Pandemic Gas Mystery

Updated on Saturday, February 20, 2021

For no good reason I downloaded my gas and electricity consumption data by day for the last couple of years.

Electricity usage in kWh 2020 vs 2019 7 day moving average

The electricity trend is unsurprising. At the start of the pandemic it jumps up and stays up. With work and school from home we're running four computers non-stop, burning lights and (the horror) printing things. Overall we used 24% more electricity in 2020.

Gas usuage in therms 2020 vs 2019 7 day moving average

Gas on the other hand is pretty flat. There are some different peaks at the start and end of the year, but our total gas consumption increased by 0.08%. This doesn't make any sense to me. Being at home doesn't make much of a difference to laundry but it should have had a big impact on everything else. The heating has been on way more, we're cooking breakfasts and lunches that would have occurred out of the house in 2019 and we must be using more hot water as well.

There is one strange difference between how electricity and gas are metered. Fractional kWh are distributed randomly between .00 and .99 as you'd expect. Fractional therms are totally different - we're apparently likely to use 1.02 or 2.03 therms but never 1.50. This feels like it must be some sort of rounding or other billing oddness but I can't find any reasonable explanation despite asking Google three different ways.

Fractional therms billed distribution for PG&E billing days in 2019 and 2020

In a move that I might come to bitterly regret I have emailed PG&E to see if they can explain it. I'll update this post if I hear back. Or if you're a therm metering expert please leave a comment!

Updated 2021-02-20 13:51:

PG&E say:

"Thank you for contacting our Customer Service Center. Gas usage is registered by recording therms usage.  If you view your daily usage online, you will see that therms are only registered in whole units.  The only pace that you will see therms not as whole units is when you review the average daily usage.  The pandemic started in March 2020 and since then your gas usage is up slightly versus previous years. Most customers will see a larger increase in electric usage versus gas usage when staying home more than normal.  The majority of customers set the tempatures of the their heaters to very similar temperatures year over year and your heater will work to keep your house at the temperature whether you are home or not at home."

So the fractional therms are some sort of odd rounding on the downloaded data. Fair enough.

The majority of customers use the same temperature setting? Really? So that might be a good explanation if you constantly heat your house to the same temperature, but I know for sure that isn't us. We have a Nest Learning Thermostat and as I've previously reported this doesn't so much learn as just constantly turn the heating off. So staying warm is a constant battle with the thing.

Maybe the difference is that the pandemic started around Spring when San Francisco is warm enough to not need much heating. I'll look again when I can just compare winter vs winter in a couple of months.

Coronavirus Hikes: Done

Coronavirus Hikes: Done

Coronavirus Hikes: Done

The Google Earth screenshot above is a composite of all of our Coronavirus hikes from March to October. We have thrashed the sidewalk around our neighborhood, discovered some new favorites and gone from hyper-local to a more normal regime. I'm not going to track these specifically any more and will return to blogging new hikes that you'd do even if not forced to by circumstances.

Coronavirus Hikes: July 2020

Coronavirus Hikes: July 2020

Coronavirus Hikes: July 2020

Hike starts at: 37.742189, -122.471394. View in Google Earth.

Coronavirus Hikes: June 2020

Coronavirus Hikes: June 2020

Coronavirus Hikes: June 2020

Starting to leave San Francisco. Photo is of Bird Island in the Marin Headlands. 39.1 unique miles.

Hike starts at: 37.741862, -122.471579. View in Google Earth.

Visualizing Coronavirus Cases and Deaths by Country and US County

Updated on Monday, April 19, 2021

Cases and Deaths by Country Yesterday

Daily Incremental

Visualizing Coronavirus Deaths by Country (Daily Incremental)

Cumulative

Visualizing Coronavirus Deaths by Country (Cumulative)

Cases and Deaths by US County Yesterday

Daily Incremental

Visualizing Coronavirus Deaths by US County (Daily Incremental)

Cumulative

Visualizing Coronavirus Deaths by US County (Cumulative)

This post is updated daily with global and US county level coronavirus data from Johns Hopkins University. Four videos show both cumulative and daily progression of the disease together with four images that show a snapshot for yesterday.

Cases and deaths are shown simultaneously using blue for cases and red for deaths. Where both are high a region will be a shade of purple. Regions with no data are dark gray.

The daily incremental visualization is useful to see the history and current state of the spread of coronavirus. Each region is shaded based on the highest number of daily cases and deaths for that region. For example if the highest number of deaths reported on any day in San Francisco county is 3, then any day that has three deaths will be the brightest shade of red. This shows where COVID-19 is relatively bad but should be used to compare regions.

The cumulative visualization is shaded relative to the highest total death and case count for any region. This does show the relative severity between regions (based on total deaths and cases, not relative to population).

As the location and date of the peak in daily and cumulative cases and deaths change over time the videos will be different each time you watch. Bookmark this post and check back for daily updates.

(This is the third version of this post as I have changed the data source and methodology several times. I usually preserve the previous version of any post but the changes are large enough that in this case I have removed them).

Cases and Deaths by Country

Daily Incremental

 

Cumulative

 

Cases and Deaths by US County

Daily Incremental

 

Cumulative

 

Coronavirus Hikes: May 2020

Coronavirus Hikes: May 2020

Coronavirus Hikes: May 2020

37.2 unique miles in May. Photo is the fog shadow behind Grand View Park.

Hike starts at: 37.741726, -122.471298. View in Google Earth.

Coronavirus Hikes: April 2020

April 2020 Coronavirus Hikes

On the way back from Grand View park

36.4 unique miles in April (I'm not using the GPS for repeat hikes). Bagged Twin Peaks, wider paths than Mount Davidson.

Coronavirus Hikes: March 2020

Coronavirus Hikes: March 2020

Coronavirus Hikes: March 2020

Not getting far from home any time soon so all hikes for now will be local. I found a great web app, Routeshuffle, that will generate a random hike from the starting location of your choice. It's a great way of seeing streets you'd never venture down normally. The map is generated with some software I wrote to combine multiple KML files for easy rendering in Google Earth (oh, and Google Earth, I guess that does the heavy lifting). I'll post these every month while we're locked down. March is 15.6 miles total.

Hike starts at: 37.800778, -122.455943. View in Google Earth.

Social Undistancing

Updated on Friday, April 17, 2020

Social Undistancing

We have to be six feet apart in space but so far there are no rules on time.