Last year, during November and December 2011, our net energy with the grid was 98 kWh - we imported 98 kWh more than we used. This year during the same period that figure was three times higher, 299 kWh net import. Why so different?
For one thing, it was cloudier. The PV system made 68 kWh more last year during this time. The larger difference is that we used more - 947 kWh this year, vs. 814 kWh last year. How come? I can think of three things:
- It was colder this year - 1,580 heating degree days (base 68F) vs 1,296 in the same period last year, mostly in a colder-than-average (yes, we still have those occasionally!) November. So the heat pump ran more - 98.5 kWh more, in fact. That's the big one.
- Jill is working three long days a week instead of going to work five days/week, so she's home more, using lighting, a higher thermostat setting, the computer. A small impact, but it's likely real.
- Jill's Christmas cookie marathon, in which she made 16 different types of cookies. Lotta oven usage, plus kitchen appliances and lighting, plus dishwasher, plus more hot water cleaning up. This extra usage of energy is very well appreciated by many cookie recipients!
You can see that the big difference is weather-related - colder and cloudier. The lower energy use a house is, the larger these year to year variations will be, on a percentage basis. Yet the benefit of solar-driven, energy efficient building is that the percentage variations may be high, but the absolute difference in dollars is small. So the difference in our net energy flow over those two months year to year is about $37 total.