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Power Bill... Thoughts?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by PV2U, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    I what regard do you disagree Benjamin? I'm all ears and always looking to learn something.

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  2. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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    I disagree slightly about the sizing of GSHP in the north, or the prevelance of undersized systems. You're absolutely right that air source heat pumps are not a good solution in most cases in the north, adding a "backup" furnace helps but at a cost. Going to ground source almost eliminates the drop in capacity of air source heat pumps and is a much better choice for severe heating climates than air source, and much cheaper to run than Propane or fuel oil.

    Really the only disagreement is that I haven't seen the undersized GSHPs that you have. Somebody would have to be way off their rocker to think of sizing for cooling in this climate.
  3. PV2U

    PV2U New Member

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    Just did. They only had back to 2002, and I was the owner then, but it will be interesting to throw it in a spreadsheet and see what the graph looks like. I'm taking daily readings of my meter so I can see what's going on day-by-day as well. The dang well-pump took my Audit $$, so I have to save that back up. sigh! :)
  4. PV2U

    PV2U New Member

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    HA! I wish it WAS something as obvious as that! I would be the first one to execute the "Cabbage Patch" dance! Should be interesting to get an 8-year overview of my kWh usage - should get that in the mail by Friday. I'm goign to try to graph it and then save as a graphic and post it to the forum. thanks for chiming in!
  5. PV2U

    PV2U New Member

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    a GSHP installation is approximately $10K or so? Is there ever a legit recoup in investment? It gets as hot and humid as a cuss here, I wish you could air condition by burning wood, I'd have already had a gasification unit long ago! hehe!
  6. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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    What's the ROI of $10,000 in wood boiler stuff? If you want ROI get a wood stove and keep a fire going whenever the temp is low enough that the air source heat pump loses efficiency, and let the heat pump run in the shoulder season when it is cheaper.

    I can't explain your high electric bills, and they seem outrageous for the size, age, and climate of the house.

    If you're up to a DIY used GSHP, you could do it for around $1,000 if you can do a pump and dump, you mentioned you have a well. It's easier by far than a wood boiler install, especially if you don't have a chimney. You'd save on heating, AC and hot water when either heat/AC is running.
  7. WhitePine

    WhitePine Feeling the Heat

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    Do you mean the whole thing? It's north of $20K for a 4 ton system here, if you have the room for a buried horizontal ground loop. Wells or vertical loops are much higher. Additional capacity raises the cost exponentially. We looked at it when we built this house. Even with the tax credit, there was no ROI.

    Might be a little different in your area. Our climate is milder, so the advantage of a GSHP is less. On the other hand, this is a low wage area, which helps to mitigate costs.

    Pump and dump is not permitted in some areas.

    You could theoretically build a wood fired air conditioner, as heat can be used to cool. Propane powered refrigerators exist and can still be bought today.
  8. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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  9. PV2U

    PV2U New Member

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    Okay, just wanted to post the chart I created based on the results of my electrical usage history. Interesting how, over time, the high were coming down (usually in Feb) and the lows seemed to be trending higher (i.e. the seasonal swings seemed to be getting narrower in scope) until around DEC '09 (with the exception of a big spike in JAN '09) and then the lows kept getting higher but the high stopped getting lower!

    Haven't had much time to analyze this yet, but I just wanted to post it for y'all to see what it charted out like across the years.

    More later...

    Attached Files:

  10. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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    Now you need the HDD (heating degree days) for your location and create another graph (overlay)

    Will
  11. PV2U

    PV2U New Member

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    Oh my WORD! And that's for a horizontal loop? Gravy train, talk about sticker shock! I ain't trying to mortgage my gold tooth! HA! Although, if pressed to do one of the other, I'd just as soon the manufacturer of that system get my $20K than the power company get it.

    LOL! That's true! I never thought about using the wood gas to run a propane fridge, but I reckon it would do it. :O)
  12. PV2U

    PV2U New Member

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    Kewl! As I think about it, I don't think I have enough land at my current residence to support a horizontal loop, and prolly can't afford a vertical one. But WOW, the price seems right on these babies, doesn't it! I've half a mind to get one and just keep it until I have a place to put it! We're looking at land now.

    Thanks for the lead. I'm sure enough thinking about grabbing one of these before they're all gone - for ~$1,000 I can hardly go wrong!

    I had to read up on Pump And Dump, and found that the name is as descriptive as I'd guessed! I live in a pretty "strict" county, and I'm pretty sure they'd shoot me if I tried that. And plus, I have a great well, but I'd be half scared that it would be overtaxed supplying the house AND the geo! But I'm glad to know that you can get used units without taking such a savage hit up front. =O)
  13. PV2U

    PV2U New Member

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    Hey Will! Do I need to dig around and find the actual, historical monthly HDD average and then overlay, or will the current average do all right?

    edit: clarification of question
  14. PV2U

    PV2U New Member

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    P.S. As an aside, today I turned off the heat pump, hot water heater, dish washer, clothes washer and dryer and still used around ~40 kWh. Now, to me, 40 kWh is extremely low usage, but I'm betting a lot of you guys don't even see that much.

    --edit-- redid my math and it wasn't 40 kWh, it was 32! :O)
  15. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    I've been reading through this thread, and it really just seems to come back to the following:

    1. The heat pump is really not operating all that differently than before, compared to month on month (season to season). This year has been pretty cold, so usage is higher.
    2. This winter has been pretty cold, so the electric backup heat is probably higher than normal
    3. Electric rates are going up, so same or slightly higher usage results in much higher bills, noticed for the first time this winter, perhaps

    If there really is a 40 kWh draw with every major load shut down (I doubt this), then something is seriously wrong.

