1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

How does your home's energy usage compare?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by semipro, May 20, 2013.

  1. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,264
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    I think the evaluation would get too complicated if many more variables were added, and I would say that the numbers probably are pretty close to an "average" homeowner and give the homeowner a relative tool both to measure use against other users and to see how reduction in use moves the number up.

    Coal might be cleaner from particulates and noxious (other than CO2) emissions per btu, but because coal is a fossil fuel and adds CO2, and wood is not a net add to CO2, I would say that wood in general is cleaner although it may present problems in certain areas, as in fact it does. Plus, coal is located far away from users and the adverse effects are not seen but hidden in the upper atmosphere, to come down as acid rain, mercury pollution and more CO2. Coal's long term effects, which are now being seen, is not good for healthy living things. Many of the effects of burning wood are seen immediately, i.e. smoke, etc., and wood burning comes under closer scrutiny in part because of that.

    Gas is very clean in the most of the areas where coal is bad except that it too is a fossil fuel. The adverse effects of CO2 buildup in the atmosphere are not now good and will be much worse in the near term future.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,800
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    Okay, I'm making progress now. Clamp on meter, accurate enough to read the "draw" from a GFCI. No bad circuits though I have found a frequently cycling electric water heater and a weird leakage to ground.

    Check out the pic with the ampmeter clamped over the ground and this is with the main breaker off. I am getting 0.2 amps from the neutral to ground. Is that normal?

    Also included a pic of the electric dryer element running.

    Attached Files:

  3. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Messages:
    5,974
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    Is the meter reading zero with the clamp closed on no wire? Some (most) clamp on ammeters must be manually zeroed.

    Galvanic voltages will produce some small current, and it don't take much V to produce I = 0.2 with R < 1!
  4. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,800
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    Yes, meter reads zero point 000 with no wire and my main feeder wires flow zero current with the main breaker shut off. Pretty nifty meter.

    I tried a volt meter to see what is pushing the current through the ground wire (and neutral) but what is the reference? I need to measure voltage to ground from my ground. Just seems odd that current is flowing through my neutral to the ground rods. What happens when transofrmers go bad? Surely mine is 50 years old.
  5. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Messages:
    5,974
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    I do suspect that a transformer with loads not perfectly balanced may have some voltage on the neutral, which your ground may be sinking. I'm not sure if they ground bond the neutral back at the transformer.

    In any case, I do not believe this is a factor in your energy bill. Even if the 0.2 amps was sinking thru your meter (which I do not believe it is), we're talking about 17 kWh per month... a whopping $3.
    Highbeam likes this.
  6. pdf27

    pdf27 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    143
    Loc:
    UK
    Scored 9.7 with lots of estimations (coastal Washington is the best approximation I can get to the UK). ~2000 kWh of Electricity and ~300 Therms of Natural Gas per year. Hoping to cut both down by about half over the next year with wood stove (finally), solar PV and solar hot water. Oddly, that gives a score of ~9.9, when I'd personally regard that as a fairly mediocre performance - certainly what I have at the moment is nothing special.
  7. Where2

    Where2 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2013
    Messages:
    124
    Loc:
    South Florida
    What sort of frequency is the WH cycling, what is the duration of time an element is running and how much current is it drawing during a cycle? I've got mine on an easy to construct digital timer.
  8. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,800
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    It is drawing the proper 18 amps but only running for 10-15 minutes per cycle when no water is being used. Time between cycles I don't know yet. I do know that it runs with each use of hot water such as laundry or showers. I will have to do some more logging but if everything else checks out then water heating is the most likely culprit.

    I don't believe in water heater timers, the kind that shuts off the circuit for most of the day, unless you have variable power rates. Do you have some sort of a run time meter to monitor use? In my reasearch, a good tank just doesn't loose much heat which is the only way that a timer will save energy. Stand by losses are nearly zero with modern water heaters.
    BoilerMan likes this.
  9. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Loc:
    SE PA
    I agree. I don't like WH timers either, standby on electrics is usually 5-10% depending on insulation.

