Energy Savings

Consumer Solar Electric Generation Trends

Consumer Solar Electric Generation TrendsAs the cost of solar panels decline and the cost of power from traditional sources increase, consumer solar electric generation trends are going to favor homeowners installing their own solar panels on the roofs of their houses. As we write this post, home owners in the south western United States are beginning to find that they can make a positive business case for a solar power installation. Rates per KW are high for electricity, solar power is getting cheaper and they have more days fo full sunshine than most other areas in the US.

Consumer Solar Electric Generation Trends

Based on our research, the cost of generating power via solar panels has dropped 10% per year over the past 5 years and is now near the national average of $.12 per kilowatt. In many places the cost of power is much higher than this figure supporting the business case to install solar power generating panels on the roof of a home.

Over the next 25 years there will be a significant increase in solar power generation. While it may never replace or even jeopardize the existence of large traditional power generation plants, they will have an impact on the industry.

Consumers will demand better more efficient prices and they will get them either by installing solar panels or by the traditional players developing more efficient power generation of their own. Solar power generation will grow significantly from an estimated .2% of the total to a much larger portion of the power industry.


Smart Home Component Design Strategies

Smart Home Component Design StrategiesThe smart home industry is still in the early stages of development. There is not a smart home component design strategies plan in place. Many companies are developing components that will fit into a larger system however right now they are just components. They will be upgraded many times, there will be new devices added and gradually standards will be developed so that you can connect one companies devices to another companies devices and systems. But right now, it really is a confusing mess out there and also expensive.

Smart Home Component Design Strategies

What should a consumer do in a situation like this one especially if you are the early adopter type of person? The answer is to develop your own strategy around a smart home. Focus on the things that you really want to automate and those that provide security functionality. These devices and components are not cheap so you will also need to factor in your budget for this project.

Next spend some time reviewing those companies that have a complete system that meets your requirements. There is no sense trying to mix and match at this time from several companies if you want them to all interact with each other. Finally assess the companies that are in it for the long haul, have a development strategy of their own and provide support to their customers.

If you do all of this you may have a chance of installing a smart home system that meets your needs, that interacts with a central controller and is evolvable as devices and systems develop further.


Smart House

Smart HouseWe have all seen the advertisements from cable companies, phone companies and security companies about enhanced alarm systems and systems that allow us to control our homes remotely. There are a variety of applications that do everything from manage the alarm system, take videos of intruders to locking doors, adjusting the temperature and turning lights on and off remotely. The question that this writer has is whether it is all worth the cost and whether the home insurance company will provide discounts to help defray the cost of installation and ongoing monthly fees? First of all what are the applications that might interest the average consumer?

Ten Smart House applications

One of the better known applications of domotics or smart house features is the presence of movement detectors and alarms to prevent theft. Today, technology has become more diversified providing many more solutions. Here are a few examples:

  1. Remote control of all of the following from your smart phone app
  2. Opens and closes locks.
  3. Automatically adjusts the heating or cooling system when a window is open.
  4. Programs the heating and air conditioning systems based on the temperature outdoors.
  5. Remote control of the heating / cooling system.
  6. Automatically turns off the light when no-one is in a room.
  7. Video recording activated when a door opens, emailed to consumer.
  8. Detects water leaks and automatically turns the water valve off.
  9. Turns the tap on when a hand is placed under it and off when it is removed.
  10. Activates an automatic blocking system if the sewer backs up.
  11. Detects smoke and heat in case of fire and alerts the fire department.
  12. Detects if water pipes are at risk of freezing up. turns on the heating system, raise the interior temperature and notifies the consumer.
  13. Alarm system can be set to present or absent mode (present mode: all lights turn on if there is abnormal movement in the home; absent mode: no light will turn on).

Summary

All of these smart home functions are real possibilities and will improve as time goes on, however are they really needed and will they meet the return on investment criteria.
Bottom line, probably not, unless you attach peace of mind to the equation and consider it high value as well. There just not enough real value to offset the cost of adding all of these features at this time until they come down in price and the home insurance quotes reflect a credit for home alarms and smart home automation.


8 Steps to Reducing Your Electricity Bill

8 Steps to Reducing Your Electricity BillElectricity rates are on the increase across the board in almost every state and province. With winter coming on we thought it was time to identify 8 Steps to Reducing Your Electricity Bill to help consumers control their costs for electricity and heating fuel. Anytime you can reduce your overall costs, leaving money for other important activities, you are ahead of the game. The important thing is to have an energy saving attitude in your family so that everyone contributes to reducing your overall energy costs. what follows is a partial list of things you can do now to keep your costs down.

8 Steps to Reducing Your Electricity Bill

Phantom Power – is power used by devices that are turned off, but are still drawing power to allow them to turn on instantly. Computers, TV’s and many other devices of this sort are drawing power 24 hours a day. Unplug them rather than just turning them off if you do not plan to use them.

LED Bulbs – At least convert to fluorescent bulbs if you have not already done so. LEDs will save even more money and are coming down in price as well. They last longer and save that increasingly costly electrical energy.

Programmable Thermostat – allows you to control when you heat your home or use air conditioning. Adjust the temperature lower when sleeping and away from the home in the winter. Adjust the temperature up when not home or at peak periods in the summer.

Dishwashers – if you have to run a dishwasher, especially the self drying kind, try to run them at night during off peak hours to reduce your energy costs.

Laundry – the same applies to running washing machines and dryers. Also use cold water to reduce your costs even further. Less hot water means less heating related energy use.

Clothing Lines – something our parents used to do. Hanging the clothes out to dry saves energy too, however if you live in a polluted environment, use the dryer in non peak energy hours.

Microwave – using a microwave or a toaster oven is far more efficient than using an electric oven.

Windows and Doors – apply caulking, weather stripping even plastic window covers to increase the insulation value and keep your home warmer to reduce energy use.

Turn Lights off – When you are not in the room, turn off lights, TV’s , radios etc to reduce your electrical costs.


LED under cabinet lights

LED under cabinet lightsLight your kitchen counters for pennies a month by using a new solution, ie. LED under cabinet lights that are easy to install and save you money at the same time. In our specific situation, we were doing some do it yourself work in the kitchen replacing existing fluorescent bulbs, the tube variety, when we noticed that the plastic holder for the lights had become brittle, cracked and fell apart in our hands. In fact I even got a bit of an electrical shock when I accidentally touched the now bare connectors. It was time to change the entire installation with something new and we opted for an LED under cabinet lights solution.

Are LED under cabinet lights ready for prime time?

