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Old 06-12-2015, 09:52 AM   #81
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...Our power bill since we moved back in from 4 years overseas has dropped from $75/mo to $25/mo, DW tells me...
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We have a 3000+ sq ft home, no LED lights, some fluorescents and the electric bill is around $35-$45 a month for 7 months of the year...
The lowest monthly bill in my home in the boondock is $31, when we are not there. I think the minimum service charge is already around $20. The rest is for the fridge.

The lowest monthly bill in my main home is $105. The highest, $335. And my utility company has stats showing that my bill is slightly below other homes!
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Old 06-12-2015, 09:59 AM   #82
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I met an energy auditor in Lake Tahoe (ski resort area so it gets pretty cold in winter) with a big house who had a $30 a month total energy bill (no solar panels). It does show what can be done with the right conservation measures.
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Old 06-12-2015, 10:25 AM   #83
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Where it's cold, people heat with propane, hence the low electric bill. Propane is cheaper anyway. Where it's hot like my location, the cooling using electricity is unavoidable.
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Old 06-12-2015, 10:32 AM   #84
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I met an energy auditor in Lake Tahoe (ski resort area so it gets pretty cold in winter) with a big house who had a $30 a month total energy bill (no solar panels). It does show what can be done with the right conservation measures.
I'll bet my fridge costs that much to run per month. Then DW throws on the hair dryer and curler and....bang!...the meter starts whizzing. I suspect my 5 HP 220V air compressor spins the watt meter when I throw it on too.

I seriously don't know how people can live in large homes with $30/month power bills. Our A/C load is pretty high being in The Great Swamp of Houston also.

Our power bills run from $70 - $180 month (winter to summer) and we have LEDs in high use light areas, 16 SEER A/C unit, one level 2000 square foot house, lots of shade trees, temp set at 78F in summer, etc. When I look at our usage on the utility's website compared to nearby houses, we are noticeably below the neighbors.

Worrying about power cost is understandable, but I believe more hay can be harvested looking at trying to reduce insurance, medical, auto repair, wasteful spending and other large costs.
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Old 06-12-2015, 10:44 AM   #85
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Where it's cold, people heat with propane, hence the low electric bill. Propane is cheaper anyway. Where it's hot like my location, the cooling using electricity is unavoidable.
Right, devil is in the details. I really wonder if that 'total energy bill' included propane, wood, or other source of heat, or was it just electricity?

A super-insulated home with passive/active solar can be heated with very little energy, but that comes at a cost as well.

Along those lines, I get rather frustrated with the articles I read about these net-zero energy homes. It's all well and good as a research project (though much of this can be modeled and calculated w/o actually building the structure), but I wish they would really break out the 'most bang for the buck' items. And the things that can be a retro-fit project. I think that would be more useful to a larger audience than the pie-in-the-sky goal of getting to zero. Better to get 30% of the population to improve by say 30% for an overall 9% improvement, than to get 0.00001% of the population improve by 100%.

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Old 06-12-2015, 10:56 AM   #86
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OK, so let's compare total energy bill. I used to lament about my cooling cost (highest electric bill of $335 last August), but then I learned about what others pay for heating in the northeast.

So, here it goes: total of $2108 of electricity for the last 12 months for me. No heating oil, no propane other than a few bucks for outdoor grilling. That's for a home of 2700-sq.ft., with a large diving pool, in a place where the record temperature once hit 122F, and the 24-hr average is often 100F.
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Old 06-12-2015, 10:59 AM   #87
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I seriously don't know how people can live in large homes with $30/month power bills.
I think the key phrase in that is "large homes". I am not especially trying to conserve, but my electric bill this past winter was:

Jan $26.40
Feb $21.72
Mar $28.70

Of course in the summertime it is sky high due to AC. Last August it was $167.69. But then a small house helps. I just set the thermostat by comfort these days. The only thing I do with it to save money, is to bump it up in the summer (or down in the winter) in the afternoon if I am going to be out of the house for a few hours.

The key to this for me is not super-virtuous LBYM, but a 1600 square foot home with just one person living in it, relatively modern appliances that save energy (again, not due to virtue but because that's what is available these days), and never more than one 40W-60W lightbulb on at a time (due to habits from long ago that die hard).

I always have my computer, iPad, 60" plasma TV, and so on, running. Right now my thermostat is set for 73F. When I get cold, I'll bump it up to 75. I have no shade trees at all any more thanks to hurricanes Katrina, Cindy, and Isaac.

