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Was able to Reduce Electric Bill!

Post in 'The Green Room' started by dbchris, Jan 27, 2007.

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  1. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I should probably be embarrassed, maybe ashamed. My last electric bill showed 1,308 kwh's used. And that is without the A/C going like it does in the summer. I have motion lights, timers, or CF bulbs all over the place. Of course, for some reason, and as I've said before, everyone in the Mo Heat household has their own refrigerator / freezer. One of them is old and will be seeing the Kill-o-watt meter in it's near future. I suspect it is a big offender. And I'm installing a radon fan in a couple weeks to make things worse. I try to save, but I'm a miserable failure, it seems. My mother-in-law lives with us and I think that is a pretty big electrical foot print in itself. Not much I can do there for political reasons.

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  2. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I found that a 15 watt radon fan did the trick for us.
  3. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Dang! I just ordered one with a much higher wattage to match the one I had.
  4. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I have electronic radon meters to measure the basement and first floor numbers, so I know it works.
  5. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    Mo,

    See my post a bit earlier .....you're consuming about 2.4 times what I do but I don't have a MIL living with us. My last bill was 559 KW-hrs for 31 days and I have 5 outside motion lights, each with 2 bulbs (10 bulbs total) and I have a radon fan going 24/7, two sump pumps and everything is electric except for the gas water heater and furnace so it must be other cumulative factors that are driving you to 1300 KW-hrs. I suspect that a lot of it is the refrigerators...newer ones use about 50 KW-hrs/month and the older ones use more. If you have three instead of one, then that's about 140 KW-Hrs/mo right there for two additional devices.

    I tried to economize on the security lights by yanking the 10, 100 watt bulbs out of the 10 motion lights and replaced each with 45 watt bulbs. Last year I used 7,406 KW-hrs total for an average of (slightly higher than I posted above) of 619 KW-hrs/month so you've got a LOT of excess you can probably trim from your 1300 KW-hrs. Good candidates to get rid of are Torchier (halogen) lamps.......small bulbs are 300 watts and the bigger halogen bulbs are 500 watts each.......
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    We like the recessed floodlights, despite the slow warmup.
  7. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Velvetfoot, I got one of those electronic radon detectors after the first time you mentioned it. I love it. I wasn't going to buy a new radon mitigation fan unless I knew I had a real problem with radon. Oh my God! My radon levels are over 37 pc/l downstairs and between 8 and 14 pc/l upstairs. I guess I should be glowing. But I wouldn't have know, especially all the different location variances, without the cool little radon detector. Good suggestion. Thanks.

    Cast, I've already eliminated the halogen stuff, all outside lights are on motion (also 5 x 2 x 100W bulbs) and are only on when the dog goes out or wild animals drop by. They are set for 8 minutes x 3, 4 minutes x 1, and 12 minutes x 1. These things are almost never on, so I don't think that's my problem. If you look at my house compared to others in the neighborhood, it never looks like we are home, except for the MnL room. It's lit up like a light house 24/7, well at least 16/7.

    I suspect the fridge are a heavy draw. I just put the Kill-a-watt meter on the garage fridge. It is an old GE, probably 30 years old, and it just won't die. Hell, I think the MnL bought it USED 30 years ago. I can hear it now, (MnL) "No sense getting rid of a perfectly good refridgerator". I hope the Kill-a-watt meter doesn't burn out trying to keep up with draw out there, I think the lights go dim when that monster comes on. If I can make sense out of the electrical usage, I may be able to justify getting rid of it on the promise of getting a new one... that might take longer than expected to actually obtain, if you know what i mean. ;)

    I only allow myself one 14W CF in the evening for dinner and TV time. I've swapped out the MnL dinner bulbs for a 19W and a 23W, where they once were 2 x 100 W's. Same with my desk lights. I've gone to two recessed 23W (100 W equiv) CF floods. And anywhere there is an incandescent I have a motion switch set from 3 - 4 minutes, except the shower which gets 12 minutes (it's chandelier bulbs that go on and off, so it's not practical to have high dollar CF chandelier bulbs. Those things are expensive, and I don't think would ever pay for themselves, especially given the on and off nature of their usage, but the motion light guarantees minimal usage, and it, like most of the other motion switches, only comes on after dark (they have photo sensors).

