Analysing my Earth Hour energy graphs

So last night I tracked my consumption during Earth Hour with The Energy Detective hooked up to this webite. Here’s the graph for the hour (click for larger image). It updates approximately every 1-2 seconds.

Earth Hour Analysis

Now I have all electric baseboard heating as well as cooking and other appliances. We don’t have any Natural Gas or oil appliances.

What I unplugged… not just turned off, but unplugged or shut off at power bar so there was no “standby” usage):

  • – All “power bricked” items, mostly tech stuff. Cell charger, laptop charger, external hard drives
  • – TV/Cable Box
  • – Electric baseboards with no wall thermostats
  • – “Dead Body” freezer

What I “turned down”:

  • – All The Electric baseboard heaters

What was still on/normal (drawing 440W):

  • – Our Living Room light (70W)
  • – My Internet, energy and weather (for data collection equipment (150W)
  • – Stereo and Nintendo Wii were on Standby (couldn’t find the plugs in the rats nest!) (10W)
  • – Fridge (200W?)
  • – Other stuff(?)

That’s about it. As far as unplugging stuff. I couldn’t unplug all of my entertainment equipment because I wasn’t sure which was which and didn’t want to take the chance of unplugging my Mac Mini that was serving up the energy data. So those were on standby. Other than that, I left the living room light on… yes, many people went lights out… but personally, I see Earth Hour as a “use less” not, “go back to the dark ages”. This Hour was about realising how much power we waste. So leaving the only light on that we need is, IMHO, perfectly fine, and as you will see, if we want to make a difference on how much energy we waste, that difference won’t be from CFLs.

After we went around and turn off/down everything, I monitored the usage and noticed the spikes. We hadn’t turned down the heaters completely in the kids room.. but since they were sleeping already, we went ahead and turned those down too.

Then you’ll see the “Dead Body Freezer”… I wasn’t happy that we were still drawing 740W, so we thought for a bit and realized… THE FREEZER. We got one of those long chest type freezer for $20 when we bought the place. It’s perpetually half empty and is constantly running. It draws 300W… and probably costs us $100 a year to run.

That will be our first replacement as soon as we can afford it.

The last thing we learned was from our spare bedroom baseboard heater. I had turned all the stuff down 20 minutes before the “Hour” started. Turns out, the spare bedroom must cool down the quickest, because that heater was the first to come back on.

Here’s a comparison of Friday nights Hour and Earth Hour…


On the left is Friday Night from 8:30 to 9:30PM… we were just watching TV, doing computer stuff, and we made popcorn for a movie.

On the right is Earth Hour on Saturday night.

And Finally, You can see our daily routine for Saturday, March 28 to this morning in the graph below.

24 Hour Analysis

TED Energy Monitor hooked up to website!

So for Christmas my lovely wife got me the only present I really wanted.

“The Energy Detective”

What is it?

It’s a “whole house” energy monitor. Basically, one part of it hooks into a breaker in your electrical panel and clamps onto the power lines that come into your house. (Not nearly as scary as it sounds, but if you’re not familiar with your breaker box, get a friend who is). The other part is a little box that plugs into any wall socket and you end up with a reading for how much power your house is drawing at that moment.

It’s like having a digital version of your hydro meter inside your house, and readable!

Of course, that wasn’t enough for me. And what really attracted me to this device was its ability to save data on a computer. TED provides software for Windows. It’s nice and all. But I hate Windows, and I don’t want to have to go to only one computer to be able to see the information. I want it on the web (like I have done with my Vantage Pro weather station at

So… what you see at the top of the blog is the fruits of my labour.

I found a wonderful little “python” script called “” on the Internet. You can google it and it will come up. It got me started.

I added the ability for it to talk to mySQL and sqlite databases.

And now it archives to both, locally on my Mac Mini and remotely to my database online.

This could be run on Linux, Unix, and I believe Windows supports the needed python libs as well).

Feel free to download the two scripts and modify at will:

The “TED.PY” script reads from TED and stores into a database. It is stand-alone as it need not rely on network connectivity so hopefully you get as much data as possible archived since TED itself doesn’t archive any data (aside from monthly highs and things) (start with: sudo python /dev/tty.usbserial-A7007fWm &)

The TEDmySQL.PY script lives in the same directory. You only need to run this if you want to archive your TED data to a mySQL database. mySQL is more commonly used by webhosts than sqlite, so this is why this script is provided…

I also obtained the Serial API specification from the makers of TED. This helped me to get to know where to get the data.

Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure how to get all the data off of it, specifically the “Totals”. If anyone sees this blog and might have any ideas how I can go about retrieving these bits from the serial stream I’d greatly appreciate it. You’ll notice my Totals above just don’t look right. I will keep trying to figure them out.

In the meantime. I hope this script is useful to others. If you have any questions feel free to ask. I however will not be held responsible you happen to do to your house, your computer, or your sanity by using that script.


Global Warming in Port Alberni

A little while ago I found an Environment Canada page where you could find daily EC weather reports in or near Port Alberni… including one from Beaver Creek that went back as far as 1901 (for temperatures).

Here’s that EC page. Just type Alberni into the search field and hit Search and it will give you all the stations.

It also gives the exact location of each station when you select it.

Anyway, I wanted to consolidate all of it and stick it on a graph to see if “Global Warming” is happening here.

So after more than a few hours of work… here it is:
Century Climate Record in Port Alberni
The coloured lines are the actual data from the different stations… they are all in different locations, so [B]small[/B] variations should be expected.

I drew the black line manually overtop as a sort of best fit to see the trend trying to keep it as true as possible…

One thing I noticed immediately was the station from 1901 was very extreme… as were the other early stations… after 1950 or so, the data starts to agree with itself a lot better as well as be much less extreme which I think speaks to better instruments and/or measuring standards.

Oh, and please ignore the colours of the lines… Excel is a real PITA when it comes to multiple series in a graph so it didn’t layer them the way I wanted. But the order of the names in the legend are roughly the order of the earliest recording stations from left to right and top to bottom.

An Open Letter on Gas Taxes to BC – Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Dear Ms Bader,

(B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation)

I recently read your column titled “Say No to Gas Tax Hike” published by

Your views are shared by many, but as with many major societal changes, change comes slowly, and reluctantly. My purpose is not to argue about man-made climate change, scientific proof will be many years in the future.

CO2 emissions are simply a symptom of a much greater and fundamental problem. The Human Race transitioned to fossil fuels in the 18th century…. the reason why oil prices are so high and we are building giant Natural Gas import plants is because we are nearing the end of our fossil fuel endowment which we started using 200 years ago.

According to Natural Resources Canada, take away the Oil Sands, and Canadas conventional oil supply is already past its “peak” production and Natural Gas will peak within 4 years. After being some of the largest exporters in the world, Mexico, the UK, Indonesia are also declining in their production, and exports… Russia is set to decline within 5-10 years, and Saudi Arabia, the largest of all… may have peaked this year. Now if you say ‘we have oilsands’, you’re right… but it takes millions of cubic feet of NG… in fact the energy from a barrel of tarsand synthcrude is only 2:1 compared to the energy used to produce it. Conventional crude is about 16:1. And our 3 million barrels a day by 2020 will only satisfy 3% of projected world demand by then.

The bottomline is that $80 oil is only the beginning… crude oil is 70% of the price of gas at the pump. So when oil hits $100, $125 (equal to the ’70s high), or $150… in the next 5, 10, 15 years, how much will gas be then? The Loonie will rise right along with it… hitting our exporters even harder. 1% more in gas taxes will be nothing in comparison, even raised more overtime. Our economy, if it is still completely dependant on fossil fuels for its energy needs, will suffer every step of the way…

If on the other hand we gradually raise gas taxes, yes there will be economic hardship… but
IF INVESTED PRUDENTLY, those taxes and other incentives can be used to wean our economy off of fossil fuels and increase our efficiency drastically…. while at the same time leaving that much more for us to export to other needy oil importers (mainly the US).

It is my hope that the Canadian Taxpayer federation will be one of the champions of this strategy because in the end… the less fuel we use, the less tax we pay, both to the gov. and to our Environment.

The basis of my argument is not scientific consensus, it is mathematical certainly. For more on this phenomenon, and specifically how it affects oil exports from the worlds largest supporters, please go here:


Chris Alemany

Hot hot heat in the news

So this past Wednesday it was nearly 40C (over 100F) in the Alberni Valley. We manged pretty well cconsidering, by staying inside with the blinds down… then going to Sproat lake in the aftrernoon and evening.

Since I have a personal weather station, though, and a website for it at, I got called by one of the local news channels, CH Channel 6 in Victoria, for an interview.

It was fun.

i’ve posted it below.

I think the best part was when they showed my cat! 😛

Be Amused… (as of 8:30PST YouTube is still processing it.. it should be up within the hour).