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Managing Power the Powershop Way Works 25/10/2011

Posted by Nigel in Life, Technology.
Tags: ,

When I worked at Red Hat, there seemed like there was a lot of slogans to the effect of “Blank Works” (replace Blank with phrases like “Open Source” or other management-style buzz words), they never really had much effect on me, because… well it seemed canned and marketing speak.  So why have I used it in the title of this post?  Because, it’s not actually marketing speak, it does actually work, and better yet, saves money!

We used to be with Genesis Energy and we’d normally only take notice of the meter readings once a month, (one month would be an actual read, the next month would be an estimated, so we’d go out and read it ourselves).  Sometimes we’d make the effort and read it a bit more often and keep track manually, but it wouldn’t last for too long.  Earlier this year, we switched to Powershop (http://www.powershop.co.nz/) with the promise of cheaper electricity and the ability to manage our account and spending more vigorously than with Genesis (who also just announced a ~20% price rise).

Since the switch over, we have followed the super-hands on approach to managing our account, and taking notice of trends in our usage (like when we forget to switch the hot water cylinder on at night, or off in the morning), partly due to the fact that we read the meter every few days, and send the readings back via their website, or their smart phone application.

In turn for giving Powershop these frequent readings, they give us pretty usage graphs and statistics, like the day-night split in usage, and our average units/day usage (which normally sits between 19-21).

This brings me to how the ‘Powershop Way’ really does work, the other night we submitted our readings and the site came back saying that our usage had spiked about 2 units/day higher than it was from the previous readings, the next day it had shot up another unit/day, the simple fact that our usage had increased by a reasonable amount alerted us to the fact that something substantial had changed, thinking about it, it could have been only one thing.

I had plugged in a (reasonably recent) old computer to test a couple of networking/routing theories, and left it running with the intention of it carrying some permanent workload, the day that the reading that first showed the usage spike occurred.  So not believing that it would be the cause, I used our little Elto Mains Power Meter ($25 from DSE) & found that it was drawing ~250W of power (nearly double a new LCD TV) which assuming constant usage is 6 units (kWh) of power a day.

6 units of power, over a 30 day month is 180 units a month, and at ~22 cents/unit, can be anywhere up to $40/mo.

So, the simple act of managing our power buying via Powershop, and getting into the “Powershop Way” has saved a good $20-$40/mo from the simple awareness of what we are using and how much it is costing to run.

(Of course, it also helps that for us, since April, Powershop is 14.4% cheaper than Genesis’ current prices, even over Powershop’s ‘expensive’ Winter months)

But the morale, of my post, is that Powershop have really taught us, that managing our power buying (and hence usage) is a good thing, and that simple anecdotes like mine, definitely show that you can easily save money via the resulting awareness.  I would recommend Powershop to anybody.

n.b. If you can’t switch to Powershop where you live, they also run a second site called PowerSaver (https://saver.powershop.co.nz/) that opens up some of the usage tracking goodness that Customers get.



1. Darcy Carter - 04/05/2012

Using powershop does make you more aware of your power usage, BUT people should be aware that they are gradually becoming the MOST expensive power option. If you look at http://www.powerswitch.org.nz they have a graph of the power prices over time and powershop has risen to a point where they are near the top. We’ve been powershop users for quite some time, and are switching back to either Contact Energy or Genesis and will save around about $100 per month by doing so!!!

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