March 28, 2020 by Blake

My wife is stuck in Indonesia right now.

Laura Reid Storyforth

Hello beautiful

Laura went to deliver keynote speeches at a couple of conferences, and couldn't get out in time.  She's holed up in a villa with another Laura from Miami and two Serbians each named Vladimir.  She can't get a flight out, and even if she could get back home, there'd be the 14-day quarantine to contend with.  Quarantine there, quarantine here, either way you're quarantined, right?

Meanwhile I'm single-parenting and keeping our son fed.  He says I'm doing passably.

sleep teenagerThe adolescent of the species is largely nocturnal.

The Meter Keeps Spinning

Many of us are home more than usual these days, and some are in for a shock when the electric bill comes.  The more people at home, the higher the electricity consumption.  A lot of us used to "offload" our electrical use to places like schools or offices, but that usage followed us home...unless a member of your household hasn't been around for a while.  Here's my most recent bill:

HELCO billBig drop from February to March...hmmm...

I live in an all-electric house and in February my family (3 of us) used slightly more than 16 kWh/day.  When I work the data to account for Laura's departure date, which fell in between meter readings, her absence is probably saving us about $2.60 PER DAY.


I was taught to show my work. It makes sense to me.

If everything was "right," then today (March 28, nine days after my meter was read last) my meter should read 8519 kWh.  It reads 8537 kWh.  I'm pretty close!

electric meter

HELCO gave me a new easy-read meter for some reason. Yours might have dials on it. If you need help reading it get in touch.


I'm "off" by 18 kWh over that 9-day period, a couple kWh a day.  I'd like to assign them to me and my son because we're home more than usual due to stay-at-home orders.  The TV's on a lot.


Everybody's situation is unique, so for you I imagine that right now, when you don't need a higher bill, you get one.  Luckily this is something you CAN control, because you're in charge of your things, even though manufacturers don't pay your power bill, and because they don't, they do stupid things like this:

hawaii, orchidlands, hawaiian paradise park, hilo, waikoloa, kona, waimea, kailua-kona

On the left is my washing machine's display lit up, which I happened to see one night. My washer is on all the time. I tested it and it's drawing about 1.7 Watts, ALL THE TIME. It costs me $5.50 a year just to leave my washer plugged in. No, I will not "add garment." Don't tell me what to do.

You're probably right now at the mercy of "vampire power."  Power vampires use power even when they're "off."  Turn off all the lights at night and look around...if something has a tiny light on, then it's not off, is it?  Your TV has a bit of power running so that when you hit the remote, it wakes up quicker.  Cable boxes and game consoles are typically high users, especially if they have hard drives in them for DVR'ing and online gaming.

Dept of Energy

An older graphic from the Dep't of Energy. It sure is great that plasma TVs have been dinosaured.

What To Do

We can't control all our circumstances, but if you're worried about your power bill these are typical high-value targets for us in Hawaii:

  • Turn down electric water heaters to 120 degrees (no lower, because we run the risk of legionella breeding in your tank and you don't need Legionnaires' Disease on top of everything else).  Or let me know if you need help with a heat pump water heater.
  • Unplug that second fridge, unless you're using it.
  • If you go to Costco, get some LED bulbs.  (Nobody's hoarding LEDs!)  Costco has my favorites.  (This blog isn't sponsored by Costco.)
  • Plug high users like game consoles into a power strip and turn them on/off at the strip.  Visit Hawai'i Energy's marketplace for good energy-saving products like smart power strips.
  • Hug your loved ones.  Even if they drive your bills up.

You never know when you'll see them again.  In the meantime, I have the electric blanket all to myself.

But I did turn it down halfway, and put it under another blanket to insulate it and keep the heat in.

Kinda wish I had someone to fight over it with, though.

hawaii, orchidlands, hawaiian paradise park, hilo, waikoloa, kona, waimea, kailua-kona


Berkeley Lab standby power chart, good nerdiness:

Laura is giving away FREE COURSES (networking, public speaking, story marketing) during this time, the "free" codes appear when you get to the payment page:

Storyforth on Facebook:

Laura on Facebook:

Laura on Instagram:

p.s.  I do have a COVID-19 plan if you'd like to see it.  It pretty much boils down to follow guidelines written by smart people, don't touch things, disinfect things that are touched, do no harm to you or to me, recognize that we're all in this together, and I don't want to bring anything home and give it to my son.  It helps that I mostly work solo and work in places nobody wants to go, and on things that nobody touches.

I love you, man

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Love wins



Blake came to our rescue last fall when another local energy contractor’s false promises literally left us--and our drafty, heat-less, 200 year old house--out in the cold.