Hi fellow HA geeks
Living in Europe in these days mean that your electricity and natural gas prices have more than doubled.
In periods prices increased by 500%. Only an idiot continues like nothing has happened. Like me - until September last year when I saw my electricity bill.
This thread is about my experience with getting my electricity bill reduced. I will post a little at a time so keep an eye on my postings and feel free to share your experience as well.
I say right away. If you are from a part of the world where electricity is still cheap - please do not comment with “eehhhh… it is only x cents per year. It is not worth the effort.”. In most of the world we pay a very high price for energy and as long as there is war in Ukraine, prices will remain sky high.
I live in Denmark in the area around Copenhagen. We all have smart meters that report consumption every hour and you pay prices by the hour. Where I live - before any money is paid for the electricity itself these are the tariffs and taxes we pay per kWh in February 2023.
- 0:00 to 6:00 0.4665 DKK/kWh
- 17:00 to 21:00 2.2735 DKK/kWh
- Rest of day 0.8958 DKK/kWh
This is actually around 1 DKK lower than is should be because from January to June 2023 the Danish government reduced electricity tax to near zero to help people financially in the crisis.
On top of the tariffs comes the actual electricity as it is traded on the Nordic electricity exchange and prices depend on wind, sun, and prices of oil and natural gas and they change by the hour.
So a kWh in the past year in Denmark has cost between 0.4 DKK and 8 DKK. As I write this 1 DKK is 0.14 USD or 0.13 Euros. So that sets the stage. If you live in a place where you pay a few cents per kWh - good for you. Shut up The average price has been around 3–4 DKK per kWh
So. I am a small family. There is me and my sweet wife. No children or pets. We live in a small house of 103 m2 and we heat the house with natural gas. And I do not yet have an electric vehicle.
In the past years our yearly consumption has been close to 8000 kWh per year. My year electricity bill in 2021 was almost 20000 DKK and in 2022 it was heading for 30000 DKK. That is a lot of money. And then natural gas comes on top.
A normal family with 2 children and no EV consumes 4000 kWh per year. When I left my house Gretha Thunberg and a delegation from Greenpeace was standing with their signs that said “Environmental Pig”
Something had to be done. I had been an idiot too many years just letting the consumption increase and increase. And Home Assistant has not helped as I added more and more gadgets.
What do you do? I do not want to stop automating my house and I do not want to freeze, eat cold food, sit in the dark. But it turned out that the main reason the consumtion was 8000 kWh is because I was an idiot. And I bet we are a lot of idiots.
I started in September. My monthly consumtion can be seen here
The black dots are last years comsumption. Something dramatic happened in September. This is what this and following postings are about. It is a reduction by 40%. It is like 3000 kWh or 9000-12000 DKK per year. It is worth saving. That is a a lot of money. How did i do it?
If you read this - you use Home Assistant. And that is one of the tools you need to fight this.
You need to get something that can measure electricity.
You cannot take a multimeter and measure current and multiply by mains voltage. You get wrong and often too high readings because you then calculate apparent power. You need to measure the real power which is what private consumers pay for.
Then you need to start a spreadsheet. You need to register every consumer you have. Nothing is too small. Every wallwart. Every powertool charger. Electrical toothbrush. EVERYTHING.
Having an app where you can see your consumption is a good tool and a most have. But the problem with these apps is that the data is delayed by days. When you are working, you need data NOW.
Another important tool is to get a number of smart plugs that can measure and report power. Plugs that you can add to Home Assistant so you can see the consumption both NOW and over a full 24 hour period.
You will quickly find that your top consumers are
- Central Heating system
- Electrical heaters for anything (floor/towel rack etc)
You are not going to stop cooking. Your natural gas furnace will still need to run. You still need to keep your food cold. There is a basic electricity consumption we all have. You can only do something about that if there is something wrong with an old fridge and you need to replace it.
You will find that a HUGE amount of electrical power is wasted by all your small consumers that are always plugged.
First you go to your living room. And then you look at your rack of AV devices. And you get rid of anything you actually do not use.
I had a VCR. Yes tapes. It was blinking 0:00. It is probably 10 years since we played a tape. It was consuming 5 Watts when turned off.
I had an antenna amplifier. The PSU for it was behind my shelf system. The antenna has not been used for 10+ years. There is nothing to amplify. In the bin with that.
