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Old 02-17-2016, 12:02 AM   #21
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When the electric rate is this high, one should consider solar power.

In Northern CA, a 250W solar panel will provide about 1.5kWh/day in July. Taking the average between the 26c rate for 10AM-1PM and the throat-cutting 37.5c for 1PM-7PM, that 1.5kWh works out to 47.6c/day. It is roughly $15 worth of electricity a month.

The above solar panel costs about $250, and will need a grid-tie inverter costing another $250. The return on this equipment (ignoring other costs) is 3% in July alone.
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Old 02-17-2016, 05:27 AM   #22
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Thermal blanket. Cover the fridge during peak period with insulated blanket. See if that impacts the bill.

If your fridge is biggest power hog, that seems odd to me.
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Old 02-17-2016, 07:42 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
When the electric rate is this high, one should consider solar power.

In Northern CA, a 250W solar panel will provide about 1.5kWh/day in July. Taking the average between the 26c rate for 10AM-1PM and the throat-cutting 37.5c for 1PM-7PM, that 1.5kWh works out to 47.6c/day. It is roughly $15 worth of electricity a month.

The above solar panel costs about $250, and will need a grid-tie inverter costing another $250. The return on this equipment (ignoring other costs) is 3% in July alone.
It might make economic sense to angle the panel towards the West for May-Oct, to maximize the 1PM-7PM output, and sacrifice some overall.

Or do they change the rate if you install solar?

-ERD50
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:18 AM   #24
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If one can somehow shift this 0.5 kWh to the cheaper period where the rate is 26c/kWh, he saves 5.75c/day or $1.73/month.

Of course you would save more if your fridge is an older energy hog, but then such a fridge would likely have poorer insulation and warms up more during the 6 hours that it is off.
I wonder if refrigerators/freezers will/already do come with timer/thermostats so they can help reduce energy use during peak rate periods?
-- Drop the temp in the 'fridge a few degrees just prior to the start of the peak so it can coast through the peak period without turning on (I can see the lettuce freezing already!)
-- Accelerate/delay the defrost cycles in the freezer so they don't occur during the peak period
-- Actively move the air from the freezer section to the fridge to keep the fridge within the desired temp range. This way the freezer serves as a "cold bank" for the fridge.
-- A modest, subdued, tasteful "chime" when the door is opened during the peak rate period to serve as a reminder to get the door closed without delay.


Obviously, the fridge comes on regardless of the utility rate if the temps threaten to go out of a safe range.

Ironically, none of these steps would save energy, they would actually increase energy use. But they help with this little game.
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:31 AM   #25
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Here are the electric rates in PG&E's Time of Use plan:



Seeing that, what frugalista could resist trying to game the system?

From our frequent power outages, I know that our fridge can be off for hours at a time without problems. The fridge is the single biggest user of power in the house.

So, why not set a timer to turn off the fridge from, say, 4 PM to 7 PM?

[Note that I realize that with a non-time-based rate, there would be no savings in shutting off the fridge.]
I think this may be unique to your cool West Coast area, as I doubt you run A/C often, you might not even have it. Maybe your heating doesn't consume electricity.

Most of the rest of us heating and cooling dominate our electric rate.
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Old 02-17-2016, 09:11 AM   #26
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That peak electric rate of 37.5c/kWh is even higher than that of Hawaii at 33c average.

A Web site says the average rate for CA is only 15c. What is special about T'Al Northern Coastal CA?
Grow lights?
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Old 02-17-2016, 09:21 AM   #27
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I wonder if refrigerators/freezers will/already do come with timer/thermostats so they can help reduce energy use during peak rate periods?
--
Yes! I thought about this also as many utilities already have control of AC units and there are refrigerators that can order milk before you run out in the IOE world its a solution looking for a problem.

I like the thermal mass solutions better until the unit wears out and gets replaced with a high efficiency model.
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Old 02-17-2016, 09:34 AM   #28
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Al, what is electricity FOR, anyway! If I was really concerned about how much electricity my refrigerator was using, and it was a hardship for me to pay my electric bill each month, I'd probably sell it and buy the smallest, most energy efficient refrigerator I could buy. At least it would keep my food cool 24 hours/day.

A smaller frig is not that bad. It really only needs to be big enough to store a week's food, until you can get back to the grocery store. IMO most people (including me, unfortunately) have much bigger refrigerators than they really need.

When I was moving, I had no refrigerator at all for a week or two until I could get one delivered. Meanwhile I used a small cooler such as people sometimes take to sporting events or work. I guess it was OK although I like my refrigerator a lot better. Still, I suppose that frequent food shopping and a cooler is a very energy efficient option.
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Old 02-17-2016, 10:10 AM   #29
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It might make economic sense to angle the panel towards the West for May-Oct, to maximize the 1PM-7PM output, and sacrifice some overall.

Or do they change the rate if you install solar?
Aunt's house have solar panels (a significant portion of which was paid for by tax credit). Their rates don't change but excess production from the solar panels offset their electric usage so they're sometimes paying less than $10/mo for electricity.
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Old 02-17-2016, 10:36 AM   #30
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Al, what is electricity FOR, anyway!
+1

If this is your hobby that's one thing, but otherwise, just spring for an efficient refrigerator and be done with it.
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Old 02-17-2016, 10:38 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by samclem View Post
I wonder if refrigerators/freezers will/already do come with timer/thermostats so they can help reduce energy use during peak rate periods?
-- Drop the temp in the 'fridge a few degrees just prior to the start of the peak so it can coast through the peak period without turning on (I can see the lettuce freezing already!)
-- Accelerate/delay the defrost cycles in the freezer so they don't occur during the peak period
-- Actively move the air from the freezer section to the fridge to keep the fridge within the desired temp range. This way the freezer serves as a "cold bank" for the fridge.
-- A modest, subdued, tasteful "chime" when the door is opened during the peak rate period to serve as a reminder to get the door closed without delay.


