Wasting Electricity for Fun and Profit

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jima
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Wasting Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by jima » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:25 am

Short version: How can I consume an extra 200-300 kwh per month over what I need?

Long version:
As a little background, the electric situation in Texas is interesting, where a lot of companies are competing in an open marketplace site run by the state. Obviously low price generally wins there, so the power companies are incentivized to make their rates "look" low to take advantage of consumers who don't read the fine print closely or care enough to monitor consumption. There are endless ways to do that, but one popular method is to offer discounts when a consumer hits right at 1000kwh. Why that number? Because it's what the state site defaults to as a consumption number when sorting by price.

As an example, for the power plan I just signed up with, the terms are this:
Energy Charge (cents per kWh) of 0.09097; Base Charge of $1.50 (flat fee per billing cycle); $4.95 Minimum Usage Fee (flat fee per billing cycle only if your usage is below 500 kWh); $85 Usage Credit per billing cycle if your usage is greater than 999 and less than 1,501 kWh; $45 Usage Credit per billing cycle if your usage is greater than 1,500 and less than 2,001 kWh;

According to these terms, the absolute cheapest I will pay is when I hit exactly 1000kwh (1000*.09097 + $1.50 - $85 = $7.47). However if I consume less than that, say 999kwh, I lose the $85 discount, so my bill would be $92.47. The sweet spot would be anywhere in the 1000-1500kwh range to maximize the discount.

My actual use numbers from last year are:
Month Usage
2017-11 796
2017-12 725
2018-01 934
2018-02 791
2018-03 867
2018-04 903
2018-05 1075
2018-06 1559
2018-07 1745
2018-08 1827
2018-09 1524
2018-10 1157
2018-11 767
2018-12 700
2019-01 769

Not a lot I can do about the summer numbers (it's Texas after all), but wondering if there is a way to artifically consume more power during the cooler months. I'm on gas for heat, so cranking up the thermostat won't help much.

Thought this would be an interesting question, looking forward to the replies... :beer
Last edited by jima on Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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unclescrooge
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by unclescrooge » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:37 am

Heat pumps run on electricity.

As do crypto currency mining servers.

ninjafirepants
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by ninjafirepants » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:41 am

I'm not really sure how much of a boost you would get, but you could make your computer work 24/7. One option is to mine crypto-currencies and such, but another option more focused on the benefit to humanity would be to contribute to the Folding@Home project, which uses volunteer computers around the world to do experiments that help to fight disease. I don't run it 24/7, but I do try to make sure I devote at least a few "work units" per week. Interesting set of perverse incentives Texas has set up there.

If you were to purchase an electric or Plugin-Hybrid-Electric-Vehicle (PHEV), that would increase your usage in every month. I find that the per-mile costs of my wife's PHEV sub-compact sedan are about 1/3 of the costs of my gas-powered full-sized sedan (at roughly 10 cents/KwH), so even if you account for the additional costs during the summer, you're probably still making out like a bandit by tapping into the discounts in the winter (or "summer-lite" as I called it when I lived in south Texas).

fru-gal
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by fru-gal » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:58 am

So much for the environment.

Startled Cat
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Startled Cat » Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:18 am

From a Californian's perspective, that rate plan is completely bizarre. Texas might as well be another planet.

My electric rate is $0.21/kWh up to the 260 kWh per month "baseline" (239 kWh per month in summer). Between the baseline and 400% of baseline, the marginal rate is $0.28/kWh. Above 400% of baseline (about 1000kWh), the rate increases to $0.43/kWh. So far I've been successful at staying below the baseline usage level.

I can't imagine using 1000 kWh/month of electricity. In your situation, I would feel an ethical responsibility to choose a different rate plan which doesn't incentivize overconsumption, financial considerations aside.

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dratkinson
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by dratkinson » Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:46 am

I'd hate to have to game the electric utility system to lower my bill.

Do you have enough information about other suppliers to pick someone more reasonable?



But as long as we are trying to game the system....


Option #1. Install electric heater(s) to supplement your central NG heat.

Lets see.
--Most small electric heaters have two modes: high (1500 watts) and low (750 watts).
--So to consume 1000kWh in 30 days you'd need: 1,000,000Wh / 30days / 24hr/day / 1500watts/hr = .93 heaters running 24/7. Let's round up on 1 electric heater.

So you'd need 1x electric heater running in high, or 2x heaters running in low. Most household circuits are fused to 15A (15A x 120v = 1800w) which is almost maxed at 1500w. So to keep from tripping circuit breakers if you turned on anything else, maybe use 2x heater, running on low, on separate circuits.

