I love having a grain grinder and being able to grind my own flours cheaply and not needing to pay exhorbitant prices for gluten free flours. The thing is though- grinding flour is really messy work! Grains somehow end up on the table and the floor, flour gets in the air and settles onto the stuff around the grain grinder, and flour, of course, ends up spilling all over when I transfer the flour from the grinder and into the storage containers.
Because of the mess that happens when grinding flour, I need to first clean up the dining room table entirely so that I have a large work surface that can clean easily. And since getting my dining room table clean is an astounding feat, once I actually have it ready to go, I try to grind as many pounds of flour as I can store easily, so I don't have to pull out my grinder for another little while.
Sunday was on of those grinding days. A grinding marathon, that is.
I ground 6.5 pounds of brown rice flour, 4.5 pounds of white rice flour, 4.5 pounds of sticky rice flour, 4 pounds of raw buckwheat flour, 3 pounds of chickpea flour, and 4.5 pounds of millet flour.
My grinder was running for nearly 2 hours, just with a few breaks in between different types of flours as I transferred the ground flour to their storage containers.
At the end of those two hours, I posted about my marathon grinding session on Facebook, saying, jokingly, "I do not want to know how much electricity I just used..."
A friend replied saying "Yea, its a lot of electricity, but you save even more by making your own flours than you spend on electricity."
Me- "Yea, I know, that's the reason I grind my own flour. Because even with the electricity it works out to be cheaper."
Another friend asked me if I was sure it really was cheaper, because the price of electricity has gone up and is set to go up even more.
I said "Of course it's cheaper."
And then I had to think about it.
Was it really?
I mean, we got our electricity bills down really low. And then in the past few months they've gone much higher, and despite doing what we could, we haven't managed to lower our electric bills significantly.
The only things that really changed in the past few months was getting a new washing machine and getting the grain grinder. Is the grain grinder the reason why my electric bill is so much higher than it was before?
I doubted it, but the only way to know for sure was to do the calculation.
The price for electricity in my country now is 17 cents per kilowatt hour.
What is a kilowatt hour?
Well, electricity is measured in watts (that's one measurement anyhow), and 1000 watts is called a kilowatt.
A kilowatt hour means something using a kilowatt of electricity for an hour straight.
In order to figure out how much the electricity I was using cost me, and then to figure out how much I ended up spending on the homemade flour vs the store bought, I first needed to check how many watts my grinder used- 1200 watts, or 1.2 kilowatts. (On the bottom of most electrical appliances, or on or near the plugg, it should have a number next to the letter W, as well as a number next to "Hz". The number next to the W is the watts.)
And since the motor of the grinder is running constantly when it is on (unlike a refrigerator that turns on and off and on and off), its easy to figure out how much electricity I used-
1.2 kilowatts times 2 hours ends up being 2.4 kilowatt hours.
Since electricity costs 17 cents per kilowatt hours, I now know that my marathon grinding session cost me the huge amount of 40.8 cents.
Now you see that that amount of money is insignificant. Because I ground 27 pounds of flour. Which works out to be 1.51 cents of electricity for each pound of flour.
And since I save so much more than that on making my own flour...
For example, rice flour costs me 61 cents per pound to make instead of the $2.40 it costs to buy ready made, even if I need to add that 1.51 cents to the pound of rice flour, making it 62.51 cents per pound instead of $2.40, it is still very worthwhile.
So yes, even though it uses a "lot" of electricity, grinding my own grain is definitely worthwhile, and I recommend that anyone who is on a gluten free diet save up to buy their own Blendtec Kitchen Mill Grain Grinder, as it works very well and is the cheapest quality one out there, and it ends up saving you lots of money in the long run.
So what IS making my electric bill higher? Probably my new washing machine, which always heats up the water in every load- its "coolest" cycle is about 100 degrees F, and heating and cooling is the thing that uses the most electricity...
I miss my old washing machine in a way... But this one works so much better, and was free, so really, should I be complaining about the difference in my electric bill?
Hey, at least now I don't have to worry that I made the bill go higher with the grinder.
Because assuming I grind flour for 10 hours a month, and that is exaggerating, because it never is that much, the most electricity I'd be using would be 4 dollars and 8 cents... Not too bad...
Have you ever done any calculations how much money something is costing you to run? Have you discovered that it was cheap to use that item, or more expensive than you thought? How much does electricity cost where you live per kilowatt hour?