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Old 12-22-2011, 05:23 PM   #21
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No, the lights don't bother me. They are this type:


So they don't light up the area very much. That's why I say they have no functional value. And they don't have any value during the daytime.
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Old 12-22-2011, 05:24 PM   #22
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We had tenants who managed to hit $700 on their electric bill. They ran a room air conditioner continuously in a room with jalousie windows. The attic is uninsulated. They left the blinds open on a south-facing window. But the tenant didn't want to "let in the outside air", let alone cool the house with the tradewinds.
People like that mystify me! The tradewinds are such a gift, and jalousie windows are great for allowing them to cool the house naturally.
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Old 12-22-2011, 05:43 PM   #23
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I use motion outside flood lights, lets me know when the dogs hit the porch after a piddle.
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Old 12-22-2011, 09:17 PM   #24
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I put in light sensors to switch my lights on at dawn/dusk. I had timers but they got constantly out of range with time changes and people touching them.
I save both on the power and the bulbs.
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Old 12-22-2011, 10:52 PM   #25
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I only put 40 watt bulbs in my outside lights. I keep my workshop outside lights on all night with a photocell (that now fails to shut off the lights at dawn). I need to get a new photocell.
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:23 PM   #26
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It would certainly be a big deal for me. Annualized, my monthly electric bill is around $200, and we have a total electric house (including heating and air conditioning) in a part of the country where it gets both very cold and very hot.
With a Kill-A-Watt, I was able to tell the difference in making a full pot of coffee (and leaving the warmer on for up to an hour) vice making individual cups-- 10 KWHr/month.

When our daughter's not home, my spouse and I use between 0-75 KWHrs per month beyond our photovoltaic array's production. You can practically tell from our monthly electric bill how often we ran our electric dryer or used the oven.
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Old 12-23-2011, 06:26 AM   #27
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This is slightly off-topic, but it reminds me of the two street lights (actual street lights) I have in my (long) driveway (they were here when I moved in).

Little by little they were getting more expensive to own/run, maybe $40/month and they came as a separate bill from National Grid every month. I called them up and ask them to turn them off shortly after I ER'ed about 10 years ago as a way to save some money.

They told me the bills would stop immediately (as of the day I called), but that it may take a while to get a crew out there to actually turn them off.

Well its been ten years, and the lights keep on running, and they even come out once in a while to change the bulbs when they burn out...maybe they will never notice!
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Old 12-23-2011, 06:35 AM   #28
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Continuing farmerEd's hijack, we bought a house in the suburbs of Houston years ago that had no water meter. I didn't realize it until we'd lived there two or three months and never saw a water bill. Fearing a huge bill, I started looking for a meter in the yard and came up empty.

The previous owner had given us his phone number so I called and asked "what's the deal with no water meter?". His response: "Shhhhh. Don't call the water company, we never got a bill either."

We got free water the entire time we owned the house and for all I know so did all future owners over the past 40 years.
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Old 12-23-2011, 07:56 AM   #29
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We have CFL lights outside that I leave on all night but we turn them off during the day. I haven't bothered to calculate the cost.

They are all in the 7-13W range depending on location. I just wanted a light on every side of the house to eliminate total darkness but at the same time there's no point in lighting the place up like Stalag 13.
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Old 12-23-2011, 08:13 AM   #30
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Continuing farmerEd's hijack, we bought a house in the suburbs of Houston years ago that had no water meter. I didn't realize it until we'd lived there two or three months and never saw a water bill. Fearing a huge bill, I started looking for a meter in the yard and came up empty.

The previous owner had given us his phone number so I called and asked "what's the deal with no water meter?". His response: "Shhhhh. Don't call the water company, we never got a bill either."

We got free water the entire time we owned the house and for all I know so did all future owners over the past 40 years.
What a great deal that is! At this time of year my water bill is more that my electric bill (100% electric). Water is expensive by comparison but I do have the irrigation system on a separate meter. What you save with this method is not paying for the sewer charge when you water the lawn.
It was that way when we bought the house. Don't think they will even let you do that any more. Last month the electric was $98 and the water was $123.
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Old 12-23-2011, 09:11 AM   #31
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What a great deal that is! At this time of year my water bill is more that my electric bill (100% electric). Water is expensive by comparison but I do have the irrigation system on a separate meter. What you save with this method is not paying for the sewer charge when you water the lawn.
It was that way when we bought the house. Don't think they will even let you do that any more. Last month the electric was $98 and the water was $123.
$123 for a water bill? I'll say thats expensive. I thought I was getting ripped off a few months ago when I had to pay $55 and that includes the trash bill, too.
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Old 12-23-2011, 10:57 AM   #32
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Yes, those of us who live in areas where water is plentiful are sure lucky. The water part of my water bill (which includes trash, sewage, recycling, park maintenance, mosquito control, and so on) is always the minimum $5.28 for two months. Lawns do not really need watering at all down here due to our high rainfall, so no hassle of dragging sprinklers around or expense of having an automated sprinkler system installed.