Double-check. 1 heater * 1500watts/hr/heater * 24hr/day * 30days/mo = 1,080,000 watts in 30 day = 1080kWh. (Looks okay.)

So...
--Check your electric meter reading (kWh consumed) on your last bill, and note the day of that reading,
--Plug in electric heater(s) and set for a total of 1500w/hr consumption.
--Turn off electric heater(s) when your electric meter reading indicates you will have consumed +1000kWh by the date of the next meter reading.


Option #2. Install Tesla power walls and recharge them during the winter to run your AC during the summer.

Wait. Think power walls are 120v and ACs are 240v, so it won't work. Never mind.


Option #3. Set up a refrigeration plant and ice house to make/store ice during the winter to use during the summer to reduce the AC load to cool your house.


Option #4. To reduce your summer cooling bill. If you have the option of time-of-day billing, recall some large businesses make chilled water at night to use for building cooling during the day. But that's a more complicated HVAC system then installed in our homes.



Only option #1 seems easily doable.
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telemark
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by telemark » Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:13 am

dratkinson wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:46 am
Option #1. Install electric heater(s) to supplement your central NG heat.

Lets see.
--Most small electric heaters have two modes: high (1500 watts) and low (750 watts).
--So to consume 1000kWh in 30 days you'd need: 1,000,000Wh / 30days / 24hr/day / 1500watts/hr = .93 heaters running 24/7. Let's round up on 1 electric heater.
The O.P. doesn't need to generate the full 1000 kWh each month, only enough to push the existing use over the mark, somewhere between 66 to 275 kWh based on past use. 300 to 400 watts should be more than enough. I'd suggest a small server farm. If mining cryptocurrencies does not appeal, consider something like SETI@home.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SETI@home

As a bonus, any heat generated will go to reducing your gas bill.

Valuethinker
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:56 am

Startled Cat wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:18 am
From a Californian's perspective, that rate plan is completely bizarre. Texas might as well be another planet.

My electric rate is $0.21/kWh up to the 260 kWh per month "baseline" (239 kWh per month in summer). Between the baseline and 400% of baseline, the marginal rate is $0.28/kWh. Above 400% of baseline (about 1000kWh), the rate increases to $0.43/kWh. So far I've been successful at staying below the baseline usage level.

I can't imagine using 1000 kWh/month of electricity. In your situation, I would feel an ethical responsibility to choose a different rate plan which doesn't incentivize overconsumption, financial considerations aside.
California does not have humid summers? If you have to run your AC at night you would spend that kind of money.

Also how about the desert? 110 in the shade?

In addition a lot of Texas probably use heat pump for winter heat. That's common in the South.

I (London England) burn 250 kwhr pcm in electricity.

My gas consumption in a Victorian house is nearly 10x that on an annualized basis.

So. Do you heat or have hot water from gas?

Valuethinker
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:59 am

fru-gal wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:58 am
So much for the environment.
A bit of good news.

Texas is the number one or number two state for wind power. By capacity installed and kwhr generated although I'd have to search for latest numbers (By percentage CA would be higher also some small states).

On the fossil fuel side it's much more gas than coal. Cheap gas has led to closure of coal fired stations.

ERCOT (electricity reliability council of Texas) was by design grid isolated from other States. That is changing however.

Valuethinker
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:54 am

dratkinson wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:46 am
I'd hate to have to game the electric utility system to lower my bill.

Do you have enough information about other suppliers to pick someone more reasonable?



But as long as we are trying to game the system....


Option #1. Install electric heater(s) to supplement your central NG heat.

Lets see.
--Most small electric heaters have two modes: high (1500 watts) and low (750 watts).
--So to consume 1000kWh in 30 days you'd need: 1,000,000Wh / 30days / 24hr/day / 1500watts/hr = .93 heaters running 24/7. Let's round up on 1 electric heater.

So you'd need 1x electric heater running in high, or 2x heaters running in low. Most household circuits are fused to 15A (15A x 120v = 1800w) which is almost maxed at 1500w. So to keep from tripping circuit breakers if you turned on anything else, maybe use 2x heater, running on low, on separate circuits.

Double-check. 1 heater * 1500watts/hr/heater * 24hr/day * 30days/mo = 1,080,000 watts in 30 day = 1080kWh. (Looks okay.)

So...
--Check your electric meter reading (kWh consumed) on your last bill, and note the day of that reading,
--Plug in electric heater(s) and set for a total of 1500w/hr consumption.
--Turn off electric heater(s) when your electric meter reading indicates you will have consumed +1000kWh by the date of the next meter reading.


Option #2. Install Tesla power walls and recharge them during the winter to run your AC during the summer.

