Tag: Energy Efficiency Audit

Energy Efficient Things

Energy Efficient ThingsThere has been a big push in the last dozen years for consumers to use less energy in their every day lives. From cars to appliances and even the grocery bags that we use when we purchase our groceries has come under the gun. We now have fluorescent lights and LED lights which use far less energy and all of our appliances are also designed to use less energy. There is hardly a person among us that does not take into account how much energy we use and how can we reduce the energy we use when we purchase something. The energy pyramid is on persons view of where to begin with regards to reducing your energy foot print.

But is It Enough – Energy Efficient Things

The latest report out of the IPCC for 2013 suggests that we need to do more, much more to lessen the impacts of global warming. In fact we have made some progress and we apparently are not heating up the earth at the same rate that we were, but it is still going up and projected to continue unless we do something drastic.

What do they mean by drastic? Even though our cars and trucks are probably twice as efficient as they were back in the 70’s and 80’s, there are more and more cars on the roads and we are burning more fossil fuels than ever before which contributes to global warming. We have to wean ourselves from fossil fuels if we are going to really make a difference.

In our estimation, we need to make major strides towards electric vehicles, towards wind energy generation, and solar power to really make a difference. We have started with a number of cars on the road that are electrical only, but we really need to make it much further where the car that is adopted the most is in fact an electric vehicle.

Power generation even if it is generated by coal or oil burning plants is still more efficient than all of the cars that are on the roads burning gasoline,  however where we can make real strides is a giant shift to renewable energy such as solar and wind technology.

What Are the Road Blocks

There are many, but in this writers mind there are two major ones. First the cost for consumers to switch over are still too high. No one wants to buy a car that is $5000 to $10000 more expensive than it’s gasoline counterpart no matter how cheap it is to operate. And this is assuming they solve the distance issue and the rapid charge issue.

The second issue that industry is struggling with is the massive infrastructure that is set up to process oil, make gasoline and distribute it to the consumer. There are millions of jobs at stake and there are literally billions of dollars at stake as well.

The social engineers among us must solve these two major problems before we will see a major shift from fossil fuel technology to renewable energy technology that will make a real difference in the amount of fossil fuel energy that we consume.

This is an intensely interest issue and it will take many twists and turns before being resolved. In the mean time we will continue to endure increasing temperatures around the world and global warming! Thoughts and comments are welcome.


Reducing Energy Use

reducing energy useReducing energy use has become a favorite pass time for many people these days with the increasing cost of oil, gasoline, electricity and so on in the news almost all of the time. Every day along with the value of the stock market, the price of oil is quoted to give everyone some idea of where the price of gasoline is headed. When it goes up, not only does gasoline go up, but everything that is remotely related to gasoline goes up as well. If oil is used as a byproduct to make something, to run an engine in shipping or farming as an example, then the prices for goods are going up as well. At the time of writing, oil prices are at $108 and headed higher, which means the price of anything produced with oil is going to increase. Gasoline is over $4.00 a gallon in the US and over $1.30 a liter in Canada. In case you are wondering at $1.30 / liter is equivalent to $5.00 a gallon. They expect prices to go even higher which makes a lot more worth our while to reduce our energy use and save money on the bottom line.

How Can Consumers Reduce Energy Use?

Aside from just using less fuel and less electricity etc, consumers can use less packaging, less plastic bags and on and on to make a contribution to reducing energy. The first step of course is to apply reducing energy use in things you control and directly affect your wallet. This is gasoline you use in your car, electricity you use to do virtually everything in your home and office and fuel for heating your home or running small garden tools around your home. We have written several posts about reducing energy use in this manner on this blog. Consumers can literally save hundreds of dollars a month by cutting back just a bit in their energy use.

Other Ways of Reducing Energy Use

In some cases consumers must take a stand and not purchase products that are energy hogs which will send a message to manufacturers. If you must purchase something, then send a message by buying items that use far less energy in your everyday use. The best example is deciding to purchase a car that gets really great gas mileage vs. one that maybe looks better, has more power but uses a lot of gasoline per mile.

You may not want to pay a premium for a battery operated car or one that is battery assisted, but you can purchase a car that gets in excess of 30 miles to the gallon or higher to reduce your own personal energy use and decrease your overall cost to operate a car. Walking or biking to work is another approach that really has benefits. Not only do you save money, you get some exercise as well which will help in your overall life.

