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Electric utility cost in southeastern PA

Post in 'The Green Room' started by Ashful, Jun 6, 2013.

  1. Ashful

    Ashful Minister of Fire

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    So, while reading another recent thread, I realized I may be paying way too much for electric. Here are the stat's:

    Usage had been averaging 20,230 kWh / year, but more recently has trended down to 18,500 kWh / year, with good behavior. With another baby on the way at the end of this month, and wife transitioning back to working from home for a while, I anticipate usage will soon be back over 20,000 kWh / year.

    We do not have electric heat, and our primary water heater is on the oil boiler, so I guess we do not qualify for any electric heating discount rates. We do have two large central air conditioning systems for summer use, and will be adding two mini-splits with heat pumps for additions in the next year (maybe I should figure on 22,000 kWh for next year!).

    According to PECO, our "price to compare" is 8.61 cents/kWh, at 1600 kWh/mo. However, my last two bills both netted 16.5 cents/kWh. I assume we're talking the difference between generation + transmission and generation + transmission + distribution, but I guess I'm not as educated on this as I should be. Where to start?

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  2. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    I cannot tell you anything about power utilities in PA but how about looking into reducing your energy consumption? You are averaging 50 kWh per day; that's about 2/3 more than the average household. I am sure the ACs will take a lot but that should only apply to about half of the year. What is your consumption during the winter months? Do you have any idea where all that power is going other than the AC units? Since your bill is over $3000 per year it could even pay to have a certified energy consultant coming in. At least an energy monitor would be on my list to buy.
  3. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    With no space heating or water heating being done by electric, just what is consuming your power? Yes, you have a large home but the number of occupants is more directly related to consumption in your case. Your family has just as much laundry to do as mine.

    As far as "price to compare", that would be your total monthly bill divided by your total kwh consumed. Power companies are terrible about having a low cost of power and then jacking up the BS fees that are charged per kwh and thinking that the consumer is too stupid to combine these. When shopping a competitor (a luxury we don't have) you would need a sample bill. Try to get one for a consumption that is similar to yours as some companies have tiered rates.
  4. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    I just called Appalachian Power and requested they increase my rate.
    Yep, I signed up for their Green Power program.
    Its going to cost us an additional $0.015/kWh but it'll help me get over the guilt associated with burning coal until I can get our PV system harvesting sunshine.
  5. Redbarn

    Redbarn Burning Hunk

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  6. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    The price to compare PTC is what it sounds like. IF another supplier is offering you a generation price less than the PTC, you will save money to switch. If it is a penny less than your PTC, you will save 0.01*20,000 = $200.

    I am getting PA wind power on a 2 yr contract for a penny less than PECO. I think the cheapest conventional power I found was more like 2 cents cheaper (=$400/yr). Follow the links in the thread above. ^^^^

    When I had oil heat and oil DHW, my electric was ~7000 kWh/yr for a family of 4. How are you using 20,000 if you don't mind me asking?
  7. Ashful

    Ashful Minister of Fire

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    It sounds to me like it's not going to be worth switching, if only the 8.61 cents of my true 16.5 cents per kWh is actually the negotiable portion. As you pointed out, if I save 12% (one penny), it amounts to $200 per year. Likely not worth the hassle of dealing with another company outside of PECO. I was hoping I might get the bill down to the $0.10 / kWh I hear some of you mention, but with more than half my bill not being part of the "price to compare", I guess that will never happen.

    In terms of energy usage, our big consumers are:

    - Cooling 6000 sq.ft. of mostly un-insulated stone farm house with original 1770 single-hung windows. We have two 5-ton AC units.
    - 3 dehumidifiers, all 75 pt./hr., two of which run almost continuously this time of year.
    - electric water heater in guest suite (primary house has hot water off oil boiler)
    - exterior lighting = 998 watts, on at dusk, off at 11:30pm
    - additional exterior lighting = 2050 watts, on motion sensors or switched on when entertaining or working outdoors
    - interior lighting (my wife seems to only understand that switches can be turned on, never off)
    -- garage = 6 x 60 watt incandescent (used frequently as shop space, as my shop expansion is not yet complete)
    -- family room = 16 x 45 watt incandescent flood on dimmers
    -- kitchen = 11 x 45 watt incadescent flood on dimmers
    -- living room = 11 x 50 watt halogen flood on Lutron system
    -- office = 6 x 50 watt halogen flood + 2 x 60 watt incadescent on Lutron system
    -- den = 8 x 50 watt halogen flood on Lutron system
    -- old front foyer 2 x 60 watt incadescent
    -- new front foyer = 2 x 60 watt incandescent on dimmers
    -- rear foyer = 3 x 60 watt incandescent on dimmers
    -- hall = 4 x 40 watt incandescent
    -- 4 bedrooms, each with 2 - 4 x 60 watt incandescent
    -- master changing room: 7 x 50 watt incandescents on dimmers
    -- master closets: 4 x 48" flourescents
    -- master bath: 3x 50w + 5x 40w incandescents on dimmers
    -- rec. room (kids, not frequently used) = 24x 40 - 60 watt incandescents on dimmers
    -- gun room = 4x 48" flourescent
    -- basement = 6 x 60w incandescent
    - tools and equipment - several big antique woodworking machines, used frequently, constant renovations
    - network server, workstation, several laptops, big computer monitors
    - five TV's, at least three of which seem to be always on
    - washer and electric dryer that seem to run damn near 24/7 on weekends. I sometimes wonder if my wife wears and washes three outfits per day.
    - electric range and ovens
    - two full-size refrigerators, plus two smaller refrigerators, although the small ones are usually unplugged

    No doubt, some part of the consumption is a wife who has never turned off a light or television in her life. Case in point... went upstairs to get my iphone, to look up the list of lightbulbs I buy. I found the following left on: upstairs hall lights (160 watts), our bedroom lights (120w), changing room (150 watts), 26" LCD, Wii, and cable box. No one was upstairs, wife had come down 20 minutes ago, and they'd have stayed on until I went to bed at 11:00pm, unless I had gone up there just now. Looking around the corner, I see the kitchen lights are also on (500 watts), and she finished doing the dishes and left that room 30 minutes ago. I haven't really sat down to figure out how much of the usage is truly lights left on, versus AC, clothes washer, dehumidifiers, and outside lighting, but it certainly doesn't help.
  8. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    That'll do it.

    FYI, though, the hassle is nil. You still get one bill. A few minutes on the 'net to find a supplier and book it.
  9. Ashful

    Ashful Minister of Fire

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    Yeah... I guess I should do it. I'm just bummed that there isn't much to be saved. I heard some of you guys talking $0.10 / kWh (and less!) and got excited. I do wonder how many of these folks are quoting the price quoted to them by their supplier (before taxes and fees), versus actual dollars out of pocket / kWh used.

    My 16.5 cents / kWh is based on dollars out of my checking account per kWh used, not some BS pre-service charge "price to compare" from the utility company.

    <-- averaged less than 400 kWh / month before marriage, but smaller house / no AC / no cooking
  10. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Not judging, I am now blowing 18,000 kWh/yr, but I am getting my space heat and DHW from that too.

    In the PNW and Quebec, there is so much hydro, in both places folks are paying 10 cents all in. I double checked, and I am paying 12.7 cents plus a $7/mo distribution in a PECO billing zone. That is almost 4 cents less than you, and my supplier is 100% wind, very low carbon. I **think** there are conventional suppliers in our area that are running a bit cheaper than that.

    How often do you find hundreds of dollars in the street? ;)

    The utilities are required to add a price to compare for generation to make it easier to shop around for different suppliers. If you are mad it misleads folks into thinking their kWh are cheaper than they are...I too am annoyed they don't have 'total cost per kW' right next to it, but remember it is there to facilitate shopping. Like a nutrition label.