Wait. Think power walls are 120v and ACs are 240v, so it won't work. Never mind.


Option #3. Set up a refrigeration plant and ice house to make/store ice during the winter to use during the summer to reduce the AC load to cool your house.


Option #4. To reduce your summer cooling bill. If you have the option of time-of-day billing, recall some large businesses make chilled water at night to use for building cooling during the day. But that's a more complicated HVAC system then installed in our homes.



Only option #1 seems easily doable.
I am not sure what the decay rate is on a Lithium Ion battery pack but I doubt you could conduct interseasonal arbitrage with one.

In addition the amount of energy stored would be quite small relative to 1000 kwhr pcm.

Hot water or ice storage would work and was done before widespread refrigeration. However you'd need a truly massive store.

Hydrogen generation for fuel cells is another idea but the home scale technology does not yet exist.

The electricity grid is the energy storage mechanism of the average user.

The Wizard
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by The Wizard » Sat Feb 09, 2019 5:00 am

I like the refrigeration plant idea.
Design it for ten-foot thick blocks of ice...
Attempted new signature...

Valuethinker
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Feb 09, 2019 5:00 am

The electricity tariff schedule is anomalous.

But before we round on the Original Poster 're consumption.

1000 kwhr pa [edit pcm] is around US average household consumption.

The typical natural gas consumer would spend 2x as much again in energy from natural gas for hot water and heat.

Humid summers mean big air conditioning loads. If one heats with a heat pump add that as well.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

Carl53
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Carl53 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 5:17 am

Maybe not in Texas but in some places they also have transmission fees or other fees to obfuscate their true overall cost. I must admit that I am suspicious that there may be some other factor that you do not fully understand. With the deal as you stated, with a little effort most BHs would do what you are suggesting and pay about .01 per kwhr in cool months and a very cheap rate in the summer months too.

The electric heater looks like the simplest solution. Just check your meter a week before the end of the month. If you are only at 600 and thus likely to only reach 800 by EOM, run the heater on high 36 kwhr per day. If you are at 700, and likely to only reach 900+, then either turn heater on low setting or wait a few days to reconfirm your need to add usage.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by RickBoglehead » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:32 am

There should be a major lawsuit against the state and these power companies over this. So wrong!
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WhyNotUs
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by WhyNotUs » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:06 am

List your house on plug share and offer to charge EVs for free :-)
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

Inframan4712
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Inframan4712 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:07 am

Former engineer here. Electric heater is best idea. And cheapest. They're what, 20 bucks at walmart?

OR,

I'd get a nice electric fireplace and put it in my bedroom, or living room if you prefer. Run the fireplace in the room where you spend most of your time and cut the thermostat on the gas furnace way down. Win-win.

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knpstr
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by knpstr » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:13 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:32 am
There should be a major lawsuit against the state and these power companies over this. So wrong!
Obviously a terrible incentive structure.
I'm sure they thought of ways of trying to give bill "relief" in the hot summer but now made it profitable in "off months" to use more electricity.
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius

phantom0308
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by phantom0308 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:17 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:59 am
fru-gal wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:58 am
So much for the environment.
A bit of good news.

Texas is the number one or number two state for wind power. By capacity installed and kwhr generated although I'd have to search for latest numbers (By percentage CA would be higher also some small states).

On the fossil fuel side it's much more gas than coal. Cheap gas has led to closure of coal fired stations.

ERCOT (electricity reliability council of Texas) was by design grid isolated from other States. That is changing however.
For reference Texas produced 20 MW. The next closest state is Iowa at 6 MW and Cali is around 5 MW (2017 data). Iowa supplies the largest percent at 33%. Texas isn’t in the top 10 in % supplied. The EIA has spreadsheets but I don’t want to go through them on my phone.
Regardless of Texas’s green credentials I think it’s hard to argue the price reporting policy doesn’t encourage waste.
Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_po ... r_by_state

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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:36 am

This market is ripe for what's happened in the cell phone world. I was with AT&T for 20 years and when changing jobs, requiring I get my own phone, I dumped the X free minutes plus tax plus fee plus graft and corruption charge plus 911 fee plus OU812 fee for Cricket who gives me THE price. Nothing broken down, nothing added.

My electric bill is similar to the old way. The actual electricity charge is less than half my actual bill.