    It's kind of a mystery where all the electric is going. Maybe my neighbor has tapped into my feed. ;) I even have CF in the garage and they are on motion switches. As is the laundry which combines a motion switch with (T12?) 4 foot tubes. I've even decommissioned most of the night lights I used to leave burning to prevent falling. With the motion lights, things now take care of themselves.

    I do have two electric heaters for the MnL. One in her room and one under the kitchen island (a flat panel 500 W job mounted vertically--it's nice). The kitchen heater is only on during breakfast, lunch and dinner for about 45 minutes each time. It has been left on over night only once. I tried a heavy duty timer approved for "resistive" loads, but it burned out after just two weeks. This was nice because it prevented accidental and prolonged "on" situations. A $20 waste of money at HD, but they refunded it luckily, but they gave me the stink eye because I couldn't find the packaging (I found it two days later) even though I had the receipt. These heaters have only raised the bill about $15 a month, but I'm only paying about $0.055 / kwh, so that's a lot of juice.

    In summary... I've done a lot to try and cut back, I'm sitting here in the dark right now, about to light a fire, but either the fridges are killing me, or there are some serious phantom loads around here. I even have a front loading washer and dryer (Maytag wax motor jobs that may burst into flames any day now). I probably have a whole lot of small loads chipping away 24/7. Like LED clocks in every room, TV's all over the place, DVRs x 2, 1 satellite receiver, an RF splitter (that gets hot as hell, but I thought that was a passive, no draw, device), computers x 2 (I've stoped one of the two grid computations programs we used to run--time for the other to go, also), a telephone router and computer network hub, an electric water filter that regens once a week, and ... damn, I could go on and on... I think I'll just walk around and start unplugging crap until someone complains...
  8. dbchris

    dbchris New Member

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    I'm learning more!!! Thanks Castiron & MoHeat. I have a halogen light used daily. I have a freezer in the garage probably 15 years old & not full this year :(. Also I have an electric water heater no insulated wrap. Hmmm... Off to investigate further costs etc. at Lowes/depot.
  9. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Well, that didn't take long... (Mrs) "Mo! What happened to the LED clock over the TV?!" But at least she hasn't noticed the other two devices that are down within 15 feet of that LED clock. ;) Three steps forward, one step backward. ;)
  10. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    Mo,

    I have a gas water heater that vents using PVC pipe but to avoid melting it there's a fan on top of the water heater that comes on before the burner comes on. The fan pulls some cooler room air into the PVC pipe and mixes it with the hot exhaust gas to lower the exhaust temp and not melt the PVC pipe. It was designed this way and it also means the logic system won't let the heater come on until the fan activates first. This means the fan is a normal 120 volt plug and it was a candidate for an electronic timer. Since 50% of hot water costs come from keeping the water at a given temp even when you're not using hot water, I figured I'd put the fan on a timer that won't let it come on until, say, 9 PM at night because my wife and I take showers later at night. This way I could get away with only heating 1 tank-full of water at 9 PM for about 1 hr and then have the water heater shut off until the next night at 9 PM. One tank full should be more than enough to take showers and I'd save a whopping 50% in gas costs. This worked for a while until I got a call from my wife one day while I was at work asking "where's the hot water"......seems she wanted to take a shower in the morning and the tank full of hot water from the previous night was not very hot.....so, like you, the best intentions are sometimes laid to waste......LOL

    I'll bet those auto timers draw some load 24/7 and they all add up. As for the night lights, they're a safety item and there is a way to have your cake and eat it too.....I use those "green glow" flat panels (about 2-4 sq inches) that you plug into the wall socket and they're on 24/7 (can't see them glow at all in the daylight) but they use only about 0.02 watts and only cost about a cent or so per month to operate.........

