Saving on Electricity

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Some really good ideas here:

http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/Banking/Homefinancing/P85734.asp?GT1=8201

I realized I should be saving by turning off the computers and DSL modem at night. All I have to do is use the On/Off switch on the surge protector. Now, to train myself to remember........Yuska

Olympia, WA(Zone 8b)

YUSK,
GREAT idea!! Another GOOD idea to save BIG energy dollars is to put a timer on your hot water tank.


Regards;
bluelytes

in Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks for the great energy tips.
Patti

Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

Yuska,

We were turning our SBC DSL modem off at night here and after a couple months started having problems on the internet. Contacted SBC and they said the modem works best if not turned off, that turning it off messes with it's memory and thus can cause problems when on the internet. Since then we don't turn it off and haven't had any problems.

We switched to all CFL lightbulbs and they work great! The only thing you should know is if you have can lights and use the CFL floodlight ones they (unlike their regular spiral bulb) will take longer to come to full brightness. So in our kitchen where we have can lighting the room is dim about a minute or so as the lights come up. It used to really annoy me but I can live with it for the energy savings.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Thanks for the SBC DSL modem tip! I have it too, and after I posted the above comment, I began to wonder if that was a good idea after all. Especially since I signed up for this new Beta trial for six months (combination features including fiber optics to increase speed and expand services such as running TV sets).
The technician was here yesterday and got it installed. Thus far it seems to be going well.

I have the tube type flourescents in the kitchen. Is there something better that l can
install at reasonable cost?



This message was edited May 31, 2006 9:23 PM

Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

How do you put a timer on your water heater?

We leave our computers on all the time, but they go into sleep mode after a half an hour of not being used. Turning it on and off a lot cost us a couple of hard drives before we stopped doing it!

I only do laundry onces a week, stopped using the dishwasher, turned down the water heater, stopped using a hair dryer and put in CFLs. We manage to keep our bill reasonable. The last thing that kills us is the electric heaters for the bedrooms. $50/heater every month all winter. GAH!

Olympia, WA(Zone 8b)

RENW,
Gets COLD up in them thar hills, dont it. Face it, you could be living in INDEX, lol.

Try getting about an R-40 insulation in attic, and insulate floor, and vent your roof if is not already done. We upgraded insulation and cut energy bills by half.

You should be able to find a electric hot water tank timer at your local home center/hardware. For you that would prolly be Monroe or Snohomish. It runs about 35.00, but ours payed for itself in the first month. We saved about 40.00/month just on the hot H2O tank. Its very easy to wire it in yourself, but be SURE to CUT the ELECTRICITY to your hot H2O tank, as its 220volts and will knock you on your buttocks!! I set it to kick on at about 5am, and shut off at 8am. Had plenty of water for showers, etc. Then set it again for about 6 to 9pm, to cover evening needs, dishes, baths, etc. You'll have to decide what hours to run your hot H2O tank works best for your family.

Another alternative is the TANKLESS systems. They heat the water as YOU USE IT, similar to the hot water taps you can use for coffee/tea/soup/whathave you, water at many work places or the hot water spigot on a water disperser. These run from about 300 and up, but save a BOATLOAD of money, and I hear there is a 300 tax credit from the govt.

Best Regards;
bluelytes

Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

I'd say the worst thing about living in Index is not so much the cold as having your well go dry every summer. And Bigfoot, apparently he's a regular up there.

I had to replace the cord and outlet on the dryer this spring and it still scared me to death to do it, though I had cut the power to whole house! I made my husband test it. If anybody was going to get knocked on their bum, it wasn't going to be the pregnant lady!
It sounds like a great solution! I'll have to go find one.
We've looked into tankless water heaters, since ours is getting old, but we were told that they were only available for gas hookups, not for electricty.

Olympia, WA(Zone 8b)

RENW,
It may have been or only gas in the PAST, but to my knowledge, they DO have them for BOTH gas and electric.

Bum?? Hmmm, what a GOOD idea. Have a bum do it, but its NOT polite to call them BUMS, NOW they are homeless persons, ;) lol.