Hope for a company to come in and provide a senseable single fee per kWHr charge.
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dratkinson
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by dratkinson » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:12 am

Inframan4712 wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:07 am
Former engineer here. Electric heater is best idea. And cheapest. They're what, 20 bucks at walmart?
...
~$5 at a thrift store (temperature control, hi/lo, tip over shutoff). I use one in my computer room/office to keep my feet warm while the rest of the house is at 62-degrees. The fan is a little noisy (all heater fans are). Believe the oil-filled ones are silent, if that makes a difference.
d.r.a, not dr.a. | I'm a novice investor, you are forewarned.

brianH
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by brianH » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:01 am

Carl53 wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 5:17 am
Maybe not in Texas but in some places they also have transmission fees or other fees to obfuscate their true overall cost. I must admit that I am suspicious that there may be some other factor that you do not fully understand.
Yes. Make sure you read and understand every aspect of how you're billed.

Around here (SE PA - PECO Power), the generation+transmission charge (the one that can be shopped around) is only about half of the actual cost per kWh. The distribution charge ends up being just as large of a component (at least right now), and it's billed as a flat rate per kWh.

The alternative companies around here play similar games: tiered structures and limited time offers that reset to awful rates if you're not careful about cancelling. A few years ago, there were a few providers that offered rates quite a bit lower than the power company, and the only catch was long-term lock in (7 years). Probably to everyone's surprise, that actually turned out to be a very good deal, because rates never dropped below that lock rate for the full 7 years. I've noticed you can't get a provider that will lock in for more than a year now.

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Kenkat
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Kenkat » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:12 am

Buy a hot tub and keep it outside and running all winter.

surfstar
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by surfstar » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:31 am

I agree that the electric heater is the best way to "burn" electricity for this goal in your winter time.


Just looked at our stats - range of 180 to 228 kWh per month over the last year (gas heat, gas cooktop, electric oven, no A/C). Coastal CA, household of 3 adults, one teenager.
Our water consumption is also 3-4 HCF/month. Don't water the landscape and low-flow showers and toilets (but a heavy water use washing machine still!).

Being frugal/cheap is great for the environment too - win, win :mrgreen:

MBB_Boy
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by MBB_Boy » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:01 am

FWIW, this is not representative of all plans in the state. I have a normal plan with tiered usage costs where I typically get to the marginal rate of .07kwh. (Starts at .02)

Texas energy policy and management really contributes to low cost of living. It's one of the many advantages of living here, and really grateful that growing up in poverty didn't require me to swelter at home in the summer or be uncomfortably cold in the winter. Would have been hell to try and concentrate on schoolwork.

To OPs question, electric heater idea is probably the most efficient and easy to control. But I would be tempted to just get a giant TV or gaming rig :D

Valuethinker
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:06 am

phantom0308 wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:17 am
Valuethinker wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:59 am
fru-gal wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:58 am
So much for the environment.
A bit of good news.

Texas is the number one or number two state for wind power. By capacity installed and kwhr generated although I'd have to search for latest numbers (By percentage CA would be higher also some small states).

On the fossil fuel side it's much more gas than coal. Cheap gas has led to closure of coal fired stations.

ERCOT (electricity reliability council of Texas) was by design grid isolated from other States. That is changing however.
For reference Texas produced 20 MW.
Rather Texas has 20,000 MW or 20 GW of capacity.

Capacity x capacity factor in per cent x 8,760 = GWhr

From the chart Texas produced about 60 Terrawatt hours of energy from wind.

That would be at least 10 per cent of Texas consumption but I'd have to check.
The next closest state is Iowa at 6 MW and Cali is around 5 MW (2017 data). Iowa supplies the largest percent at 33%. Texas isn’t in the top 10 in % supplied. The EIA has spreadsheets but I don’t want to go through them on my phone.
Regardless of Texas’s green credentials I think it’s hard to argue the price reporting policy doesn’t encourage waste.
Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_po ... r_by_state
Thank you for the data which is very interesting.

I agree encouraging consumption is a bad thing.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

btenny
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by btenny » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:38 am

Well guys there is a REALLY GOOD REASON Texas utilities are doing this. They have a huge problem maintaining quality power on their network due to various generators like wind and solar putting power on the grind over a day and various users turning on/off heaters and AC at different times. See the Duck Curve below for electric demand. Power companies ideal customer would use exactly the same electric power demand every day all day. So power companies use various strategies to "balance the load" on their networks over the day. One way is to get customers help by paying you to use the same electricity every day. That is also why they sell electricity to certain businesses like a steel plant at low rates. Those businesses use level power 24/7.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duck_curve

And yes there are some very big Ice Storage Systems that are used to cool stuff in summer. Central Phoenix has a huge underground ice facility that uses low cost nuclear power at night (that balances the Palo Verde power network) to chill and freeze ice. That ice is then used the next day to chill air and cool forty or so large office buildings and a baseball stadium. See below for the District Energy System.

https://science.kjzz.org/content/527332 ... -buildings

Good Luck.