There are some barriers to using LED lights. First the cost is still high, but if you live in the right area, there are some financial incentives in terms of coupons available to use towards the purchase of LED lights. Check for available coupons before you make your purchase. Secondly these LED’s use so little power, they pay for themselves relatively rapidly, especially if these lights are left on a longish time in your home which ours are. They also come in various colors so you may want to check this out before buying.

LED under cabinet lights brighten  our kitchen!

We put two LED under cabinet lights beneath each cabinet, for four in total. We could have used 20 watt Xenon under cabinet lights. That would mean whenever we have the under cabinet lights on we’d be using 80 watts – a not insignificant amount of power. Since we love to cook, and spend hours in our kitchen each day, that could add up to a reasonable amount of electricity consumption by these Xenon bulbs – about 120 kWh a year, or around $20 in electricity costs, based on our leaving them on for 4 hours a day. Our LED under cabinet lights, in contrast, use a mere 2 watts each – one tenth the power consumption of Xenon lights or other halogen puck lights – and cost us under $2 a year to run.

The LED lights we purchased are daisy chained together and the final one is plugged into a regular electrical outlet. Our existing fluorescent lights were hard wired which is not to code today, so we had to install a properly grounded electrical outlet and plug the new LED lights into it. Fortunately the plug and the actual LED bar are hidden by the cabinets that provide for this sort of thing.

We are very happy with the quality of the light and leave these lights on almost all day long. They do not generate any heat what so ever so there is no worry about over heating either.

Upgrading to LED’s

We have decided that when our current crop of fluorescent bulbs finally stop working(they do last a long time), we will switch gradually to LED lights. In addition we also installed a new LED chandelier over the kitchen table. The only caution here is that if you want to dim these lights, you must purchase a special dimmer switch that is suitable for use with LED lights.

All told, I spent about $90  for four 4-light kits. Certainly more than Xenon would cost, however these lights don’t get nearly as hot as Xenon under cabinet lights.  There will be less heat damage to my cabinetry, and less heat produced indoors during hot weather (which can affect air conditioning costs).

 

 


Should I close vents in unused rooms

Should I close vents in unused roomsWith the cost of energy going up all of the time, many people are asking the same question. Should I close vents in unused rooms and try to reduce the amount of energy used to heat their homes?  Depending on the method of heating your home shutting off the heating system in a room or closing a vent in a room can decrease the amount of natural gas, heating oil, or electricity that is used through the winter, however there are several items to verify before you take this step.

The first is to make sure that there is nothing in the room that would suffer from not being heated. Any plants should be removed particularly if they are susceptible to the cold.  Some plants are quite sturdy and will go into a dormant state until it warms up again. They take less water as well so you will need to reduce the amount of water you give them.

Should I close vents in unused rooms – Water Pipes?

The other major reason that can be a problem when you shut off the heat is water pipes that could freeze as a result of not having a room heated. Water pipes to bathrooms etc are typically installed inside walls that are on the interior of the home. These pipes are kept warm by both rooms on either side being kept at a reasonable temperature well above freezing. Some water pipes are installed inside exterior walls and are kept from freezing by only the room that they are in. If this happens to be the room that you decide to turn the heat off i.e. close a heating vent or turn off the electrical heating system for that room, there is a real possibility that the pipes located in the exterior wall could freeze solid if the outside temperature goes below 32 degrees.

If the pipes are full of water and they freeze, the water expands as it turns to ice and cracks the pipe allowing water to leak out and damage the walls, floors and rooms below the leak. This can be a major expense in damage if the leak is not dealt with quickly. Some insurance companies will not cover these damages either in situations where the heat has been turned off and the water pipes have not been drained.

Bottom line if you are concerned that frozen water pipes could do a lot of damage in the winter when a room is not heated, do NOT turn the heating system off or close a vent. The damage in dollar terms can be extensive and it is just not worth taking the chance. Your potential savings will be wiped out.

During the summer time, this same room can be left alone and not cooled to save some energy. Closing vents and not cooling the room will not result in any damage. remove any plants which might suffer from higher temperatures.


Advantages of Electric Cars

Advantages of Electric CarsA lot of people can see that electric cars are much more inexpensive to operate. Due to the lower cost of electricity as compared to the cost of gasoline on a per mile basis. However everyone is still scared off by the inconvenience of finding a place to recharge your vehicle. Or worse completely draining your batteries and being stranded somewhere on the side of the road. Still, the advantages of electric cars includes that it makes sense for government and industry to find a solution to make this work, because we are polluting the earth and we are over heating the planet.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of electric vehicles? What are the solutions that need to be focused on in order to remove or reduce some of the deterrents to the consumer accepting the electric vehicle as a solution.

First the Advantages of Electric Cars

The obvious one is that the electric vehicle is more efficient than gasoline powered cars even when you take into account that most of the electricity is generated from coal or oil fired plants. On a per mile cost to the consumer the electric vehicles are winning hands down at the present time. As power consumption increases with more electric vehicles on the road, the costs may increase, but then so will the costs of gasoline so there will still be a differential in favor of the electric car.

Cars with backup gasoline powered engines such as the Chevy Volt and the Toyoto Prius are ideal for electric vehicles. The gasoline engines and the brakes recharge the car’s batteries and if they run too low, then the gasoline engine takes over. The Prius works a bit differently in that in heavy demand and at higher speeds the electric motor and the gasoline engine works in tandem to power the car.

Environmentally at least locally you are not spewing pollution from a tail pipe into the air and hybrids are spewing less pollution than traditional gasoline powered cars. With the electric cars being more efficient overall, there is less pollution as well when you consider the pollution generated at the electrical coal fired plants.

Noise is much less with an electric car as well. Whether sitting at a stop light or accelerating there is virtually no noise generation at all.

In many cities across North America, hybrid and electric vehicles are allowed to drive in HOV lanes as an incentive to move to the more efficient hybrid or electric vehicles.

Next the Disadvantages

Some people are concerned that today’s electric grid cannot handle the increased use of electricity. And yes, today’s grid probably cannot. However if the demand increases in a gradual way since the penetration of electrical vehicles will be gradual as well, then the grid has time to respond with more plants and distribution networks.

There are just not enough plug in spots available to plug in your car and recharge it. Some parking lots are even afraid they will need to rewire their parking garages to accommodate these cars at some cost. Some consumers feel they are getting ripped off if a visitor plugs in their car and recharges the batteries while visiting.

