Elecricity Audit: Lessons Learned

Discussion in 'Environmental' started by BailOut, Apr 22, 2007.

  1. BailOut

    BailOut My favorite holiday is Earth Day!

    I'm all ears. :)
  2. southerncannuck

    southerncannuck Well-Known Member

    We live in South Florida, and as such not everything will apply to my Northern friends.

    The first year that we kept records was 2004. We used 31,411 KWH. Bear in mind that everything is electrical. We started with an energy audit from the power company. It was well worth the money. $30 I think. Bottom line is that my house was built in 1969 and is the house equivalent of a 71 Eldorado.

    We did buy 2 Kill A Watts and they confirmed our suspicions. The major energy pigs are the devices that make heat and remove heat. Tosaters and hair dryer don't stay on long enough to make a big impact when you have a grossly wasteful house. So have your bagels and leave the women alone about their hair!

    Air Conditioning

    The biggest fish to fry was the AC. We used 146 KWH per day in July 2004, and 50 KWH per day in February 2007. We replaced the 11 year old 11 SEER AC with a 17 SEER lennox unit. They are 5 ton units. The cost diffence was 100% between a cheap 13 SEER and a top of the line Lennox 17 SEER unit. $3800 vs $7800.

    We bought it for energy savings, but the best part was the comfort that it gave us. The unit keeps a constant temp, and does such a good job removing himidity that we run it a degree or two warmmer that the old unit.

    Solar water

    We had a solar water heater, but it was lacking a lot of maintenance. I gave that a tune up and I think it is working better. I put temp probes on it and enjoy seeing the temp of the water coming down from the roof as opposed to the temp going up. It comes down above 160F on a sunny day.

    Pool pump

    I replaced the pool pump from a two horse motor to a one horse motor. I can't tell the difference in the pool.


    We bought a Energy Star unit and went from 27 cu feet to 25 cu feet. The old unit was 12 years old.


    We replaced the dish washer and clothes washer to units that have time delays to take advantage of the solar water. We set them to wash at noon.

    LightingWe replaced every light to compact florescent. These are wonderful little lights. The don't put off any heat. This keeps the house from getting hot spots.

    There are other minor details but I won't bore you with these, but here is the run down of the past few years.
    2004 31,411 KWH
    2005 28,612 KWH (lights and pool pump, solar tune up)
    2006 19,134 KWH (this is the year of the AC,fridge, washing machines)
    2007 14,710 KWH (should be opening windows soon, hoping for 17,00 KWH)
  3. southerncannuck

    southerncannuck Well-Known Member

    Sorry folks. the ac part said "We used 146 KWH per day in July 2004, and 50 KWH per day in February 2007" That should be February 2004
  4. BailOut

    BailOut My favorite holiday is Earth Day!

    That's awesome, southerncannuck! Your usage in 2004 was downright scary but you've made one heck of a turnaround.

    The Kill-A-Watt is, IMHO, one of the very few electronic devices that pays for itself in the first month you have it. It would be great if every new resident anywhere in the developed world were issued one the day they move in, ;)

    You must have a large house, too, to require a 5 ton unit. Even in Texas we got by with a 1.5 ton unit for a 1,400 square foot ranch style home, although at the peak of the summer (110F, 95% humidity) it just couldn't get the temp inside the house below 85F.

    Have you done the math on the break-even difference between the 11 SEER and 17 SEER units? I'm curious how long it will take before you "start putting money back in your pocket". I hope your family enjoys year after year of cheaper, more efficient cooling!

    Efficient appliances are something I certainly plan to get into when the time comes but I can't run out and do it right now. This house, and its appliances, are just 3 years old. I need to make use of what we have for a while or the wife will be very upset, especially since I've been working with her (picking at her) over the last 6 months to conserve both electricity and natural gas.

    Our current home is 1,800 square feet and 2 stories. Last month our combined power bill was $99.77, representing 452kWh (15.6/day) and 24 therms (0.8/day). This the first time in 2 States, 3 homes and our 9 years together that our power bill was less than $100. :woot:
  5. southerncannuck

    southerncannuck Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the kind words. You know the phrase " lies, big lies and statistics"? Any payback figure will be a statistic. The truth is I never really added it up until today. And today's math is off the cuff at best. However, based on my utility charging 11.48 cents per KWH I figure that I'm saving about $1,700 dollars annually.