Startled Cat
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Startled Cat » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:59 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:56 am
California does not have humid summers? If you have to run your AC at night you would spend that kind of money.

Also how about the desert? 110 in the shade?

In addition a lot of Texas probably use heat pump for winter heat. That's common in the South.

I (London England) burn 250 kwhr pcm in electricity.

My gas consumption in a Victorian house is nearly 10x that on an annualized basis.

So. Do you heat or have hot water from gas?
Yes, my hot water is gas-fired and my central heating is gas.

I have been supplementing the central heating with occasional use of resistive heating in my bedroom, which isn't served by the central heating system. I hate doing this because it's energy-inefficient and costly, but I don't have a good alternative. Despite this, I don't use much electricity. I've thought about installing a heat pump for the bedroom, but I imagine the installation would be quite expensive, so it's probably not worth it.

Before moving here, I lived in a small apartment that was amazingly energy efficient. Heating/cooling was done through a heat pump, which I almost never used because the building was so well-insulated (I can remember turning on the heat once in 7 years, and I indulged in air conditioning a few times each summer on the hottest days). All the appliances such as the range, oven, and clothes dryer were electric, but since very little electricity was spent lighting, heating, or cooling the apartment, the overall electric usage was very low.

btenny
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by btenny » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:20 pm

The real issue is people do not understand electricity nor care about the giant machine needed to give them light and power. The US power grid is probably the largest system in the world. And physics controls electricity and requires the power company to balance the electric generated so that it exactly equals the electric load for the power network to be stable. This means the power companies turn on and speed up and slow down generators and ship power around the state as needed to make the supply equal the load. And the Texas utilities spend huge sums to buy big natural gas or coal power generators they only use during summer for about 4-5 months. Then the plants set idle all winter while they still have to pay to maintain them and they still have capital costs to own them. So they are working on ways to get customers help them to "balance the load" and spread the costs over 12 months.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Load_bala ... cal_power)

These issues on power grid management and balancing are very large and difficult and all wound around customers wanting solar and wind technologies while turning off coal plants. There are lots of good books and studies about how electric power evolved to it's present state and how to move forward. It is a very complex problem with lots of issues. Many smart young people are going to make big $$ improving the system and adding the necessary controls.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_o ... ansmission
http://theconversation.com/the-old-dirt ... g-go-68290
https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/modern ... nergy-grid
Last edited by btenny on Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Startled Cat
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Startled Cat » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:21 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:56 am
Startled Cat wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:18 am
From a Californian's perspective, that rate plan is completely bizarre. Texas might as well be another planet.

My electric rate is $0.21/kWh up to the 260 kWh per month "baseline" (239 kWh per month in summer). Between the baseline and 400% of baseline, the marginal rate is $0.28/kWh. Above 400% of baseline (about 1000kWh), the rate increases to $0.43/kWh. So far I've been successful at staying below the baseline usage level.

I can't imagine using 1000 kWh/month of electricity. In your situation, I would feel an ethical responsibility to choose a different rate plan which doesn't incentivize overconsumption, financial considerations aside.
California does not have humid summers? If you have to run your AC at night you would spend that kind of money.
Anyway, my surprise was more about how odd the rate plan is than any of the consumption numbers. As you can see, my local utility charges steep marginal rates to encourage conservation, limit their need to invest in more generation capacity, and make it easier to achieve their mandated renewables goals. Their profit or loss is not tied to the amount of electricity they sell ("decoupling"). Texas clearly has a different system, with different incentives.

MathWizard
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by MathWizard » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:34 pm

Shifting to electric power:

Plug-in hybrid car, or pur electric.

Switch to electric range if you have gas.

Electric water heater, if you have gas,
or maybe even a point of use heater if you have areas which take a long time to get hot water there,
like an upstairs bathroom on the other side of the house. This way you do not waste water.

Cheapest is electric heat.

Electric blanket

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Epsilon Delta » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:43 pm

A plug in hybrid would fit the bill, but only if he has other reasons for buying one.

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Epsilon Delta » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:47 pm

dratkinson wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:12 am
Inframan4712 wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:07 am
Former engineer here. Electric heater is best idea. And cheapest. They're what, 20 bucks at walmart?
...
~$5 at a thrift store (temperature control, hi/lo, tip over shutoff). I use one in my computer room/office to keep my feet warm while the rest of the house is at 62-degrees. The fan is a little noisy (all heater fans are). Believe the oil-filled ones are silent, if that makes a difference.
I would not run a thrift shop heater unattended. $20 seems a low enough price to ensure that all the safety features are in factory condition.

mc7
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by mc7 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:17 pm

Around $0.24/KWh at peak times here. Maybe I could send you a big lithium power pack and you could ship it back to me charged. :happy

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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by phantom0308 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:02 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:06 am
phantom0308 wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:17 am
Valuethinker wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:59 am
fru-gal wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:58 am
So much for the environment.
A bit of good news.

