2019-04-21

The Price of Electricity

I'm sitting at home here looking at my electric bill.  My bill says that electricity costs 21¢ per KWH.  But that's not true.

The price of electricity is highly variable.  For me, electricity costs AVERAGE to 21¢ per KWH.  The reality is that some of the electricity is perhaps 5¢ per KWH, and other electricity is $1.23 per KWH, and the nice people at the electric company average it all out for me to 21¢ per KWH.

Is my electricity cost really all that variable?  Yes.  Some power plants are super-cheap to own and fuel.  Those plants are used as much as possible, and their electricity is very cheap.  That's like hydro, wind, solar, and nuclear.

Other plants, like Oil and old Gas burners, are very expensive to operate.  They only run when there isn't enough of the efficient plants available to service the demand.  The expensive-to-operate facilities might only run for 80 hours a year, but at a whopping $1.23 per KWH.  And since it costs several billion dollars to build any new large electricity plant, replacing infrequently used facilities is not a priority.  That'd be like replacing your 23 year old gas guzzler truck that you drive 1000 miles a year with a new hyper-efficient truck that you'll drive 1000 miles per year.  Not a economically (or ecologically) smart way to go.

The beauty of rooftop solar is that it provides significant power during the day, shaving off the daytime peaks when electricity is stupidly expensive.  Daytime solar power generation greatly reduces peaks, which in turn lessens the need to run the expensive, inefficient power plants.

2019-04-18

Dishwasher Buyer's Guide

Here are the features I look for in a dishwasher.

Food grinder.  A dishwasher without a food grinder has filters that need to be periodically cleaned fairly frequently (YUK!).  Most people never clean these filters, and therefore their dishwasher stops cleaning well.  A dishwasher with a grinder eliminates the filters and associated required maintenance.

Quiet Operation.  All dishwashers get noisier over time as their insulation and bearings age with time and use.  Buying a quiet dishwasher out of the gate means that it will be noisier in the future, but not as noisy as a non-quiet model.

No Stainless Steel Tub.  A stainless steel tub does not muffle noise, and lasts no longer than a plastic tub.  All things being equal, I'll always go for the plastic tub.

Energy Star rated.  I run my dishwasher at least 3 times a week.  I never hand wash, except for the few things that demand it (greasy fry pans and aluminum items).  An energy efficient washer will save me money over time.


What to do with those stupid Visa gift cards

Visa gift cards can be a real risk because they can lose value.  First, they can be lost, and in that case the card has zero value to you.  ...