Range of the current vehicles is still an issue for pure electric cars. The hybrids have their gasoline engines to fall back on. Basically you will need to charge your batteries every day and plan your trips around recharge points for the all electric vehicle. Charge time is another issue to consider. If you are charging overnight there is no problem. On the other hand if you have to wait an hour or two to recharge this can be a big chunk out of your day.

Fast charge stations cost a lot to install in your home, and 120V charging systems will take all night to recharge the batteries.

Electric vehicles are still more expensive to purchase than their gasoline powered counter parts. However as they become more popular, prices will decline through assembly line production.

Everyone is very concerned about how long the batteries will last. Usually the car will last much longer than the battery and consumers are faced with buying a new battery at considerable expense. A gasoline engine, if looked after will last the life of the car quite easily.

Also if cars are charging at night when usage is traditionally lower, then the grid is not impacted as much as everyone might at first think. Time of day rates will push more and more people to charge their cars at night as well.

The Future of Electric Vehicles is on the Horizon

At least now we know what the problems and issues are. As they are solved one by one, these all electric vehicles will become more popular and gradually over time become the mainstay of our transport solution.

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Electric Car Operating Costs

Electric Car Operating CostsYou have probably heard all kinds of figures quoted and bandied around about the new electric cars. The Volt is one of these cars that is now out on the market and we were wondering what it really does cost to drive one of these cars and how they compare to the traditional gasoline cars. We have always been able to depend on EPA fuel standards to tell us how cars compared in using gasoline but what about electric vehicles. There are three kinds of vehicles now. There is the standard gasoline or diesel driven vehicle. There are the hybrids that have both gasoline and electric driven power trains and then there are the pure electric cars that need to b charged every night.

Electric Car Operating Costs

Miles Per Gallon Equivalent

The Volt is supposed to get 99 miles per gallon equivalent, while the Nissan Leaf gets 93 MPGe. These figures come from recognized government agencies who look at this kind of thing and provide a way for us consumers to compare one type of car with another that has a totally different power source.

Combined Efficiency Numbers

When a car like the Volt is running on electricity it is supposed to be able to get 99MPGe, however it can only do this for an estimated 35 miles on a full charge. After that the gasoline engine takes over and provides power to the batteries which takes the cost up and the MPGe down to approximately 37 MPG. Depending on the mix of driving you do on average this combined number will vary a great deal. Again the government people suggest on average a driver should expect 60MPGe. This number will vary greatly depending on your driving habits.

How Does the Consumer Really Know What the Efficiency Is

For me it all comes down to dollars. We can figure out what the cost per mile is for a regular car simply by taking the total cost to fill up a tank full of gas and dividing that by how far we can drive on that tank of gas. Some people will go further than others based on their own driving habits. Consumers can figure their own personal numbers out on their own.

The same applies to hybrid and pure electric vehicles. Monitor your electrical usage and the associated cost. Next divide the cost by the number of miles you can drive or have driven and you will have a valid comparison of the cost per mile.

Fortunately the experts have done this for us and we do not have to track all of these numbers. It appears that a Nissan Leaf would cost about $561 a year if driven 15,000 miles. A  Nissan Versa which is a similar sized car power by gasoline is going to cost approximately $1444 per year if it is also driven 15000 miles. This is a savings of almost $900 per year! The Chevrolet Volt is calculated to cost about $600 a year and the Cheverolet Cruze about $1600 a year or a savings of about a $1000 a year.

Should Consumers Purchase an Electric Vehicle

The other factors that need to be considered are the original cost to purchase these vehicles after government subsidies are include must also be compared. The electric and hybrid car costs more than the traditional gasoline powered cars due to the economies of scale. There are hundreds of thousands of them being manufactured every year. It will be several years before you break even on the cost of the car with the decreased operating costs.

The other two important factors to consider is how well they hold their value when it comes time to trade or sell them and what the long term maintenance costs will be when you take into account the batteries which must be replaced at some point. The jury is still out on these numbers.

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New toilet installation

New toilet installationWe are about to install a new toilet in our home to replace existing one that we have. My wife’s motivation is to replace existing toilet because it doesn’t look great, it is not modern, and doesn’t fit with her our decor. My motivation to replace his toilet is to reduce the amount of water usage that it currently uses every time we flush. Our old toilet will use up to 12 L of water every time which is about 3 gallons of water. The new toilets use between four and 6 L of water each time they are flushed depending on whether you have a dual flush toilet or a single flush toilet, either way it is a significant savings in the amount of water that you’re using.

The new toilets are also higher than the existing ones so you sit up higher. In addition you have slow close seats so that when you put the seat down you could just let it go. The seat and lid will slowly close rather than slamming down onto the toilet .

New Toilet Installation

In addition there are number of new features that cause the toilet to flush with much more force making it need less cleaning.

Hints and tips

We spoke to a plumber at one of our local hardware stores and he gave us a number of suggestions and hints or tricks about installing a toilet which will make the job easier. Plumbers will know this because they do this every day while the homeowner will not be aware of some of these tricks and will take the much more time or maybe even more parts.

Here are the tricks that we picked up from our conversation with the plumber at our local hardware store. I hope these help you and save you some money if you decide to do the installation of the toilet yourself.

  • You may have to use two wax rings if there are tiles on your floor and the flange is not flush with the floor.
  • You may have to purchase a flexible water pipe connection if the existing one is too short.
  • Sand the bottom of the toilet before installing it to make a smooth finish so it sits level on the floor.
  • The bolts that hold the toilet in place are difficult to install. Use some of the old wax to hold the whole bolts in the proper place in the flange and then place the new toilet on top.
  • Insert the wax ring into the toilet and not on to the flange to avoid crushing the wax ring and enabling leaks.

Central AC vs Split Air Conditioning systems

Is central air conditioning better than split or room air conditioning? Central AC vs Split Air Conditioning systems is a question we have wondered about for some time. There are pro’s and con’s to both which we will list in this post! Before we begin, we thought we should explain these terms so that everyone is on the same page. Central AC is installed in many homes and means essentially what it implies. There is one air conditioning unit that provides cool air throughout the home from one location usually in the basement for homes with basements and from just about any other location in homes with no basement including the roof. There is one unit outside that is attached to the furnace which blows cool air throughout the house.

Central AC vs Split Air Conditioning systems

Central AC vs Split Air Conditioning systems have much different foot prints and cost models. Room air conditioners are usually found in one room, sitting in the window and will only cool the room they are in and perhaps adjacent rooms if they are small and the doors are left open. Most people will locate them in the bedroom so that they can get a good nights sleep. These systems are noisy and the fans are loud, so they are something you should get used to.

