Jennifer Stange and her family conducted a home energy audit on their home. They learned that hair dryers consume a lot of power in only a few minutes.

Energy audit a real eye opener

It came as no surprise to the Jennifer Stange that some household appliances used more energy than others. But it was the amount of energy that some daily items consumed — namely the hair dryer — that raised some eyebrows in the home. Using a watt metre to measure energy consumption, Stange learned that a hair dryer used 0.04 kilowatt hours in three minutes, as much energy as a lamp with compact fluorescent bulbs consumed in two and a half hours.

It came as no surprise to the Jennifer Stange that some household appliances used more energy than others.

But it was the amount of energy that some daily items consumed — namely the hair dryer — that raised some eyebrows in the home.

Using a watt metre to measure energy consumption, Stange learned that a hair dryer used 0.04 kilowatt hours in three minutes, as much energy as a lamp with compact fluorescent bulbs consumed in two and a half hours.

“That really jumped out,” said Stange.

Because it is the holiday season, she plugged her Christmas tree LEDs into the meter. Stange expected the number to be low but not as low as the result. The LEDs consumed 0.07 kilowatt hours over four and a half hours, which is equivalent to nearly three minutes of hair drying.

For nearly two weeks, Stange, her daughters Claire and Eve, and husband Grant kept an eye on their power usage in their home on Wishart Street while they went about their days. They used a watt meter, an infrared thermometer and a wireless electricity monitor.

“I had some suspicions confirmed,” said Stange.

“The things I thought were using a lot of energy do. Although they use way more than I imagined. Then things like the LEDs used way less than I thought they would.”

The family used on average 14.5 kilowatt hours per week.

Stange said it was interesting to learn how much power the family was using. However, she said it would be more useful to have prior readings in hand to measure any differences in the bills.

“It would be interesting if I could track it over time through the energy bill to see if we could cut that down a bit,” she said.

“That would be something that we would have to do over time.”

Before the audit, Stange was curious to see where, if any, there were drafts in their home or if some rooms were colder than others.

She used an infrared thermometer to check for surface temperatures in rooms and on walls throughout the home.

“We have a bathroom upstairs that is really cold,” said Stange.

“I was concerned that maybe there was a cold spot in the wall where it didn’t get insulated. But using the infrared thermometer it clearly showed that it was fine. It was normal.”

Stange said they learned that it is colder at the wall baseboards and at corners in the house.

She said this would be an area to look at if they were looking at improving the heat retention in their home.

She said while her family is pretty energy conscious, she thought conducting a home energy audit was both valuable and informative.

“The things that I thought used a lot of energy do,” she said.

“We just need to be aware of how much energy something uses will hopefully cause us to use it a little bit less.”

Available from the Red Deer Public Library, the home energy audit kit includes an infrared thermometer, a watt meter and elite wireless electricity monitor.

Stange said the elite wireless electricity monitor was a little tricky to install so they had to search online for more instructions to set it up. She said the kit would be more helpful if there was information included on ways to reduce energy consumption.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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