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Old 01-27-11, 02:10 AM   #1
Clev
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Default Clev's Energy Bill Shocker

Enjoy this little snippet from my January electric bill:



My total usage was 687kWh, or 20.82kWh per day. Needless to say, I was shocked not only at our daily usage, but at the cost.

A little info on what I'm working with: I'm in a two-story (1,200ish square feet) A-frame in the mountains of Southern California, elevation 4,675 feet. The roof is tongue-in-groove, covered with plywood sheeting and composite shingles. The walls are sheetrock, with at least some insulation, and the basement/crawlspace is completely uninsulated, along with the floor between the first floor and basement.

The house is heated with a recent-model gas furnace, and cooled with a window A/C. The water heater and stove are gas, and the dryer is electric. Most of the lighting is fluorescent in one form or another.

This infrequently updated thread will document my attempts to pinpoint, track and reduce my usage of energy. The first 218kWh I cut are worth 24 cents apiece, so there's plenty of incentive. I'm not sure how to measure and track gas usage yet, so I'll start with electricity and go from there.

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Old 01-27-11, 02:24 AM   #2
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The first victim: The DirecTivo R10.



We dumped DirecTV a month ago. Thanks to Hulu and Netflix, DirecTV wasn't providing any service except Simpsons reruns. However, we had a couple dozen episodes of various shows on there, so we left it hooked up in case we got desperate for something to watch.

When it was actually driving a satellite dish, this box drew 26 watts. With the satellite disconnected, it draws 18 watts, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week--even in "standby" mode. Needless to say, that puppy got yanked tonight.

DirecTivo R10:

18 watts = 432Wh/day, 12.96kWh/month
Savings = $3.11/month, $37.32/year
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Old 01-27-11, 02:59 AM   #3
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I was shopping at my local grocery a couple of days ago and made an impulse buy. It was a "DLU" brand 23 watt CFL flood. With the Edison subsidy already reflected on the sticker, I got it for a cool 99 cents plus tax. At that price, it was too good to pass up.

I have only one floodlight in the yard. Since we're in the boonies, it gets downright dark on moonless nights, and we have critters from skunks to coyotes to bears in our neighborhood, so this light gets left on when we're away at night or plan to get back after dark. The flood light actually has two sockets; since the other one isn't needed, I keep a burned-out bulb in it to protect it from the weather.

After observing the brightness and pattern of the existing 75 watt incandescent, I swapped in the CFL. Turning on the switch caused it to glow dimly in the 33 degree night. Within about 30 seconds, there was enough light to see by. By about 90 seconds, it was at full brightness. While the color was a bit different, it definitely had the reach, brightness and wide pattern of the incandescent. Success! In this application, I definitely can live with the warm-up time.

When figuring the savings, I based it on 30 minutes of usage a day. It probably sees a little less on a daily basis, but when we go shopping, it will see one to four hours of use. At 30 minutes a day, it will pay for itself in about 6 months.

Outdoor flood light incandescent (75W) -> CFL (23W):

52 watts = 26Wh/day, 0.78kWh/month
Savings = $0.19/month, $2.25/year
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Old 01-27-11, 03:06 AM   #4
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Interesting.

That does seem like quite high usage for a house the other then the dryer doesn't have any major electric loads however I estimate my "usage" to be comparable if I remove all of the major electric loads but the stove.

My place is twice the size on vancouver island so possibly colder and the december/january bill was 2567kwh for 62 days. roughly 1280 a month and that includes space heating, hot water, dryer, stove... 270kwh/month is my calibrated estimate of hot water heating so that's 1010 left over to account for. Looking at a summer bill with minimal AC I figure heating added probably 350 kwh. so we're down to a baseline of 660 kwh/month. In summer my baseline would be roughly 400 kwh/month. I know that I used 134 kwh on the laundry (including hotwater generation) and most of that is dryer. during the summer most of those loads would be clothes line so my winter/summer base is getting closer and more likely to be correct.

I'll be very curious to see what major loads you find. My bets are on a PC, the fridge and maybe a freezer.
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Old 01-27-11, 03:32 AM   #5
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I put the Kill-a-Watt on the chest freezer and will monitor it for a couple of days. It's in the coldest (unheated) room in the house, so its consumption will probably be low compared to summer. We have occasionally turned it on or off as it has emptied and been refilled, but at the bare minimum, I'd like to get a baseline so we can determine if the savings on the food bill is worth it. (I also have some more adjusting to do--it came from the factory turned down to -10 degrees; I plan to turn it up to at least +16 degrees.)
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Old 01-27-11, 03:38 AM   #6
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I should mention that this house was probably built as a summer or weekender's home. There is no insulation in the open-beam roof upstairs at all, and there are a bunch of large single-pane picture windows that rattle in the wind. There is definite need for insulation at all levels. Since the furnace is forced-air, insulation will help both the gas and electric bill.

I have a very tight (i.e. no) budget because of cutbacks at work, so I'm pretty much doing what I can for free or cheap. (I have started combing the local Freecycle and Craigslist listings for cheap/free insulating materials.) I'm also looking into other projects on EM, such as the wood/clear plastic window insulating panel thread.
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Old 01-27-11, 04:00 AM   #7
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Could you add a motion sensor to that flood light? Of course, you wouldn't use a CFL with it then, but it would be on only when really needed.

I'd put everything you don't need on a powerstrip and turn it off when not in use. In our house this is:
RTV corner (37" LCD, DVD, sat, speaker amplifier) - 20-30W in standby,
Desktop computer + 19" LCD monitor + printer - 10-15W when everything is "off",
Stereo - 10W when off, 11-12W when on,
Internet radio receiver - 5W.

I also found that our driveway gate's motor uses 30W just doing nothing (waiting for signal to open), so I turn its circuit breaker on only when the car is in use.

So, once you've checked everything that is plugged in, you should look for phantom loads that go straight from the circuit breakers.
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Old 01-27-11, 11:03 AM   #8
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I haven't figured out why motion sensors can't be used with CFLs. I can certainly understand photoeyes (they tend to flicker between "off" and "on"). At any rate, this light covers the entire yard, and for the motion sensor to pick up our coming up the steps, it first will pick up the live oak tree and pretty much stay on all the time.

I have an unused motion sensor flood that I'm thinking about moving to the front of the house where it will only pick up the driveway. It might have the nice side effect of chasing away anybody who wants to liberate the computer speakers and inverter that have become my new car stereo. I assume I can use a dimmable CFL with these?
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Old 01-27-11, 11:04 AM   #9
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BTW, found this site that I'll be using to measure the dryer's consumption (and eventually, to calculate any phantom loads.)

http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/measure.html
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Old 01-27-11, 11:26 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clev View Post
I haven't figured out why motion sensors can't be used with CFLs.
I have wrestled with that one myself.

Near as I can tell, the tiny "brain" in the unit is in series with the bulb. CF lights in their OFF state don't allow enough current to flow for the tiny brain to work. if you have a very small incandescent bulb in parallel with the CF, the brain will work and you will achieve the energy savings you seek.

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