    The non money benefit is that when I look at the smoke stacks at Port Everglades I know that a little less is there because of my wife and I.

    By the way. How can I get my mileage banner at the bottom of my posts?
    On an added note, As your wife ages (say near 50) you need to know that 85F won't work. Don't wait for her to tell you. Trust me, this WILL be held against you!
  6. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    Great write, Brian. Did you look into heat pumps for your heating system? I would have thought they would be more efficient than natural gas? Eye opener artical, I bet it was to you as well. H
  7. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Heat pumps only work for mild heating. Once it gets below 40 degrees or so, the outside unit turns into a block of ice. It's (simplified) taking cold from inside and pumping it to the condenser outside. If that colder-than-ambient condenser is below freezing, it develops a frost. Then it just doesn't work.

    I'd only use a heat pump if you have a gas backup. Below 40, you have to use the backup instead. Our backup is electric, and our highest bills are always Jan and Feb. I'm talking $300 vs $160 in August. And this is in Texas, with 100 degrees in August! Lots of KWH = EXPENSIVE!
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2007
  8. BailOut

    BailOut My favorite holiday is Earth Day!

    We really need to make a sticky for this one. :)

    1) Go to your mileage log and copy the image location for your graphic.

    2) Go to your User CP -> Edit Signature and add that URL between image tags, like this but removing the spaces:
    [ IMG ]http://www.cleanmpg.com/garage/images/334.png[ /IMG ]
    3) If you would like to hyperlink the graphic back to your mileage log then wrap the image tags inside URL tags, like this but removing the spaces:
    [ URL=http://www.cleanmpg.com/index.php?page=garage&displayunits=MPG(US)&viewcar=334 ][ IMG ]http://www.cleanmpg.com/garage/images/334.png[ /IMG ][ /URL ]

    You speak the truth! She just started going through menopause about 2 months ago and temperatures are already an issue. The heat isn't nearly as much a problem since we moved to Reno from Dallas/Fort Worth but I had to turn the heating cycle up from 64F to 68F (and sometimes she still manually turns it up to 69F) and the cooling cycle down to 76F from 78F (and sometimes she manually drops it to 74F) to accommodate her.

    Menopause is not efficient! :p
  9. southerncannuck

    southerncannuck Well-Known Member

    Thanks Brian, but I'm going to give up on the signayure. I can't seem to make it work

    All the best
    Louis B
  10. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Louis:

    ___I will take care of your mileage sig for you the manual way. Give me a few minutes ...

    ___Good Luck

  11. southerncannuck

    southerncannuck Well-Known Member

    Thank you very much. I couldn't seem to make it work. I think that the little tag will encourage me to do better. My results will there for everyone to see.

    Louis B
  12. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Louis:

    ___No problem! Your sig is setup as the basic right now with a linkable option later on if you want it? You were using the url tag vs. the img tag to wrap is all.

    ___Good Luck and you have a great start albeit using 08 FE numbers for your 07 Fit.

  13. desdemona

    desdemona Well-Known Member

    I don't know about the fish tanks. But if you have PC lights (aka compact florescents) you probably are doing ok. (These are very efficient.) I have 92 watts of light on my tank on a timer. A benefit I got from these is no more seasonal depression. The lighting is at a range that is close to natural sunlight. There are some pumps but unless you are a reef geek with metal halides and some calcium generators or something like that you are probably not too bad on these. I don't even notice a water bill difference for my tank and when I first started the tank I didn't see any change in my electric bill.

    Now the audio equipment and the HD Tv are probably a different creature.

  14. desdemona

    desdemona Well-Known Member

    Ok, this is another sort of post so I am posting again.

    A couple points of argument are these:
    A toaster oven may be very wasteful in terms of its use (as is a microwave) but in the summer it is much better than heating the whole house up. Also your Mr. Coffee is less wasteful than going to Starbucks, and you can chose your coffee which in my case is Fair Trade.