Regards;
bluelytes

Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

Yuska,

Florescents are pretty good on energy efficiency and give more light than your average bulb so you have a good choice there. Many people think of switching from T12 to T8 bulbs as they are even newer than the T12. We work with both all the time, T8 will save a tad more and when they go out (unlike the T12) they don't just keep getting dimmer. They will either start to glow pink (rare) or go out all of a sudden. T8 are also known to get a starburst crack on one or both ends when they get old so to remove you want to twist it out carefully.

I've heard the energy savings for unplugging off small appliances (toaster, can opener, etc) is non exsistent. Unless energy is being used to work the appliance (how a fridge always runs) you will not notice a savings on your elec. bill by unplugging the small stuff.

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

We have an energy-efficient dishwasher, so I do use it. I know it uses less water than I did to do dishes in the sink (plus now the dishes actually get done. LOL).

We made it through several days in the 90's by drawing the blinds and using fans in the windows. It wasn't too bad, considering. We're hoping to cut back on the AC since it's expensive, plus we're more likely to go outside and do stuff if we're not cooped up inside, spoiled by the chill.

We leave our PC's (both notebooks) on 24/7, but the monitors do power down after a period of inactivity or when we have them closed. They go into standby mode after so long, too. The modem and router we leave on all the time.

Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

We bought our house new and it was sold as energy efficient, has great insulation and the newer appliances all have the energy star. Even with running AC (only set at 80 when gone for work and at 78 nights) we set it about 77 or so on the hottest days of summer...but even with this and heat our energy bill for 2,300 sq. ft. still runs what we paid in all the rentals we lived in with the most 1,000 sq. ft. so it's nice to have ways to save energy. I wish we could have afforded one of the front load washers, they save way more water, but I bought a top load so we can leave the washer/dryer when we move.

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

We have a teeny 2br house, with about 750 square feet living space on our floor plus a 3/4 finished basement/garage that is now a MIL suite. When we put in central air, we went with what the guy recommended, but unfortuantely, it is not a large enough unit. Insulation in our attic would help, but it's still too small. We set it at 72 in the peak of summer, and it runs constantly only to keep it at 76. :P

The front-loaders really do save money. Our Frigidaire uses about 1/3 of the water a top-loader does, and washes double the amount of clothes of a top-loader, saving us not only water, but laundry soap and softener. There's no need for the bells and whistles of the Duet and other high-enders unless you really want all that. The entry-level front loaders do the job, too. :)

Now we just wish we had a huge 7cu' capacity dryer to dry the big loads we can now do! LOL

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

We bought our home 3 years ago. It was built in 1970. Since moving in we've done a lot of work on the house, and we've cut our electric bill by more than half. We replaced all the old aluminum frame windows with double pane, low e glass, vinyl framed windows. We added blown in insulation to the attic, had the duct work replaced with double insulated ducts and had them rerouted for max efficiency. We replaced the old a/c with a higher efficiency rated, one ton larger unit. We have a 2600 sq. ft. single story home with a pool and our electric bill for July was $355.00. The neighbor across the street hasn't done any modifications, has about the same square footage and a pool and his bill was over 800.00 for the same period. I'm pretty pleased with our savings.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Sounds like a good thing you did, but I cringe at an electric bill that high. We just had new duct work and a new HVAC unit installed so next month I will feel the pinch here.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

I know what you mean about cringing over the high electric bill, but then again, in the three years I've been in this house I've only had the heat system on one time. Over a twelve month period my utilitiy costs for electricity and gas (heating, cook top and hot water) will average 200.00 a month.

Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

We've done well with our new home being "energy efficient," but we run the AC only at 78-80 and the heat about 75 in the winter. It's 2,300 sq ft or so and our bill for elec never has run over $140 (water is on a separate bill). We put in the CFL light bulbs as well. They say those will save you about $60 on average per home each year. The can floodlights of them are the only drawback, they take about 1 minute to reach their full brightness, but the regular sized spiral bulbs work in a flash!

