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Old 05-27-2014, 10:38 AM   #61
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It is a thing that will secretly turn off your A/C when you really need it to run. You'll start sweating, not only because its hot, but also because you wonder if you need to call the repair man.
Oh, we do have that option. I just didn't know what it was called. DH already nixed that idea, especially now that our bill is already so low compared to what it was. I think it would only save us $50 a year and we have some 100 degree days when having the A/C on makes life a lot more comfortable.
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Old 05-27-2014, 10:41 AM   #62
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How much one saves depends on the local electric rate. Many places in California have outrageous rates, and it pays to economize there.

My rate is not as high, but I have been using CFL bulbs for years. I do not do much else to conserve. My electric company Web site let me enter in my home data (2700 sq.ft., 2-story, swimming pool), and it told me that my monthly bill is $40 lower than comparable homes in my area. So, that's almost $500/year, with little costs and no change in lifestyle.
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Old 05-27-2014, 11:01 AM   #63
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We have still saved thousands per year on our energy bill, ..........
Wow, your energy bill must be quite hefty ! My gas and electric bill for all of 2013 was $1182.
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Old 05-27-2014, 11:26 AM   #64
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Our utility company reports show our predicted annual usage for gas and electricity combined to now be under $1.6K for the year, previously $4k, worst year DH has tracked was $4.4K. .... The reductions mostly came from maybe 50+ different little energy saving action items all adding up, like turning off the ice maker, turning off lights, putting motion sensor LED lights in the hallways and stairs that use rechargeable batteries, opening windows in the morning when the air is cool, and a lot of the stuff previously mentioned like the drying racks, thermal cooker, solar lights outside and eliminating a fan at night. ... .

I'm always looking for ways to save, especially on utilities (environmental effects bonus). Now it's a little tougher to understand and learn where your savings are from since it is gas/electric combined, but if I assume most of the savings were from electric (it doesn't sound like you do much heating, and gas is fairly cheap anyhow), it's hard to fathom that a lot of 'little things' could add up to that kind of savings, even at your high rates.

Some rough numbers: Your previous $4,000 (not your high), versus your current $1,600 is a $2,400 savings. If all the savings came in at the top-tier rate of $0.36 kWh, that is 6,667 annual kWh saved. To put that into perspective -


How many 60W light bulbs, burning 8 hours/day would this amount to?

0.060 < kWh of 60W bulb
8
365
175.2 < annual kWh of a 60 W bulb on 8hrs/day * 365 days
38.1 < 6,667 annual kWh saved divided by 175.2 annual kWh of the 60W bulb

so savings represents over 38 60 W bulbs burning 8*365!

So it's just hard to see how a bunch of little things could add up to something like turning off 38 60W traditional bulbs that were running 8 hours a day, every day (not even accounting for the energy used by replacements). That is an awful lot of 'little things' being used for a lot of time!

Your high top-tier rate does bring the pay-back period down to ~ 1/3rd what I would get, so many savings certainly pay. It's just hard to attribute such a reduction to light bulbs and insulated cook pots. Now, opening windows instead of running the A/C could be a big one depending on how often that option can be used, but we already do that - A/C doesn't come on until a combo of heat/humidity just cannot be handled any other way.

I'm guessing that lifestyle changes like not using A/C so much are a much bigger part f the delta than any energy saving gadgets.

For reference, our Electric for the year was ~ $1,000 (includes delivery, taxes and other fees, some of them are fixed rather than per/kWh), which would be over $3,000 at your top tier rate, so our usage is very roughly in the ballpark. Adding in gas would bring it up of course, as we are in the midwest.

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Old 05-27-2014, 11:28 AM   #65
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My point is with a little over $1,000 a year electric bill, I would not see the savings if I did all or most of what you talk about. I will take Cree at there word, however, my guess is that on average is I added up all the time lights were on I would have somewhere between six to twelve hours of 'light power used' a day. My savings would be about $30 a year, and for that I would have to replace between thirty and forty light bulbs. Example there are seven light bulbs in our master bath. They are on less than 10 min a day. (average sometimes more most less) Same with the kitchen 15 bulbs, some on for an hour, some less than five min. Now on the side onf full disclosure most of the bulbs in our house are CFL's.
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Old 05-27-2014, 11:39 AM   #66
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....

Reminds me, time to turn off the always-on pilots on our heating systems. I think that saves more than $50 per month for the next 3-4 months. Also gives me a reason to leave heat off in September...
$50 a month for pilots! How many 'heating systems' are you talking about?

