Heating savings question

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Mid Tn Mama, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have electric heat which we keep at 68 or 69 all day and all night. When no one is here during the day, I'd like to turn that down to 63 or so. Then turn it back to 68 when we return.

    Is there savings which can be had this way, or do you think that any benefits would be eaten up by trying to reheat to 68.

    We do have a timer on our electric water and that does save money--we;ve seen the difference, so I am inclined to think that the same would be true of our heat.
     
  2. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    No one can answer that question because there are too many variables, all of which depend on your particular house and heater. All you can do is try it and see what happens.

    Jena
     

  3. kate

    kate Well-Known Member

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    i would think it would depend on how well your house is insulated........
     
  4. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Law of physics says that the greater the difference between the hot and the cold, the faster the heat will move to the cold. That is why I turn the heat way down at nite when it is much colder outside. We are here all day, everyday so I keep the heat up during the day. If I were gone all day I would turn the thermostat down further than 63. Yes, the furnace will run for a while to bring the temp up. But it will run steadily. This will not give the air in the heat ducts time to cool off (if you have forced air heat). I've noticed when the furnace is cycling it pushes cold air into the room before it starts with the warm.
     
  5. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

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    It also depends on where you are located and how cold/warm it is outside each day--in other words, how hard does your furnace have to work?

    You might consider a new thermostat that does this for you. For less than $30 I got a digital thermostat that uses a battery to set scheduled time changes throughout the week. You set it for each day. So I can forget about it basically unless I want to kick it up a notch for company, which is easy to manually change. You can have it start to heat the house before you arrive home for instance.

    I think you would find using one beneficial. Just fyi we like it at 64 or lower during the night, any warmer and we don't sleep well. Have you tried lower it at night?
     
  6. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    You got the fundamentals in that previous advice.

    Setting back will definitely save you money. Even down to 55 is good. The idea of the "Smart Thermostat" is also super. The fly in the oniment might be the recovery time for your situation and can you handle the lag if trying to do it manually?? Same for at night.

    Be aware thermostats come in two general flavors. High voltage and low voltage, usually the high voltage ones are rated at 110 VAC, the low ones use something in the 30 Volts range, signal usually generated via a transformer in the contactor control main relay box thingee that calls for heat. You should know exactly your situtation / requirements before buying anything. Very easy to get the wrong thing, so for starters you must know exactly how your system works and what is required, limitations, do's and don't's.

    As mentioned you can greatly expand on the setback idea by adapting the heating system to respond in conjunction with weather temperatures / conditions. Usually this includes outside temperature sensors at a minimum. Can get a bit complex depending on how it is designed. More along the entire idea of home energy management systems. Sold a lot around my neck of the woods for oil furnances, but probably can find for electric too, basically lil mini embedded computer. These complex systems work a bit like the computers in cars and adjust response based on load and a whole bunch of other criterion, like ramping down / up any setpoints in the system and exactly how the system responds to load and how much inherent energy the system will store in an idle mode. Just preventing any overshooting in temperature can save lots of energy and make the house more comfortable. Most systems overshoot a bit, depends on the amount of storage energy in the radiators, production / delivery devices. Probably with electric not much unless you have the oil filled or ceramic critters with the heater elements.

    For the really ballsy approach nothing like going to home computer automation for your house. Heating / cooling is a biggy to control / monitor. The one big no - no there is you must remain outside the controls envelope of what ever system it is such as interlocks, controls as installed in devices, etc. All about insurance considerations and liability. This site is nice to know about when you get real frisky.

    www.smarthome.com

    If you have electric heat the best investment is insulation, including the best energy savings modern windows you can afford. Even things like storm doors, breezeways make a big difference. Many electric companies will do a free energy audit, some even have financial help to upgrade, sometimes free money. The other big energy savers are the new energy saving lightbulbs. Should be able to cut your consumption in that area up to 75%. I just got a lifetime supply of the bulbs at $0.49 each. The 150 watters only use 33 watts, dynomite.
     
  7. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We are well insulated and receive much savings from that and how the house is situated to receive full winter sun (southern exposure). I am looking at other ways to reduce a pretty moderate bill. We often have a fire going in the woodstove if I'm home and that helps as well.

    Our area is very moderate and I'd say the winter temps are around low 50's generally.

    I would bring it down during the night but the idea of getting up to visit the restroom when it's freezing is too much for me. I know I'd lay there all night awake trying to steel myself for getting out from under the covers to dash for the bathroom.
     
  8. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If your winters are in the low 50's you shouldn't need any heat except your wood stove when it gets colder than that, if the house is WELL-INSULATED.
    I suspect that "well insulated" in your area wouldn't cut it in the colder parts of the country. I would agree with the previous comments that insulation, weatherstripping, etc., is most important and will make a big difference in comfort and in heating bills. In our house, if it doesn't get any colder than the 50s, we don't even make a fire in the cook stove because the house will get too hot.

    Jim
     
  9. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Talk to your electric provider. Most have all of the best ways to save figured out and can give you the figures.
     
  10. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

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    Oh my...50s doesn't seem cold to me here in WV, but its all in what you are used to.

    I think you might start saving by: a] getting a new thermostat you can set for time/temp programs and b] try setting it one degree less for one week/or one month and see how you like it. I think gradually you might get it down even 5 degrees and find it comfortable. That will save you as well.
     
  11. hunter_53142

    hunter_53142 Member

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    Most electric heat is Line voltage if in base boards. This may be 115v or 220 v so you have to use the proper T-Stat.
    If there is elect coils in the ducts(if you have ducts) it may be "low voltage" controls.

    Either way they will save you money, if you turn them down when you leave and at nite.

    Added one when they first came out and have been cutting bills ever since.

