Okay, January kind of sucks if you are living the electrified life. On average, January and/or February are the worst months for solar production and EV efficiency. Why?
For my solar photovoltaic array the answer is in two parts: snow and clouds. For part of the month, it is common for my panels to be covered with snow. I have tried my best to knock the snow free with a foam roof rake, but this is really just scratching at the surface of the problem.
The second part of the problem is that the month of January is just not that sunny in eastern Iowa. The sun came out on Saturday and everyone in the house sort of looked surprised. It was a “Do you remember the last time you saw the sun” kind of moment.
The end result is that you do not make very much electricity. For the month I am unsure of just how much my PV array produced because my monitoring setup is still not reporting correctly. Needless to say, I know that I was in the hole ~400 kWh for the month. Ugh.
The cold weather will also bit you on the rear end when you are driving an EV. Granted, the cold weather will also impact the efficiency and performance of an ICE vehicle as well.
When you turn on the heat you watch your range and efficiency go into the tank. On my 2015 Nissan Leaf which uses a resistive heater I can see the “guess o’ meter’s” range drop by at least 30% and more like 40% usually.
If it gets cold enough the “guess o’ meter” will also show less range because the batteries are chilly and cannot discharge as well.
To add insult to injury, regenerative braking is not as effective in the cold weather so more energy is lost to heat in the form of actually using the brake pedal.
However, given all of that downside I still managed to drive 850.5 miles at an average efficiency of 4.7 miles per kilowatt hour. This compares with the same period last year where I averaged just 3.6 miles per kWh. I chalk that up to the weather not being quite as harsh and me understanding how to wring more mileage out of my little Nissan Leaf.
For the month I saved ~953 pounds of CO2 from being emitted versus my prior vehicle assuming an average carbon intensity of electricity from the grid.
Like most people in eastern Iowa I am kind of excited to see February be here because it means an end to the ceaseless political ads and a potential break toward more electrified living amenable weather.