Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

January 4, 2010

Using More Electricity During Winter: Why?

Category: Household,Save Electricity,Technology – Tom Harrison – 8:50 am

Every year, we use more electricity in the winter. Once we cut down on the use of electric heat in the basement, I wondered what it was that caused this trend.

Sure, we turn on lights earlier due to shorter days.

But there are other factors, and I am beginning to figure out what they are:

  • More loads of laundry in the dryer: fewer shorts, more layers
  • The gas burner uses circulator pumps to move water around the house’s heating system
  • We use the gas oven more, meaning the “glow bar” I found a while back runs
  • Humidifiers — the ones that create steam are basically boiling water all day!
  • Fish tank heater — the house is cooler, but fishies like 80°F in all seasons (no fishie sweaters I know of)
  • More TV and video games for the kids; less playing outside
  • Christmas tree
  • Probably a few sneaky ones I have not found yet…

Of course I was able to isolate these items just because we have an energy monitor (TED 5000, in our case) — it’s easy to see the readings jump when things come on, like the heat.

We can affect some of these (the cool mist humidifiers are far less costly). Some are just not ones I want to give up on, although the fishie sweaters seem plausible.

And one other item is worth noting: this year we put a lot of effort and a little money into making our house keep in the heat: insulation, and especially air sealing with foam and caulking — it’s pretty clear it’s going to make a big difference. And the less the heat is on, the less those circulator pumps run. These are the kinds of unexpected additive effects you sometimes get in making changes.


  1. why not put the fish in the humidifier tank? That’ll keep them warm, and save a few watts from the fish heater. :-)

    Comment by Tony Wildish — January 4, 2010 @ 10:09 am

  2. Tony —

    A brilliant idea. I did try running an extra string of Christmas tree lights through the tank, and fish at first seemed excited, then rather listless.



    Comment by Tom Harrison — January 4, 2010 @ 11:02 am

  3. The absolute #1 reason my electricity goes up in the winter? No line-drying of clothes (yes, I know; sublimation works in theory, but I’m just not going to hand stuff outdoors when it’s 5 below, sorry.) And we already have humidity problems in the winter, so line-drying indoors is a nonstarter.

    Comment by Eric — February 9, 2011 @ 12:20 am

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