July 2011


Using Less Power.

One of the problems I had when I moved to Berlin was picking a company to provide my electricity service.

I recall visiting a website where I entered my profile (single, so many square feet, etc…) and then being displayed a list of offers from a variety of electricity firms. I could choose ecologically friendly electricity, or I could choose inexpensive electricity, and so on.

Ultimately I found it bewildering: as an end-user consumer, I’m not really sure what is the difference between electricity generated one way versus another. My computer works the same no matter where its juice comes from.

So I took a shortcut and asked Snooker in Berlin which firm she used and ended up picking that firm because she and her wife use that firm.

Even then, it’s a bit challenging because I signed up for a year-long contract, where, at the end of the year, I get 50€ back from the company. There was a formula involved, but given everything we knew about me, they predicted I would use 1,500 kWh.

I actually double checked and used about that much electricity a year in Weimar, so I was comfortable with this—except for the fact that (1) I am travelling less, so I am home more, and (2) I now own a washing machine/dryer machine. I don’t use the dryer function that often, but every time I do, I see little € flying out the door (hey! I stopped dreaming in $!).

So this week I updated my meter reading, at their request, and was rewarded with the news that they now expect me to use 1,523 kWh, so a few kWh more than predicted.

Oddly, though, is the chart they showed me that I am, for now, 11% below where I was expected to be and I’m not sure how I can use enough to exceed the originally predicted sum.

Bar Graphs showing my power consumption.

The light purple bar is "Verbrauchsprognose" (forcasted consumption), while dark purple is "Aktueller Verbrauch" (actual consumption), 5 August 2010 to 4 August 2011

3 comments to Using Less Power.

  • Olaf

    I think they correct for cold etc. So for example, they had predicted you use 1500 with average weather, however, the weather over the spring was much better than average, so you should have been using 13% less. Instead, you are “only” 11% below the forecast. That means you are using about 2% more than expected (conditional on the weather conditions).

    Now if they assume that next year the weather is average again, that means that you will be using about 2% more than expected, namely 1523kwh…

  • If I may take a slight language detour here (you provided a lovely segue):

    Aktueller Verbrauch means “Current Consumption,” not “actual consumption.”

    At least in my head. I struggle to explain to my German and Romanian colleagues, bosses, customers and employees that there is a difference. Do you think there is one? It’s so nuanced that I get lost in German and English when trying to point out the distinction.

  • Olaf – That is confusing, and now that I read the chart, I’m not clear how it is constructed: did I use only 300 kWh in the fall (5 August through 23 November), and then I used 800 between 23 November and 1 July? — which means 1100 kWh for 5 August 2010 through 1 July 2011. Assuming I haven’t screwed this up, that means they are predicting I will use 423 kWh in July, which seems improbably/unlikely/impossible given my past behavior. I’ll have to ask you more about how you would interpret this chart, next time I see you.

    cliff – Honestly, you have sent me on a mind trip this afternoon. I sense that there is a difference between “current consumption” and “actual consumption”, but I would be hard pressed to put my finger on what the difference is and how to explain it. My first thought is that current consumption is actually an immediate event — as in, this second I have a lamp on, my laptop plugged in, my TV on standby, and a few other appliances plugged in and on standby — to me, that instant snapshot would be my “current” energy consumption.

    That said, the way leo translates “Aktueller” is current – but to me, this is a statement of my accumulated, *actual* electricity use over time. Given that Leo says Aktueller Verbrauch is “Current Consumption”, like you, perhaps this is a technical thing in this area of English.

    Sorry about all my dithering here — clearly I don’t have an answer for you… but you have given me something to think about.