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Old 12-24-2009, 11:43 AM   #21
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Wow Fuego! Did you mean $300/yr or a month? I spend that a month in the winter. I use gas to heat this house and the hotwater tank. Which part of the country is that? Is this just for cooking?
Per year. I hadn't updated the number in a few years, and it was actually $500 last year. Nat gas rates have dropped so much though, that it will be closer to $300 than $500 this year. That doesn't include the gas used for the water heater or the $10/month service fee to keep the gas turned on. Just the marginal cost of running the heat. Total nat gas was $791 for last 12 months. We are in the Southeastern US between DC and Atlanta.
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Old 12-24-2009, 12:26 PM   #22
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I think most of the programmable heat pump thermostats are programmed so they don't use the emergency heat. So if you set it for 60 degrees over night and 68 degrees at 6am, it will gradually increase the heat well before 6am so the emergency heat isn't used.
It is a possibility. If that was mentioned in the manual of my programmable thermostat, I missed reading it (I am not in that house now).

If your heat pump is on the ground like mine is, the heat packs may have their own breaker panel, being such a power hog. You may turn them off, just to see if the heat pump can do any good by itself when it is really cold.
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Old 12-24-2009, 01:44 PM   #23
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From the US Dept of Energy: Energy Savers: Thermostats and Control Systems
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Programmable thermostats are generally not recommended for heat pumps. In its cooling mode, a heat pump operates like an air conditioner, so turning up the thermostat (either manually or with a programmable thermostat) will save energy and money. But when a heat pump is in its heating mode, setting back its thermostat can cause the unit to operate inefficiently, thereby canceling out any savings achieved by lowering the temperature setting. Maintaining a moderate setting is the most cost-effective practice. Recently, however, some companies have begun selling specially designed programmable thermostats for heat pumps, which make setting back the thermostat cost effective. These thermostats typically use special algorithms to minimize the use of backup electric resistance heat systems.
I need to check out the cost of these thermostats and the potential savings I might expect.
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Old 12-24-2009, 01:56 PM   #24
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From the US Dept of Energy: Energy Savers: Thermostats and Control SystemsI need to check out the cost of these thermostats and the potential savings I might expect.
I think the newer Honeywell ones use the algorithm. This might be one of them - Amazon.com: Honeywell TH6220 FocusPro 6000 5-1-1 Programmable Heat Pump Thermostat: Home Improvement
It's probably worth checking the specs on the Honeywell website to verify.

On weekdays I could probably leave my heat off from 10:30pm to 4:30pm and just use ceramic space heater to heat up my bathroom in the morning. Maybe even put it on a timer so it's nice and toasty when I wake up. I bet that would save a good amount of electricity.
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Old 12-24-2009, 04:50 PM   #25
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On weekdays I could probably leave my heat off from 10:30pm to 4:30pm and just use ceramic space heater to heat up my bathroom in the morning. Maybe even put it on a timer so it's nice and toasty when I wake up. I bet that would save a good amount of electricity.
That would probably work. But take a close look at other potential problems, especially water pipes in external walls, the garage, and in the crawlspace. The repair bill after one frozen/ruptured pipe would pay for a lot of electricity.
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Old 12-24-2009, 06:48 PM   #26
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That would probably work. But take a close look at other potential problems, especially water pipes in external walls, the garage, and in the crawlspace. The repair bill after one frozen/ruptured pipe would pay for a lot of electricity.
I should have mentioned that I live NC so I'm not too concerned about the pipes freezing. The average low for the coldest month is 30 degrees and high is 49 degrees.
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Old 12-24-2009, 07:06 PM   #27
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Here's what I noticed after tracking it today.

Consumption w/ heat off: 2 kW per hour
Consumption w/ heat to bring it from 58 to 68 degrees: 16 kW (took 1.75 hours)
Consumption w/ heat stuck at 68 degrees: 5 kW per hour

So it took an extra ~8 kW to bring the heat up from 58 to 68 degrees compared to leaving it on constantly. To keep the heat constant consumes ~3 kW so leaving the heat off overnight is probably worth it.

These numbers are very rounded though and I've had some holiday cocktails so my math might be off
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Old 12-24-2009, 07:10 PM   #28
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These numbers are very rounded though and I've had some holiday cocktails so my math might be off
One other consideration you need to factor in is the outside temp. Not sure what they were at the time you did your test but if your setback temp ends in the early AM when temps are at their lowest, it might take more than 1.75 hours to do the job.

EDIT: Plus, will your consumption actually be 2 kW per hour if you set the thermostat to 58? Once the temp drops to that level the heat pump will come on to keep it there.

Bottom line - I don't think your test results give you enough information to determine your savings.
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Old 12-24-2009, 07:59 PM   #29
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I agree with REW that while you might save some, you would need to repeat the experiment under the same conditions, with and without the set back, instead of extrapolating from the above observations.

My own solution is much simpler: I leave the thermostat for the central air fixed at 45degF year round, whether I am there or not. Given your moderate temperature, you do not need heating at all.


