Author Topic: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?  (Read 32675 times)

justajane

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2147
  • Location: Midwest
How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« on: September 29, 2014, 12:29:40 PM »
We installed solar panels on our roof this year, which has brought to our renewed attention the issue of energy use. I would like to find more and more ways of lowering our electricity bill.

My question to the community - what items in your home have you surprisingly found to be energy hogs? Also, what are the concrete ways in which you have reduced your monthly electric bill? I'm wondering specifically about the use of appliances/electronics/etc., versus sealing up your home from the outside (which of course is as important but is an entirely different question).

We have been using a kill-a-watt throughout the house, and while it wasn't surprising that the largest energy hog in our home is our refrigerator (duh!), we were rather surprised by how horribly inefficient it is. In our case, the low hanging fruit is to replace it, but it would take four years to make back the cost of a $500 fridge. I'm hoping for it to conk out on its own and force the issue.

What have you all done that has been successful and, conversely, what hasn't?

Bob W

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2947
  • Age: 60
  • Location: Missouri
  • Live on minimum wage, earn on maximum
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2014, 01:15:11 PM »
Good fridges never die.  They just eat up your energy costs.   

I'm surprised you didn't mention the water heater?

It wasn't a surprise but my wife has taken to plugging in the minifridge in the basement.  I guestimate it is burning up $25 a months.

You could probably check with your local utility and see if they offer free or low cost energy audits.   If not you could do an air leak test yourself by using two box fans and duct tape.   Set them up in adjacent windows or stack them in a door.  Then suck the air out of your house.  Then use a puffer or smoke (incense?) to see which sockets, doors, windows,  pipe holes etc. are leaking.

Use 4 blankets in the winter and none in the summer.

Turn your water heater to it's lowest setting and wrap in old blankets.   Consider upgrading efficiency wise and downgrading size wise.   You should also google hot water heater maintenance to see how to keep it efficient. 

The only thing at home that you might really need hot water for is shower.   So theoretically you could put in a 110 watt inline heater at your shower and do away with the water heater entirely.

You can increase the efficiency of your fridge and freezer by keeping ziplock bags filled with air in all the open spaces. 

Most fridges are used for tons of condiments and 3 day old leftovers you will never use.  We have a huge side by side and actually use about 1/3 of it for real food.   That said if you have lots of unused space you can add things from the pantry such as flour,  sugar,  oatmeal,  peanut butter,  olive oil etc.

A full fridge is a low cost to operate fridge.   

Don't forget to clean the heat exchangers with some nice soapy water and ensure the air intake for the fan is dust bunny free.

You can also mess with the thermostat. 

Practice opening the fridge just 4 or 5 times per day.   It is ok to leave it open for several minutes at a time this way.

I lived for 6 months with no fridge a few years back.   Had a good cooler and bought 2 bags of ice per week.   Amazingly,  things like bacon,  eggs,  cheese etc don't require refrigeration.   Mine was mainly a beer cooler fridge anyway.    So converting to vodka and wine saves a lot of refrigeration headaches!

I camp a lot and have finally learned how to do that without coolers.   

If your using solar,  you can convert a nice upright freezer to a fridge very easily.  (you can google instructions,  very simple)

An upright will use maybe 30 bucks a year in power.  That is because the cold air stays in there when you open the door.

A very surprising energy hog is a portable space heater.  Our 1500 watt unit uses a much power as it takes to run the entire house unit.   Electric space heaters are major power suckers.   We still use one in the bath in the morning for about 30 minutes rather than try to heat 40,000 cubic feet of air in the house.



GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14192
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2014, 01:22:51 PM »
Cable boxes are astoundingly huge drains on home energy use.  Ours was using about as much energy as our fridge before we cut the cable.

justajane

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2147
  • Location: Midwest
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2014, 01:23:33 PM »
Thanks for your thoughts, Bob Werner!

We have a gas furnace and water heater, so since my post was about electricity, I didn't address them. But you're right - major energy hog, that water heater! And we admittedly wash most of our clothes on warm, since I have kids who soil their clothing considerably. We only shower every other day at the most, and the kids bathe only 2-3 times a week.

