny house is tiny it should use less power meaning lower power bills, right? So to get a comparison I have worked out what each appliance uses in our current 70 sqm 2 person house. I recommend everyone to do this as it will give you a great understanding as to where your dollars go each month on those rising power bills - you might be able to save a bit.

Power meter 

I got myself a power meter from the local diy store for $25. A power meter monitors your power use in watts for the appliance you have it plugged into. The simple model I purchased monitors current, voltage and power, and kilowatt hours. It can program money value also. I took the running total time divided by watts used and this gave me average watts used per hour.

Energy Wise

Because this is a plug in unit I could not measure things like my heat pump, for this I estimated its power using this web site energywise. Again I highly recommend you take a look at this and punch some numbers in you may be surprised how much it costs to run certain appliances, other countries have similar sites.


I have documented all this info in this spreadsheet. I would consider us conservative users and are aware of turning appliances off when not in use and using energy saving light bulbs for example. This estimate is on the high side due to the NZ winter. The top three energy users unsurprising for us are:
  1. Water heating 41%
  2. Space heating 16%
  3. Oven / Hob 12%

This works out to a total bill of $220 per month or $2700 per year. Things of interest were running a computer for all day equated to 10% of the bill. I thought the computer was sleeping after a few hours of inactivity but discovered it wasn't, eating up $21 per month. Also the bathroom heat lamps are eating up 10% of the bill.

Tiny house energy use

Because a tiny house is small it requires less energy to heat and light reducing the power bill. Also because the space is reduced it forces you to reduce your stuff. Do we need a hair dryer? Do we need a washing machine? (sounds crazy but there are other options to clean your clothes) do we need a subwoofer or would a smaller less wattage speakers work? These are questions we are asking ourselves, what can we live with and without.

So you might be thinking there are other ways to provide energy like gas, solar, wind, fire etc and you are right. Our current house uses just electrc but a tiny house could use anything. One option is to run gas bottles for your cooking, heating and hot water which could reduce costs (stay tuned as I will detail this in a later post). Another option is solar and wind which is slowing beginning to reduce in cost and would work well with a tiny house. Do we use the good old log burner and possibility a wet back for helping to heat water?

From this info I have gathered I see where we can reduce energy and think about other systems. But to get an understanding of costing saving I compiled a second tab in the spreadsheet above or click here.

I have stuck with electricity at this stage to keep it simple. Without reducing our current living standards I have concluded we will save $67 per month or $817 per year or 30% on power. I think we can half our current power bill if we make a few changes to our consumption and or method. It is also possible to reduce to bill to zero though using off grid technologies like solar and wind. That would save us $2700 per year or $27000 in 10 years!  

Now I feel armed to research and explore the many power options available. But that is another post, but in the mean time if you have any questions or comments please post below. 

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