electricity use... another number crunch

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by comfortablynumb, Oct 27, 2006.

  1. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    Ive been busy for a few hrs chasing power drains and crunching numbers.

    a very nifty free program called "watt u use" is very neat, google it and download it.

    anyhow, I had not really considered how much I was bleeding away with LIGHTS. I noticed today in alot of places I have nite lite fixtures, cheapo 7 and 4 watt ones, all over the place, and most of them have blown bulbs or are out of the plugs.

    I remember at one time thats all the light I had around here to guide me in the dark and I was pretty used to it, although I have larger lights there if they are needed.

    whats happened is and I am ashamed to say it, the bulbs all burned out and I began using the shop lights and incandescent bulbs around here.

    the numbers tell me by letting those 4&7 watt lites die off and get dusty, I started using nearly $20 a month more power... and also many of my dusk to dawn switches are screwed up and stay on all day, had NOT noticed this. flipping back thru time and numbers, I see those outdoor lights have been eating up $8 a month over the dusk to dawn usage cost per month.

    and indeed my water heater does kick on more than I figured and it is eating $27 per month. :help: yes, I did scream like a girl when those numbers bit my eyeballs.
    the tank is going off and only being turned on for an hour before bath time. everything else can get cold water or rot.
    hot water on demand isnt worth 27 bucks a month.

    If I replace all my nite lites that USED to light the house, fix the dusk to dawn sensors and shut the water heater off most of the time and put 18watt spotlights where now I got sloppy and stuck 10 watt bulbs in some spots...

    the numbers say I will drop my electric bill from @ $55. per month to @ $20.

    I took a dig back thru old power bills and a few yrs ago, thats about what I was paying, give or take 5 bucks.
    getting old tired and busy and careless jacked it up to $55.
    being a bit slow on the uptake kept me from figuring out why!

    In 30 days, i will know if it worked, tomorrow I will repair and retrofit everything back to the way it was when i was desperately poor instead of comfortably poor.
    :p

    nite lights are 2 fer a buck at the dollar store, and in the pitch dark, 7 watts is pretty bright!

    a 4 watt nite lite left on 24/7 costs .24 cents a month. 6 of them will run only 1.44 a month, and I used to get around fine, and hardly ever turned on the big lights unless I was working in that [whatever] room.

    Ive seen 1 watt nite lights.... I can use those too in a few places.

    I'm getting stoooopid... turn off those lights!! :help:
     
  2. Beltane

    Beltane Enjoying Four Seasons

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    That's a neat idea about the water heater. I could certainly turn ours off during the day when nobody is home! :)
     

  3. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    There is an LED nitelite that hardly uses any power at all. I have one in my bathroom and it is pretty bright. Even has a sensor so it only comes on in the dark.
     
  4. tiogacounty

    tiogacounty Well-Known Member

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    A 24 hour electric water heater timer is about $40. I have put dozens of them in and they sure beat turning a water heater on and off a few times a day. If you are flipping a circuit breaker as a switch, please be aware that not all breakers are designed for this duty. (if you ever have a breaker explode in your hand as you flip the toggle, you get a whole new respect for electricity) Even the ones that are switching duty rated can have a short service life when used on a daily basis. If you have to pay an electrician to come change a breaker, it get's expensive. Better to spend the money having a timer installed.. As for your comment on dusk to dawn lights, remember that most photocells are "fail-safe", meaning they are designed to quit in the on position. It is very easy to miss the fact that one has failed. Interesting post.
     
  5. hoofinitnorth

    hoofinitnorth Well-Known Member

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    You don't even have to have a fancy timer for the hot water heater IF your hot water heater has a plug vs. hard wires. You can just buy a light timer that is grounded. Plug that into the dedicated outlet for the hot water heater and then plug in the hot water heater.

    Or you can upgrade to an on-demand hot water heater for more $$. Even converting from electric to natural gas or propane or heating oil would probably save you a bundle.