I have gas bills in the range of $25~$35/month in the summer. That is two pilots, a 40G gas water heater for 2-3 people, gas cooking and natural gas grill. And there are some fixed costs in that bill.

A standing pilot can't really be using much at all. I don't know if this is accurate, but I've heard some recommendations to leave the pilot on, as the heat keeps out moisture and can extend the life of the heat exchanger. May be an old wive's tale though, I dunno. But I generally just leave it on.

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Old 05-27-2014, 11:41 AM   #67
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Please note that CFLs and LEDs are comparable in electric consumption.

LEDs have the advantages of better light color, instant time to full-light output, longer life, but those come at a higher purchase price.
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Old 05-27-2014, 11:52 AM   #68
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.

While a penny saved is a penny earned... ultimately
it's the bigger costs that bleed you dry... paying
interest on debt, mortgage [pay it off before you
retire], utilities, insurance, taxes, etc.

Once one is retired, there is little reason [other than
lifestyle choice] to live in a McMansion in an expensive
part of the country. One's personal house is a liability.
Even if the house is paid off, more house equals higher
insurance, higher property taxes and higher utilities.

.
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Old 05-27-2014, 11:58 AM   #69
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.
One's personal house is a liability.
Even if the house is paid off, more house equals higher
insurance and higher property taxes.
Agreed- and the realtor DH and I met with was talking about some communities where monthly maintenance (which included lawn mowing, snow plowing and trash/recycling) were $250-$300/month. You pretty much have no control over who the HOA hires to do this work, and no control over price increases.

We were also talking about the palatial houses in one historic section of town (Boss Pendergast used to live in one of them) on my previous commute and she said they're money pits. I just shudder at the wide, expansive lawns and wonder what it costs to keep them so perfectly manicured (not a DIY job), but she said the interiors always need fixing up.
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Old 05-27-2014, 11:58 AM   #70
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The way I view energy savings is to consider that each dollar wasted can never be recovered. I look for opportunities to save $10 on electric bill so that I offset some of the rate increases.
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Old 05-27-2014, 11:58 AM   #71
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it's hard to fathom that a lot of 'little things' could add up to that kind of savings, even at your high rates.
If you want to think I am posting fake before and after annual cost energy numbers for some reason, your choice. Our after numbers are less than similar homes and yet still higher than energy efficient homes on our utility company graphs, so they fall within the bell curve for similar homes in our area for energy use. I am not sure where the hard to fathom part comes in, but again, your choice to believe whatever you want to believe is true.
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Old 05-27-2014, 12:06 PM   #72
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If you want to think I am posting fake before and after annual cost energy numbers for some reason, ... .
Nothing of the sort. I'm simply trying to understand where the savings is coming from. I can't get the numbers to add up in the way you describe. What do you make of my numbers?

Without understanding it, it's pretty hard to tell if this information about energy savings gadgets is useful to me, the OP, or anyone reading this thread. And for some of us, some of these look like they would be expenses, not a savings at all, which was what the OP (and many of us) are looking for (savings).

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Old 05-27-2014, 12:07 PM   #73
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If you want to think I am posting fake before and after annual cost energy numbers for some reason, your choice. Our after numbers are less than similar homes and yet still higher higher than energy efficient homes on our utility company graphs, so they fall within the bell curve for similar homes in our area for energy use. I am not sure where the hard to fathom part comes in, but again, your choice to believe whatever you want to believe is true.
A couple random thoughts:

-Natural Gas prices, at least in my neck of the woods, have been considerably lower per unit during the last 1-2 years (compared to the years prior to those).
-Did you change thermostat settings?
-Did you adjust for heating/cooling days year to year?
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Old 05-27-2014, 12:17 PM   #74
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Agreed- and the realtor DH and I met with was talking about some communities where monthly maintenance (which included lawn mowing, snow plowing and trash/recycling) were $250-$300/month. You pretty much have no control over who the HOA hires to do this work, and no control over price increases.

We were also talking about the palatial houses in one historic section of town (Boss Pendergast used to live in one of them) on my previous commute and she said they're money pits. I just shudder at the wide, expansive lawns and wonder what it costs to keep them so perfectly manicured (not a DIY job), but she said the interiors always need fixing up.

Thanks for bringing that up.

HOAs were not on my radar because I've never had to deal with one. But I've heard many horror stories from those who do
and the monthly HOA cost can be more than other people pay in rent/mortgage.

I have paid the same professional to mow my lawn for 14 years
[no need for snow removal here.] He has never raised his price.

