There is a new thrill in my life. Every week Reliant Energy now sends me a weekly e-mail summary of my home electricity bill. No kidding, for someone interested in energy use and conservation, the Smart Meter reading is interesting.
I just got my e-mail and I learned that between Jan. 2 and Jan. 8, my wife, 5-year-old daughter and I spent $23.12 on our home electricity. That is $9.68 more than we spent the week before, when we were mostly away on vacation. So, roughly speaking, running the refrigerator and all our gadgets cost us nearly half as much as we spent on electricity being home and cooking (we have an electric stove), washing clothes, watching television, listening to our stereo system and enjoying all the other wonders of modern life. Being home costs roughly $2 a day in electricity! (My calculations are very rough since we arrived home late at night on Dec. 30 and prepared for a dinner party on New Year’s Eve.)
Nevertheless, there are a couple of points here. Staying home is cheaper than I thought, which is nice for us as individuals but maybe not so nice for society.
Now, since we live in Texas, our electricity bill is far higher –- as much as five times higher — during our hot summers than during our mild winters. Still, it feels like electricity should be more expensive if we want to burn fewer fossil fuels for power generation and do something to curb global warming. Looking on the other side of the ledger, we spend a higher percentage of our electricity dollars than I thought on appliances that are plugged into the wall that we are not using – like digital clocks on televisions and stoves that light up at all times.
The smart meter that makes my new utility weekly update possible should eventually make the electric car and other energy improvements more practical. But until that happens, a little confession: I’ll enjoy the cheap energy.
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS/NYT