A day for the little things.
I’m working on cutting our electricity consumption and EDF (Électricité de France) makes it easy to get a grip on how much we currently use. I have a monthly electricity allowance that I pay for, and when we use too much at once the electricity box will flip itself off. When that happens, we turn off an appliance or a light and then flip the box back on.
The first year that we lived here, we pretty much did whatever we felt like and didn’t think too much about what was using electricity and what wasn’t. I got a nasty surprise at the end of the payment year, when EDF billed me about 120€ to settle up…. We’d used more than what I’d paid for, which is a common occurrence, but it’s neither financially nor environmentally friendly.
From this point through the last year we used 441 kilowatt hours (kWh), which is quite a lot compared to other apartments of the same size. Other users seem to weigh in at 332 kWh, and apartments with low-energy appliances, different insulation, different lights, etc. can use as little as 141 kWh.
For the use of that 441 kWh, I was charged 410€. Our consumption broke down like this:
52€ / 13% on lighting
130€ / 30% on electric cooking
52€ / 13% to run the refrigerator
60€ / 15% to run the washer and dryer
116€ / 29% “other”
We have some serious constraints on what we can do to reduce our electricity when it comes to our big appliances. We can’t afford to replace anything right now. Even the cheapest appliances with A++ EU energy consumption ratings are a couple of hundred euros, ~250€ for washing machines, ~800€ for a fridge/freezer.
Instead of doing a thousand euro overhaul of our still-functional appliances, we’re starting with the 13% from lighting and the 29% “other.”
The first thing we did today was to switch out some bulbs for LED. Our two main lamps (part of the 13% lighting category) are on for at least 4, sometimes 5 hours a night on the week nights, and they used traditional, incandescent bulbs. We have two Ikea Holmo floor lamps that use LED bulbs already, but they are way too bright to use comfortably so we rarely used them.
My goals today were to
1) replace the incandescent bulbs in the two main lamps with LED
2) replace the single hanging bulb in the kitchen with LED
3) replace the Holmo LED with a lower lumen, lower kelvin bulb so that we could actually use the lamps.
As the saying goes, 2/3 ain’t bad. When we went to the Bricolex (a home improvement store) near our house, bulbs wrapped in an old t-shirt and tucked safely into my bag, we found that there are a truly dizzying number of bulbs from which to choose. I was very glad to have looked up what I wanted ahead of time!
Lumens tell you about the brightness of the light, more lumens = more light. The incandescent bulbs for the floor lamps were 100 watts, or 1600 lumen. We weren’t able to find bulbs that would fit into the lamps at 1600 lumen, so instead we got 1330 a single lumen bulb just to see how it looked.
It looks great, and instead of going back to buy a second bulb, I tested the old Holmo bulbs in the floor lamp. They’re not as bright as the new LED bulb and they give off a colder light (higher kelvin). Still, the light is not as aggressive as it was in the Holmo, likely because of the different shade and the fact that it sits much closer to the floor.
For the hanging bulb in the kitchen, the bulb attaches with two prongs (a B22 attachment) and this presented a challenge. There were no LED lights with those prongs, so we went with an “eco halogen” instead. It still has a D power rating, which is not impressive, but it’s better than the F we had before. I’ve since found some B22 LED lights online, and they’re bookmarked for when this “eco halogen” burns out.
As for the Holmo lamps we found two kinds of tiny 380 lumen, 2700 kelvin (warm light) bulbs to try. One is opaque, and one is clear, and I put the the clear light in the bedroom because it feels a bit warmer than the opaque bulb. I am very happy to be able to use the Holmo lamps more because they were so overwhelmingly bright that we almost never used them.
All in all, the 4 bulbs were about 52€, which is hilarious considering that’s what we spend in a year on lighting. Still, the LED lights are supposed to last for 15 years, and they’ll pay for themselves over time with the money that we save in the “lighting” category.
I plan to watch our electricity consumption for March and especially April to see if the usage in the lighting category dips at all as compared to last year. I’m eager to see how long it takes to recover the cost of the bulbs! Next up is an evaluation of this “other” category, and what to do about it!