    Insulation and good windows/doors also are worth their weight in gold.
    They just sit there and save you money.
     
  12. Countrybumpkin

    Countrybumpkin Well-Known Member

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    Boy, to have winter temps in the 50s...was -17 w/ wind chill here yesterday morning... hey Mama-wanna trade places?
     
  13. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    You did not state what type of electric heat you have. If you have electric heat from some type of resistance device such as baseboard or an electric furnance you are possibly paying for the air to be heated that feeds the wood stove. You should consider turning the electric heat off, particularly in the room where the wood stove is located, during the times that the wood stove is being used. If you have individual thermostats for various rooms close the doors that are away from the wood stove. Set the thermostats in the isolated rooms to a lower temp than the area where you reside most of the time and depend on the wood stove for the elevated temps. Doing so should yield a noticeable savings.
     
  14. jgbndaudio

    jgbndaudio Well-Known Member

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    Blanket statements like this aren't helpful.
    What leads you to believe that your electric company has any interest in selling you less electricity? How comprehensive do you really think a home energy audit will be, if it's done by the company who makes their money sellling you energy?

    As to the question at hand. Yes a programmable thermostat will save you money. As other users have suggested you must know what type to buy. Also having lived in many different places, I can tell you each place has it's own limitations for savings / comfort. Since you live in a warm climate I would think you could easily set back to 55 while you're not home but the key will be how fast your system can bring it back to your comfortable level. If you use a programable you can adjust it so that it comes on and starts warming up before you get home. You can alsomset it to go off a little before you leave as usally right before you leave you're dressed and moving around to get ready. As far as savings, even if the heat has to run longer to heat up the house when you get home, any electricity that you don't use during the day is money you save. Also, you should know that electric heat is the most expensive heat per BTU.

    If you want to really save money you should exploit more of the heat from your woodstove. Here's a nifty but useful product. http://www.caframo.com/ecofans.htm
     
  15. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    It all depends on the particular utility involved. Many want to avoid load growth and new plant construction. Growth is bad for their profits in many cases.

    Most electric utilities nick you in every electric bill for something called conservation. That money is suppose to go to a fund that uses the money for alternative energy sources and conservation. The biggy in conservation is energy audits, insulation and the like. Many of the utilities have a basic freebie package like a cover for the water heater, window stripping kits and pipe wraps.

    Usually the audit is free. Yes, they do try to line you up with various companies, they have partnered with to do work like full insulation jobs, heating upgrades, etc. If they are complex enough to come with the heat IR guns and other measuring goodies, can be a super audit. Most will also have the various computer programs, if you have all your energy bills and details, can make it quite meaningful. I don't think there is any bad vibes in most programs. You can't tell until you actually talk to them. Most will probably have rates for seniors and based on income. Many states have good matching programs for funding solar and alternative energy based on using those funds. Some push for you becoming a mini-generator / power plant yourself, some don't. One of the things I would love to do in the future.

    Might be a good source of information for other freebie or low cost programs in your area. Here, they used to have a paint and hazardous materials recycling center. You could also get all the paint you wanted free from those dropped off stocks on one day of the month. Were a number of centers, I painted my entire house and two sheds with freebie paint to get it ready to sell. Did you know paint cans grabbed at random and mixed together yield Horse Apple Grey in color. :haha:

    Lots of freebies around, maybe even in the more rural areas. Just have to be good enough to find them and ask the right questions. Many places are trying to recycle used construction and household materials, cabinets, appliances, computers, furniture, list is endless. Plus free or low cost dog / cat shots in clinics.

    Lots of ways to live frugal and save a buck without giving up things that improve the standard of living.

    That is a neat idea for a self powered fan for the wood stove. Always a better mousetrap. Wonder if it is making them a fortune. Guess a fellow could build one for hisself with the right parts. Those ideas for heat extractors on the stove outlets are good too, plus maybe build a hot water exchanger.

    When faced with choices, always select all. :D

    Get the freebies, get the conservation work, get the better mousetraps, build your own gizmos. Always have an open mind about any subject until it is checked out. Never look gifted horses in the mouth, unless you are a dentist. :p
     
  16. COUNTRY WISHES

    COUNTRY WISHES Well-Known Member

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    When I had electric heat the bill was just awful. Really look at your home and see what ways you can make it warmer. If you have wood floors maybe a rug would help in the bedroom, especially. I found that closing all the doors helped each room to maintain its heat better. Thermal draperies on your windows would help too. Plastic can be used if they are particularly drafty. Those door draft dodgers are a big help as well.

    The programable thermostat should help, but I would look into lowering the heat setting overall as well .Try lowering it just one degree at a time until you adjust to it better. A good sweater or flannel pj's can help with this. If your outside temps are only in the 50's you could set your thermostat pretty low without the worry of frozen pipes.
     
  17. Grandmotherbear

    Grandmotherbear Well-Known Member Supporter

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    For this problem at the lakeside cabin, I sleep in wool socks, keep my slippers next too the bed and have a small portable heater I put in the bathroom. It cost me $17 this past fall. If (when) I need to make a bathroom run I plug it and turn it on till I'm done, unplug it on the way out of the bathroom. DH has let me keep the thermostat on 68 at night since he can move the little guy out to the dining room table when he gets up and have it heat his feet up when he drinks his first cup of coffee.
     
  18. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Do you know where the meters are? Can you try it each way on a couple of days when the weather follows a similar pattern?

    When I was a young adult, I found that it cost less to heat when I turned the thermostat down when I was gone. But, other homes may be different.
     
  19. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    Sorry, but this statement gave me a chuckle. It reminded me of when I used to have only an outhouse....try doing that at -30ºF in the middle of the night!