Texas is the number one or number two state for wind power. By capacity installed and kwhr generated although I'd have to search for latest numbers (By percentage CA would be higher also some small states).

On the fossil fuel side it's much more gas than coal. Cheap gas has led to closure of coal fired stations.

ERCOT (electricity reliability council of Texas) was by design grid isolated from other States. That is changing however.
For reference Texas produced 20 MW.
Rather Texas has 20,000 MW or 20 GW of capacity.

Capacity x capacity factor in per cent x 8,760 = GWhr

From the chart Texas produced about 60 Terrawatt hours of energy from wind.

That would be at least 10 per cent of Texas consumption but I'd have to check.
Oh yeah, you’re right. I don’t know how I messed that up, took off my engineering hat. 20GW sounds more reasonable. Texas has its own wiki page for more information specific to the state. Cheers
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_po ... prov=sfti1

momvesting
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by momvesting » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:25 pm

I like the previous idea of an electric fireplace. I've always wished I had electric baseboard heaters in my garage to help melt ice/snow off the car in the winter, but maybe you don't have that issue in TX.

Maybe run a humidifier or dehumidifier depending on your needs.

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jima
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Re: Wasting Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by jima » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:42 pm

Thanks everyone for the replies. I agree using a space heater/fireplace would make the most sense during the colder months (typically Dec-Feb here, with Nov/Mar also possible). I would also love to tell the wife that we need to buy a Tesla so we can save $85/mo. :wink:

I went ahead and purchased an electric fireplace:
https://www.amazon.com/Duraflame-DFI-50 ... B01M0AGJIQ

I'll use that during the colder weather and then can still put it up during the summer. There are a few months where it's just nice weather and very little AC or heating needed. Most of Oct/March/April typically fall into that category. It wouldn't make sense to run a heater then, so is running a computer 24/7 the best option or are there any other choices?
Last edited by jima on Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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whodidntante
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Re: Wasting Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by whodidntante » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:47 pm

You could buy an electric car, although that might be an executable offense in Texas so I can't recommend it. Get some nice 230V baseboard heaters in every room and shut off the gas furnace or better yet, turn on the A/C. Ventilation is really important, so open some windows if it gets too warm inside. Start an onsite radio station. I also recommend a searchlight and an optional batsignal. Line the exterior of your abode with bug zappers like shields on Star Trek. Build a particle accelerator or if that's out of your budget, opt for a Tesla coil.

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Re: Wasting Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Derby » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:59 am

I'm surprised no one's mentioned a setting up a special grow "farm" in the basement. 8-)
Carpe Diem.

Valuethinker
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:57 am

phantom0308 wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:02 pm
Valuethinker wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:06 am
phantom0308 wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:17 am
Valuethinker wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:59 am
fru-gal wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:58 am
So much for the environment.
A bit of good news.

Texas is the number one or number two state for wind power. By capacity installed and kwhr generated although I'd have to search for latest numbers (By percentage CA would be higher also some small states).

On the fossil fuel side it's much more gas than coal. Cheap gas has led to closure of coal fired stations.

ERCOT (electricity reliability council of Texas) was by design grid isolated from other States. That is changing however.
For reference Texas produced 20 MW.
Rather Texas has 20,000 MW or 20 GW of capacity.

Capacity x capacity factor in per cent x 8,760 = GWhr

From the chart Texas produced about 60 Terrawatt hours of energy from wind.

That would be at least 10 per cent of Texas consumption but I'd have to check.
Oh yeah, you’re right. I don’t know how I messed that up, took off my engineering hat. 20GW sounds more reasonable. Texas has its own wiki page for more information specific to the state. Cheers
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_po ... prov=sfti1
Thank you.

Says it is 15.7% of total consumption in Texas (it appears that ERCOT is not quite 100% of Texas consumption -- some parts of Texas may be grid linked to other electricity grids).

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samsoes
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Re: Wasting Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by samsoes » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:07 am

jima wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:25 am
Short version: How can I consume an extra 200-300 kwh per month over what I need?

