How a St. Albert man cut his electricity use in half by changing lights and habits

It all started as a curiosity for Ron Kube. How much electricity was he and his family using in a year?

Ron Kube now produces more energy than his home needs using solar panels

Ron Kube, a computing science professor at the University of Alberta, used a plug metre to monitor his electricity consumption. (Ron Kube)

It all started as a curiosity for Ron Kube. How much electricity was he and his family using in a year?

The average home uses 7,200 kWh of power annually. Kube measured his home's consumption by looking at his monthly power bills from the past three years.

His St. Albert home was using more than 12,000 kWh per year.

Determined to reduce his electricity consumption, Kube, a computing science professor at the University of Alberta, bought a plug meter to measure where he was consuming the most energy.

"I had this old beer fridge in the basement with a couple of bottles of beer, a couple bottles of wine that was consuming over seven per cent of our monthly power bill," Kube told CBC's Radio Active Wednesday.

So, he unplugged it.

He found a plug-in connected to a power bar was still using seven per cent of the home's total monthly power consumption, even when everything plugged into it was turned off. He switched that off when he wasn't using it.

Kube made other small changes, like changing light bulbs, to knock down his electricity use.

He would turn off lights when he wasn't in the room. When boiling water, he would only boil as much as he needed. He would opt for the toaster oven instead of using the regular-sized oven.

"When I originally set up the project, it was, 'What can I change without impacting our lifestyle?'" he said.

By the end of it, Kube had cut his energy use from more than 12,172 kWh to 5,810 kWh. Using Epcor's electricity rate for inside Edmonton, he would have gone from spending $572.64 a year on power to $277.25.

But Kube's project became more than reducing electricity use — it soon moved to producing electricity.

Net positive

Kube had 34 solar panels installed on his roof. In a year, these generate more than 9,000 kilowatt hours — about 3,500 more than his home now uses annually. 

He no longer pays for electricity and puts some of the excess back into the city's grid.

Kube's St. Albert home, where he knocked down his yearly power consumption from more than 12,000 kWh to 5,800 kWh. (Ron Kube)

That extra electricity could power an electric car for 20,000 kilometres of travel, Kube said.

But for those who just want to save power and electricity with minimal cost, Kube said  a few measures can help: changing light bulbs, altering cooking habits and turning off lights when not necessary.

"[These are just] simple things that I'm just changing my behaviour with," Kube said.

Kube has created a guide to how he reduced electricity consumption as well as a guide on how to do it yourself.

An aerial view of Kube's home with the solar panels installed on the roof. (Great Canadian Solar)