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Old 05-28-2014, 10:03 AM   #101
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OM1/2Y, then another OM1/2Y, and OM1/2Y looks a lot better than OM1/2Y, etc. (and a lot more math looking as well).

OMY: the secret is to hold down ALT and hit 1 7 1 on the numeric keyboard, then release. Guess what? appears.
(Maybe one other person on this forum, didn't know how to do this--or, maybe not).
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:45 AM   #102
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OMY indeed looks a lot more scholarly than OM1/2Y.

Appearance is important even for an anonymous Web post (though people would not think that I agree with that when seeing me in shorts and T-shirt).

When I made a post and later found an error that I made, it just drove me insane when the edit period expired and my mistake was frozen for eternity in the Web archive. Arghhh!!! Several times, I thought of bribing a mod so he/she would let me change my post. It's my writing after all, is it not? Why do they own it?
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:26 AM   #103
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Our home is decorated with original art - created by me. Just think of all the $$ we've saved by not buying original art! LOL

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Old 05-28-2014, 11:34 AM   #104
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Our home is decorated with original art - created by me. Just think of all the $$ we've saved by not buying original art! LOL

Amethyst
Great idea, and what a savings in money! Plus, you can have exactly what you want on your walls.

I have zero artistic ability or skills, but I love art and want it all around me in my home. I don't want to spend a lot on it, though. So I have had to devise a second best approach for having art on my walls. I only buy cheap art. This means that 99% of the art I can afford, does not appeal to me. It's EASY to find pretty art that is expensive, but not so easy to find nice looking cheap art. I found that my quest for cheap art, searching high and low through old junk shops and thrift stores, occasionally ends in finding something that I think is exquisite for $20 - $50 or so. I value each piece even more because of the effort put in to finding it in the first place.

I could go down to the fancy art dealers on Royal St. or Julia St, and spend more on one painting than I have spent for all the art in my house. Such a painting would probably be beautiful and without any effort or discrimination at all, I would have beautiful, tasteful art in my home. Still, I don't think I would value it as much as I value my cheap art.
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:39 AM   #105
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Our home is decorated with original art - created by me. Just think of all the $$ we've saved by not buying original art! LOL

Amethyst
Most of the "art" in my home are scenic photos I've taken during my travels, enlarged to 11x14 size and framed.
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:42 AM   #106
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Drives my sister crazy but I have zero art hanging on the walls. I have two craft pieces that I made but other than that I have nothing on the walls. My sister's home looks like an art gallery. I'm just not into it. I spend all my time on the back porch which I have the best art in the world - nature !
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:46 AM   #107
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I could go down to the fancy art dealers on Royal St. or Julia St, and spend more on one painting than I have spent for all the art in my house. Such a painting would probably be beautiful and without any effort or discrimination at all, I would have beautiful, tasteful art in my home. Still, I don't think I would value it as much as I value my cheap art.
And then you would also have to insure it, worry about it, and perhaps "maintain it". I like your plan much better!

If you have any local, small-ish crafts fairs in your area, sometimes you can find some nice artwork by local budding artists for a reasonable price as well.
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:52 AM   #108
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And then you would also have to insure it, worry about it, and perhaps "maintain it". I like your plan much better!

If you have any local, small-ish crafts fairs in your area, sometimes you can find some nice artwork by local budding artists for a reasonable price as well.
So true! I don't have to worry about my art in the event of a hurricane or another burglary. I know that if anything happens to it, the worst case is that I would get the pleasure of searching for more.

We do have art fairs here; good idea! Also New Orleans is probably unusual in that local artists paint and sell their paintings on the street in the French Quarter. I haven't bought any there, but sometimes these paintings end up in second hand stores so some of my art is in fact locally created. Most of my paintings and sculptures are reproductions but for some reason, that doesn't matter to me if I really like it.
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:57 AM   #109
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Great idea, and what a savings in money! Plus, you can have exactly what you want on your walls.