Long version:
As a little background, the electric situation in Texas is interesting, where a lot of companies are competing in an open marketplace site run by the state. Obviously low price generally wins there, so the power companies are incentivized to make their rates "look" low to take advantage of consumers who don't read the fine print closely or care enough to monitor consumption. There are endless ways to do that, but one popular method is to offer discounts when a consumer hits right at 1000kwh. Why that number? Because it's what the state site defaults to as a consumption number when sorting by price.

As an example, for the power plan I just signed up with, the terms are this:
Energy Charge (cents per kWh) of 0.09097; Base Charge of $1.50 (flat fee per billing cycle); $4.95 Minimum Usage Fee (flat fee per billing cycle only if your usage is below 500 kWh); $85 Usage Credit per billing cycle if your usage is greater than 999 and less than 1,501 kWh; $45 Usage Credit per billing cycle if your usage is greater than 1,500 and less than 2,001 kWh;

According to these terms, the absolute cheapest I will pay is when I hit exactly 1000kwh (1000*.09097 + $1.50 - $85 = $7.47). However if I consume less than that, say 999kwh, I lose the $85 discount, so my bill would be $92.47. The sweet spot would be anywhere in the 1000-1500kwh range to maximize the discount.

My actual use numbers from last year are:
Month Usage
2017-11 796
2017-12 725
2018-01 934
2018-02 791
2018-03 867
2018-04 903
2018-05 1075
2018-06 1559
2018-07 1745
2018-08 1827
2018-09 1524
2018-10 1157
2018-11 767
2018-12 700
2019-01 769

Not a lot I can do about the summer numbers (it's Texas after all), but wondering if there is a way to artifically consume more power during the cooler months. I'm on gas for heat, so cranking up the thermostat won't help much.

Thought this would be an interesting question, looking forward to the replies... :beer
Set-up a large volume ( > 100 gallons ) saltwater aquarium. The heaters in the winter and chillers in the summer will eat the additional KWH in short order.
"Happiness Is Not My Companion" - Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren. | (Avatar is the statue of Gen. Warren atop Little Round Top @ Gettysburg National Military Park.)

Trism
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Re: Wasting Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Trism » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:13 am

Our electric utility is always trying to convince us to buy less of their product by suggesting that we get rid of wonderful conveniences that make life more enjoyable.

Perhaps you could add a second (and/or third) refrigerator... maybe in the garage, rec room, etc.

Turbo29
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Turbo29 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:29 am

btenny wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:20 pm
The real issue is people do not understand electricity nor care about the giant machine needed to give them light and power. The US power grid is probably the largest system in the world. And physics controls electricity and requires the power company to balance the electric generated so that it exactly equals the electric load for the power network to be stable. This means the power companies turn on and speed up and slow down generators and ship power around the state as needed to make the supply equal the load. And the Texas utilities spend huge sums to buy big natural gas or coal power generators they only use during summer for about 4-5 months. Then the plants set idle all winter while they still have to pay to maintain them and they still have capital costs to own them. So they are working on ways to get customers help them to "balance the load" and spread the costs over 12 months.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Load_bala ... cal_power)

These issues on power grid management and balancing are very large and difficult and all wound around customers wanting solar and wind technologies while turning off coal plants. There are lots of good books and studies about how electric power evolved to it's present state and how to move forward. It is a very complex problem with lots of issues. Many smart young people are going to make big $$ improving the system and adding the necessary controls.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_o ... ansmission
http://theconversation.com/the-old-dirt ... g-go-68290
https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/modern ... nergy-grid
Interestingly I read that some days California has had excess electiricity from renewables and actually had to pay neighboring states (AZ and NV) to take it off of their hands.

https://www.instituteforenergyresearch. ... -overload/

Edit: Thanks for your links. They explain why SRP is willing to provide me with (relatively) cheap power for 21hr/day but charges 4x as much between 3pm-6pm. They encourage residential customers on this price plan to crank their A/C up from 12pm-3pm to "pre-cool" their house and then crank it way down between 3pm-6pm. It didn't make sense to me until I saw your "Duck Curve" link. This is in the Phoenix area where it can be 115F in the summer and A/C is the biggest energy user in a residence by far.

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Re: Wasting Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by hicabob » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:48 am

String a long extension cord to my house in California and I'll pay you double your rate! :)

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Re: Wasting Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by ddurrett896 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:52 am

jima wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:25 am

Not a lot I can do about the summer numbers (it's Texas after all), but wondering if there is a way to artifically consume more power during the cooler months. I'm on gas for heat, so cranking up the thermostat won't help much.

Thought this would be an interesting question, looking forward to the replies... :beer
Space heater plugged in outside.