    I have a hunch that the solution is pretty simple:

    1. There is a family member running the heat pump in a way that makes the electric resistance heat kick on more often than it otherwise would, or someone with an electric heater in a bedroom.
    2. There is a problem with the heat pump condenser and it is not operating properly.

    In any case, overall best solution for money saving is to get a wood stove. Much quicker payback than wood boiler. If you just want the wood boiler, then go ahead and get it if it works in your situation. It won't not work, it just will take a lot longer to pay off.
  16. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    With 6 kids your going to use a lot of hot water. Set a timer in the bath room and give the kids a time limit for showers. Get a high efficency washer if you don't have one. Put a check valve on your water heter so when the well pressure drops your not back feeding hot water. Those three things droped my elec bill about $60.00 / month. I just got my lowest electric bill in at least 5 years.

    A wood stove will pay off faster than a boiler ,but a boiler may pay back more in the long run do to hot water uasge and it's better for even heat. With storage it's allso more convienient than a wood stove.
  17. NYEDGE

    NYEDGE New Member

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    Try this link for degree days based on your local weather station. Just plug in your zip code and then choose a station close to you.
    Degree Days Calculator
  18. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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    I didn't notice the mention of six kids, but even without the water heater you're using 40kwh/day. How is that possible? If nobody has mentioned it already, order a Kill-a-watt for about $25 and work your way through the house finding your suprise loads. I've seen CD players that draw as many watts "off" as they do playing and that sort of thing, but I still can't see where 40 kwh could go.
  19. PV2U

    PV2U New Member

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    You're right! I redid my math, and it was 32 kWh for 24 hrs (9:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.), but every major load was removed with the possible exception of the fridge, well pump and the range - don't know if they would be considered heavy loads or not. @ around a total cost of ~$.12/kWh, that's still going to net me a bill of about $120/mnth without heat, air, hot water, clothes dryer, and so forth. To me that just seems too much? I mean, I'd love to get a $120 bill, but not for playing Survivorman! HA!

    The search continues...
  20. PV2U

    PV2U New Member

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    Okay, yeah, as I said to DBoone, I miscalced and it was actually 32 kHw, so that makes it a little more understandable I guess. I think someone has mentioned the Kill-A-Watt, and I've seen them at Lowe's and so forth. I'd love to work my way through the house with that thing, I may have to give it a go.

    Wouldn't that rock if Kill-a-Watt and I came to that hideous dang mantle clock my wife loves so much and I found it was pulling 20 kWhs/day! LOL! Oh crack, it's battery powered, never mind. :'O( HA!
  21. PV2U

    PV2U New Member

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    Good ideas, J.T., and congrats on the low bill! I usually double up the little ones in the shower, but those little buzzards DO like to dawdle in there way too long. I had a High Efficiency washer (Fisher Paykel - loved that dern thing), but it died about a year back and let's just say I didn't have any "life" insurance on it and had to replace it with one that is, to put it mildly, less than highly efficient! The check valve idea sounds like a winner too, but I don't know anything about that and will have to look into it = thanks again for chiming in!
  22. PV2U

    PV2U New Member

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    Thanks for the link, NYEDGE - not that I've an idea in the world what I'm looking at, but it looks about like I would expect it to? No heating degree days in the summer and way up in the winter? Does this chart seem to mesh with what you'd expect?

    Check it out:

    edit: changed graphic

    Attached Files:

  23. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    32 kWh and 40 kWh per day are still the same number. Something odd is going on that needs a deep dive.

    32 kWh per day x 30 days = 1000 kWh per month. Subtract that off the 2000 kWh baseline in the chart chart and things start making a lot more sense to me. A Kill-a-Watt meter would be the next best $30 you could possibly spend.
  24. steam man

    steam man Minister of Fire

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    I have Kill-a-Watt meter and try monitoring various electrical things. I thought my coffee machine may be using a lot but it has only used about 3kw in a week. I am thinking this summer it may be time to do a megger, i.e. insulation test on the underground wire from my meter to my house just to make sure it doesn't have leakage to ground. Been 20 years now so who knows?
  25. NYEDGE

    NYEDGE New Member

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    The same link has an option for cooling degree days. Don't know if you have central air or some other cooling device for the summer, but you may want to overlay that information on this graph to see how the summer months look. The HDD seem to match with the winter spikes of usage, but even after your attempt to disconnect most of your load, you still are drawing allot of electricity.
    My usage for January was 1931 KW for a 4,500 SF house using air handlers for 4 zones, and 3 circulator pumps in my heating system.

    Some common things I do to save on electricity costs:
    1) Every single light bulb in my house is a CFL (compact fluorescent). Today's technology allows for the light to be a pleasing color, and they save a boat load of money. If you haven't switched yet, give it a try and you will see immediate savings. When we moved in, the previous owners had 100 watt floods in all the recessed lights in the house. I switched all of them out to 14 watt CFL bulbs that put out 65 watts worth of light. Big difference is consumption right?, now multiply that about 94 bulbs inside and that allot of savings.
    2) All the outdoor security flood lights work on motion sensors so that they are not burning electricity all the time. (They are halogen because CFL bulbs do not work well for this purpose)
    3) Timers for all other lighting that we use regularly; driveway lights (CFL), family room light, (front step light), swimming pool pump, etc...
    4) All new appliances that I purchase must be energy efficient. We recently upgraded our TV sets and we went with LED flat panels instead of LCD because of the lower usage of power and heat created by the units.

    In summary, everyone's electric draw will be different based on their usage, but I and others have given examples of our usage to show that something is definately not right with the quantity of electricity that you are using. I'd take another look around for the extension cord to your neighbors house. :)

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