OK, OK! I admit, I do have to change from Bermuda shorts into long pants. And we do use a space heater for the master bedroom, plus an electric blanket to keep warm.


Before you start to call us Mr & Mrs Scrooge, I will hasten to add that we have passive solar heating, which does heat up the interior to 70-80 degF in the late afternoon. But it is true that even in the winter, I need to sleep with a small fan blowing a light breeze on my face.
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Old 12-24-2009, 08:07 PM   #30
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One other consideration you need to factor in is the outside temp. Not sure what they were at the time you did your test but if your setback temp ends in the early AM when temps are at their lowest, it might take more than 1.75 hours to do the job.

EDIT: Plus, will your consumption actually be 2 kW per hour if you set the thermostat to 58? Once the temp drops to that level the heat pump will come on to keep it there.

Bottom line - I don't think your test results give you enough information to determine your savings.
Yeah, it's definitely not a definitive test. Just a rough estimate. The outside temp remained right around 46 degrees when I did the tests. Without the heat on, the indoor temperature of my house stayed at 58 degrees all day. I also tried not to use too much emergency heat during the set back (only increasing the heat a few degrees at a time). I'm planning on doing the setback tomorrow morning so it will be interested to how much energy is used then.
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Old 12-24-2009, 08:15 PM   #31
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I think I may save more money by using "alternative fuel heating". Specifically, I mean internal combustion of ethanol by ingestion method.

Seems like bank5 has had an early start on me, so I will get off my laptop now to head out to my bookshelf where my trusty bottle of Cognac is kept.
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Old 12-25-2009, 11:46 AM   #32
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I should have mentioned that I live NC so I'm not too concerned about the pipes freezing. The average low for the coldest month is 30 degrees and high is 49 degrees.
I can remember a pipe freezing, in my Cary, NC, house once. It does get really cold once in awhile, and in many houses the pipes aren't protected well enough, so you should be at least aware of the possibility. Luckily I noticed it before the ice expanded and burst the pipe, and was able to put a space heater next to the kitchen sink and warm the pipes until they thawed.
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Old 12-25-2009, 03:59 PM   #33
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I think I may save more money by using "alternative fuel heating". Specifically, I mean internal combustion of ethanol by ingestion method.

Seems like bank5 has had an early start on me, so I will get off my laptop now to head out to my bookshelf where my trusty bottle of Cognac is kept.
Here's a mulled wine recipe that we like to make around the holidays - Mulled Wine Recipe : Ina Garten : Food Network

It's not too high on the ethanol but does a good job heating you up.
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Old 12-25-2009, 04:02 PM   #34
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I wound up picking up this one - Honeywell TH6220D1002 - Honeywell - FocusPRO Programmable Thermostat (2H/2C)

The setback doesn't use as much energy as I thought so I think it will pay for itself after a couple of months.
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Old 12-25-2009, 10:12 PM   #35
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Here's a mulled wine recipe that we like to make around the holidays - Mulled Wine Recipe : Ina Garten : Food Network

It's not too high on the ethanol but does a good job heating you up.
Ina Garten is a mellow and classy lady whose show on FoodTV I have watched a few times. Though I prefer my fuel in a high-octane grade (I actually only have 3 or 4 drinks a week ), I might try mulled wine some time, so my wife can join in; she does not drink at all. I would try without the honey first though. Seems like the apple cider would provide enough sweetness.
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Old 12-26-2009, 08:23 AM   #36
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I am jealous of the low heating costs mentioned. We usually use between 500 and 600 gallons of heating oil a year. It is close to $3 a gallon this year, so...
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Old 12-26-2009, 09:01 AM   #37
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I am jealous of the low heating costs mentioned. We usually use between 500 and 600 gallons of heating oil a year. It is close to $3 a gallon this year, so...
Let's see - - just to be aggravating, if I subtract my average summer natural gas usage from each month's natural gas usage, I come up with a total heating bill of $153 for the entire year of 2008 as opposed to your $1500-$1800.

This is not to say that post-Katrina New Orleans is the "poster child" for a low cost of living area, though. It is not, any more. Oh well. At least our heating bills are still low.
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Old 12-26-2009, 09:34 AM   #38
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I am jealous of the low heating costs mentioned. We usually use between 500 and 600 gallons of heating oil a year. It is close to $3 a gallon this year, so...

It is a trade off . My heating bills are almost non existent but my air conditioning bills make up for it .
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Old 12-26-2009, 09:37 AM   #39
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It is a trade off . My heating bills are almost non existent but my air conditioning bills make up for it .
I get decent sized AC bills, too.

We will be relocating upon FIRE...
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Old 12-26-2009, 09:46 AM   #40
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I get decent sized AC bills, too.

We will be relocating upon FIRE...
I think that is a really smart idea, if you can find a place with a lower cost of living where you would like to live in FIRE. Where are you thinking of relocating?
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