Split AC Systems

Split air conditioning systems are usually for larger homes and may have an AC unit for each end of the home or for different floors. There will be multiple forced air furnaces as well to blow the cooled air throughout the section of the home that they are to cool. Separate thermostats are provided so that the sleeping area for example can be kept cooler than the rest of the home to enable better sleeping conditions. Various circumstances or design of the home will require different configurations of AC units.

The following are some of the characteristics as well as pros and cons for each:

Central AC

  • most rooms are at the same temperature
  • opening and closing vents is used to control specific room temperature and cost
  • 2nd floor rooms will be hotter
  • Basement will be cold
  • costs are high to cool entire home

Room AC

  • only rooms were AC is will be cool
  • usually in rooms for sleeping
  • cost is lower
  • must endure hot rooms in parts of the house
  • Must endure the noise of the AC fan in the room

Split AC

  • Multiple units outside the home
  • Larger home means more cost
  • Can control temperature in different parts of the home
  • May need to close off sections of the house if not in use

Older homes or homes that are heated with electricity baseboard heaters that do not have any way of forcing air throughout the home will typically go for in room AC, while homes that are heated with forced air gas or oil furnaces can take advantage of central or split AC systems. All air conditioning is expensive to run, using a lot of electricity. Any time you can shut the system off or increase the temperature will reduce the amount of electricity you are using and reduce your electrical bill as well.

If you are on time of day electrical billing with a so called smart meter, you may also want to program your AC so that it runs mostly at night when the cost of electricity is at a lower rate compared to the daytime cost of electricity. Evening rates can sometimes be as much as 50% less than peak rates for electrical use.


Eight Ways to Reduce Gasoline Usage

Reduce Gasoline UsageWith gas prices going up as we write this it is ever more important to save money by using less gasoline! We listed a number of ways to reduce your gasoline usage as well as save money at the pump as well. If you have additional ideas, leave us comments to assist our readers.

Reduce Gasoline Usage

Get an app for your smart phone – use GasBuddy’s, AAA’s TripTik and the YP Yellow Pages and Gas Prices, all of which are free. Others that cost money include SmartFuel, Gas Cubby and Cheap Gas.

Drive less – consolidate errands to keep driving to a minimum and plan your trips so that you are not retracing your drive. If something can wait until tomorrow when you can combine it with another errand, put it off until the next day.

Drive slower – Shave 10 to 15 miles per hour off your speed and you can save up to 15% in fuel consumption. You can test this easily by driving at your normal speed which is 10 to 15 miles per hour over the speed limit and noting how many miles you obtain on a tank full of gas. On the next tank drive at the speed limit and not how much further you go on a tank full of gas. You may be surprised. If you have a gas mileage monitor in your car you can do the same thing even more accurately!

Keep your windows closed – at highway speeds, air racing through your car will increase its drag and burn up to 10% more fuel. I used to think that not running the air conditioning would save more money, but it is not the case. Roll up the windows, leave the AC on and turn up the temperature a notch or two to save money and have a more comfortable trip.

Go light on the brakes – slow and steady acceleration and braking can save as much as 20% in fuel. Not to mention that your brakes will wear out much slower as well. We all know what a brake job costs these days and it is just not worth it to spend greater than $500 for a brake job by doing those jack rabbit starts and stops.

Shut Off your car when idling restarting the car when you’re idling for more than one minute will cost you less in fuel than the wait. Even the Toyoto Prius will shut the engine off when it comes to a stop at a light or stop sign to conserve gas. Idling your car for long periods makes no sense and pollutes the air around you as well.

Turn your A/C off. – the air conditioner is a big drag on your car’s engine and gas efficiency. If you do not need it turn it off, especially if just cruising around the city at low speeds, however at high speeds you are better off to close your windows and use the AC if it is hot. Turn up the temperature in your car by a degree or two to conserve energy or just let fresh air come into the car through the vents.

Regular Maintenance

Keep your car healthy. — clean dirty air filters, replace aging spark plugs, keep tire air pressure and fluids at recommended levels  are all regular maintenance things to do for your car to maintain your car and gain maximum gas mileage from your car. Most people can do a lot of the work themselves and it only takes a few minutes to check air pressure and fluid levels.

These are some of the methods to use to conserve gasoline when you must drive your car. The ultimate way to conserve gasoline is to walk to the corner store or take your bike. Not only do you save some money on gasoline, you also get some exercise which is good for the body and the mind as well.

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Smart Hydro Meters

Smart Hydro MetersWe have a smart hydro meter installed on our home. This meter records the amount of power we use every hour and then reports this usage to the company that provides the electricity to consumers in our area. We are billed on the amount of electricity we consume during the day and evening at different rates. During the daytime we are on a peak rate level. In the early morning and early evening we are on mid peak rate, while at night we are on an off peak rate. The difference in rates between peak and off peak can be almost half price. The utility in our area has gone this route to encourage consumers to reduce energy use and reduce their electricity bills. Most people now will cook in the evening, dry their clothes in the dryer etc during off peak time frames.

Problems with Smart Hydro Meters

This summer we found that our meter was not reporting the usage to the company providing our electricity and we were notified that it had to be changed. This change took a few months to implement. Not sure if it is red tape or they are just too busy, however it was over these summer months when usage is at the highest level for air conditioning and pool pumps. We decided we would continue to practice energy reduction techniques during the summer time much as we normally do and it turn out that this was a good approach to take.

Turns out that although the meter was not reporting the usage to the company, it was still recording our usage. When the meter was replaced, they took it into the lab and downloaded the usage to their computers. They were then able to reconstruct the billing for us and sent us a new bill.

We had been billed up to that point as if our usage was all on the low peak rate, which of course is to our advantage/ This is not to be expected over the long run. We were reassessed and over a 3 month period we had consumed an additional $421 dollars of electricity and now had a bill for this much usage.

We are now challenging this bill to make sure that they calculated the amount correctly, however I am prepared to pay the electricity as calculated, since we probably used it.

The reason for this post is to point out to reads a couple of things about smart meters:

  • Be aware that they record the results all of the time even if they do not report the results
  • You will get a bill eventually for the proper amount of electricity
  • Practice energy reduction techniques all of the time
  • Challenge your utility to demonstrate how they calculated the final invoice

Smart Hydro Meters and Energy Reduction Techniques

We know couples who do not shift their energy consumption at all and pay a lot higher electricity bills than we do. In one case they were not even aware that this information was available to them. We feel that having this information gives you the power to know when to use electricity and when not to. You can choose to use electricity at high rates or at low rates. Regardless it all comes out of your paycheck and I would rather have more to go around from my paycheck for other things than spend it all on electricity.

