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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-26-2005, 09:52 AM   #41
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Re: Saving money on electricity

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Originally Posted by Nords
Amazon is selling a $30 version by P3 International but the shipping was $25. That may be Hawaii's "Paradise Tax" or a retailer may be able to get a better deal.

I bought mine yesterday from eBay's "thermalkool" in Florida for $29.64. I can't get the link to come up (http://cm.ebay.com/cm/ck/1065-29392-...tem=7574320024) but the item number is 7574320024.

EDIT: Ah, here's the link.
If you find the amazon item "P3 International Kill-a-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor, Ivory" its $33 from amazon with free shipping, thats what I got.

If you cant find that one at a local place, look for Lacrosse Technologies Power Controller...I got one of those first but it didnt work properly and amazon was "out" of them.

Theres also the "watts up" and watts up pro, the pro model can measure surges and whatnot and upload all its data to a pc. For over a hundred bucks though...
http://www.dom.com/products/wattsup/wattsup_pro.jsp

I had found out about this by reading someones blog about it, and they mentioned a 220v product that was by my recollection a good bit more expensive than the kill-a-watt, but of course I cant find the article now nor does a simple search turn up such a product.

On the other hand, I know exactly what my AC, dryer and range use for power. A shitload.
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-26-2005, 11:11 AM   #42
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Re: Saving money on electricity

Another data point. Our little oil filled electric radiator we have in the nursery cost 2.75Kwh to run for ~12 hours last night. Its about a 9x9ish room, high ceilings, house temp about 65, outside temp in the low 50's, keeping the room warmed to about 74 degrees.

So this costs about ten bucks a month to warm his room exclusive of the house. Presuming our worst case 130%-200% of baseline rate and a colder night, it might double to about twenty bucks a month.

Our alternative of not setting back the thermostat at night and not using the heater would most likely cost us quite a bit more on the gas bill, and it still wouldnt be as warm in his room as we keep it with the heater.
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-26-2005, 01:19 PM   #43
 
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Re: Saving money on electricity

We were below baseline for the first time in November. Of course, we were gone for a week, so that helped.
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-27-2005, 11:02 AM   #44
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Re: Saving money on electricity

Ugh...half my bill is 130-200%. Even in months when we didnt heat or cool, it was well over 100 bucks. Hence my interest in the kill-a-watt.
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-27-2005, 09:21 PM   #45
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Re: Saving money on electricity

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Ugh...half my bill is 130-200%.* Even in months when we didnt heat or cool, it was well over 100 bucks.* Hence my interest in the kill-a-watt.
Yes, it looks like the rates really advance after the second baseline rate tier. That watt killer investment could have a terrific rate of return

Warmer today - a balmy 81F with a light breeze @ 10 am...

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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-28-2005, 06:47 PM   #46
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Re: Saving money on electricity

So i'm running an experiment...perhaps someone can give me support or find the flaw in it.

I have the kill-a-watt on my furnace; this is only measuring the electricity used. Its 533 watts when the blower fan is running. A lot more than I thought.

I'm leaving it on for 24 hours at my current setup of 69 during the day and 62 at night. I'll measure Kwh used after the 24 hours. Then change the thermo to stay at 69 for the next 24, measure the Kwh, then put it to 72 with no set back and measure for 24 hours.

The weathers supposed to stay ~ the same for the next 3 days temp wise. So while i'm not measuring gas use or total heating cost, I will be measuring how much electric draw and I think therefore how long the furnace runs, and get a relative cost factor between the three days.

I hope to learn how much the set-back saves me, and how much keeping it a few degrees cooler than Mrs. () would like saves me (excepting the other cost factors involved in that...:P )

Any holes in this approach?
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-28-2005, 10:52 PM   #47
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Re: Saving money on electricity

Will you "normalize" for weather? If the outside temps vary significantly, u might want to adjust (factor) for weather...

I've always been a big fan out set back thermo stats, but I never attempted to actually measure the savings.