I have zero artistic ability or skills, but I love art and want it all around me in my home. I don't want to spend a lot on it, though. So I have had to devise a second best approach for having art on my walls. I only buy cheap art. This means that 99% of the art I can afford, does not appeal to me. It's EASY to find pretty art that is expensive, but not so easy to find nice looking cheap art. I found that my quest for cheap art, searching high and low through old junk shops and thrift stores, occasionally ends in finding something that I think is exquisite for $20 - $50 or so. I value each piece even more because of the effort put in to finding it in the first place.

I could go down to the fancy art dealers on Royal St. or Julia St, and spend more on one painting than I have spent for all the art in my house. Such a painting would probably be beautiful and without any effort or discrimination at all, I would have beautiful, tasteful art in my home. Still, I don't think I would value it as much as I value my cheap art.
I like all the frugal art ideas here. I am going to have some of our own photographs framed, learn to make some of my own wall art, and go treasure hunting at thrift shops from now on.

We noticed at the last art fair we went to and even window shopping at some of the shops in Union Square in San Francisco that a lot of the art pieces and paintings would never deteriorate - logically most of them would end up at thrift shops and estate sales at a fraction of the price, just not staged as well as in the shop windows and artists' booths.
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Old 05-28-2014, 06:06 PM   #110
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Everyone has been there at one time or another. This is my list:

1. Stay out of stores!
2. Except for food, if you got along without it yesterday you don't need it today.
3. It wasn't an issue then but now it would be stop reading any online advertising. I didn't look at any advertising, or ignored that which I couldn't escape.
4. Somebody nearby has less money than you do. What are they doing to manage?
5. Prepare all food from scratch. If it came in a box you can make it cheaper or make something else.
6. You do have a cooler to bring lunch to work in, right? If not, buy one, and use it every day. It will pay for itself within a week.
7. Restaurants are off-limits. Don't even think about it.
8. Tap water is cheap and plentiful. You don't need anything else to drink.

I always found #4 very helpful. I love it when people post their budgets online.

I like #5 too. I think it helps the waistline too. Sure, I can make cookies, but I usually don't bother...

#7 is hard....
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:06 PM   #111
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... 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?
I think you have to just run the numbers for yourself with a Kill A Watt and estimate the hard wired lights and appliances with numbers from the web on generic average energy usages. Make a spreadsheet and try to allocate your daily kw usage by appliance / light / furnace fan / TV / computer / whatever.

Then make before and after columns by kw with cost / savings estimates by light / appliance / fan and just go down the list to see what changes have a worthwhile positive ROI for you to do and which ones do not.

...
Oh, I have many spreadsheets and a kill-a-watt going waaaaay back

That's one of the reasons I just can't fathom how you had such large changes with 'little things'. I've done a little updating on my spreadsheet since some of our stuff has been updated. But from what I have now...

A/C, heating (the electric fan, heat itself is NG), refrigerators and freezer, electric dryer (I should switch to NG, but that's another story), and our well pump are the only individual things that are over 8% of our total, and the next highest single item is 3.5%. And those few items at the top make up over 80% of our bill ( Hey Mr Pareto, can you hear me knockin'?!!! ).

At my ~ $0.11 kWh rates, the 'big things' aren't really worth upgrading. The A/C is >20 YO, so newer would certainly be more efficient, but we might only spend ~ $200/year on the A/C, so I'll wait until it dies. Our new fridge is more efficient than old, but the old freezer and basement fridge aren't bad, only $9 and $6 a month - again, not going to replace them until they die.

And with the remaining 'little things' only making up less than 20% of the total, even cutting every single one by half would be less than a 10% reduction.

The 'Pareto Principle' almost universally holds, so yes, it is just really hard to understand how '50 little things' could cut your bill by such a large amount (2/3rds?). Still not adding up for me.

Is there any data you could share?

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Old 05-29-2014, 12:34 AM   #112
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Is there any data you could share?

