The long hiatus was due to a wonderful trip back to Minnesota where we saw family and friends. We had a great time visiting and relaxing. If the platitude "It is better to give than receive" is true, then we failed miserably. The family and friends were generous almost to a fault and somehow the wife found a way to pack two cars worth of stuff into our one car for the drive back home.
One thing we had to leave behind was a table saw that my parents bought me for my birthday. As of today, I am once again in my prime. It's been six years since my age was a prime number and it will be four more until my next, so I'll savor this one. If you are inclined to puzzles, it should be fairly easy to guess my age based on that clue.
I'll be going back to Minnesota again in January to pick up the table saw and am looking forward to numerous projects I can start with it, like the replacement of the wood storm window that crumbled from rot this spring.
I also had a chance to talk to my father-in-law about the energy use of their house. They own a fairly standard house that appears to have been built in the 70's or 80's. I'd guess that it is about 1500 to 1700 finished square feet spread out over two floors, including the basement. Last year they used 3,900 Kilowatt Hours of electricity and 762 therms of natural gas. That compares to our usage of 13,377 Kilowatt Hours of electricity and 1597 therms of natural gas.
I fully expect the feds to come knocking on my door any day now to ask about the cash crop that they suspect I have growing in my basement.
One nice thing about a long car ride is that it gives me hours of uninterrupted thinking time. I figured there were four possible culprits for our ridiculously high electricity usage (since we don't have a cash crop in the basement). First was the 14 year old electric water heater. Second was the 14 year old refrigerator. Third was the one year old pump for the boiler. Fourth a "leak" in our electricity somewhere - a ground, a short, etc. Something that was out of the ordinary and possibly dangerous.
Everything else in the house that we did probably matched fairly closely to what any other American family of four does.
While we were gone for the week, we turned the heat down to 55 and I turned the water heater down to 90. When I went down to turn it back up to 120, I took the time to read the sticker on the water heater, explaining to me the estimated annual cost of running this thing. I think I'd be better off heating our water with dollar bills.
When the water heater was new in 1994, the estimated annual energy usage was around 5,000 Kwh, with an estimated annual cost of $400 to run it. Something tells me that the water heater has not gotten more efficient as time goes on and I know that energy costs have gone from an estimated $.08 per KWh to $.01176 per KWh since then as well. The water heater is probably consuming close to half of our electricity.
I can't wait until it dies. Cold showers aside, it will save me money to put something else in.