    Also, here's another way to look at your electrical usage: you use 1350 KW-hr/month which is about 2 KW per hour......... (1350 KW-hr/month x 1 month/750 hrs = 1.8 KW avg load) so you've gotta be asking yourself "where is this load being dissipated"....?
  11. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Just as a water heater aside, I heat all our DHW in during the heating season with wood. When my gas water heater died last spring, I put in an electric one, on the theory that if I'm only using it 4 or 5 months out of the year, why mess around with the gas? There are two things to bear in mind when doing that. First, the pressure gauge on water heaters is actually a temp/pressure gauge, so that if your water gets hot (like 190), the valve is going to lift. It's a safety feature, of course. And secondly, there's a circuit breaker in the thermostat that will kill the power if the temp rises above whatever the set point is. 190 is sufficient to do that. So when I convert back to electric water heat in the spring, I have to remember to reset that little internal breaker.
  12. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    where did you buy it (radon meter) and what's the approximate cost?
  13. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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  14. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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  15. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I have been asking myself that very question. How can I use so much electric?

    I just walked around the house, put ye old monster fridge on the Kill-a-Watt meter, and made a few changes.

    I Unplugged:

    2 x VCR's that are rarely used
    1 x cordless phone rarely used
    1 x TV (bedroom)
    1 x family radio NiCad re-charger transformer (it was warm to the touch)
    1 x electronic keyboard transformer (it was warm to the touch)
    2 x electric plug-in timers (always making a little noise drawing some little watts I suppose)
    1 x decorative alabaster pyramid night light
    [edit] 1 x 6 way power outlet that has 4 strange little bulbs that sort of flicker (built in night light)
    1 x 4 Watt photosensor nightlight [/edit]

    I installed power strips and now switch them "OFF" during non-usage periods:

    1 x 36" TV with instant "ON" (rec room)
    1 x 25" TV with instant "ON" (great room)
    2 x VCR's (in addition to the 2 x VCR's listed above)
    1 x ye old Dual phonograph
    1 x 100W x 5 integrated stereo receiver/amplifier
    1 x DVD player that has an led constantly "ON" when unit is "OFF" (weird Samsung)
    1 x JVC hi-fi cassette tape deck
    1 x stand-alone VHS tape rewinder transformer (warm to touch)

    I noticed a couple house built-in devices I never thought much of, but can do nothing about:

    1 x whole house PA/Monitor/stereo/doorbell system with LED display and clock (no switch)
    1 x whole house secruity system (no switch)
    1 x microwave with LED clock (no switch)
    1 x oven with LED clock (no switch)
    [edit] 1 x Braun toaster oven with an LCD clock [/edit]

    I saw a couple lamps that might be candidates for CR's, but Mrs. Mo Heat shot me down for now:

    2 x bedroom lamps with 4-way dimmers (dimmers don't work on CF's)

    I think I traumatized Mrs. Mo Heat. She hates change, as do many, including me, unless I instigate it. So that's about all I can do for now without upsetting the apple cart. Every little bit helps I suppose.
  16. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    sounds like you've been busy!! That first group that you switched off consumes about 20 watts and the second group about 50 watts........so....70 watts consumed for 750 hrs (a month) is about 52 KW-hrs or 4% of your monthly bill......not bad for the first pass.......
  17. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    Hit the wrong key.....retrying...

    Ok.......meant to ask Mo if he has an electric stove and/or hot water heater?