-ERD50
How many kw do you use daily? The average U.S. I think is around 30, we have ours down to ~15, just by chipping away at the kw each month or so. I have not done much specifically with gas, because that was not a big expense for us.

You also have to keep in mind we were above similar homes at 40 kw per day when we started, so if you are using 15 kw that is where we are at currently. (Our bill in dollars went down proportionately more than the kw usage, because we have tiered rates, hence the ~2/3 in dollar savings.)

The single biggest thing I did was use drying racks instead of the electric dryer. That was good for around $40 a month. Other than that we weather stripped, unplugged a spare mini fridge, replaced an actual fan for an iTunes fan song for white noise, bought the small appliances previously mentioned, are switching over to LED lights, bought a lot of Mr. Beams LED lights that run on rechargeable batteries that can be charged with a solar charger, bought draft stoppers for the doors, put solar lights on the patio, solar Christmas lights, low flow shower heads (gas), got better at turning out lights, unplugged some Bose stereo speaker when not in use, eliminated one DVR, and we open the windows when it is cool in at night and mornings and then close them when it starts to get hot. My washer died this year so its replacement was a CEE Tier III model that uses $10 of electricity a year (at normal U.S rates).

I think we changed the settings on the TVs. The store setting are extra bright and use more electricity. I heat water for tea and coffee in an electric kettle that heats water to the boiling point in one minute, and I only put inside the amount of water I need to use, no more. Coffee is instant or french press.

Do you get graphs on energy use from your utility? We get hour by hour ones. We looked at the spikes. We also looked at overnight. The baseline when no one is up and the heat or air are not on is something we really looked hard at because those are things that go 24 X 7. If your overnight is 2 kw per hour, not counting heat or AC, there's a 24 kw daily baseline right away before you even get out of bed and turn on the PC and put toast in the toaster. If your baseline is even one kw, it will be hard to get the daily total down to 15 kw a day, because that only leaves 3 extra kw for PC use, cooking, TV, laundry, lighting, etc.

We didn't insulate or get solar panels or do any one thing that reduced the bill dramatically. We just chip away at the kw and therms each month and each month our bill goes down a bit from the same month the year before.
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Old 05-29-2014, 08:05 AM   #113
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Electricity use is highly dependent on where you live, type of appliances, and your personal habits.

In the NE, we have natural gas demands for heating, meaning significant additional costs not typical of Southern States. But the cost of cooling in the south is expensive as electricity is currently the highest cost of energy.

If you are in a state with high electricity costs, you can save quite a bit.
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Old 05-29-2014, 08:12 AM   #114
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Ooooops! - I can't edit my post any longer but I typed it too late last night. I meant if you use 24 kw overnight baseline, that is 48 daily, 1 kw baseline that is 24.

Our energy bill for spring months used to be at least $300, and this past billing period we were under $100. We have a few more things to do, like we just installed another low flow shower head and are replacing an older PC with a lap top, and have a few more things on our list to implement, so we should end up the year well under 15 kw a day average.
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Old 05-29-2014, 08:17 AM   #115
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Old 05-29-2014, 10:11 AM   #116
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Drives my sister crazy but I have zero art hanging on the walls. I have two craft pieces that I made but other than that I have nothing on the walls. My sister's home looks like an art gallery. I'm just not into it. I spend all my time on the back porch which I have the best art in the world - nature !

I'm with you. I have a big mirror over fireplace and a clock on the wall and that is it for the entire house. Fresh clean painted walls is my preferred type of art work.


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Old 05-29-2014, 10:20 AM   #117
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You can do that because you live by yourself.
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Old 05-29-2014, 10:21 AM   #118
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On the saving money with art idea - I have good friends who are artists - and they have given me some FABULOUS pieces. My grandmother bought inexpensive, but tasteful, oil paintings in antique stores when that wasn't in vogue. She had a great eye. I inherited a lot of nice, no-name artists from the 20's and 30's from her.
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Old 05-29-2014, 10:28 AM   #119
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You can do that because you live by yourself.