Obviously, the fridge comes on regardless of the utility rate if the temps threaten to go out of a safe range.

Ironically, none of these steps would save energy, they would actually increase energy use. But they help with this little game.
Once the internet of things takes hold, your refrigerator will not allow you to open the door during peak hours. Unless, of course, you've bought all the items on the shopping list it sent to your tablet, verified by the POS terminal at your local grocery store. Then it will open long enough to be restocked, and you might be able to grab a beer or soda as you withdraw your hand.
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Old 02-17-2016, 11:17 AM   #32
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It might make economic sense to angle the panel towards the West for May-Oct, to maximize the 1PM-7PM output, and sacrifice some overall.

Or do they change the rate if you install solar?

-ERD50
My local utility already has a new rate structure that penalizes solar homes for overloading the grid in the late afternoon/early evening at dusk, when it was still hot yet the sun is low in the horizon. They encourage people to reorient the panels to avoid this.

If one has a stand-alone solar installation, meaning not grid-tied, then you can do whatever you want. You will need batteries for storage. Just to run the fridge and some lighting, the system size and cost will not be as prohibitive as if you wanted to run an A/C.

I would welcome the chance to play with something like this. However, my electric rate is not 37.5c, and I still have other home projects to finish. The payback is not that good for me, so it will be more like a toy.

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Once the internet of things takes hold, your refrigerator will not allow you to open the door during peak hours. Unless, of course, you've bought all the items on the shopping list it sent to your tablet, verified by the POS terminal at your local grocery store. Then it will open long enough to be restocked, and you might be able to grab a beer or soda as you withdraw your hand.
The fridge will not let you grab a beer, if it is told by the bathroom scale that you have not lost those pounds.
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Old 02-17-2016, 03:26 PM   #33
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Here's a plot that our utility provides on thier website. You can drill down to hour by hour usage as I posted previously, but could not figure out how to paste the image. This is a generic example
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Old 02-17-2016, 03:51 PM   #34
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I live at the southern edge of CA... our utility provider, San Diego Gouge and Extortion Gas and Electric, offers rebates when they expect peak usage (heat waves). I don't have AC - so I don't have the easy fix of turning off/reducing the AC... but I change my habits a bit... On rebate days/times I make sure not to use the dryer, the dishwasher, and the whole house fan. I also choose to use our gas oven rather than the electric one, if I need to cook something.

We rarely go into the 3rd tier, and have already improved the efficiency quite a bit. I'm not sure I'm willing to turn off the fridge.
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Old 02-17-2016, 06:08 PM   #35
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I wouldn't waste time nickel and diming something so small. I'm sure there are dozens of ways to save much more that you can do instead.
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Old 02-17-2016, 07:57 PM   #36
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let me ask if you have electric or gas water heating. If you have electric you can buy timers to control when the unit is powered. If you just delay the dishwasher till after 10 pm then you will likley be ok, (might need to worry about bathing schedules here also)
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:25 PM   #37
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I think this may be unique to your cool West Coast area, as I doubt you run A/C often, you might not even have it. Maybe your heating doesn't consume electricity.
Remind me what A/C is again? The temperature outside rarely gets above sixty degrees. It was above sixty yesterday, though. There have been some summers where we had a fire in the wood stove every day.

Our heating is propane and wood, and we usually only run the furnace between 6 and 7 AM.

PG&E has a calculator to help you choose the different rates plans. It estimates how much you can save by redistributing your usage, and it's significant. Refrigerators are almost always the biggest consumer of electricity.

Our electric bill is always under $100/month and our roof is shaded. Solar isn't an option.

I'll do a little experimenting with the kill-a-watt.

Note it's not much of a hardship. I don't expect the food to spoil. The biggest disadvantage will be the fact the the light won't come on in the fridge when we open the door.
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:27 PM   #38
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The temperature outside rarely gets above sixty degrees.
You don't need to turn the fridge off, you need to move it out on the porch.
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:33 PM   #39
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Remind me what A/C is again? The temperature outside rarely gets above sixty degrees. It was above sixty yesterday, though. There have been some summers where we had a fire in the wood stove every day.

Our heating is propane and wood, and we usually only run the furnace between 6 and 7 AM.

PG&E has a calculator to help you choose the different rates plans. It estimates how much you can save by redistributing your usage, and it's significant. Refrigerators are almost always the biggest consumer of electricity.

Our electric bill is always under $100/month and our roof is shaded. Solar isn't an option.

I'll do a little experimenting with the kill-a-watt.

Note it's not much of a hardship. I don't expect the food to spoil. The biggest disadvantage will be the fact the the light won't come on in the fridge when we open the door.
I assume the fridge is fairly new. If not there could be a big change by buying a new model with their higher efficiency. For example a samsung side by side at 25 cu ft says 474 kwh a year which would mean at the highest rate 177 per year or about $ 15/month. So the PGE calculator must be using an older fridge for their calculation.
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:34 PM   #40
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You don't need to turn the fridge off, you need to move it out on the porch.
There's no room there because of the couch.

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Our electric bill is always under $100/month
Oops. Just got this month's, and it's $110, due to the new dehumidifier.
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