Most appliances are not manufactured with an energy star rating. Purchase those that have the best ratings overall. In fact every time you purchase an electrical device, check out how much energy it uses and if there is something more efficient available. Upgrade your furnace to high efficiency for example. You will save on fuel as well as electricity when you upgrade. Take advantage of incentive programs offered by your local government. Many offer to provide rebates when you upgrade a furnace or air conditioner to a more efficient model. These subsidies can amount to hundred of dollars.

If you have not converted all of your light bulbs from incandescent to either LED or fluorescent bulbs you should do it now. This is actually a quick win in terms of energy use reduction. Look for coupons and incentives to buy these newer bulbs at a discount. You can immediately begin saving money when you install these efficient light bulbs and the payback is relatively short.  You can easily calculate the savings by using some of the calculations on the packaging and applying your current energy rate for electricity that is provided in your state. If you plan to be in your home for a long time, investing in LED lights, which are expensive, can payback as well relatively quick.

Take a few minutes now to review some of our other posts about specific things you can do when reducing energy use in your home and office.


Reducing Energy Usage

Reducing Energy UsageOur last post discussed the appliances that consume the most electricity. From this post we can see which appliances use the most electricity and where we can plan on reducing our energy usage by focusing on the larger highest consuming appliances.

Turning the lights off and converting to fluorescent lights is an excellent way of reducing our energy usage. So running any appliance that has a motor, such as the air conditioner, the dryer and water pump less are also great ways of reducing energy usage.

We use energy in other ways as well that may not involve electricity. If you have a water heater that runs on natural gas, you are using energy. Heating your home with natural gas as well consumes a lot of energy as do pool heaters that are gas consumers.

Our cars and transportation are another area that most consumers use a lot of energy and the higher the price goes for gasoline, the more motivation there is to control how much energy we use.

Here are a few ways of reducing energy usage:

  • Unplug devices if they are not in use. All electronics consume energy even if they are turned off.
  • Set computers to sleep so they are not running and put lap tops on hibernation mode, however it is even better to unplug them
  • Turn down your temperature in the winter and up in the summer to reduce heating and air conditioning costs.
  • Use your appliances in off peak hours such as cooking, drying your clothes, setting your fridge temperature a little higher, wash full loads in the washing machine and the dishwasher, and keep them all in optimal operating condition.
  • Turn out the lights if no  one is in the room
  • Convert all lights to fluorescent or LED lights
  • Walk to work or take mass transit
  • Plan your trips in the car and avoid many short trips for single errands
  • Keep your vehicle well tuned and tires at the proper pressure
  • Turn down the thermostat when you go away on vacation in the winter
  • Turn up the thermostat in the summer when you are away
  • Use a programmable thermostat
  • Use flashlights that do not need batteries and avoid having to throw out used batteries
  • Winterize your home by sealing windows

While this may not be a complete list of reducing energy usage, these will cover the majority for many consumers. Depending on your lifestyle, there may be additional methods and approaches to reducing energy usage. Let us know by leaving comments and we will add them to our list. Our readers will appreciate it.

Additional Energy Usage Reduction Techniques

There are additional steps that can be considered to reduce energy usage which may require additional investment with various pay time frames. These approaches include:

  • Upgrade your furnace to a maximum efficiency furnace.
  • Upgrade your water heater to maximum efficiency
  • Ensure your windows are well sealed or replace them with better insulated windows
  • Upgrade your insulation in your attic
  • Arrange for a pressure test to identify all potential air leaks in your home
  • Install ceiling fans to move the air inside your home
  • Consider gas fireplace inserts to heat the most used room in your home

There are many more things that will cost increasing amounts of money to put into place. If you are building a new home there are an entire series of things to consider in terms of upgrades that can improve the efficiency of the home in terms if energy use.

There is a law of diminishing returns. The point at which the investment in energy reducing activity is going to cost more than the potential savings over some number of years. The number of years will be different for every home owner and the amount they are willing to spend. For the writer this number is around seven or eight years. In other words if I cannot recover my investment in that time, then I am not prepared to spend the money to upgrade.

This should be constantly reassessed since prices are constantly changing including the cost of energy as well as the cost of the solutions you may be considering. Reducing energy usage is an ongoing activity and should be constantly monitored.


Appliances That Use The Most Electricity

Appliances That Use The Most ElectricityWhen we started looking at this question of which appliances use the most electricity, we thought that intuitively we knew what the answer would be. The oven, the furnace, pool pump and appliances with motors would be the heavy users. And yes these appliances are in fact heavy users of electricity; however they are not even close to the big one. It turns out that central air conditioning and heat pumps are the big consumers of electricity for two main reasons.