That is true. My Dad told me he wishes he could have his house that way, but his wife will not allow it.


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Old 05-29-2014, 10:33 AM   #120
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RE 'fifty little things' - thanks for the added info, this is making a lot more sense to me now. I've broken up and re-arranged your post so I can comment on common groups of items:

Quote:
Originally Posted by daylatedollarshort View Post
How many kw do you use daily? The average U.S. I think is around 30, we have ours down to ~15, just by chipping away at the kw each month or so. ...

You also have to keep in mind we were above similar homes at 40 kw per day when we started, ....
I'm at about 25 kWh/day, in a neighborhood of largish homes. We use A/C maybe 20-30 days of the year total (really varies, that's a guess, we hold off until some combo of heat/humidity and lack of cooling breezes call for it, we try to be conservative, but I HATE heat and humidity), and maybe 7 months of heating (NG heat, but blower fan is ~ 800watts) . Unfortunately, we don't have smart meters, and I only get some very rough comparative data from the utility. But we are just above the middle of the lowest quintile of active users (I guess they filter out unoccupied homes?), and about half of the average neighbor. They don't show the other quintiles, so I don't know how I compare to the 'energy hogs', but if it is a roughly symmetrical distribution, I'm probably ~ 1/4 some of my neighbors (but those might be the few with pools/pumps/filters). Insulation is probably just average, not great, and not a lot of shade.

So, I'm guessing that if you were starting above the average, and there was a lot of 'low hanging fruit'. My point in taking this as far as I have is I think it's important to provide some perspective when suggesting that XYZ is going to save someone money - it really 'depends'. Plus, it motivates me to take an closer look at my own usage, and I might find a few things I could improve that I missed before. Anyway...


Quote:
The single biggest thing I did was use drying racks instead of the electric dryer. ...
Yep, electric dryers are resistance heaters, they suck LOTS of juice (just look at the cord!), and are probably drawing conditioned air from the house and exhausting it - that air needs to be made up and conditioned). I probably should have switched to an NG dryer years ago, but I thought (maybe mistakenly - that electric element gets cherry-red like a toaster, that might be as much a fire hazard as an NG flame?) that electric was safer than NG for a dryer (dryer lint fires are a big % of home fires). But now we do less washing/drying with kids out of the house, and if we replace the washer with a front load, the dryer won't run as much - and it works!

So OK, this might qualify as a 'little thing' in terms of how much work it is, but it is affecting a big draw item, so I see it differently from a lot of the things you mentioned, like thermal insulated cookers, etc.



Quote:
Other than that we weather stripped, unplugged a spare mini fridge,
...bought draft stoppers for the doors, ... and we open the windows when it is cool in at night and mornings and then close them when it starts to get hot.
OK, those can be affecting some large draw items (A.C), and fridges use a fair amount - and most mini-fridge are inefficient, they might use as much/more than full sized one). But again, to me these are different from 'little things' like thermal cookers.

Quote:
got better at turning out lights,
It always make sense to do this, but I never understood why anyone wouldn't be doing this from the start. But unless you were really crazy about leaving many lights on for long times, it's just not going to add up to much. Ten 60W old-bulbs left on for 4 extra hours a day is 2.4 kWh/day, which would be ~ 6% of your starting kWh, and that's a pretty extreme example. And if like most people who are trying to save money, most of those are probably already switched to CFLs, which would take that down less than 2%?


Quote:
replaced an actual fan for an iTunes fan song for white noise, bought the small appliances previously mentioned,
OK, if you measured/calculated these, I think you'd find them to be tiny differences. It still probably makes sense to some of them (if the upfront cost is low/zero), but I'm just trying to add some perspective.

Quote:
are switching over to LED lights,
At your high rates, these (or CFLs if they fit your needs - they are cheaper, similar savings, but the light may not be to your liking) probably make good sense in high use sockets. But if you are conservative with lighting, it's still going to be pretty small when measured against a 2/3rds reduction.