The man who installed our solar panels said we are relatively low electricity users, all things considered. But by Mustachian standards....I'm not sure. I'm sure people on here have a lot to teach me.

One thing I noticed when we looked at fridges recently was how damned big they all are. The only spot in our kitchen for a fridge is very small, so we are limited in what we can buy to replace the existing one. But people must be hemorrhaging money on their fridges!

justajane

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2147
  • Location: Midwest
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2014, 01:25:21 PM »
Cable boxes are astoundingly huge drains on home energy use.  Ours was using about as much energy as our fridge before we cut the cable.

Good point. We don't have cable, but I did notice that the kids' wii (bought used, of course) puts out TONS of heat. I always turn it off when I see it is on (paused video games be damned!).

GardenFun

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 459
  • Location: Packers Hell - they're everywhere!
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2014, 01:34:03 PM »
If you have a dehumidifier, use the bucket vs. the constant drain method.  Minus the South in summer, let the humidity build for 1-2 days, then run the unit until the bucket is full.

We purchased a new dehumidifier this year (50 pint) with an energy star rating but with the %RH set at 60, it was still using  6-8 kW's per day.  This is in Wisconsin during a quite nice (not hot or muggy) summer.

guitar_stitch

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2014, 01:36:49 PM »
Most fridges are used for tons of condiments and 3 day old leftovers you will never use.  We have a huge side by side and actually use about 1/3 of it for real food.   That said if you have lots of unused space you can add things from the pantry such as flour,  sugar,  oatmeal,  peanut butter,  olive oil etc.

Doesn't that cause the cold dry goods to immediately begin condensing moisture when you remove them for use?  Maybe it's just a Florida thing...

teen persuasion

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1062
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2014, 02:19:00 PM »
We replaced our fridge a few years ago, and immediately saw the energy savings.  I deliberately chose the fridge based on its cost to run.  I did not want a built in ice maker (just takes up space in the freezer), or a side by side (not enough space in freezer for large items).  It turns out that a simple no frills top freezer uses less electricity than the fancy ones.  It was also much less expensive to purchase.

I have found that our electric usage goes up when the kids are home from college.  I believe it is more electronic devices plugged in to charge, especially laptops when they just keep them plugged in all the time.

CommonCents

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2386
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2014, 02:21:30 PM »
Most fridges are used for tons of condiments and 3 day old leftovers you will never use.  We have a huge side by side and actually use about 1/3 of it for real food.   That said if you have lots of unused space you can add things from the pantry such as flour,  sugar,  oatmeal,  peanut butter,  olive oil etc.

Doesn't that cause the cold dry goods to immediately begin condensing moisture when you remove them for use?  Maybe it's just a Florida thing...

You want a full freezer, but best energy use allows some circulation in the fridge (not sure exact ideal amount).

Also, Bob Werner, more power to you only using the heater for showers - but it's hard enough to get my husband to do dishes without requiring him to use cold water (including in the winter!).  Not going to happen around our house - that's way too far for us.  Other ideas are great though!

acroy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1702
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Dallas TX
    • SWAMI
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2014, 02:52:13 PM »
I audited the whole house with a kill-a-watt:
-Fridge was not bad; it's newer huge side-by-side. Don't remember the numbers but I was pleased it was so low.
-computer was low, but the monitor used a lot.
-Ps3 (used as entertainment center) uses a lot, 250W-400W (!)
-internet router / wireless box was only like 5W; surprised since it's warm to the touch.
-clock radio: one was very low, one was almost 20w!
-We have a tankless gas hot water heater. it pulls about 20W all the time, up to 30W when the fans run. Gas bill runs about $1 summers (hot shower only) + the $19 'customer' fee!
-oddly, the transformer on the door chime (of all things!) pulled like something like 12W continuously
-thermostat & control for the HVAC pull around 20W contiuously
-p.o. had a monitored alarm + panel. Thing used 45W contiuously

Add it up and it was 150W+ continuous, just from clock radios, alarms and such! We managed to kill most of those. It adds up!