    Also learned something interesting today.....a TV with an Energy Star rating (may be other stuff too...don't know) doesn't mean it's a low-power consumer.....turns out that so much attention has been given to devices that draw large parasitic loads when plugged in but turned off, that the Energy Star Rating is given based on power consumed while in standby (turned off but still plugged in) and NOT on energy used while being operated and NOT lso on total energy consumed. A normal TV consumes about 5-10% of its power while turned off and consumes the other 93% or so while turned on. New large screen TV's such as plasma can be real energy hogs while turned on...several times more power draw than older TV's but the plasma ones are miserly on power in standby so they get the Star rating! But... 95% of power consumed occurs while the TV is turned on.....so.....one could buy an Energy Star TV and have low parasitic losses but HUGE power drains while operating and therefore cost you far more than you're paying now.....
  18. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    Mo,

    Just found this on-line:

    "In 2001, the median age of primary refrigerators was 5 years to 9 years, whereas the median age of secondary refrigerators was 10 years to 19 years. Because older units are typically less efficient than newer units, secondary refrigerators drive up the U.S. household average consumption of electricity for refrigeration, leaving significant potential for a reduction in total electricity consumption by refrigerators."

    Mo...how many fridge/freezer devices do you have, what size and how old?

    Ex: 1- 20 cubic ft fridge with freezer 13 yrs old, 1- 10 cubic ft freezer 15 years old, etc
  19. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I added a couple more reductions:

    Unplugged:

    1 x 6 way power outlet that has 4 strange little bulbs that sort of flicker (built in night light)
    1 x 4 Watt photosensor nightlight

    Cast, Well, 70 Watts is 70 watts, but a bit disappointing at only a 4% reduction. Still...

    We have electric range and electric double oven, although we typically only use one of the ovens except on holidays. I have even convinced Mrs. Mo Heat to do casseroles in the little toaster oven that heats up so much faster and seems to use less electric due to the radiant heat and close clearances to the food compared to the traditional oven.

    I have a 50 gallon gas water heater that I keep set on "Vacation", which is pretty cool as hot water goes. I can get away with it because the ladies are obsessive about only one person taking a shower at a time, so there's no double shower draw down. Unfortunately, it was built in 1988 according to the label, with the energy rating of $221/yr. The energy saver range on the EPA label is from a best water heater of $150/yr, to a worst cost heater of $225/yr. Looks like mine wasn't too efficient even back then. But I don't really have a complaint about my gas usage in the summer, and by doing some space heating with the insert and the two electric heaters, I've managed to cut the bill by about 33% a month [in the winter], and I think that is with a rate increase from the pervious year.

    I have an insulation blanket for the water heater that I bought a few months ago, but inertia has kept me from installing it. Some kind of mental block I suppose. I'll get to it one of these days, sort of thing.

    I also have a natural gas, forced air, furnace, with an exhaust assist fan (whatever that's called).

    I've been working on Mrs. Mo Heat regarding the oldest fridge, so I think she's about ready to cut back to two fridges. After the last power failure, I put a thermometer in the freezer and it only read 20*F, where as it should be about -4*F. She's a freak for spoiled food, so that was enough to get her thinking. She looked up freezer temps online and discovered that for every 5*F above -4*F, spoilage increased by 50% as a function of time.

    I'll try and see if I can get the ages and sizes of our three fridges without the Mrs. spotting me. She'll know I'm up to something and that could make for a pretty chilly evening, despite the pleasant outdoor temperatures (60's today) after all the changes I've already dropped on her this morning.
  20. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    Mo...stay out of the dog house...forget about the info on the fridges...all you need to know is that if they're 10 years or so or older that new ones use far less electricity. In fact, the one that's 30 years old might use 150 KW-hrs per mo vs 50KW-hr for a new one.....a 100KW-hr savings per month or 8% of your bill but to make sure, put a meter on it and see.