[grinch]Back to savings on electricity. It amazes me that in these hard economic times, so many people can afford to put up huge, elaborate Christmas displays, lighting up the entire street and going far beyond a few tiny white bulbs. These rival public displays in the public parks. They could avoid the higher electric bills and usage by not putting up the displays, and instead taking the kids on a drive to the parks or to look at other peoples' displays. There are more than enough of them to choose from. [/grinch]

I don't normally turn on my outside lights at night at all, although all my neighbors do. I do have a gas light at my front door.
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Old 12-25-2011, 09:25 AM   #33
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Maybe suggest to him to install 5 motion activated flood lights using outdoor CFL bulbs. Bulbs plus hardware wouldn't run more than $100-200.

The motion activated light plus CFL I have is 15 watts and bright enough to illuminate a large area sufficiently well with 1 bulb.

If each light was on an average of 4 hours per day, it would cost $18.62 per year (plus you might save on longer life CFLs versus what are possibly more expensive halogens). A savings of $726. A 3 month payback if installed yourself or a year payback if an electrician does the switch out.

Edit to add: for anyone wanting to trim their outdoor security lighting bills - take a look at CFL compatible motion activated lighting at your hardware store. IIRC I bought a light fixture for around $20 and the bulbs are fairly reasonable ($5-7 IIRC) working great so far and I figured it would save me many hundreds of dollars over the course of its life.
Fuego,
I like the idea of using the CFL bulbs outside, but I suspect they won't work too well through a cold Minnesota winter. I know my standard flourescent bulbs in the garage won't turn on.

I do use a motion detector on my outside light above the garage door. This works great, but I can't find a unit that will last longer than a year. They either quit working completely, or they stay on all the time.
(My latest light has been stuck on full time for about a week. I will have to get out there and replace it sometime soon.)

I would love to find a high quality outdoor motion detector light. If anyone has suggestions, I'm interested.
Note: I haven't seen much of a selection for these lights at the local hardware store, or at places like Home Depot. Everyone has the same basic lights.

Take care,

JP
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Old 12-25-2011, 09:37 AM   #34
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for anyone wanting to trim their outdoor security lighting bills - take a look at CFL compatible motion activated lighting at your hardware store. IIRC I bought a light fixture for around $20 and the bulbs are fairly reasonable ($5-7 IIRC) working great so far and I figured it would save me many hundreds of dollars over the course of its life.
I would highly caution people to NOT install CFLs on motion detector-activated outdoor lights.

Not only do CFLs take up to a few minutes to reach operating temperature (light output), but the motion detector setting will likely cycle the light on/off in just a matter of minutes.

The lifespan of those very expensive CFL bulbs is extremely negatively impacted by short cycling them.

True, a CFL bulb may last 1-2 years in a motion-detector light..but if that light is only going on for 2 or 5 minutes at a time, an incandescent bulb would likely last much longer, for a much lower total ownership cost...with a very small total energy usage difference.
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Old 12-25-2011, 09:40 AM   #35
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What a great deal that is! At this time of year my water bill is more that my electric bill (100% electric). Water is expensive by comparison but I do have the irrigation system on a separate meter. What you save with this method is not paying for the sewer charge when you water the lawn.
It was that way when we bought the house. Don't think they will even let you do that any more. Last month the electric was $98 and the water was $123.
You might want to check your sewer company's policies. Here in St. Louis, the sewer utility looks at your water usage in the winter when irrigation is non-existent in order to get your 'true' average sewer usage without charging you for irrigation water that doesn't enter the sewage treatment plant.

Of course, if you live in a place like AZ where you irrigate year-round, it's a different story...
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Old 12-26-2011, 09:28 AM   #36
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Fuego,
I like the idea of using the CFL bulbs outside, but I suspect they won't work too well through a cold Minnesota winter. I know my standard flourescent bulbs in the garage won't turn on.

I do use a motion detector on my outside light above the garage door. This works great, but I can't find a unit that will last longer than a year. They either quit working completely, or they stay on all the time.
(My latest light has been stuck on full time for about a week. I will have to get out there and replace it sometime soon.)