    If you want to track hours, find a cheap 240V 'hour timer', and just wire it across the bottom element (maybe disconnect the top element for diagnostic certainty).

    Here is one I found in 30 seconds:

    http://www.dhgate.com/p-ff8080813ada6e40013b20fb7daf3f89.html?utm_source=GMC&utm_medium=Adwords&utm_campaign=trustwin-win&utm_term=147919820&f=bm|147919820|041015-Timers|GMC|Adwords|pla|trustwin-win|US||c%7&gclid=COvUvOeJr7cCFcef4AodJXgAfw

    the hong kong shipping is sometimes a PITA, you could look for something equivalent shipped from the US.

    I used something very similar to track my oil burner usage back in the day. They're handy things to have around.
  10. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Loc:
    SE PA
    Interesting. I played around with the floor area parameter, and find that if I put in a small square footage, I get a lower score, and the reverse. At fixed energy, if I lived in a shack, it would be a huge energy hog. Same energy in a mansion, super energy efficient.

    So, what was your square footage/meterage? Free standing house (common in the US) or a rowhouse with conditioned space on both sides??
  11. Where2

    Where2 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2013
    Messages:
    124
    Loc:
    South Florida
    Based on the 18A current consumption value, you have ~4kW element(s) in your WH. So, 15 minutes running is 1kWh consumed. I would determine how often that bugger is running when no water has been used... If the tank is solid, you can buy a set of WH thermostats and elements as a kit at most big box stores. Heavy mineral deposits on the elements act as insulators between the element and the water you are trying to heat. Consider plumbing in a heat trap if you don't have one already.

    I've encountered plenty of people who don't believe in WH timers and some who don't believe in programmable A/C thermostats. I design automated control systems for a living.

    In my case, my WH is inside my air conditioned space. Energy units I purchase to heat water that escape the WH insluation as losses actually cost me double, because the A/C system finds the heat and tries to remove it from my air conditioned space. This past week, my average energy use to run just my central A/C has been12kWh/day. That is not a number I am proud of, it is an admission of reality. I use the digital Max/Min thermometer to fine tune my WH digital timer programming. I can tell "how close" I am getting to running out of hot water by how low the lowest reading has been. At some point, I may set up a true monitoring and logging system for power and temperature like a Brultech GEM.

    I expect in the next 5 years, my POCO will roll out TOU pricing on electricity. They've been facing a growing opposition toward construction of additional generation facilities in my state, and very few people are adopting renewables due to the lagging economy. With smart meters on every house, TOU pricing becomes easy for the POCO to roll out as a "software" update. I hope to have plenty of data collected and automation installed before TOU pricing comes along. As it is, the POCO has been collecting a detailed record of my energy consumption for over a year now.
  12. brian89gp

    brian89gp Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2008
    Messages:
    437
    Loc:
    Kansas City
    Do you have a leaky faucet anywhere? A slow drip might be causing the WH to cycle more then it should.
  13. pdf27

    pdf27 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    143
    Loc:
    UK
    89 square metres, so approximately 1000 sq ft. Mid-terrace house so conditioned space on 2 of the 4 walls. Double glazing, walls are insulated masonry cavity, roof has ~15 inches of fibreglass insulation. LED lighting for most of it, CFL for the rest, super-efficient appliances. Heating is hydronic from mains gas, and the climate means air conditioning is practically unheard of. Typical energy consumption currently is ~2,000 kWh/year of electricity and ~10,000 kWh/year of natural gas.
    Still to go are wood stove, solar PV and solar hot water. Target is ~1,000 kWh/year of electricity imported (we don't have net metering) and ~6,000 kWh/year of natural gas (hoping to go below this, will depend how much the stove gets used).
  14. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,525
    Loc:
    Northern Maine
    More of what would be in urban US, unit housing (conditioned space on two or more sides) is basically non-existant here in the northeast US, older city or tract developments. Mostly rural, detached housing with hundreds of meters of land and trees in between dwellings. Almost exclusively wood-framed or masonry faced wood-framed construction as well.