The smart meter gives you all of this information and you can log onto the website for your company to review how you are using electricity. On this web site we have discussed lots of steps to take to reduce electricity usage. The smart meter provides one more opportunity to manage and control this rather large cost. Check out some of our other pages about specific steps to reduce electricity and to reduce heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer time. These ideas may not apply to everyone or be of interest; however some are quite easy to consider and implement. They can literally save you hundreds of dollars a year or more.

Thanks for reading about smart hydro meters and send us your comments on ideas to reduce energy costs around the home.

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Space Heaters for Your home vs Infrared

Space HeatersIt is winter time and many people will resort to some kind of space heater to keep a room warm without the need to heat the rest of the home. For example you  can be very comfortable in your family room with a space heater running in that room while the remainder of the home is kept cooler and saving you money on the heating cost.

There are various types of space heaters. We talked about two types in the title, the infrared and the regular space heater. We will explain the difference in a moment. There is at least one more type of space heater and really that is the fireplace that can be used to keep one room warmer than another. We will first talk about the different types and them discuss the efficiency of each type.

Space Heater Types

Fireplaces typically are built into a room and cannot be moved around. They may be either wood burning or they may have gas fired fireplaces inserted to avoid having the trouble of carting in wood and lighting fires etc.

Space heatersgenerate heat by converting electricity to heat. They heat the elements of the space heater which in turn transmit heat to the air around the space heater. Some come with fans which will circulate this heated air around the room and speed up the process of warming the room. These space heaters can become quite hot and both adults and children need to be careful around them to avoid touching them and burning their hands.

Infrared Space Heaters generate heat in the infrared spectrum. They do not heat the air around them at all. The infrared spectrum will heat a surface with the light waves encounter a surface such as a person. Aimed properly a person can sit in a cold room and be quite comfortable as long as the infrared rays are hitting the person. There is no danger from anything hot, although some people may find the light a bit bright especially for sleeping.

Efficiency of these Space Heaters

Efficiency is difficult to measure for many devices, so we will indicate averages that may be available from various space heaters.

The wood fireplace is probably the most inefficient, since most of the hot air goes up the chimney and in fact it draws warm air from your home into the fireplace which then goes up the chimney. All wood burning chimneys must have a source of fresh air, otherwise they will not burn properly and may even cause smoke to come into your home instead of go up the chimney. Modern wood burning fireplaces will have a fresh air intake installed around the fireplace to reduce the amount of air extracted from the home and provide a source of fresh air.

The gas fireplace has it owns source of fresh air and in fact is a self contained unit. They are much more efficient than wood burning fireplaces. Older models were approximately 70% efficient without a fan and close to 80% efficient with a fan to blow the warm air around the fireplace into the rest of the home. Never the less these gas fireplaces perform well and will keep a small room like a family room very comfortable. You can allow the rest of the home to be quite cool while you remain comfortable in the room were the gas fireplace is located.

Infrared and regular Space Heaters claim to be 100% efficient. While they are very close to being 100%, they are actually a bit less than 100% since some electrical energy is lost in the transmission of the electricity and if there is a fan, some energy will be lost in the operation of the fan. They are so close that many people just consider them to be 100% efficient for marketing purposes.

Summary

Never the less these small space heaters are an inexpensive alternative to keeping your entire home warm, when all you need is the room where you spend most of your time to be kept warm. Some space heaters will also have timers on them allowing the owner to set them to coincide with rates that are lower during the day usually in the evening.


LED Lights For Homes

LED Lights For HomesLED lights for homes have become very popular over the past few years, especially for Christmas lights, however recently they are finding their way into homes for lighting rooms and offices. We began with the traditional incandescent lights which consume electricity at a significant rate, to fluorescent lights which were a huge improvement and now we are moving to LED lights which save even more electricity.

So how much electricity do you save when install a set of LED lights for your home?

LED Christmas Lights

An example using Christmas lights will serve to demonstrate just how much less these lights cost to operate. LED light consumption of electricity  is surprisingly low. For example, a string of 100 of the mid-size LED Christmas lights  uses only 8 watts of electricity, which is less than even a very dim compact fluorescent bulb uses.

The old outdoor incandescent Christmas bulbs are 5 or 7 watts per bulb and a  string of 50 incandescent Christmas lights  would use around 250 to 350 watts. A string of  200 incandescent bulbs would use about 1,000 to 1,400 watts  compared to 16 watts for two strings of 100 LED Christmas lights.

If you are planning to purchase lights for the Christmas season, now is the time to make your purchase of LED lights. They can reduce your consumption of electricity while at the same time adding lots of color to your home.

If you use your incandescent  lights for 6 hours a day, for 1 month  a year over the Christmas season (180 hours in total), you are using 180 kilowatt hours (kWh) for these bulbs. The LED Christmas light consumption for the same number of bulbs for this time period, is a mere 8 watts (per 100 lights) x 2 strings of lights x 180 hours, or 2.8 kilowatt hours.

Electrical costs varies a great deal across the US and Canada. A figure of 10-12 cents per kWh is not unusual , however in the evening with time of day charging it can go as low as 7 cents per kilowatt hour. That set of 200 incandescent bulbs will cost you $18 to $30 a year to operate for one month of the year. For the LED Christmas light consumption you’d be looking at only $0.28 to $.35 for the same number of bulbs.

Use LED Lights For Homes

Christmas lights are not the only lights that are taking advantage of the LED savings. New products are being introduced all of the time for inside your home for everyday use. We recently just purchased a desk LED lamp for a mere $10 that will not only save us money in terms of electricity usage, the LED’s will last for many years. The only negative with this particular lamp is that once the LED fails, we have to throw the entire lamp away. There is no replacement bulb in this example.

Help The Environment – LED Lights For Homes

Consumers are sometimes put off by the purchase cost of fluorescent bulbs or LED bulbs. Typically they will cost much more than incandescent bulbs, however the money you save in terms of operating cost will quickly pay for the original investment in the LED bulbs. An in addition you are helping the environment by reducing our carbon foot print as well. When we consume less electricity, we are burning less coal and oil that is needed to generate the electricity we use.

We used an example of Christmas lights to illustrate how much you can save when you convert from incandescent lights to LED lights. Using the same math, you can calculate the savings for home indoor lights as well. Most packaging on these lights also indicates how much electricity you are going to save when you use these lights. However one suggesting when you read the literature is that you will need to make adjustments to the assumptions based on your own usage, the electrical rates in your area and the cost to purchase the bulb as well.