Appliances That Use The Most Electricity

First there are two electrical motors that are running when these appliances are in use and they are typically large motors that consume a lot of electricity, up to 15,000 watts on average per hour. On top of that we tend to run our air conditioners for a long time particularly if it is really hot compared to other appliances such as an electric range, a clothes dryer etc. They use a great deal of energy during the summer time.

The cost to run an air conditioner that is consuming 15,000 watts per hour during the day time during peak hours can be as much as $1.60 per hour; while at night when rates are lower the cost can decrease to around 75 cents per hour or half of the rate that is charged during the day. We are assuming 11 cents per kilowatt during the day and 6 cents during the evening.

Large Appliances vs. Light Bulbs

Clothes dryers will use 4000 watts per hour, while a hair dryer is down around 1200 watts and the incandescent light bulb is down around 60 watts. Electricity usage is all about the math. For example let’s assume the average home has 10 light bulbs, all incandescent and are on for an average of 3 hours per day. This amounts to 1800 watts per day or 13,600 watts per week. The dryer on the other hand might be used for 30 minutes several times a week, let’s assume 4 times per week. This calculates to 8000 watts of total usage over a weeks’ time. We all want to cut down on electrical usage and now you can understand why everyone wants to switch to fluorescent bulbs or LED bulbs which reduce the electrical usage significantly.

The following chart attempts to hi-light the usage levels and costs of these appliances. You can vary your own assumptions; however we think that in general you will come out to the same conclusions. Note that for the incandescent lights are assumed to have 10 light bulbs that are on for 7 hours a day on average, for 7 days.

Appliance Avg Consumption
per hour
   Cost/hour
(10cents/KW)
 Hours per Week Total Cost
Central Air Conditioner 15,000 watts $1.50 70  $105.00
Clothes Dryer 4,000 watts $0.40 5  $2.00
Water Pump 3,000 watts $0.30 5  $1.50
Space heater 1,500 watts $0.15 70  $10.50
Hair Dryer 1,200 watts $0.12 1.5  $0.18
Electric Range 1,000 watts $0.10 7  $0.70
Refrigerator 1,000 watts $0.10 70  $0.70
Desktop Computer 400 watts $0.04 70  $0.28
Incandescent bulb 60 watts $0.06 490  $29.40

 

When you add in the number of  hours of use on average every week, it really changes the picture. the air conditioner is of course the highest, but what is really surprising is the cost of leaving lights on that are incandescent. Switch to fluorescent and you can save a tremendous about of electricity.

Reduce the number of hours your air conditioner is running by turning up the temperature on your thermostat and you can significantly reduce the amount of electricity that you use. You might argue that the assumptions in terms of how may hours we assumed, however just substitute your own to calculate the cost. We do not think that the conclusions will change.

Pushing usage into lower rate times such as in the evening will have a huge impact as well. In summary here is how you can control or reduce your electrical usage and your cost for total electricity:

  • Turn up the thermostat
  • Cool the house in the evening when rates are lower
  • Control usage so that it is primarily in the evening in low rate hours
  • Turn off lights
  • Switch from incandescent to fluorescent lights
  • Focus on the higher cost appliances that you use a lot

 


How Do We Use Energy

How Do We Use EnergyIn today’s modern world we use energy in so many ways that we now take almost all of it for granted. How Do We Use Energy does not concern most people. Just about everything we do from morning to-night when we go to bed, involves using energy and in fact we use energy even when we are asleep. Most of this energy use is electrical usage.

Our ancestors used energy too but not at the same rate that today’s modern civilization does today. For example, our ancestors probably had a fire going to keep them warm. The fire burned wood to generate the heat. They used a very small amount of energy compared to us today.

We consume natural gas, oil or coal to heat our homes, we consume electricity to also heat our homes and run just about everything in it. All of the things we have in our home consumed energy when it was manufactured including electricity, oil, gas and raw materials. Our cars run on gasoline and it takes huge quantities of energy to make these cars. Even if we take mass transport to get to and from work we are consuming energy as well, although it is much more efficient.

How Do We Use Energy More Efficiently

We are never going to back to the caveman approach with regards to energy. The real question is how do we become more efficient and use less energy per person each day to conserve our raw materials and decrease the hit on our pocket book?

Using energy efficiently must become part of our every day life. Something we think about each time we consume energy and each time we waste it.  If all of us could reduce our consumption by at least 10%, there would be a huge impact on the environment, our cost to ourselves and a general improvement to our overall lifestyle.