Good experiment, keep us posted...
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-29-2005, 10:05 AM   #48
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Re: Saving money on electricity

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Originally Posted by Lancelot
Will you "normalize" for weather? If the outside temps vary significantly, u might want to adjust (factor) for weather...

I've always been a big fan out set back thermo stats, but I never attempted to actually measure the savings.

Good experiment, keep us posted...
I too have been interested if there are any real savings in using a set back thermostat. We both work all day and we keep the house cool at night so we use it a lot. I just wonder if the heat up time to go from 62 to 68 when we get up in the morning and in the evenings is costing more than if we just left it at 65 at night and learned to deal with the cold floors at 5 am?
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-29-2005, 10:22 AM   #49
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Re: Saving money on electricity

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I too have been interested if there are any real savings in using a set back thermostat. We both work all day and we keep the house cool at night so we use it a lot. I just wonder if the heat up time to go from 62 to 68 when we get up in the morning and in the evenings is costing more than if we just left it at 65 at night and learned to deal with the cold floors at 5 am?
I installed two programmable thermostats in 2001 (they were expensive suckers - $69 each, since I have two stage heat pumps).
My year around electricity usage (all electric house) was lowered about 15% overall (annual savings of about $230)
Now unfortunately the usage is slightly more - since my wife & little sailor stays at home during the days.
(I tried to normalize savings using some complicated HDD & CDD weather calculations, which showed about 17% savings).
Of course YMMV, since you live in a different climat and a different house.
Also if you have a two stage heat pump (with electric resistive heating strips), if your thermostat is not "smart enough" you might end up paying more for heating.
For us the ticket for cold mornings was a heated tile floor in the bathroom. (We installed the tiles and electric heating mat ourselves)
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-29-2005, 10:35 AM   #50
 
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Re: Saving money on electricity

Our bathroom is the coldest room in the house (furthest from the wood stove), but we only use it briefly in the morning, and for showers. So, we suffer through the cold in the morning, and turn two space heaters on for about 20 minutes before taking a shower (1 KWH).
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-29-2005, 10:50 AM   #51
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Re: Saving money on electricity

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Originally Posted by ()
So i'm running an experiment...perhaps someone can give me support or find the flaw in it.

I hope to learn how much the set-back saves me, and how much keeping it a few degrees cooler than Mrs. () would like saves me (excepting the other cost factors involved in that...:P )

Any holes in this approach?
If you're having a good time using logic, high-tech engineering, and research to draw a valid quantitative conclusion, then rock on! I want to see the Kill-a-watt v2.0 with the handy RJ-45 or USB plug for automatic data input to our PC.

If you're planning to use the above to persuade your spouse to lower the thermostat, then clearly you haven't been married long enough. But good luck with that...
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-29-2005, 03:16 PM   #52
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Re: Saving money on electricity

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If you're planning to use the above to persuade your spouse to lower the thermostat, then clearly you haven't been married long enough. But good luck with that...
Actually I was looking for a reason to raise it a little as she's always cold!

I think being half my weight has something to do with it, but i'm not sure.

So far yesterday and today are about the same temps, with tomorrow being about the same. The only thing concerning is that its only about 10-15 degrees cooler outside than inside...its a warm week for december! My thinking is that as long as the temp is the same day to day, whether its 15 or 30 degrees colder out should produce the same approximate furnace run-times from a relative perspective...but I could be wrong about that, maybe theres some geometric thing to heating that isnt obvious to me.

Al...an idea for you as far as why your bathroom is cold (aside from it being a long ways from the heat source). Bathrooms are funny beasts in that about five people are usually needed to build them...the carpenter/framing guy, the plumber, the cabinet guy, the flooring guy and the finish guy. Sometimes one or more of them is the same person, but i've seen a lot of bathrooms where the tub and/or the cabinets went in before the insulation did. A lot of builders also wont put insulation in the wall next to a tub as if it gets wet it'll stay wet.