    We have an on-demand heating oil hot water heater. It has a very small holding tank but works like a charm because of the superheating mechanism. It is supposed to only come on when it senses a drop in pressure (flow) when the water is turned on somewhere (or leaking, lol). In theory that's what it does but we do catch it coming on now and then to heat that little reservoir. That is especially evident if a toilet is running or something! Anyway, we're going to put a timer on it.

    As far as breakers popping, they really are easy to replace. I wired in my entire panel when we built this place and just had an inspector check it and sign off on it. I was so damned proud of that gorgeous panel - all neatly wired and zip tied and labeled - what a shame to cover it all up! :p
     
  6. Txsteader

    Txsteader Well-Known Member

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    We do the nite lite thing also and have replaced all light fixtures with fluorescent bulbs.

    Our water heater is gas so we can't do the timer thing, but we do leave the thermostat turned to pilot. We only turn on the burner in the evening near bath time, then back to pilot when we're done.

    Another suggestion I'd make is to update your fridge. If it's over 10 years old, you could probably save quite alot. Ours was nearly 20 years old, and when we decided to replace it, I bought a small chest freezer at the same time. My electric bill dropped $20/mo, in spite of the additional appliance. The deteriorated insulation and door gaskets were causing the old unit to run too much. Besides, newer units are more efficient by design.
     
  7. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    Remember when you are watching for the change in your electric bill it will take more than 30 days! you must go from read to read using the new practice, not bill to bill.
     
  8. edcopp

    edcopp Well-Known Member

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    Pay attention when purchasing the nite lights and the bulbs. Sometimes the bulbs will cost as much as the nite light w/bulb, and often the difference in price from one dollar (type) store to another will be as much as double.

    We did the manual off/on switch last year on our water heater. This is a 5 Gal. on a shelf in the walk in closet. Turn it on 1 hour before needed, and off when finished. If water is hot when turned off it may stay hot for 16-24 hours. :)
     
  9. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    well the heater is 220v... easier to just flick it on a few times a week. I could connect it to a 220 on/off switch to save the breaker. I'm my own electrician so it wouldnt be hard to do.

    the killowatt meter sez it uses $3.60 a month. Not terrible considering its age.

    I read my own meter and keep it charted. [I am easily amused]

    I can usually predict the bill before it gets here.
     
  10. BasicLiving

    BasicLiving Well-Known Member

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    I really appreciate this post. I'm a big time nite lite person - I have several all over the house that automatically come on when it's dark. I've actually been wondering if they were costing more than they are worth and couldn't figure out how to figure that! But I really love the nite lites - I can walk throughout the house and never turn a light on at night. My husband is quite adept at this as well. I'm happy to know through your little study that maybe we're doing the right thing! Thanks!

    Penny
     
  11. Grandmotherbear

    Grandmotherbear Well-Known Member Supporter

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    my FIL changed over our town house and this lake cabin to all electric when he remodeled them back in the 80s. I HAVE to have ac when its hot and humid out. We replaced our fridge last year here at the lake and installed energy efficient windows. MOST of the lights are switched to CFs- but what to do about that electric range??? It would cost quite a bit to retro fit either house to propane...I have read that using small kitchen appliances is more efficient than firing up the elctric range, so we have a coffeemaker. (gfb wouldn't let me get a thermal carafe and auto off-switch one) :Bawling: we do use the microwave and toaster oven quite a bit. I used to crockpot a lot, and have a 1 1/2 qt model, and a 4 qt pressure cooker, but he doesn'tlike those cooking methods..I am planning on taking the pressure cooker care camping with me- any decrease in the amount of propane needed for meals will strecth our budget!!
     
  12. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    DH put a sensor on a little lamp in the living room. No need for a night lite, as the lamp is only on when there's movement.
     
  13. SolarGary

    SolarGary Well-Known Member

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    Hi,
    You can take your own meter readings when ever you want pretty easily:

    http://www.builditsolar.com/References/Measurements/measurments.htm#Power
    third one down.

    Gary