    Here are the two links again:

    wind: http://www.choosepawind.com/buy-pa-wind
    I have a 24 mo contract for 8.48 cents with these guys: http://citizenpower.com/GEC/savePeco.html
    Current quote for our area is now 9.16 for generation, still a half cent cheaper than my PECO PTC 9.61 cents

    conventional: http://maketheswitchusa.com/pa/
    put in your numbers and the cheapest I got was 8.1 cents for generation, 1.5 cents cheaper than my PECO PTC, or $300/yr savings at your usage level.

    Caveats? Some places want you to sign a contract for 6-12-24 mo, and will fine you to break it early. I doubt you have a contract with PECO, you would remember signing it. So, I did a 2 yr contact for the 'hassle factor' of not having to re-shop for two years. And wind prices have gone up a half cent since I locked in.

    I do not know how you have a lower listed PTC on your PECO bill than I have on mine. That's BS. My PECO PTC went up recently, make sure you check the most recent bill. Also, my distribution charge is under 5 cents/kWh, it sounds like yours is more like 7? Perhaps PECO charges urban versus suburban customers different distribution per kWh?

    At any rate, it looks to me like you will bag $200-300/yr for ~30 minutes of internet shopping.

    Whatever you find, your savings will be the difference in PTCs * usage. My distribution and monthly fees did not change when I switched....I suspect that is closely regulated.
  11. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    My wife likes some lumens too. I suppose you are not CFL-ing it because the wife likes the edison bulb warmth/color rendition and dimming function. I was mostly CFL, but kept incandescents/floods in a couple places I wanted those functions. After watching the development of LED bulbs for **years**, I finally pulled the trigger in the last 6 mos, and got both of these (Phillips) bulbs:

    dimmable 65W halogen flood recessed light LED replacement: 13W
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008NNZSI0/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    dimmable 60W edison bulb replacement LED: 10W
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0071E17VY/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    for about $25 a pop. Both are IMO **perfect** replacements for the incandescents re brightness, color and dimmability (with LED rated dimmers, YMMV with old dimmers). If you want to reduce power usage, pick up these guys (or similar products from these products lines, I like Phillips), and try them out. If you like 'em, you can probably switch out for <$1000 total, and make 40% annual ROI.
  12. Redbarn

    Redbarn Burning Hunk

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    We switched from Met-Ed at 0.089 to Reliant Energy (Houston, TX) at 0.069. Took about 30 minutes on-line and we fixed the rate for 1 year.

    Everything else is the same as before. Same billing,etc..
    We just pay less for the same product/service.
    Not many things in life go down in price !
  13. Ashful

    Ashful Minister of Fire

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    I'll have to check out your links and bulbs over this weekend, woodgeek. I've not done all the detailed math on this, but I anticipate the ROI will be very long for me. We have a very high count of low-wattage bulbs, to achieve our desired lighting in this old house. As an example, between our kitchen and family room, one open space, we have 29 bulbs at 40 - 45 watts each. Most are run lower than their rating, thanks to dimmers on every switch, so perhaps they're consuming 30 - 35 watts each.

    Just back of the envelope math, but a $25 LED consuming 1/6th the power is going to have to burn roughly 5000 hours to recoup the cost difference to an incandescent running at 35 watts, at $0.165 / kWh. If I manage to find cheaper power, say your 12.7 cents/kWh, then the time goes up to more than 6000 hours of burn time. Each of these lights is on only a few hours each evening (more on the weekends), so perhaps 18 hours per week. We're talking about a 5 year ROI.

    The math is much more favorable to one putting a lot of hours on a few higher-wattage light bulbs, versus a few hours per day on a house with more than 225 lower-wattage light bulbs.
    woodgeek likes this.
  14. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

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    Do any of you guys know if PECO's "smartsaver a/c" scheme applies if I switched supplier? I assume not, but its not clear. Even though they've reduced the credit to $20/mo, it's still a no-brainer, I noticed nothing last year. Losing that wouldn't make up the 0.5c/kwh.

    TE
  15. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Homedepot has 40W and 60W LED bulbs on sale right now for $10-$13. Compared to your estimate it should reduce the ROI to 2.5 years. I would also look into motion sensors in areas that are only used on occasions (e. g. bathrooms, upstairs corridor etc.) if your family cannot be bothered to turn off the lights. In rooms where I wanted instant light (e. g. bathrooms) I mixed incadescents with CFLs, so far without any negative side effects (like bulbs burned out prematurely).