I would love to find a high quality outdoor motion detector light. If anyone has suggestions, I'm interested.
Note: I haven't seen much of a selection for these lights at the local hardware store, or at places like Home Depot. Everyone has the same basic lights.
Another option you might consider is a low voltage system. I have one (from Home Depot) with four 50-watt floodlights. It's on a timer, so I have to adjust the on/off schedule a few times a year to account for varying day length. The four floods give a nice illumination around the house, including my flagpole.

After three years, I still haven't replaced a bulb, and it does get below zero here on occasion. My Kill-a-watt device tells me that the system costs me about $100 a year in electricity (at 16 cents a kWh). Since I don't have any close neighbors and live in a fairly dark area, that's acceptable to me.
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Old 12-26-2011, 10:15 AM   #37
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Another option you might consider is a low voltage system. I have one (from Home Depot) with four 50-watt floodlights.
Why low voltage? All things being equal, a low voltage system will be less efficient than a high voltage system.

More voltage drop in the conductors for one (low voltage means higher current for the same watts, so more loss). The second thing is that low voltage incandescent bulbs are relatively less efficient, since the filament needs to be short/thicker for the same wattage, and a higher percentage of heat is conducted away by the standoffs that hold that short, thick filament.

Plus, you lose a bit in the transformer used to convert the high to low voltage. There are losses going to low voltage, and no gains at all.

IOW, four 50 watt bulbs consume 200 watts, regardless of voltage. But you get fewer lumens out of the low volt bulbs, and there are more losses delivering those 200 watts.

-ERD50
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Old 12-26-2011, 10:30 AM   #38
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You might want to check your sewer company's policies. Here in St. Louis, the sewer utility looks at your water usage in the winter when irrigation is non-existent in order to get your 'true' average sewer usage without charging you for irrigation water that doesn't enter the sewage treatment plant.

Of course, if you live in a place like AZ where you irrigate year-round, it's a different story...
You might have misunderstood the separate water meter system. The in-ground lawn irrigation system is on a separate water meter that allows you to water the lawn without getting a sewer charge on top of the water charge. Most of our irrigation is done in the winter when it is dry and we get very little if any rain (November through March).

Since my post concerning the $123/mo bill, I just received the latest one for $147.80. It showed we used 18500 gallons to water the lawn and shrubs and 3500 gal inside the house. Of the $148 bill, only $32 was for sewer charge and the rest was for the treatment of water, purchasing it from suppliers and a customer charge.

Unlike W2R's post, we are surrounded by water, but it is salt water. In the immediate area we have one of the largest desalination plants in the country, but there has been a lot of trouble getting it up and running. The company in charge of the plant was fired and replaced and I haven't read much lately about how that operation is going.

Water is very precious in Florida, but you wouldn't know it the way we operate. We ARE on water restrictions. You can only water the lawn twice a week on certain days. You can water the shrubs and wash the car anytime as long as the hose has a nozzle on it. When things really get bad you can only water once a week. Until the housing bust started back in 2006, they were building apartments and condos like hell wouldn't have it. Just think of all those flushing toilets and washing machines going all the time.
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Old 12-26-2011, 01:12 PM   #39
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Why low voltage? All things being equal, a low voltage system will be less efficient than a high voltage system.

More voltage drop in the conductors for one (low voltage means higher current for the same watts, so more loss). The second thing is that low voltage incandescent bulbs are relatively less efficient, since the filament needs to be short/thicker for the same wattage, and a higher percentage of heat is conducted away by the standoffs that hold that short, thick filament.

Plus, you lose a bit in the transformer used to convert the high to low voltage. There are losses going to low voltage, and no gains at all.

IOW, four 50 watt bulbs consume 200 watts, regardless of voltage. But you get fewer lumens out of the low volt bulbs, and there are more losses delivering those 200 watts.

-ERD50
Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that. The low voltage give you less of a voltage drop, not more. Also, the bulbs (halogen) are considerably more efficient. Also, I don't want very bright light, just enough to turn a totally dark night into a low visibility situation.

But my point was merely that the total cost of the system is quite reasonable at only $100 a year.
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Old 12-26-2011, 01:54 PM   #40
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Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that. The low voltage give you less of a voltage drop, not more. Also, the bulbs (halogen) are considerably more efficient.
Brau,
ERD50 is correct.
Low voltage is less efficient - for the same wattage, there is more of voltage drop with lower voltage when using the same conductors.
Plus taking additional efficiency hit (even 20% with cheap switching designs) by using the transformer.
The halogen bulb argument does not apply here - there are line voltage (120V) halogen bulbs available.
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