    Anyway, I am pretty concerned about this as I am very cold blooded (though otoh, I tend not to turn on the swamp cooler til August in a typical year). Still sometimes quite cold even with sweatshirt, polar fleece, blanket, etc. This seems strange to me as I don't think I would be cold outside. Two years ago I did the windows, which helped. But maybe I have some drafts somewhere and I don't think the house is well-insulated as they aren't generally in around here. They are built on a concrete slab (no basement), stucco, and a flat roof. They can have a pitched roof as an add on. Good things are that stucco tends to keep its coolness and also its heat to some extent.

    We mentioned space heaters in another post. I do understand they are not efficient but if I could keep the heat a LOT lower and have one just where I am it might help.
    Another thing I have thought of is thermal solar. It is a lot cheaper to install than photovoltaic, and no it is not as good. But one thing it could do is warm the house up during the day (a typical year here is 310 days of sunshine). They don't work at night, but if the house is warmed up in the day it could use less heat to keep it at a certain point. I have heard they do pay for themselves and are currently about $2000 to put up, which I might be able to do next year.

    We do get some breaks here for solar but not as good as CA. Too bad!

  15. GreenBlues

    GreenBlues Well-Known Member

    Cutting an electric bill in half is truly an amazing feat. That sure sets an example for others to follow.

    The statement that all heat pumps are for mild climates is not quite accurate. Geothermal heat pumps systems are very efficient heating and cooling systems. Our system provides 3 times the BTUs per kilowatt as electric resistance heating would. We have had our open loop ground water system since 1993. Interestingly the rates have about doubled since then. Some utilities have programs to assist with the system cost and perhaps rate programs.

    For heating, the well water comes into the system at about 50 degrees. The system removes about 10 degrees worth of heat discharging at about 40 degrees. In the summer we use the water for irrigation and for animals. In the winter it becomes an expensive bird bath. Since everything else is frozen for quite some distance we are visited by all the wildlife in the area. It is not uncommon to see deer drinking the water.

    So if anyone is thinking about replacing a furnace or planning new construction regardless of the location a geothermal heat pump should not be ruled out just because air to air heat pumps do not work well below 40 degrees.

    Des, you really should look into the possibilities of solar heating with the amount of sun light you have. A few south facing panels could make a significant difference especially if you had some thermal mass to capture the heat during the day. We are somewhat limited as what we can do to the hundred year old farm house surrounded by trees. The web sites of Home Power and Mother Earth News magazines would be a good resource for more information.
  16. desdemona

    desdemona Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the references. Trees are not much of an issue. I have a fairly large tree on the left side of my property (and that's basically it). I think solar is expensive, but there are options like solar thermal that are not so bad. BTW, I think that what I am considering is called a solar collector and not solar thermal (or they may be the same thing, though I think the later is for hot water). Anyway, what it does is collect heat thru water or antifreeze and then there is some kind of fan that takes the temp floor level. I am not a diy person, but here are some plans and also materials that someone might be able to use: http://www.jc-solarhomes.com/MTD/mtd_solar_collector_kit.htm

    BTW, I just realized that the cold all the time might be a medical, not an environmental thing. There seems to be a lot of references on this that I am going to look into. I've also thought of dealing with this a little bit more close in. I had an electric blanket like shawl at one time that was very helpful. I have also found I am warmer after jogging, which I just started.

    I dont' think I could do any kind of solar thing til next year.

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2007
  17. tarabell

    tarabell Well-Known Member

    Des, this is what they use in Japan:
    Putting a small space heater under your kitchen table with a long tablecloth might also work, as long as you're very careful about fire, and turning it off.
  18. desdemona

    desdemona Well-Known Member

    Yikes that scares the beegeebees out of me! Looks very flammable. Anything with cloth and fire (or even electricity).

    OTOH, I'm thinking of a space heater and also some more local things like use of electric blanket, electric shawl, electric mattress pad (I know some people will not use those either.)
    Also trying to figure out why I might be so cold blooded. IF there is a reason for it that has a solution...


  19. desdemona

    desdemona Well-Known Member

  20. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    True. I was not considering geothermal heat pumps. I agree that they're a wonderful system. I will probably include geothermal in my comparison when this system needs to be replaced.

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