Ten percent is not a huge objective and for most people could be easy to achieve. We are going to list a number of things that all of us can do to conserve energy. If you are already doing some of these great, there is always more you can save. If your are just getting started, you will see that it is easy to achieve 10% savings. And it will hit you right in the pocket book, with reduced cost to you and your family. If we missed some, leave us a comment and we will be happy to include your item on the list.

Here is our list:

  • Turn off the lights as we leave the room
  • Turn off  all electronics when not in use e.g. TV’s, radios, computers
  • Turn off the power bars to fully shut down all electronics
  • Set your temperature lower if your heating your home
  • Set your temperature higher if your cooling your home
  • Use the microwave to heat or cook your food
  • Turn the oven off as soon you remove the food from it
  • Turn up the temperature on the fridge by 1 degree
  • Use a manual mower to cut your lawn instead of gas or electric
  • Run pool pumps for a few hours each day instead of all day
  • Run SPA pumps for a few hours each day instead of all day
  • Use a solar blanket to heat your pool instead of a gas or electric heater
  • Walk to work
  • Use mass transit
  • Use a more efficient vehicle
  • Avoid jack rabbit driving – fast starts and stops
  • Keep your car properly tuned
  • Keep your tires properly inflated
  • Bike or walk  to the corner store
  • Avoid sitting in coffee lines with your car idling
  • Plan your car trips to do all errands at the same time
  • Convert all lights from incandescent to fluorescent or LED
  • Upgrade your furnace to a more efficient model
  • Install solar power systems
  • Recycle your bottles, paper, cans
  • Use the sun to dry your clothes
  • Run appliances such as dryers on non peak rate hours
  • Have a shower instead of a bath
  • Convert all faucets and showers to water efficient types
  • Convert all toilets to water efficient models
  • Increase the insulation in your home
  • Change your windows to a better insulated window
  • Install barrels at the down pipes from your eaves trough to reuse the water
  • Water your lawn in the evening to minimize evaporation

The list can go on and on. Send us your items and we will be happy to add to the list to help everyone conserve energy. Remember how we use energy contributes to our overall cost to ourselves as well as the environment.

 

 


Analyzing Daily Hydro Consumption

This will be our final post about conserving energy use in the form of electricity. We wanted to show the usage for the past week and show the relative power consumed during on-peak, mid-peak and off-peak hours. We have saved over $400 on our annual bill for electricity this past year and we are very happy about this.  We could probably save more, but there is a certain quality of life that Analyzing Daily Hydro Consumptionwe look for in terms of comfort and lifestyle. Some consumers will not know what the word hydro means. It is a term that describes the generation of electricity by using dams with water driving the electrical generators instead of nuclear power or coal or gas fired plants.

But first our chart. This is for a week in August , 2011 when we are running Air Conditioning and a pool pump as well as the usual stuff that you would have in a house. My wife also runs a fan at night in our home in our bedroom as well to move the air around more.

Analyzing Daily Hydro Consumption

We reduced our consumption significantly by following these steps listed below :

  • Running the pool pump in off normal hours
  • Same with the AC and most lights
  • Drying clothes at night or on the weekends
  • For more information, refer to our previous post.
  • Convert incandescent lights to florescent lights 100%

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Analyzing Hourly Hydro Usage and Cost

Analyzing Hourly Hydro UsageOne of the things we have learned while doing some research on alternative energy sources is that the payback you get for your time spent and also for the money you are going to spend is greatest when you practice energy conservation. I just received our annual summary of our electrical bill and was pleasantly surprised to see a 22% drop in out total annual hydro cost, while rates went up by 6.8% over that same time period. That’s a total of 29% savings in my books! All you need to do is start analyzing hourly hydro usage and then take the necessary steps to lower the usage during peak rate times.

These are real savings and real reductions in energy costs to our household. It is easy to accomplish and the payback is almost immediate without too much impact on the family.

Analyzing Hourly Hydro Usage – How did we do that?

Well it turns out it was pretty easy.  Here is a summary of what we have done:

  • Convert all incandescent lights to fluorescent light bulbs
  • Run the AC only during non-peak hours (avoid  11am – 5pm)
  • Run the clothes dryer in off peak hours (avoid 7am -7pm)
  • Run the pool pump for 3 hours in the morning during mid-peak hours
  • Run the pool pump for 4 hours in the evening during off peak hours
  • Weekends are all off peak, so anything you can push to the weekend saves money e.g. Oven self cleaning
  • Turn off lights when you are not in the room
  • Turn off the TV if no one is watching it
  • Avoid using electricity any time you can

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