Edited to add: NW-Bound, you wanted to compare. My total electric bill for the last year was $1077 and I was never out of town. BUT - - one person, small house, no pool, etc. Total natural gas for the past year $421.
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Old 06-12-2015, 11:22 AM   #88
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OK, so let's compare total energy bill.
All $$ paid for electricity and natural gas for past 12 months:
$1648.57
That breaks down to
$1005.48 electricity
$0643.09 natural gas (heating, dryer, hot water)

3000+ sq ft, no pool, 2 adults all year, 1 college student, 1 HS student

I live near aja8888 in South Texas.
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Old 06-12-2015, 12:11 PM   #89
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We strive to stay in the bottom 20% of energy use for similar homes per our energy company charts. I am not sure comparisons are meaningful because of variations in age of home / insulation, local energy pricing, number in household, local climate, pool or not, size of house, at home all day or out at school / working, etc.

Our top tier rates are 34 cent kwh, or three times the national average, so a very low kwh hour month for us may still be expensive compared to a lower energy cost part of the country.
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Old 06-12-2015, 12:14 PM   #90
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Our average electric consumption is 440 Kwh per month (1,000 sqft condo, 2 people, no heating or cooling needed) and we are not all that careful. When we lived in a 2,500 sqft house, the average was 1200 KwH plus heating and cooling.
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Old 06-12-2015, 12:16 PM   #91
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Right, devil is in the details. I really wonder if that 'total energy bill' included propane, wood, or other source of heat, or was it just electricity?-ERD50
He said it was just energy (gas and electric) from the utility company. He was an energy auditor manning a booth for energy conservation. The only thing he left plugged in 24 X 7 was the fridge and that was it. I don't remember the exact sq feet of his house but I do remember it being over 3K.
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Old 06-12-2015, 12:28 PM   #92
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In colder climates/seasons, the loss of home heat caused by switching away from incandescents must be replaced from other sources, thus reducing the energy savings. Most heat sources are cheaper than the straight electricity consumed by incandescents, but there's no savings if electrical resistance heat is employed, such as that which commonly assists heat pump systems.
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Old 06-12-2015, 12:32 PM   #93
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Speaking about kWh usage, ours is 18,316 kWh for the last 12 months, which works out to a monthly average of 1526 kWh/month. The rate is as high as 22c/kWh during summer peak hours, and as low as 7c during winter off-peak hours. For us, it works out to 11.4c annual average ($2085/18316 kWh).

So, compared to others, we are not doing so bad, considering the extreme heat we face every year.
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Old 06-12-2015, 12:46 PM   #94
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About consumption reduction, there were some recent threads about pool pump. I described how a variable speed pump can keep a pool clean while using less electricity. Here's my data.

I look at the 12 months preceding and the 12 months following the pool pump change, and see a reduction of 3433 kWh/yr. That's a 16% reduction off the total consumption.

As I run the pump only during off-peak hours the saving is about $260/yr. So, the pump will pay for itself in about 4 years.
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Old 06-12-2015, 12:51 PM   #95
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We use 10 kwh a day when it is just the two of us here and we don't need to use a lot of heat or A/C, which is a good portion of the year here.

Usage also goes up if we do activities like a lot of vaccuming, cooking using the built in appliances or loads in the electric dryer.
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Old 06-12-2015, 01:27 PM   #96
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I do not see how people get their bills down to below $30. For me, the service charge is already $20, and the fridge (which does not get opened at all because we are away) will bring that to $30 already.

Anyway, if you use as little as 10kWh/day, pay a rate as high as 30c, and then add a service charge on top of that, you may be better off going with a small off-grid solar.

I would have gone solar in my boondock home, except that I do like to go there throughout the year, and it can get down to -10F and below in the winter. And I have no propane tank, and have to rely on electricity for cooking and heating.

For that home, a solar system would be underused, and yet would not provide enough when I need the power. So, the $20/month utility charge does not look too bad, compared to the battery maintenance cost and the amortization of the entire system.
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Old 06-12-2015, 02:03 PM   #97
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The thread inspired me to make a small change I had thought about for a while. About 6 months ago, I had to replace the wall switch/timer in the garage that I use to automatically turn the outside garage/entry lights on/off. I found a well rated, inexpensive timer that could switch CFLs and LEDs, and included a calendar and latitude settings so I could have it come on at sunset, and off at a specified time.

http://www.amazon.com/Intermatic-EJ6.../dp/B008VM6MYM

This feature saved some money, as the old one was a pain to program, so I would procrastinate about setting the OFF time later during the summer, and set the ON time way earlier in the fall, so I wouldn't need to do it again as winter approached.

Today, I took it one step further - I changed the current time to one hour early, so now it will come ON one hour after sunset (it really isn't that dark at sunset), and I set the OFF time to an hour early as well.