Two DVD/Blueray players. One for region 1 and one for region 2. I have not played a DVD or BR in years. But they are turned on. Ehm. They were. Now unplugged. Several watts saved. Nothing lost
An Apple TV. I never use it. We use a Google Chromecast with Google TV. We love it. Apple TV turned off.
I had a Raspberry Pi running Kodi. Have not used it for 2 years. Unplugged.
Checked the TV. It uses nothing when stand by. No worries
Satellite TV box. A unix based (VU+ Duo). Power when on 27 W. Power when off 22W. Yes. 22W stand by. A little magic and Home Assistant logs into the Vu+ Duo and shut it down when we are done watching TV. Standby power now near zero. It takes 1 minute to turn on. We can live with that.
I play keyboard. I have two. Always on. MacStudio. On for days. External Audio card for Mac. Always on. Monitor for the music setup uses several watts standby. Put them all on a power bar. Turns everything off when not used. It takes a Mac 30 seconds to boot up. Not a problem at all.
An Apple timemachine. It is a bit like a NAS with a huge harddrive and the MacStudio backs itself up on that. Cool thing. Was on 24 hours a day using 7 Watts doing nothing. Moved it to the living room and on the same power bar as the MacStudio. Now it only runs when the Mac is on and can actually backup stuff.
An Apple Airport that I can Airplay to. Used to love it. Always use the Chromecast now. Removed.
A Raspberry Pi running a Squeezebox app for music. It is now controlled by a smart switch.
I already have Home assistant turning on TV, Amplifier, Sat receiver, etc etc depending on the mode you want and we press a button a Zigbee remote (or ask Alexa) and HA takes care to turn the boxes on and off and switch AV inputs (via Network or IR blasting from Broadlink). It was all there. It was just a matter to also control a couple of smart switches.
All idiot things right? Thinking - ah they only use a few watts. It is nearly nothing. NO! It adds up much more than you think because there are so many of them
My Workshop. A real DIY guy has power tools. And they have chargers. All the chargers used 6 Watts without having a battery in them. Just stand by power. They are on a power bar now that I turn on if I have to charge a battery which is a new hours per month.
I had some measurement instruments. A GPS locked frequency reference. A frequency counter with an oven. All turned off. I do not need the precision. And if I do - I can turn them on and wait a couple of hours. They also used many watts of power
My 3D printers are controlled by Octoprint running on a Raspberry Pi with LCD screen. Always on. 7.2 W. Now controlled by a smart plug which is controlled by Home Assistant. 3D printers and Octopi all controlled by smart switch. I print once per month for 3 hours. Rest was waste.
Each ESP8266 or ESP32 box consumed around 0.5-0.7 W. And I love them and I want to keep them. But I still had 4-5 I did not really need. And in some cases I could move a sensor to one of the others. I eliminated maybe 5 W of silly ESP devices.
I have 7 Amazon Echos. And 7 Google Homes. I always use Alexa. I never use Google Home. That was a tough decision. They consumed 64 W of continuous power 24/7. A major consumer.
I removed 5 of the Google Homes.
And among the 7 Echos, the one in the bathroom was silly and removed. And in kitchen, living room and office I had Echos with large displays.
I put smart switches on them. I turn them off when we go to bed. Or rather Home Assistant turns them off when both bed sensors register that we are in bed. And turn on when the first person enters the kitchen in the morning. They also turn off when we turn on the alarm system (which is Home Assistant). This is in no way inconvenient. But we save a ton a energy.
I added some mm wave radar sensors to the house. That adds a few watts. But they can detect presence much better than the PIR sensors can. With PIR you have to define time outs of up to 10-15 minutes to avoid light turning off when you sit or stand still. With proper presence sensing you can go much more aggresive with the timing and use 1-2 minute timeouts. That adds up to a lot of off time - especially at winter
How many computers do you guys have?
My windows laptop was always on. I just closed it. Now I turn it off. It boots in 30 seconds. Not a problem.
Our office machine was also always on. Now we switch it off when we are done and have a smart plug so we can cut away the 3W standby power it consumes.
Servers: That was really silly
I had a small Shuttle PC used as mail server.
I had a NUC running Deconz, Unifi, and Mosquitto
I had an Odroid running Home Assistant
I had a powerful PC running my webserver and camera NVR
I had another powerful PC running Linux in my workshop which I rarely turned off
I had a Synology NAS
I had 3 UPS for these
I had a MacMini that I used before my MacStudio on a shelf
I had a small dual core NUC on a shelf which used to run HA
So I decided to keep the NUC, the Odroid, and the Synology NAS.