    As for the 70 watt savings, that was an estimate based on the fact that some TV's alone can draw 30 watts when turned off but still plugged in......your savings may be more than that since you had 2 TV's and other items. But, to show you how it all adds up, take that 4 watt photosensor nightlight...don't know if the 4 watts is the light bulb or what the photsensor itself consumes in standby mode...anyway, 4 watts at 24/7 for a month is about 3 KW-hrs per month........about 0.24% of your bill...just for 1 stinking bulb......and that's just for 1 VERY SMALL item.....turn off four of those devices and it cuts your bill by 1%.....they all add up......

    let us know what you next bill is......
  21. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Cast, Thanks for the data points. I'll let you know how the next bill looks. I should have the new radon fan working by then. ;)
  22. Kilted

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    Interesting scan of this thread. Let's see, I donot due without, I use my electric dryer, I have two tv's, two surroud sound systems, three computers, CF lights, electric space heater in bathroom - actually cheaper than running the furnance on mild mornings. Almost forgot electric chainsaw and wood splitter.

    I also drive an all electric car Toyota Rav4EV - I use no stinking gasoline! I drive about 10,500 all ekectric miles per year.

    My electric bill for my entire house AND the car was $-50.00 last year, I have not paid a dime for electricity in four years.

    So how do I do this? I have solar panels on the house 5.2kw worth. I put up 2kw just to supply fuel for the car, these panels have already paid for themselves just in the avoided cost for gasoline.

    -- Brandy
  23. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I always get into trouble doing math, but let's see...

    10,500 mi x 4 yr = 42,000 mi / 25 mi/gal (my worst vehicle) = 1,680 gals x $2.50/gal avg = $4,200. Quite a deal you got on those PV panels (and batteries?). ;)

    I wish I had a similar setup, though, but I'm waiting for things to evolve a bit more. Welcome to the forum, and I hope you stick around and post some more in the green room. You are one of only a few PV users around here.
  24. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    Let's see....a typical 100W solar panel costs about $650 and your "avoided gas costs" is about $4,200 over 4 years, so $4,200 only buys about 7 panels which is, at most, 700 Watts (0.7 KW) of solar panels but you said the "avoided cost" allowed you to buy 2KW worth of panels which is three times what the "avoided cost" allows you to buy.............how is this possible let alone the additional money you'd need to buy batteries and inverters?
  25. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    You forgot the "logistics and replacement tail" that wags the dog (electric vehicle)...according to Toyota, there are massive (prohibitive, in Toyotas words) costs coming when your RAV 4EV batteries die. If you go here:

    http://www.toyota.com/html/shop/vehicles/ravev/rav4ev_0_home/index.html

    Here's what Toyota says about batteries in your 4EV:

    "A battery's capacity is the amount of charge that it holds, and is commonly measured by the range of the vehicle. It is cost-prohibitive to replace an EV battery. The cost to replace the battery is more than the value of the vehicle.".....

    So.....unless you got your 2KW of photo-voltaic (PV) panels, batteries and inverter free, you spent a lot more than the "avoided cost of gasoline" to get 2KW of capability and, according to the Toyota website, you're going to be stuck with additional whopping (prohibitive) costs to replace the other batteries in your 4EV when they die....... Bottom line: solar is not yet ready for "prime time"....it's still very expensive especially if you have to buy batteries and inverters, and, batteries for both your home solar power system and for your car have limited lifespans and are very expensive.........

    I applaud your use of solar and, as a mechanical engineer, I've done the calculations several times myself and solar "just ain't there yet".......it's coming (as prices drop, and panel efficiencies rise, etc) but it's not there yet for the average homeowner due to the high costs, low efficiencies and the limited battery lifespan and disposal problem.....

    The ideal way now for the homeowner who, despite the prohibitive costs, still wants to invest in PV systems, is to NOT use batteries but instead to tie the PV panels into an inverter and use what you need and "net meter" (sell) any residual power back to the utility......... this of course has the drawback that if a power outage occurs at night-time, that, despite having solar arrays, you have no electricity because you have no storage (battery) system..... but it does save you several thousand dollars by not having to buy and maintain large battery banks and worry about how you're going to dispose of them. The ideal system will be when REALLY CHEAP, REALLY HIGH EFFICIENCY solar cells are embedded into house shingles that have built-in inverters in them to funnel 120V, 60 cycle current into the home with the rest being net-metered back to the utilities....but we're not there yet.....
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