My reward for all this? Hmmm, let's see... the 6 bulbs ( 4 CFLs and two 4W night light bulbs to provide a resistive load for the old timer) add up to about 60W total, so one hour x 60W x 365 days/year is 21.9 kWh, or ~ drum roll...... $2.40 per year. Well, that's pretty anti-climatic. But it was a one time deal, so why not?

-ERD50
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Old 06-12-2015, 02:16 PM   #98
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I do not see how people get their bills down to below $30. For me, the service charge is already $20, and the fridge (which does not get opened at all because we are away) will bring that to $30 already.

Anyway, if you use as little as 10kWh/day, pay a rate as high as 30c, and then add a service charge on top of that, you may be better off going with a small off-grid solar.

I would have gone solar in my boondock home, except that I do like to go there throughout the year, and it can get down to -10F and below in the winter. And I have no propane tank, and have to rely on electricity for cooking and heating.

For that home, a solar system would be underused, and yet would not provide enough when I need the power. So, the $20/month utility charge does not look too bad, compared to the battery maintenance cost and the amortization of the entire system.
I don't think we reach the top tier these days any more, but that is why for us it pays to do what we can to stay out of it. I realized once we started looking at the energy labels closely that an appliance that uses $100 a year might add $300 to our bill, if we are not careful.

We use more energy when the kids and often their posses are here, making pizzas and using gaming computers hours on end. Or when it is over 100 or below 50 out. DH does a good job keeping the inside temp around 70 plus or minus a few degree with air flow, shades, windows and doors but that only works up to a point. Any extreme temps and we use the furnace or A/C.

Grid solar doesn't work out for us financially. The door to door solar sales people skip by our house these days. I have a poor man's solar system - solar lights, solar flashlights, and rechargeable batteries and solar battery chargers. We have some small solar panels we use for camping we were thinking of trying to find a way to use day to day and we may get some Amazon type DIY panels for emergency use. But this year the priority is water conservation projects.
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Old 06-12-2015, 02:17 PM   #99
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I found a well rated, inexpensive timer that could switch CFLs and LEDs, and included a calendar and latitude settings so I could have it come on at sunset, and off at a specified time.

Amazon.com: Intermatic EJ600 120 Volt Indoor Digital Astro In-Wall Timer, White: Home Improvement
I have two of these devices and they work well.

I use them for a slightly different purpose. The local kids board the bus in front of our house and much of the year it's really dark when they are standing out there at 6:30. So we have our front and driveway light comes on a bit before then and turn off at sunrise. Likewise, the lights come on a little after sunset and turn off at 11PM.

It's nice that the timer works with sunrise/sunset for your location.
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Old 06-12-2015, 02:57 PM   #100
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
The thread inspired me to make a small change I had thought about for a while. About 6 months ago, I had to replace the wall switch/timer in the garage that I use to automatically turn the outside garage/entry lights on/off. I found a well rated, inexpensive timer that could switch CFLs and LEDs, and included a calendar and latitude settings so I could have it come on at sunset, and off at a specified time.

http://www.amazon.com/Intermatic-EJ6.../dp/B008VM6MYM

This feature saved some money, as the old one was a pain to program, so I would procrastinate about setting the OFF time later during the summer, and set the ON time way earlier in the fall, so I wouldn't need to do it again as winter approached.

Today, I took it one step further - I changed the current time to one hour early, so now it will come ON one hour after sunset (it really isn't that dark at sunset), and I set the OFF time to an hour early as well.

My reward for all this? Hmmm, let's see... the 6 bulbs ( 4 CFLs and two 4W night light bulbs to provide a resistive load for the old timer) add up to about 60W total, so one hour x 60W x 365 days/year is 21.9 kWh, or ~ drum roll...... $2.40 per year. Well, that's pretty anti-climatic. But it was a one time deal, so why not?

-ERD50
ooops, I overstated the savings! I used the approximate kWh cost, but what I really needed to use is our marginal cost. That's just about 9 cents, so the savings comes down to $2.04 annually. Darn, I need to run FIRECalc again and add back in $0.36 annual spending!

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I have two of these devices and they work well.

I use them for a slightly different purpose. The local kids board the bus in front of our house and much of the year it's really dark when they are standing out there at 6:30. So we have our front and driveway light comes on a bit before then and turn off at sunrise. Likewise, the lights come on a little after sunset and turn off at 11PM.

It's nice that the timer works with sunrise/sunset for your location.
They let you set your latitude as one of three zones, which seems close enough, even though I'm on the northern edge of their "Central". I guess only NA uses 120V, so no option for southern zones.

-ERD50
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