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Tech Diary — May 15-19, 2023

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Tech Diary — May 15-19, 2023

Presumably this energy transition will lead to a better understanding of electronic things in the long term, but for now I still have questions

The bell rings, the caretaker stands in front of the door and tells me the reading of our electricity meter: Two, four, nine, nine, six. The procedure for reading and transmitting has not changed since 2017. But we now live in a house where the electricity meters are no longer simply hanging in an unlocked metal cupboard in the basement, but in a locked utility room. The caretaker has the key to it, so I have to ask him to read the meter once a year. Last time he texted me the meter reading, this time verbally because we have something else to discuss.

Later in the day I enter the value on the electricity provider’s website and four days later I receive the annual bill. We used around 3000 KWh, 700 less than the year before, and despite the electricity price rising from 22 to 29 cents, we still get several hundred euros back! If I read the electricity bill correctly, the much-described electricity price brake doesn’t play a role, since it would only take effect from 40 ct.

I don’t know right away what could have caused the significantly reduced consumption. Since the children were born, we have always used between 3600 and 4000 kWh per year in two different apartments. Since heating and hot water are provided by district heating, the size of the apartment and the harshness of the winter hardly play a role in our electricity consumption.

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My wife immediately says “the dryer!” What she means is that the tumble dryer that we took over under the label “partially furnished” when we moved in left a small puddle under it some time ago. The task of clarifying this fell to me and I have sat through it successfully so far. I was able to do that because the terrace in front of the kitchen offers space for two drying racks and hanging up wet laundry in this apartment doesn’t allow mold to bloom in the corners.

So the dryer hasn’t been used for months and this has certainly reduced our electricity consumption. But right by 20%? I google the consumption values ​​of the dryer (I’m sure we still have the paper instructions for use somewhere, but…) and find a maximum power consumption of 800 W, consumption for 7 kg of laundry cupboard-dry in 3 hours: 1.65 kWh. In addition, the dryer is probably equipped with a small heat pump 😮.

So to save 700 kWh, we would have had to omit 424 three-hour drying cycles. That seems implausible to me. I guess we used the dryer 4-5 times a week for 1-2 hours, which in total might explain half of the savings.

Another possibility are the two solar panels I installed last August (which have since had their own post). I have equipped this “balcony power plant” with its own small measuring device and this does not allow the system to generate 100 kWh of electricity in total.

Good readability of the display is not one of the features.

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I have the suspicion that this device does not measure or calculate correctly, because it often shows 400-500 W of instantaneous power when the sun is shining, but at the end of the day it only shows 1 kWh of power generation. But perhaps my calculation that 2:30 h times 400 W should result in one kilowatt hour does not correspond to physical reality. Nevertheless, it is clear that the panels were only able to produce very little electricity in the winter months due to shading from other buildings and therefore only contributed part to the electricity savings.

Other candidates include washing machines and dishwashers. New devices were purchased here, which may consume less electricity for the same use. So far I haven’t bothered to look up their fuel consumption values. In addition, I have been replacing all failed lamps with LED bulbs and spotlights for a long time. However, this process should be largely completed and lighting certainly does not play a major role in consumption compared to the fat household appliances.

Or is it simply a transmission error? In the end, did the caretaker or I just get one or two digits wrong? This is rather unlikely with the number 24,996. If the 2 or the 4 were wrong, the consumption would be much lower than last year or at least 300 kWh higher, which doesn’t make sense because of the dryer and the solar system. Even if one of the two nines was wrong, it would only increase the difference.

I could, of course, ask the caretaker to check again. But I tend to just wait and see if the phenomenon somehow clears up. In the worst case, consumption will jump back to the usual value in the next year and we will have to pay an extra charge, the amount of which of course also depends on the development of the electricity price.

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