Now I’m wondering how our utility bills stack up

With a landmass of 16,577 square miles, the country of Denmark is almost exactly half the size of Maine and has six-times the population of the Pine Tree State. Yet Denmark uses close to 10,000 megawatts of power annually, about double of what Maine uses.

If my math’s right, that means they’re using only a third of what we do, per capita.

How do they do it?

We both have cold winters with long nights. And most of us rely on fuel oil for heat.

And, for the record, nearly half of Maine is uninhabited, year-‘round, meaning the lived-in part of Maine’s about the size of Denmark. They do stay warm and keep the lights on, don’t they?

4 thoughts on “Now I’m wondering how our utility bills stack up

  1. Are you comparing domestic electricity consumption or total electricity consumption? As an example, NZ imports aluminium bauxite from Australia and exports it all as aluminium ingots. The smelting process itself, at a single facility consumes 13% on the nation’s total electricity production. Likewise, considerable energy is used in the production and manufacture of farm based products, most of which is exported.

    I wonder too if there’s a difference in home insulation requirements. In much of Europe triple glazing is mandatory, whereas in NZ double glazing has been a requirement only on that last two decades, and ceiling insulation became been mandatory in the 1970s, but with a very low R rating. Most homes here still have no insulation at all and therefore consume quite a lot of energy to keep warm in winter.

    Savings can also be made by using different types of heating. For example conventional forms of electrical heating generate approximately 1 kW of heat for each kW of electricity consumed, whereas the electric heat pump we had installed a few years back generates 4 kW of heat for each kW of electricity consumed. The NZ government now subsidises the retrofitting of home insulation and domestic heat pumps.

    And how about alternatives such as solar power? Last month our household electrical consumption was 724 kWh but because we generated more electricity than we consumed our net electricity consumption was minus 214 kWh.

    There\s an interesting Our World In Data chart that compares energy consumption when taking offshore consumption into account. Denmark embodies 27% of its energy requirements in imported products, while the USA imports 12%. Also of significance is that Russia and China are net exporters of energy, so while they may be “bad” in the consumption of fossil fuels, a significant proportion of that energy is imported into the USA and Europe.

    1. Whew! Now you have me wondering! No matter, though, there’s much we can do to improve the efficiency of the energy we consume. For starters, this old house of ours is a monster when it comes to keeping warm in winter.

      1. Our winter heating cost was horrendous. Over that past few years, we’ve had new ceiling insulation, double glazing and the heat pump installed, which reduced our winter electricity costs by almost 30%. We had the solar panels installed in May and it’s starting to look like that over a full year, the amount of electricity we import will be balanced by the amount we export. If only the price we received for electricity exports was closer to the price we pay for electricity imports…

        Fewer than 1% of the homes in our town have solar power. Imagine if every home had some solar panels.

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