.
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Old 05-27-2014, 12:45 PM   #75
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I know it's been mentioned, but cancelling cable TV and watching over-the-air broadcasts has been wonderful for me. I save $110/month and honestly, I am watching the same shows and the HD is just as good or better. I have Amazon Prime but since I "cut the cable" I have streamed only part of one show. I don't feel I am missing anything.

My reasons for changing my cable service were not that I needed the money, but that I need to get at least some value from the money I spend. The extra money saved is just a bonus and I am happily blowing it on whatever appeals to me.

Next, the landline is going! I get zero value out of having it.

Living in a relatively small (1600 square foot) house helps a lot in keeping property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and energy bills down.
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Old 05-27-2014, 12:52 PM   #76
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A couple random thoughts:

-Natural Gas prices, at least in my neck of the woods, have been considerably lower per unit during the last 1-2 years (compared to the years prior to those).
-Did you change thermostat settings?
-Did you adjust for heating/cooling days year to year?
As I posted previously, we made 50+ little changes that all added up. We dropped our daily KWH from around 40 to 15 lately. Our combined gas and electric bill dropped from around $4k per year to $1.6K for this year. That didn't come from any single action like adjusting the thermostat or changes in the weather or gas prices. It was more like save a kw a day from this change here and that change there, implementing a few each month or so over a period of several years and seeing each bill be a little less than the same month the year before. YMMV.
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Old 05-27-2014, 12:57 PM   #77
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I know it's been mentioned, but cancelling cable TV and watching over-the-air broadcasts has been wonderful for me. I save $110/month and honestly, I am watching the same shows and the HD is just as good or better. I have Amazon Prime but since I "cut the cable" I have streamed only part of one show. I don't feel I am missing anything.

My reasons for changing my cable service were not that I needed the money, but that I need to get at least some value from the money I spend. The extra money saved is just a bonus and I am happily blowing it on whatever appeals to me.

Next, the landline is going! I get zero value out of having it.

Living in a relatively small (1600 square foot) house helps a lot in keeping property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and energy bills down.
We have been pleasantly surprised at how many expenses we could cut and not miss, like cable channels and the landline, since we started to make more of an effort on the budgeting front.

We're working on downsizing, too, but that is taking a lot more effort to pull off. I have about 10 bags of books and clutter for Goodwill today. We have to get rid of at least half our stuff.
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Old 05-27-2014, 01:01 PM   #78
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We're working on downsizing, too, but that is taking a lot more effort to pull off. I have about 10 bags of books and clutter for Goodwill today. We have to get rid of at least half our stuff.
It's hard to downsize, but it is so FREEING to get rid of all that excess stuff! I got rid of over half my stuff too, when we thought we were moving to Missouri. We changed our minds and didn't move. But amazingly, my house finally seems to have more than enough closet space. Also, I haven't missed any of that stuff at all. That was very surprising to me.
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Old 05-27-2014, 01:07 PM   #79
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It's hard to downsize, but it is so FREEING to get rid of all that excess stuff! I got rid of over half my stuff too, when we thought we were moving to Missouri. We changed our minds and didn't move. But amazingly, my house finally seems to have more than enough closet space. Also, I haven't missed any of that stuff at all. That was very surprising to me.
You mean now that I am approaching 60 I won't miss my high school year books I just got rid of?

What is scary is how much stuff we have gotten rid of and how much is left. I haven't missed one thing so far.

I just think back to when we were younger and lived in 800 - 1200 sq ft rentals with no garage. We weren't unhappy and we had more free time.
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Old 05-27-2014, 01:14 PM   #80
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You mean now that I am approaching 60 I won't miss my high school year books I just got rid of?

What is scary is how much stuff we have gotten rid of and how much is left. I haven't missed one thing so far.

I just think back to when we were younger and lived in 800 - 1200 sq ft rentals with no garage. We weren't unhappy and we had more free time.
Well, I didn't get rid of my high school yearbooks or anything that personal/sentimental. But I did get rid of most of my books. At one point I had 85 boxes of books (too many to put on shelves), and now I just have about 8 boxes of books and they all fit on the shelves of one full sized and one small bookcase. That includes my yearbooks, though! Frank had way too many books also. We became great friends with the local public library, who very kindly lent us their cart and told us what day/time was best to bring all of these to-be-donated books to them. They even took obscure, outdated technical books. Amazing! I think probably they sell that kind of books at book sales and use the money to buy better one.

I had class notes back to 1966, including every class note I ever took after high school. I haven't missed them at all, although I thought I would.

So true - - with too many possessions, we are less free. In a sense our possessions own us, instead of the reverse.
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