Now that I’ve been living in it for a few months, I wanted to examine my container home energy use. It’s an exercise that not only helps me visualize my energy costs, but it illustrates for interested parties the real-world rewards of container living.
For the record: I’m not a miser when it comes to energy use. When I leave the house for work in the morning, I’ve left the AC running several days this summer (by accident), and I almost always keep the thermostat set between 73 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit. At the same time, I have a pet peeve about lights on in unoccupied rooms, and so I am generally anal about that, but for the big energy drains (fridge, central heat/air), I keep myself happy.
Container home energy use data
The data in the following table come from OG&E’s weekly energy summaries, which I get delivered to my inbox (just about) every week. My email inbox indicates my first one was from late March, but I didn’t begin living in the container full-time until May. Still, energy use from before Spring reflects heater and wall-socket use while construction was ongoing. Energy use from May forward reflects actual, daily living activity.
OG&E’s weekly summary emails contain three categories relevant to this study: average use, efficient use, and my use.
Green boxes indicate weeks where I was more efficient than OG&E’s qualifications; red boxes indicate weeks where I was less efficient than that rubric. Some weeks are missing because they don’t appear in my inbox or I just can’t find them 😛
(7 DAYS TO)
|AVERAGE||EFFICIENT||ME||DIFF. EFFICIENT||DIFF. AVERAGE|
During the 17 weeks of available data, I have spent a total of $160 on electricity as charged by kilowatts per hour, which is almost $100 less than an “efficient” user during the same period and well over $800 less than the average user. (Granted, average users live in larger houses that contain more people, so it stands to reason that, even in a traditional home with only adequate efficiency measures, I would likely surpass most average users as a single occupant.)
My overall average for the period comes in at just under $10 per week. Meanwhile, “efficient” users average $15.18 weekly for the available dates and average users spend almost $60 per week.
As you can (hopefully) see, there were only two weeks back in Spring where I was less efficient than OG&E’s measure for that category. Otherwise, I have beaten their “efficiency” standard by an average of $5.76 each week and crushed the average user by about $50.
While the construction of the container home repeatedly exceed my budget estimations to the point of being more expensive than traditional contruction on a per-square-foot basis, the useful life of the container home seems to be paying dividends in the form of consistently reduced electrical costs, even compared to OG&E’s definition of an “efficient” user.
Last, I can’t tell you how many people tell me I should get solar or go off the grid, and believe me, that would be great if I had the capital to fund such an addition, but I think the current data illustrate that I don’t even need solar to realize incredible energy efficiencies. The combination of a small living space with thorough insulation and a full-sized central heat/air unit removes the need to employ drastic technological additions. Plus, it’s just so much easier to be on the grid at the moment … and I get the added enjoyment of sticking a metaphorical middle finger up at the utility provider that would seek to charge an extra fee EVEN IF I DID HAVE SOLAR.
So, come visit. I’ll set the AC to whatever you like.