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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by BolderBoy » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:08 pm

Startled Cat wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:18 am
From a Californian's perspective, that rate plan is completely bizarre. Texas might as well be another planet.
Funny that you said that. Texas is actually a separate electric grid. See this: http://fnetpublic.utk.edu/frequencymap.html
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Turbo29
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Turbo29 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:42 pm

BolderBoy wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:08 pm
Startled Cat wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:18 am
From a Californian's perspective, that rate plan is completely bizarre. Texas might as well be another planet.
Funny that you said that. Texas is actually a separate electric grid. See this: http://fnetpublic.utk.edu/frequencymap.html
That's a great map. Now I know why my clocks are running fast, we are cycling between 60.00 and 60.03Hz.

Valuethinker
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:59 pm

BolderBoy wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:08 pm
Startled Cat wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:18 am
From a Californian's perspective, that rate plan is completely bizarre. Texas might as well be another planet.
Funny that you said that. Texas is actually a separate electric grid. See this: http://fnetpublic.utk.edu/frequencymap.html
I think that is changing and ERCOT is now allowing High Voltage transmission lines to be built across state lines (again, as I understand FERC rules, FERC then gets involved).

Deliberately to protect Texas consumers, and to avoid Federal regulation, ERCOT was constituted as an isolated grid - it is the only continental USA state that is so isolated, I believe - the other grids have much more interconnection to allow "wheeling" of power.

Valuethinker
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:01 pm

Turbo29 wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:29 am
btenny wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:20 pm
The real issue is people do not understand electricity nor care about the giant machine needed to give them light and power. The US power grid is probably the largest system in the world. And physics controls electricity and requires the power company to balance the electric generated so that it exactly equals the electric load for the power network to be stable. This means the power companies turn on and speed up and slow down generators and ship power around the state as needed to make the supply equal the load. And the Texas utilities spend huge sums to buy big natural gas or coal power generators they only use during summer for about 4-5 months. Then the plants set idle all winter while they still have to pay to maintain them and they still have capital costs to own them. So they are working on ways to get customers help them to "balance the load" and spread the costs over 12 months.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Load_bala ... cal_power)

These issues on power grid management and balancing are very large and difficult and all wound around customers wanting solar and wind technologies while turning off coal plants. There are lots of good books and studies about how electric power evolved to it's present state and how to move forward. It is a very complex problem with lots of issues. Many smart young people are going to make big $$ improving the system and adding the necessary controls.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_o ... ansmission
http://theconversation.com/the-old-dirt ... g-go-68290
https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/modern ... nergy-grid
Interestingly I read that some days California has had excess electiricity from renewables and actually had to pay neighboring states (AZ and NV) to take it off of their hands.

https://www.instituteforenergyresearch. ... -overload/

Edit: Thanks for your links. They explain why SRP is willing to provide me with (relatively) cheap power for 21hr/day but charges 4x as much between 3pm-6pm. They encourage residential customers on this price plan to crank their A/C up from 12pm-3pm to "pre-cool" their house and then crank it way down between 3pm-6pm. It didn't make sense to me until I saw your "Duck Curve" link. This is in the Phoenix area where it can be 115F in the summer and A/C is the biggest energy user in a residence by far.
WIth the caveat that Arizona has almost no renewable penetration. It would not be subject to the classic renewable Duck Curve*.

So that's simply a function of demand.

* Directly. Arizona exports power to California, and that might be large enough to change the picture.

Helpfully, in a summer peak is also when the sun is shining latest - when it's the winter and the sun sets earlier, demand is also lower.

btenny
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Re: Wasting Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by btenny » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:10 pm

OP. I suggest you buy a nice beer cooler and or a nice wine chiller to go with your electric fireplace. They both store beverages that you should drink in front of that nice fireplace. And they run 24/7 to keep you stuff cool. So it should solve your power usage problem.

Good Luck......

Turbo29
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Re: Consuming Electricity for Fun and Profit

Post by Turbo29 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:25 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:01 pm


WIth the caveat that Arizona has almost no renewable penetration. It would not be subject to the classic renewable Duck Curve*.

So that's simply a function of demand.

* Directly. Arizona exports power to California, and that might be large enough to change the picture.

Helpfully, in a summer peak is also when the sun is shining latest - when it's the winter and the sun sets earlier, demand is also lower.
Definitely the price break in the winter is much less. We have Winter (Nov-Apr) 7.38¢/11.95¢, Summer (May-Jun&Sept-Oct) 8.4¢/30.33¢, Summer Peak (July&Aug) 8.4¢/35.88¢. Peak is 3pm-6pm M-F excluding most holidays.

https://www.srpnet.com/prices/home/ez3.aspx

I'm not home usually from 3-6 anyway so it's easy to do and saves me a couple hundred dollars a year.

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