Once you do this you will quickly see just how much you can save on your electrical bill every year compared to using the old style incandescent bulbs. If you have already converted to fluorescent bulbs, you are already saving on electricity, so the payback will not be as quick when you convert from fluorescent to LED, however there still is a significant savings.

 

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How to Reduce Electricity Consumption

Reduce Electricity ConsumptionThis post is about how to reduce electricity consumption and lower your electrical bills. This web site  is all about how to reduce our costs around the home and one of the largest utility bills is the electrical bill.  Consumers living in the southern US use a lot of electricity to cool their homes while consumers in the north will use more to heat their homes , especially if you have electrical heating. Any time you run a motor, turn on a light or use an appliance at home you are consuming electricity. As we move to the so called smart cars and rechargeable cars, it will only get more important to reduce our electrical usage to avoid those huge bills.

I have already reduced our annual bill by over $400 simply by turning off lights, converting to florescent bulbs and only running the AC and the pool pump during hours when the cost of electricity is reduced. In our area, the cheapest electricity is at night after 7 pm until 7 am, so if I have to use electricity for things like the clothes dryer, the AC and the pool, I try to run them at night and avoid the more expensive hours.

How much More Expensive is Electricity

At night we pay 7 cents per kilowatt hour, while during the day at peak times it can be as high as 11.5 cents per kilowatt hour. This is a 65% increase and represents a huge savings opportunity! for example if you regularly run the lights all night, a single 60 watt incandescent  light bulb is going to cost you about $20 for the entire year. Converting to a florescent light bulb that gives off the same amount of light but only takes 8 watts to run is only going to cost a $1.60 a year or $10.40 in savings, which more than pays for the cost of the more expensive bulb.

This is just one bulb in your home. Imagine if you converted all of the bulbs to florescent bulbs ! How much money would you save? Electrical light bulbs are the least expensive to operate. Appliances with motors such as dryers and furnaces or air conditioning units consume far more electricity.

How to reduce electricity consumption: Just Turn it off

This should really be the motto for home owners who are serious about reducing electricity consumption. If you cannot turn it off, at least reduce the usage so that you are reducing your electrical usage. Another example is drying your clothes. If you own a dryer and wash your own clothes, you obviously have to dry them, however by drying them on the weekend or in the evening, you can consume far less electricity. If you are not adverse to hanging your clothes on a clothes line outside, you can also save a great deal of money this way and your clothes will smell really fresh too. For many people this is not really an option so they just have to shift their clothes drying to the non peak hours.

If you are not in the room, turn off your TV. No one is watching it and you are just consuming electricity! There is another benefit as well. TV’s these days have a limited life span. The more you use them the quicker the screen will burn out and have to be replaced. Turn it off when it is not being used to save money in several ways.

Reduce electricity Consumption While on Vacation

Do you need to run the AC while you are on vacation this summer? If not turn it off! Or if you have pets at home at least turn the temperature up a bit to reduce your usage. Set your lights to turn on and off using timers so they are not on all of the time, but still give that lived in look to your home.  If you leave in the winter time, you must leave your furnace running, however you can turn down the temperature a few degrees to save electricity and also heating fuel as well.

As a final reminder about how to reduce electricity consumption, if you cannot turn it off , then reduce consumption by using it less and time shifting your usage into time frames were electrical rates are lower. If you do not know what the prices are call your local electrical utility to find out what the rates are throughout the day.

 


How I Reduced My Electricity Use

How I Reduced My Electricity UseLast year for the month of July I really did not pay attention to how much electricity we were using and I received a big shock when I received the final bill for the year which is at the end of July.During the previous year we used 88Kwh of power and my bill for the month of July alone was $388! I also had a final adjustment for the year  that required  me to pay an additional $605! We are on an equal billing plan and were not paying enough each month. My total bill for the year was $1881  to run the pool pump, the AC and the regular lights and the furnace fan etc.

Need less to say I was shocked and upset, so from that time on I resolved to manage our electrical usage more carefully.  We are on the smart meter program so if we can avoid using power during the day we save 5 cents / kilowat / hour. If we do not use the power at all, we obviously save money too.

Well this year our final bill total for the year was $1467 compared to $1881 , a savings of $414! Our equal billing plan was raised because of the previous year so we paid more each month and now the hydro company owes us money! One last point, the rates we pay for power also went up as well, so our savings are even greater. Sometimes it takes a shock to get you focused on reducing the use of electricity. Hopefully this post will help you before it hits your wallet.

How I Reduced My Electricity Use

Here is a list of things that we did to reduce our electrical usage and make use of non peak rates which run from 7pm to 7am during the week and all weekend.

  • Run the clothes dryer at night after 7 pm
  • Turn the lights on after 7pm, although they really do not use much power
  • Convert to fluorescent lights and LED’s throughout your home
  • Run the dishwasher after 7pm
  • Run the pool pump for 4 hours at night, beginning at 7pm and off at 11pm
  • Run the pool pump from 7am  in the morning until 10am
  • Turned up the AC during the day and down at night for sleeping
  • Turned off the AC as much as possible
  • Set the furnace fan to auto instead of always on

What are the Big Power Users?

The big power users are things that have motors and heaters such as the dryer and the washing machine, the dish washer, the furnace, the air conditioner, the pool pump and the jacuzzi. There may be others, however these are the main culprits for high energy use. If you can avoid using them or shift their use  to between 7pm and 7am you are going to reduce your energy bill and your energy foot print.

Obviously turning lights off also helps, however once you convert to fluorescent lights or LED’s the savings will be less significant.  Running things such as multiple TV’s, multiple refrigerators and freezers also contribute to power usage. Turning of any and all of these devices or at least turning up the temperature a bit will always save energy can cut down on your electrical costs.

Keeping Our Old Chest Freezer

We have an old chest freezer for example which we only use at Christmas time. We have more food in the house and there are more things that we need to freeze so we plug it in and use if for a month or two. It is obviously an energy hog, however the cost to buy a new more efficient freezer is far more expensive than the money we would have by getting rid of it. So we will continue to run our 35 year old freezer until it does not work any longer. We only use the freezer for 1 to 2 months of the year so it makes sense for us.

How Much Money Will We Save this Year on Electrical Charges?

The rates have gone up again so if we run everything exactly the same as last year we are likely going to pay more in electrical costs. The next best thing would be to generate our own power which I would like to look into as a means of reducing our electrical costs this year and in future years.

We saved over $400 last year compared to the previous year. We are unlikely to get the same thing this year, however even if we break even, it will demonstrate a reduction since rates have increased. Why not try this out and see how much you can save.