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

I wish I could set my a/c that high. I do use ceiling fans, and run a dehumidifier overnight quite oftern to help remove some of the stickiness from the air, but I still have to keep the thermostat at 72 and would prefer 68, but it's just too expensive for that. I have lupus and when my room temp gets too much above 72 I start having neurological problems; headaches, shakes, weakness in arms and legs, not to mention nasty temper! One early morning after overdoing in the garden and gettting much too hot, I managed to get inside, but collapsed on the floor. I managed to drag myself to the tile area under a ceiling fan and lay on the cold tile until I could get up. At least the neighbors didn't see me stranded in the yard laying in the grass thinking the new lady in the neighborhood drinks a bit too much in the morenings! LOL

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Great thread. I will have to check out the lightbulbs.
Very courious about the water heater timer, but more interested in the tankless water heaters Bluelytes mentioned. It seems to me that if the Gov. would reimburse 300$ and you spend 450$ for installed unit then out of pocket expense for the First year is 0$ if you think of the savings for less energy use from the tanked water heater. Got to research this. Anyone know more about it?


My suggestion for energy savings: Put up dark curtains and use a sheer behind them. as the sun moves through the day you can open and close the curtains for protection. Blinds work a little, but wow it the curtains really help out bill when We put up the dark and heavy curtains. Small investment big savings for our 1600sq.ft. 2-story home.

calvin

Salt Lake City, UT(Zone 6a)

Did not know about the front loaders, I bought a hot water insulating blanket and turned the thermostat down on it. I hang my clothes to dry in the winter and then throw them in the dryer for 5 minutes with a dryer sheet to make them less stiff....

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I have a gadget from RealGoods.com that any electric appliance can plug into. You dial in the cost per KwH and run it for 24 hours... Bingo, the real cost of using that appliance!

I don't see it on RealGoods today but it is similar to this:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00009MDBU/103-8166390-3905438?v=glance&n=172282

Frankfort, KY

It is things that heat that run up your electric bill; i.e., irons, electric heaters, electric hot water heaters. clothes dryers, ovens, etc.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

I'm in trouble now. All electric house and just received my monthly bill and they raised the rates AGIAN. I used less energy for the month of JUly compared to June and the bill was higher than June by about 30$.

Golly, makes me anious for winter to hurry up and get here.

calvin

Bolivar, TN(Zone 7a)

I found out something by accident. Several wks. ago during 100+ weather I was watering potted plants on the deck. The heat radiating from the deck was tremendous. I turned the hose on the deck and washed it down. I could tell the difference in temp. Got to thinking about it, and turned the waterhose on the side of the house where the sun was shining. Guess what? When I walked inside I could tell the difference. To me it was cooler. Did that several times for the next several days and it seemed to us that the temp in the house went down. Since we are on a well water so far is not a problem, but if this drought keeps up, we may have to go to a water meter. Hope not. I hate city water. Liz

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

You were utilizing the principle of evaporative cooling, Liz. In the days before refrigerated air conditioning was widely available, the evaporative or "swamp" cooler was often used. A window unit, water trickled down over pads made of rough fibers and a fan blew cooler air into the room. These coolers were not as effective when the humidity level was also high, since the outside air was near saturation and the evaporative process could not take place. Before that, on farmsteads that didn't have electricity, people would hang wet cloths on screen doors and at windows to get a slight bit of relief.
Yuska

Alexandria, IN(Zone 6a)

I have the thermostat set on 73░ for AC in this 1950 sq. ft. house. It costs about $25 a month for that in July.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Wow, I set mine at 79┬║

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

I fluctuate btwn 76-78 depending on how much work I do outside. The curtains still do a good job.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Years ago I bought a book on Moveable Insulation. I may need to drag it out this winter now that I've moved farther north!

So far the new AC installed 3 weeks ago only runs about 4 hours in the afternoon.

Tucson, AZ(Zone 9a)

Well, I admit I keep the AC at 73-74 in the summer, my house was built in the '50s and no builders at the time thought anybody would ever need any insulation at all, ever. But I try to make up for it by keeping the furnace at 62-64 in the winter. It causes one to burn more calories and I figure we'll all keep better at the lower temp.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

So, if you can do 62-64 in winter, why does summer need to be higher?