    TS
  15. pdf27

    pdf27 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    143
    Loc:
    UK
    I'm reasonably well aware of it (my in-laws are in NJ). There's no reason they can't attain significantly higher insulation values than I do - most of Scandinavia does for instance using pretty similar construction methods and housing layouts.
  16. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Messages:
    5,974
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    Geez... I'd be thrilled if we could just get or electric below 20MWh/year. We currently have no electric heating, but will be adding two heat pumps (mini-splits), so i guess the number will only climb.

    That said, there's no way I'm subjecting myself to life under harsh LED's or glaring CFL's. I get the urge to try them every year or two, knowing they're always improving the technology. I always buy those very highly reviewed to be a nice "warm" light, but they all look awful to me.
  17. pdf27

    pdf27 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    143
    Loc:
    UK
    When electricity is ~$0.30/kWh, the incentive is a lot bigger ;) Even at those consumption levels, I'm paying over $1,000/year for gas and electricity.

    I actually prefer warm white LEDs (and SOME CFLs, although that depends as much as anything on the colour the room is) to incandescent - the colour reproduction is much closer to natural daylight. Tungsten filament is just too yellow for me.
  18. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Messages:
    5,974
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    I agree. Just personal preference. We live in a 1770's farm house, so the amber glow of low-wattage incandescents just seems "right", for us.

    Differentiating between black and blue pants or socks can be hell, in our lighting, tho.
  19. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Loc:
    SE PA
    The L-prize bulbs from Phillips are 100 lum/W and have a color index of 91, indistinguishable from incandescent.
  20. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,214
    Loc:
    Holliston, MA USA
    Our score.....

    2.6

    :(

    ugh. But not unexpected. A big problem as I mentioned in other threads is the dehumidifier we need for our constantly damp basement. If I spent $20 grand to excavate and waterproof the place (not happening) my score might go up to 5. There is only so much you can do in a very old house.


    BTW, I can vouch for those L Prize lamps. We have a bunch now that I can get them for $10 with rebates. People who visit dont know they are not incandescent. Similar good reaction to the Cree LED downlights in my kitchen.
  21. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2009
    Messages:
    2,261
    Loc:
    SW Virginia
    We've tried a few of the LEDs now including the L-Prize and nobody that's seen them at our house can see any difference in light quality from the incandescents. At this point its become a no-brainer as far as using them for us. The hard part is dropping $10 on a light bulb.
    PapaDave likes this.
  22. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2008
    Messages:
    5,740
    Loc:
    Northern MI - in the mitten
    Which is sort of how it was when CFL's came out, but LED are even higher priced.
    Still waiting for the magic price point on these, as the ROI isn't good just yet.
    Our Power Co. offered free CFL a couple years ago, so I took advantage of that. If they'd do it with LED, I'd jump on it.
    I had already switched the whole house to CFL when I got the free batch. May take forever to get into CFL at this point, since the ones I put in several years ago are still going strong.
  23. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,800
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    On that calculator, they heavily penalize you for cords of wood. I can move from 3 almost 6 by reducing my wood consumption from 3 to 2.
    Joful likes this.
  24. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2008
    Messages:
    5,740
    Loc:
    Northern MI - in the mitten
    I believe you're on the right track Highbeam. Heavy bias against wood use. By moving numbers and type of fuel, its pretty obvious the EPA doesn't like us.>>
  25. DickRussell

    DickRussell Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Messages:
    79
    Loc:
    central NH
    I got 8.9 by entering just the electrical usage month by month. Then I added the roughly half cord of wood I burned over the year; it reported 1, not 0.5, so maybe it rounds up? Anyway, with the wood usage I dropped to 8.6. Not bad, but I had hoped for higher. The house is superinsulated and is heated & cooled by a two-ton ground source heat pump.

Share This Page