I removed the power hungry PC and moved my Webserver and NVR on my MacMini. It used half the power and has no problem running these at all
The mail server was moved to the NUC and the Shuttle box was retired. The Linux machine in workshop is now turned off and the dual Core NUC is more than adequate for Arduino programming or ESPHome. And it is turned off if I do not use it.
And with the MacMini low power consumption, the NAS and Webserver could share an UPS. Removing a NAS removes 3-4 W standby power and one less battery to replace every 2 years.
The Synology had no power saving enabled and it actually consumes 0.6 kWh per day. If you enable hibernation on the drives, it consumes half when not used. But it often jumps out of hibernation. You can so something about that.
- Make sure all your boxes incl Home Assistant run their backups around the same time every day. This way they share a common time out tail.
- Remove your Synology integration from HA. Do you really need those sensors? HA wakes it up every 15 mins by default. This is really silly.
- I now have Synology hybernate 60-70% of the time. Only downside is that you have to wait 10-15 seconds before it is available when you want to access it the first time. While you work on it - it is kept on so it is not really a problem. I save 109 kWh per year just on Synology
I am thinking about replacing the HDD with SSDs. But it will take 30-40 years to earn the investment. That is silly. But when the HDDs reach the 3-4 year life I will replace them by a couple of WD Red SSDs
Network is a huge consumer. After I removed some of the silly boxes under the TV I could replace the 16 port Gigabit switch by an 8 port and that saved roughly 4-5 W of power.
I tried to remove one of my 4 Wifi access points and move the 3. I had to readd number 4 as I had a corner where my ESP devices would start disconnecting.
I have 7 Webcams. 6 outside (Ubiquiti) and 1 that films by 3D printer.
The one for the 3D printer now turns on with the Octoprint (same smart switch).
For the 6 Ubituiti cameras - they are all POE powered. And the managed TP link switch can be controlled by Home Assistant. So now HA will turn on 4 of the 6 camera only when we are not home. I do not need 6 cameras running when we are home. One at each door is enough.
That saves 16 Watts except the 8 hours a day we are not home.
The power consumption for the NVR (Frigate) goes down by 3-4 Watts when you remove 4 of 6 cameras from the workload. So the actual power saving with camera is around 20W 16 hours per day. 120 kWh per year just by turning cameras off when they are not needed.
I increased the temperature of the Wine/Beer Fridge 1 degree C. That saved a bit also. My beer is OK at 7 deg C instead of 6. Actually better!
I went through all Wallwarts. Most consumes nothing when idle per new EU regulations. But a few older uses 1-2 Watts doing nothing. I just replace them by other I already had. The old ones went for recycling.
As you can see the electricity prices in Denmark are really low at night. We started using the timer in the dishwasher so we start it at midnight. That does not save kWh but it saves money.
And we never do laundry between 17:00-21:00 now
All the smart lights use 0.25W standby. It adds up. But it only takes an intelligent use of HA automations to turn the light off when you are not in the room to more than compensate for it. I have been calculating in detail and measured on and off power and power at different intensities. It is not hard to save more than they consume in standby.
It is not nice to be in a house where all rooms are dark. A way to setup the automations is to turn off the high energy lights and leave the low energy lights on - or dimm the light.
In our kitchen - at night - instead of turning light off - we turn off the power hungry Philips Ensis and dimm the LEDs under the cabinets to half intensity. That leaves a kitchen that appears lit when we sit in the living room and you do not enter a doorway of darkness. It works really well and the consumption when we are not in the kitchen is 20% of when we are there.
I think this posting is long enough now.
- Spreadsheet - register ALL consumers, estimate hours on and off, and power when on and off. Calculate their annual consumption based on this.
- It is all the small comsumers that are always on, that eat a lot of kWhs. Do not mentally bagatelize this. Everything is important
- You need to be able to measure actual power consumption
- Use smart plugs and power bars
- Let Home Assistant control power so things are only powered when you need them
- There is a significant money to save
- You will still consume power for fridges, freezers, cooking, and heating. You can check that their consumption over 24 hours are per spec for the fridge or freezer. It has to be really bad to be worth replacing these
- You will still be cooking and ironing. Nothing to save there!
Take your loved one on a nice vacation for the money you save