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Well, I do the same, much lower in winter, actually off in winter. The reason the thermostat is set higher in the summer is that you're cooling the air down from a higher temp and in the winter you're heating air up from a lower temp. That would make your comfort range between 62 to 74. It would cost more to set the thermostat lower in summer since it would have to run longer to lower the temp more. Just as it would cost more to set the thermostat higher in winter to raise the temperature more.

Sand Springs, OK(Zone 7a)

Our new trailer has great insulation we keep thermostat at 80░and it was 107░ one day
It is 80 x16 so is not a small one .
At the old house we were hot with a setting of 70░and our unit was twice the size, high ceiling were a bane there

Santa Fe, TX(Zone 9b)

I have a timer to turn on roof sprinklers for 10 minutes every 2 hours from 10 AM till 6 PM. I have AC set for 78 degrees, and it stays at about that with the roof sprinklers on. Without the roof sprinklers, it gets up to 85 in the house.

Well water here. On cloudy days I do not use the roof sprinklers.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Excellent idea, trois! Wish I could "borrow" your method. Even so, light colored shingles as opposed to dark make a little bit of a difference.

Santa Fe, TX(Zone 9b)

Nor hard to do. Just funny pipe and a few sprinkler heads. Plus a timer.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)


Maybe you could show us a diagram if not in this forum maybe in Handyman? MY HOA will probably say no, and sprinklers are only allowed in use year round up to 10 a.m. and after 8 p.m., but other DGers could benefit from your cleverness.

Santa Fe, TX(Zone 9b)

Just about any Home Depot can fix you up if you tell them what you need.

Chapel Hill, NC(Zone 7b)

Hi all you energy savers, this is a great thread. Here is my story:

We bought a 2400 sq.ft house, two floors and full basement. It was represented as energy efficient, with good insulation (I don't know the numbers), low e windows, huge overhang over the fron porch to provide some shade. The outside is cedar and it is very dark, as is the roof.

We have a big problem with the East/Southeast side which gets hit by the sun from early morning till early afternoon. In front of that wall I have a raised bed with fig trees and some veggies. I bought some expensive shades for the biggest windows, but I think some venetian blinds would have done as well.

Here is my question: Does any one have an idea for an (easy maintenance) vine that we could grow up that wall, even if just part of it. Probably it should be a deciduous perennial, what do you think? I have some gorgeous (annual, of course) moon flower vines, but they are floppy during the heat of the day.

Here is what we do for conservation ( and lowering bills): Almost all of our lights are CFL. there are two airconditioners (two floors) and we set the upper one at 80 and the lower one at 81 in summer and in the low 60's in winter ( we just wear socks and sweaters if we are chilly, and drink hot tea).

In the summer I never use the oven, we eat only quick cooking meals or salads (for instance with poached chicken, which can be made in one pan for two meals). and occaionally we grill.

One of the doors (glass) which is exposed to early sun is covered (tacky tacky) with a white sheet, but other than deer we have no neighbors on that side.

This winter I am going to do some solar augmentation, like black plastic shades that will create some warm air and circulate it into the room. There is also some diea that I read about that has to do with concentrating sunlight with one panel of some reflecting material, but I have now forgotten the detail. Both are very cheap items, like perhaps $30.

Anyway, anyone have an idea for vines?

I think between all of us - if we keep this up - we'll bankrupt the power company!!!

waukesha, WI(Zone 5a)

I've sprinkled our roof tops for years, before we had A/C...it really helps to cool the house. we also used to set up our box fans at night to blow the hot air out of the house, which let the cooler air come in through windows on the opposite side. Even now, with A/C.sometimes instead of turning it on, I just turn on the furnace fan so that the cooler air from the basement recirculates through the house. Every little bit helps. I also close the curtains and drapes on the southwest in the afternoon to keep the radiant heat from heating up the inside. Do just the opposite in winter, let the sun shine in. I just hate making the utilities rich.

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