My current bathroom has a platform tub set into a tiled platform. I opened a hole into the area under the tub through the side of an adjacent cabinet and sure enough, no insulation in the walls on that corner...and that room is hot in the summer and cold in the winter...
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-29-2005, 04:29 PM   #53
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Re: Saving money on electricity

The house is in a natural depression at that mouth of a major canyon so in winter, the cold dense air comes down the canyon and settles in the depression making for a cold location most of the winter. Add to that the low sun angle and a very steep hill on the south side of the house and you have very little chance for solar heating during the day. That requires more furnace time to keep the house a toasty 65 degrees.

I have two set back thermostats, one for the basement unit and one for the rest of the house. The basement unit only gets used when we are down there and with the lower ceilings it heats up faster so I don't need to run it all all until we are down there.

The main floor is cold and drafty due to the high ceilings and open floor plan. Even 68 feels cold most of the time. The bathroom is right above the furnace so it does warm up a bit faster when the heat comes on at 4 am.

I have no intention of spending much time trying to figure out the savings....with DW it is a matter of her comfort so that becomes the #1 priority anyway.
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-29-2005, 11:08 PM   #54
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Re: Saving money on electricity

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Actually I was looking for a reason to raise it a little as she's always cold!
What is the old saying, "Happy wife, happy life"?!?

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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-30-2005, 09:38 PM   #55
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Re: Saving money on electricity

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What is the old saying, "Happy wife, happy life"?!?

I thought it was "When mama isn't happy nobody is happy"



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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-30-2005, 10:46 PM   #56
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Re: Saving money on electricity

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. . .
Any holes in this approach?
I don't know for sure, but I can think of a lot of variables that may or may not be important to the results. Even if the days have equivalent highs and lows, they may not have identical temp cycles over 24 hours. Wind is probably a significant factor. Temperature is important, but so is the amount of direct sunshine on your house and windows. The number of times you go in and out of the house during the day will probably have an effect. Are you running the washing machine? dryer? dishwasher? stove? oven? etc? the same amount at the same times each day? Hot showers and baths bring a lot of heat into the house. . .

One suggestion . . . run the three experiment cycle several times in a row and see how much variation you observe with the same thermostat settings as well as how much you observe for different settings.

And please tell us what you find. I'm really interested.
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-31-2005, 10:14 AM   #57
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Re: Saving money on electricity

Well heres what I got, and the variability is well taken.

I wish I could get lots of data points, but this involves moving all my wifes clothes in the master bath closet, pushing out the door to the attic with a pole, putting up a ladder, hoisting myself up and then wiggling on my stomach 17' over to the furnace area over blown in fiberglass insulation :P

As far as weather, we have this pacific storm system sort of sitting on us. The last three days were pretty close to the same. We had a little wind but nothing special or continuous, just a little gusting. It was in the mid to high 50's overnight and the low to mid 60's during the day. Occasional light rain. While the days were different, they werent materially so.

That having been said, my results were so far apart that we're not splitting hairs over 59 degrees one night and 62 the next.

For almost exactly 24 hours (23:59 by the kill-a-watt), day one of 69 during the day and a set back to 62 at 7pm through 4am, producted .94 Kwh. I think I have this math right, at 533W draw on the furnace fan that means the heat ran for just about two hours total during that one day period; at least the fan did.

For almost exactly 48 hours (47:40...I forgot to go check the furnace at the end of the first day and was half asleep before i remembered, so I decided to make this a 2 day test) of running with the thermostat set to 69 solid, the kill-a-watt registerer 3.35Kwh or about 1.65 Kwh and roughly 3 hours per day of furnace run time, or a 50% higher utilization than with the set back.

Construction wise, my house is standard 3 layer stucco (for those in wood house land, thats a standard 2x4 frame on 16" centers, insulated with 4" of fiberglass. Its tar papered, then a heavy wire mesh is attached and three separate layers of mortar are applied; its a little over 1" thick. The attic is filled with between 9 and 12" of blown-in insulation, depending on the drift of the insulation. It needs a good raking and another 3-4" IMO. The attic has gable vents in 3 places, about 35 soffit vents, and a ridge vent (in other words, excellent attic venting). The house is surrounded on three sides by 16-20' tall shrubs that reduce direct wind access to the walls substantially.