Quote:
bought a lot of Mr. Beams LED lights that run on rechargeable batteries that can be charged with a solar charger,

put solar lights on the patio, solar Christmas lights, ...
These I really need to 'challenge'. Even at high $kWh, it's unlikely that small solar lights are going to be cost effective, on an apples-apples basis (similar light output, both using LEDs), unless it avoids running wires. Those rechargeable batteries will need to be replaced after a few years. Holiday lights aren't used enough to pay back the solar panel, and are actually an environmental negative (when a solar panel is placed optimally, and used all day, all year round, it takes ~ 2 years to offset the electricity used to make it. So a part-time use solar panel is an energy/environmental suck, not a savings at all).

Some solar light math: If it has a typical 800mAH, 1.2V battery, and stays lit for 6 hours into the night, that is .8*1.2*6*365 = 2.1 kWh annually, ~ 70 cents of electricity a year at your $0.34 rate. Replacing the battery occasionally will likely wipe out any savings, or at least minimize it to pennies a year. I have some, but to avoid running wires.


Quote:
unplugged some Bose stereo speaker when not in use, eliminated one DVR,
I've heard DVRs can suck a fair amount of 'phantom' juice. Our daughters cheap shelf stereo used as much when it was 'OFF' as when it was on (kill-a-watt to the rescue!). It can make good sense to shut these off when you can, but I bet it is still pretty small potatoes against a 40kWh budget. Newer ones are probably better in this regard, but worth checking.


Quote:
I think we changed the settings on the TVs. The store setting are extra bright and use more electricity.
I have noticed this with the kila-watt on our older TVs, and due to this thread I checked our newer 55" TV. I was kinda surprised that it didn't seem to make a huge difference, and the 'off' wattage was less than a watt (yeah!). But this is worth checking as it could vary quite a bit unit-unit and your settings prefs.

Quote:
I heat water for tea and coffee in an electric kettle that heats water to the boiling point in one minute, and I only put inside the amount of water I need to use, no more.
Again, this is fine, but even a less efficient method won't amount to much overall. I know people like those pots for the convenience/speed, a little energy savings is a plus, but it's a little.


Quote:
Do you get graphs on energy use from your utility? We get hour by hour ones. We looked at the spikes. We also looked at overnight. The baseline when no one is up and the heat or air are not on is something we really looked hard at because those are things that go 24 X 7. If your overnight is 2 kw per hour, not counting heat or AC, there's a 24 kw daily baseline right away before you even get out of bed and turn on the PC and put toast in the toaster. ....
I talked about this a little at the start, and unfortunately I only get a very crude comparison from the utility. I'll need to call, but I think we are years away from getting smart meter updates.

I'd love to get hour-by-hour. I probably would have detected an underground leak much earlier (my well pump ended up running close to 24*7 and I saw some surface water before I detected it). The well pump running a high duty cycle at night would have shown up in an hourly report.

So all I've been able to do is go out and read my meter at various times, and try to catch some things. Based on some rough estimates, I seem to be at about .6 kWh baseline, but the water softener runs every third day, and that triggers the well pump for several cycles, so that's a rough number. It's not a lot of fun to go out and read the meter before bed and early AM a bunch of times to get a good average. I've looked at some of the add-on monitors (they detect the spinning disk with an optical detector), and IIRC they were ~ $30 and flaky according to reviews (my meter 'window' is pretty cloudy).


Whew!!!! Sorry to go on so long, but this stuff interests me, and the discussion does motivate me to take a closer look at my own usage. And as I said, I just dislike 'broad brush' statements, and I like to get to specific items that can help people, with proper caveats if needed.

But congrats on getting your bill down! Like they say, a penny saved is more than a penny earned (due to taxes, deductions, etc). Just be careful that you aren't spending too much to chase some small savings.

-ERD50
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