Upgrade to Dual Flush Toilets

Dual Flush ToiletsWe recently wrote a post about dual flush toilets for a customer of ours. We were so surprised about the water savings and payback you get when you upgrade from your old toilet to a dual flush toilet, we decided to add this post.  I was always of the opinion that upgrading to a dual flush toilet did save money in terms of water usage, but not enough to make it worthwhile from a financial point of view. There are some situations where it makes sense from a purely financial perspective to upgrade your toilet. Of course there are esthetics to consider and also that you now have a modern toilet instead of one that dates back into the 80’s or even older.

If you can remove your old single flush toilet and install the new dual flush toilet yourself, then you probably can break even or even get a payback on your investment in less than 10 years. We did several calculations which will support this assertion, however you will need to adjust it to your own situation in terms of water cost as well as whether you hire a plumber or not. Hiring a plumber significantly increases the cost of the new toilet.

Dual Flush Toilet Costs

Here are the assumptions we made and we would be interested in your views, adjustments we should make to the assumptions etc. Here we go:

  • New Dual Flush Toilet $200.00
  • Installation $100.00
  • Parts $30.00
  • Rebate $oo.oo

Total Cost $330.00

Some states or municipalities may have rebates as an incentive to save water. We do not have an incentive, however if yours does include that rebate above when you calculate your overall cost of installing a new toilet. Also if you can install the toilet yourself, you can zero out the installation cost of $100.

Cost Assumptions for Upgrading

  • Old tank size:  5 (gallons)
  • Water Rate /CC Meter:  $0.565
  • Gallons / CC Meter:  264
  • $/gallon: $0.0021
  • Sewer Rate:  1.66 (Our water rate is increased by this factor)
  • Cost per flush: $0.03
  • Flush per day: 10 (average rate, adjust as you see fit)
  • Cost per day:  $0.28
  • Days per year:  365 (If you are on vacation, you may decrease this number)
  • Cost per year:  $103.89
  • Number of years:  6.5 (Number of years to achieve payback for our scenario)
  • Total Cost:  $675.31
  • Savings Rate/Flush: 0.5 (We used an average savings of 1/2)
  • Net Water Savings: $337.65

Return on Investment $7.65 (This is the savings when it turns positive for us at 6.5 years. You can adjust the number of years until you get a positive result, which is the number of years that it will take to pay for the toilet.

There are some other assumptions that we did not bother to include which could have a significant impact on the results.

Rebates for example could have a dramatic impact and cause the payback to be decreased significantly. Also the cost of water is going to increase a lot over the next 10 years. No one knows how much and it will be different in each state. This will only increase the savings even more as rates rise. Completing the installation will also save you a great deal of money and reduce the payback period even further. finally these calculations assumed one toilet in your house. Most homes have several toilets so you will have to add costs for the number of toilets you have and split the number of flushes between toilets.

Can You Get any Rebates for Dual Flush Toilets

We played around with the numbers a bit and found that if we installed the toilets ourselves, purchased them on sale and received a rebate, we could get the payback period down to 5 years which is pretty good. It does demonstrate just how practical and economical it can be to install dual flush toilets and how much you will save in water compared to your old toilets.

We have not taken into account any advantage we might have gained in terms of resale value of our home. It will definitely have an impact on the sale price, however how much is anyone’s guess.

If you have crunched the numbers for the location were you live and are able to get the numbers even lower, let us know. We are trying to save money and update our homes at the same time.

 

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Cut Down On Gas Usage

Cut Down On Gas UsageGasoline prices continue to rise and yet it appears from the amount of traffic on the roads, no one is cutting back on the amount of driving they do. You still have to get to work, get to the grocery store and get the kids to their activities. However consumers may be cutting down on their gas usage in other ways to compensate for the increased prices at the pump. Prices went down a bit in the fall of 2012 and early 2013, but lately they are beginning to rise again and consumers are bracing for $4 / gallon again this coming summer. Are you ready for these high prices and can your budget afford the increases.

Cut Down On Gas Usage – $1000

We are probably spending an extra thousand dollars on gasoline every year  due to the increased prices of oil. The only way we can control how much we spend on gasoline is to either drive less or keep our car in optimal condition so that it uses gasoline as efficiently as possible. It is just a matter of time before we are paying $5.00 a gallon and if you have not already begun finding ways to reduce your gasoline usage, you should start now.

Here is a short list of things that you can do to reduce your overall cost for operating your car and help deal with the increasing price of gasoline.

  • D-I-Y – Do It Yourself – do your own repairs and fluid checks
  • Check and replace air filters – keep them clean to maximize air flow
  • Change their own tires – hard to do for most people, can rotate them yourself
  • Monitoring and topping up their vehicle’s fluids
  • Inspect and replace vehicle light bulbs – follow the manual or buy a car care manual
  • Cleaning the car – inside and out with your own vacuum and hoses.
  • Brake repairs – only do this if you have the tools and the appropriate skills
  • Replenish all essential fluids (automatic transmission fluid, brake fluid and coolant) and get regular oil changes
  • Replace worn or damaged wiper blades and burned out light bulbs to maintain good visibility and safety

Reduce Gas usage

  • Remove winter tires and install summer tires at the right time
  • Wash away winter grime and salt build-up to prolong the life of your cars body, this is most important in states and provinces were salt is used on the roads.
  • Check tire tread – make sure that you have sufficient tire tread on the tires to be safe.
  • Ensure proper tire inflation at least once a month – visually check your tires every day
  • Take public transit whenever you can to conserve gasoline and wear and tear on the car
  • Drive at or below the speed limit – this is the most efficient speed to drive at
  • Avoid jack rabbit starts and stops at stop signs and stop lights
  • Check and adjust tire pressure will help to improve fuel economy

These are pretty standard things that most people can follow easily without too much trouble. Getting into the habit of checking tires  etc is easy and will help you save gasoline. Make sure that the tires are balanced and that your car is properly aligned. all of these things contribute to better gas mileage and reduced cost when you travel. Buy a gas guzzler is another approach especially for commuting.

More Ideas

If you have additional ideas to contribute that will help us all reduce the cost of gasoline and the amount of gasoline we use, please leave your comments. We can use all of the help we can get these days as prices go higher and higher. Gasoline has recently dropped in price a bit which gives us some breathing room, however any time you can save money and use it for other things, this seems like a good thing to me.