In short, fairly well insulated modern construction. Only foible is the lack of ventilation in the walls behind the master bath tub...and I suspect the guest bathtub as well but I have no access.

So in this decidedly unscientific but close enough for hand grenades test, my nighttime setback produced run times of ~ 2 hours instead of a little more than 3. Based on my gas bill of $156 this month last year when I used roughly the same set-back, thats about a $50-60 a month savings.

Icing on the cake? The first of the two days without the setback, I cooked a 24lb turkey in the electric oven, which had the oven running for about 4.5-5 hours and heated the kitchen up pretty well, so the furnace had some significant help for a portion of the test cycle.

So i'm pretty convinced that the setback helps in a surprisingly substantial way. I sort of had this line of thinking that a short term set back (couple of hours) would be ok, as just the air in the house would cool and quickly be re-heated. I figured a moderate term setback would not work as well, as furniture, walls, floors, cabinets and so forth would all cool after 5-6 hours and the furnace would have to run extensively to re-warm all the solid items in the house. Apparently not so.

What may be a big influence is the moderate temps; we're only looking at 10 or 15 degrees outside vs inside. I may have to rerun this test in a few weeks when this weather system moves out and we start back to getting some low 40's at night and low 50's during the day. At least the weather can be very consistent day to day here, so I should be able to pick a couple of cool ones.

With a 25-30 degree inside to outside delta, the "solid stuff" in the house might cool more quickly and to a lower "core temp" than its doing now with the moderate weather, and cause the furnace to have to work harder and longer to re-warm in the morning, producing more equitable results.

But maybe someone with an actual engineering degree in thermodynamics or some such, or someone who actually went to college, or at least someone who goes to mensa could chime in with an opinion or some other test data.
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-31-2005, 12:02 PM   #58
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Re: Saving money on electricity

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Well heres what I got, and the variability is well taken.

I wish I could get lots of data points, but this involves moving all my wifes clothes in the master bath closet, pushing out the door to the attic with a pole, putting up a ladder, hoisting myself up and then wiggling on my stomach 17' over to the furnace area over blown in fiberglass insulation :P
The thermodynamics aspect is over my head - I barely passed that class 25 years ago.* But I am curious how you change your furnace filter if it's such an arduous journey?
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 12-31-2005, 12:28 PM   #59
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Re: Saving money on electricity

Thats in the intake in the ceiling in the hallway.

I dont know WHY they put it in the attic. Its a bit of a space saver but I'd have much rather they had put it in the garage. Its exposed to a lot more heat and cold in the attic than it would be in the garage. Further, the intake and thermostat are at one end of the house, while the furnace was placed at the exact opposite end of the house, and directly over the master bedroom. When the furnace kicks off it sounds like the space shuttle is about to launch.

Further, the intake duct runs about 40 feet from the intake vent to the furnace, then half the output air ducts run all the way back.

Given this and my roof issue, methinks my builder was an idiot.

When the furnace finally dies, I'll put its replacement in the garage, about 8' from the intake and the thermostat. Flip around a few of the ducts and i'm good to go.

I'm sure at #$^%# not cutting holes in the ceiling or removing 40 roof tiles and pulling off the sheeting to get the old one out and a new one in.
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Re: Saving money on electricity
Old 01-02-2006, 03:56 AM   #60
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Re: Saving money on electricity

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So i'm pretty convinced that the setback helps in a surprisingly substantial way.* I sort of had this line of thinking that a short term set back (couple of hours) would be ok, as just the air in the house would cool and quickly be re-heated.* I figured a moderate term setback would not work as well, as furniture, walls, floors, cabinets and so forth would all cool after 5-6 hours and the furnace would have to run extensively to re-warm all the solid items in the house.* Apparently not so.
Interesting results TH.

My hunch is that the real savings are for longer set back periods. The "re-warm" would be a wash wouldn't it? The "mass" cooling down would off-set the warm up the next morning.

Anyway, I never tested it, but I think that set back thermostats are usually a pretty good investment...
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