    Nevertheless, not much will change if you do not get your family on board. One suggestion: Stop paying by automatic withdrawal. Set a monthly budget for $300 for electricity. Write the check when your wife/family is sitting with you at the table. Take the difference between the actual bill and the $300 and put it in a "something fun jar". Use that money for a movie-trip with the whole family, dinner at fancy restaurant, or save for the next vacation. Of course, if the bill exceeds the $300 take the difference back out of the jar. Let's see how quickly you can get them to turn off lights or use the AC less. :)
    NickDL, Frozen Canuck and woodgeek like this.
  16. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Costco has 40W LED 3 in a pack for $20 so thats $6.66c Each. Bought a pack for the living room lamps,nice soft light,not the white harsh light of CFLs. 7 watt consumption each.
  17. Ashful

    Ashful Minister of Fire

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    You are preaching to the choir, Grisu! Unfortunately, my wife pays the electric bill, and while she's made comments in surprise of it being so high in this new house, she doesn't seem capable of changing her behavior to suit. And since I'm the one who usually wants to go out, her being much happier sitting at home, I have no hand to play. I'm also the one who enjoys having the AC, more than anyone else in the house.

    I'm resigned our usage is what it is. It's really not a problem or a hardship. I was just interested in not paying more than necessary, per kWh, for what we are using.
  18. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    AC Saver is permanently discontinued. It was a govt funded pilot program to collect effectiveness data. Now it is done and we have hardware screwed to the walls of our houses.

    Future things like that will prob be managed through wifi enabled thermostats.

    EDIT Correction: Eddie is right, they changed their minds, and it is NOT discontinued, just dropped to $20/mo. Don't know if I still get it, I think I will.
  19. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Ok. My problem was I had too few cans, so I needed a lot of lumens in each one. For you, wanting a 40W equivalent, there are a lot of cheaper options. For a 40W edison replacement, look at the cree bulbs available in Home Despot for $10:
    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Cree-6-W...-04527OMF-12DE26-1U110/204084370#.UbI5IuvTOHk
    As you point out, ROI depends on hours used. I leave the calcs to you, but a <$10 bulb prob helps.

    Edit: sorry Grisu....these are the same bulbs you mention. Reviews are quite positive.
    Ashful likes this.
  20. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Of course, cost per kwh is all in. Anything else is meaningless, like banana cords.

    My bill for 1000 kwh is actually less than 100 dollars. I am happy with our cheap power but to get it you have to live here with rain dripping off of your ears and a mossy back for 9 months per year.
  21. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Ok. PECOvolution continues. On the new bill they dropped my PTC by a penny, and increased my distribution by 2 cents. I am now at 15.4 cents all in, or 14.5 cents marginal (w/o monthly service charge). Amounts to a 14% hike on an annual basis. Still less (in nominal $) than I was paying 20 years ago.

    I am no longer getting 100% wind for significantly less than Excelon/PECO power, its now a wash.

    I guess my home eff projects will now pay off 14% faster. :confused:
  22. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    That's why you can't use the PTC. It's a bogus number intended to trick you. You can bet they were pretty proud of themselves for giving you that one cent discount!
  23. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I disagree. Its a regulated industry with pretty lousy profits. The PTC they get to charge is debated and discussed with a public cmte. I am sure they had to lobby a cmte and present evidence that the old rate did not meet their expenses, and needed to be increased.

    I am no fan of corporations, but electric utilities are not full of vampire capitalists.
  24. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    They are here.

    NSP is regulated, but part of that regulation is a guaranteed rate of return for shareholders - very close to 10%. That doesn't help power rates much....
  25. Ashful

    Ashful Minister of Fire

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    Unsuccessful people spend their time whining about the injustices of the system within which we live. Successful people find a way to make it work for them. If you think the utility is raking folks over the coals for the sake of shareholder profit, then become a shareholder.

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