Heating with Electric Ceramic Space Heaters

Electric Ceramic Space HeatersThis post may be interesting to people living in colder climates and are trying to save money on their heating bill without being cold all of the time in their homes. If your home is heated by natural gas or oil and you have a central furnace, then your entire house is kept at the same temperature throughout. Why heat the entire house when you need to only heat the rooms you spend the most time in? By heating only the rooms you actually spend time in can reduce your heating cost.

This year we are trying to keep the house cooler during the day and the evening and using a combination of a gas fireplace and small electric ceramic space heaters to keep the rooms warm were we spend a lot of time. For example our furnace temperature is set to 19C or 66F, which is pretty cool for many people.

Our family room and kitchen is an open concept and we use the gas fireplace in the family room to heat this are of the home and bring the temperature of this area up to 22C or 71F!  The rest of the house stays cool and we save on the natural gas consumption since we are not heating the rest of the home. At night we turn off the gas fireplace and we allow the temperature in our home go down to 16C or 61F! Pretty cool!

Electric Ceramic Space Heaters – Temperature

Now some people might consider this to be really cold, however we have a space heater in our bedroom which brings the temperature up to a comfortable level. It has a time and automatically heats the room for us before we go to bed. We can set the temperature at whatever we wish so that we are comfortable through the night.

In my office, I also have a small ceramic heater, which heats the room to a comfortable temperature while the rest of the home is kept cool. This seems to work well for us and we save on our natural gas usage, as well as electricity since the furnace is running less and not consuming electricity when the fan is running. Of course we are consuming electricity by using these small heaters, however this is much less than what would be used normally.

In theory this should all work and we should save money on our overall consumption of natural gas and electricity. However it really does depend on the rates you pay for electricity and natural gas.  It is really tough to figure out unless you have all of the facts.

You will definitely save energy and probably money as well by following this approach and enduring the cold in your home and the complaints from your family, however is it all worth it  from a dollars and cents perspective?

The facts I have are as follows:

  • Furnace is 85% efficient
  • DC motor which uses less electricity
  • Our home is 2500 square feet
  • Gas costs about .09 per CCF
  • Electricity costs about .06 per KW at night and .11 during the day
  • The ceramic heaters use 1.5kw’s per hour

Approximate your Savings

Now it is pretty hard to figure out what you are going to save based on consumption etc, so we will make  some approximations which will get us close to the number.  For example if you annual heating bill was $1800 and you kept the temperature at 72F all of the time and then reduce the average temp in all of the house to 64, the percentage decrease is  18%. Apply this against your annual cost and you should save around $330 per year.

Now as we mentioned your family might disown you if this was the temperature throughout the house all of the time, so adding electric space heaters in the most used rooms can make it more comfortable. We have seen oil filled heaters for around $80 and they take about 1.5kw per hour to run. Using our rates for the day time, this is going to cost you approximately $50 over the year to heat one room. Same thing with heating your bedroom at night. So you are probably looking at a cost $160 for two heaters and increased electricity cost of $100 for both heaters or a total of $260.

Of course your furnace will be running less, however we have not factored this into the equation. Based on this crude approximation you are going to be saving roughly $70 the first year and then $230 every year after that based on current rates.

Not a huge savings, however every dollar counts and it is better in your pocket than someone else’s. It does get better over time. You can use this approach to figure out what the savings might be for you depending on your homes size and current energy usage.

Sources of Electrical Power

If you are concerned about the environment, you also have to take into account how your energy is produced. When you burn natural gas, you are burning a fossil fuel and depleting the earth’s resources.  The same goes for electricity generated by coal or oil  fired plants . However if your electricity is produced by nuclear power plants that brings up an entire other issue in terms of the overall safety of these plants. You may not want to encourage investment in more of these plants by using this type of electricity. Electricity produced by dams is far better and does not pollute the environment, although there are 1000’s of acres that are now under water . You have to decide which one you are going to support.

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Programmable Thermostats

Programmable ThermostatsWith all of the emphasis on reducing energy costs, it would seem that using programmable thermostats should save you money.  It turns out that programmable thermostats are just like anything else used by consumers. If used correctly they will save you some money in terms of heating or cooling costs. But in the wrong hands, a programmable thermostat can actually cost you more for heating and cooling your home!

The Right Way to Program a Thermostat

Turns out that the rule of thumb is to set the temperature for a period of 8 hours and leave it there. If you do this every day then you probably will save money. For example, when you go to bed, there is an 8 hour stretch were you can turn the heat down for heating purposes and reduce your energy costs. The same thing when you go to work. However if someone is constantly fiddling with the thermostat, and adjusting it every few hours either manually or by programming, you can end up using more energy than necessary.

A 1978 research paper (“Energy Savings through Thermostat Setbacks” by Nelson and MacArthur) confirmed basic physics. On average, if you turn the thermostat down by one degree Fahrenheit for eight hours every night, you’ll use about 1% less energy. (So, if you turn the temperature down by 10 degrees every night, you’ll use about 10% less energy.) But note that you’ll see less savings in milder climates (the bigger the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, the more you save by adjusting the thermostat) and with electric heat.

The Real Answer About Programmable Thermostats

If you are motivated to reduce your heating and cooling costs then you are going to be setting your thermostat lower to be gin with when heating and higher when cooling and you are going to leave the setting alone. You do not need a programmable thermostat to do this. Rather it is all about what you as an individual and your family want the temperature in your home to be.

A programmable thermostat will help you manage the temperature better, but it alone will not save you money. If people in your family are constantly adjusting the temperature then you are going to pay more for energy. It is just that simple and no thermostat is going to change this unless you put it under lock and key. You might end up with a revolt in your family if you actually try this.

There were a number of studies that have been conducted that proved this point and we included an excerpt here for readers . See below.

If your motivation is to reduce your energy costs and save money, consider a programmable thermostat as a tool to help you accomplish your goals. By itself they will not save money. You need to program these thermostats to adjust the temperature in the same manner that you would have manually adjust the temperature on a manual thermostat. Set the temperature once for an 8 hour period and leave it there.

Turning down the temperature for 8 hour periods will definitely save you money , only if you leave it and do not play with it.

Where’s the savings?

In 2007, RLW Analytics prepared a report for GasNetworks, a New England-based energy company. “Validating the Impact of Programmable Thermostats” found that using an Energy Star-certified programmable thermostat produced an average savings of about “6.2% of total household annual natural gas consumption”. Those who installed programmable thermostats into older heating systems (in other words, those who didn’t install a new heating system at the same time) saved an average of 6.8%.

Note: The New England study also found that people who micromanage their manual thermostats use more energy than those who just leave them at predefined points for longer periods of time.

 

 

 


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