MikeBear

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 390
  • Age: 60
  • Location: Michigan
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2014, 05:51:08 PM »
Our doorbell uses "D" batteries that last for years, and the button units at the door are transmitters, that also use miniature batteries.

The thing in our house that uses the most electricity, is the GAS clothes dryer. I setup a clothesline outside, and asked my wife to use it as often as possible.

I changed out all my lightbulbs (including fluorescents) to Cree LED bulbs, and that dropped my power bill by $15 a month all by itself.

Edge of Reason

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 38
  • Location: Eastern Canada
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2014, 06:15:21 PM »
Great topic!  Thanks for posting.  I'll be learning from the responses as well!

Just wanted to post because someone mentioned turning down your water heater.  I would be wary of turning it down too much.  Too low and it becomes a lovely breeding ground for pathogens.  I did a quick sweep of the internet (Google) and Legionnaires' disease, is a type of pneumonia, is a direct result of too low temperatures.  Even at 140 F (60 C)  the setting on most electric water heaters here in Canada an estimated 25% of all water heaters are contaminated by legionella bacteria.  These bacteria do their damage by entering the lungs through aspiration (shower head/steam etc.), not by drinking contaminated water.   

I would suggest doing a quick google search yourself and then keeping your heater at a higher temperature than your Mustachian Reason would like for health reasons and look elsewhere for $ savings.   If you are a die hard energy saving addict, you can raise the temperature of the water heaters once a day or even once every few days to 55 C (131 F) at the coldest part of the water heater for 30 minutes  to kill off bacteria.  They will die in 5-6 hours at that temp according to "wikipedia".

If your hot water tank is warm to the touch, it's leaking heat so slap a blanket on it.  You can also insulate all of the hot water pipes coming from the tank.   Draining the tank of sediment yearly also helps prolong the life of your tank and makes it run more efficiently ($ savings there).   If you are concerned about scalding (those with little ones or elderly in the house) they do recommend installing mixing valves.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2014, 06:17:09 PM by Edge of Reason »

tracylayton

  • Guest
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2014, 06:37:51 PM »
My house is 2200 SF (totally electric) and my average electric bill for the past 12 month is $103 per month...and I live in Texas! We have 5 relatively hot months, 3 relatively cold months and 4 where we can probably get by without CHA. However, I think I could expand our comfort zone and get our electric bill even lower. We usually keep the AC set at 73 in the summer, and 67 in the winter. I think we could adjust to warmer in the summer and colder in the winter. Also, electricity has been deregulated in Texas, and you can shop online at powertochoose.org for the most competitive rates.

daverobev

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3396
  • Location: France
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2014, 06:48:20 PM »
We got a Danby fridge freezer when we moved. Smaller than any other nose-height one I've seen in Canada. Freezer compartment on top, LED lights in the fridge.

We have electric hot water, electric oven, the only thing that is gas is the furnace. Using just under 10kWh a day in the summer (and glorious glorious autumn!)... Higher than we used to use, but we have a baby now so more washing ;)

I don't even bother unplugging my phone/gadget charging station any more, though everything else - except the ADSL modem - goes off at the wall.

Not perfect, but pretty good.

Paul der Krake

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4647
  • Age: 11
  • Location: USA
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2014, 07:24:49 PM »
It wasn't a surprise but my wife has taken to plugging in the minifridge in the basement.  I guestimate it is burning up $25 a months.
What the what? That's more than my entire electric bill for a 100% electric apartment at $0.10/kWh and with a large fridge and 5 hours of dryer use per month. How much is your power in MO?

justajane

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2147
  • Location: Midwest
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2014, 07:47:32 PM »
Great answers, everyone! Thanks! Keep em coming!

I'll have to check out smaller items like alarm clocks and see what they draw. We have one toddler alarm clock that has a huge plug. Now I'm curious how much electricity it is using, although I'm not sure I could give it up, since it helps keep the kiddos in bed until 6 a.m.

Whenever I go to visit my mother in law in Phoenix, I'm always appalled by the outdoor mini-fridge she has set up on her patio. Usually it only has a few bottles of water and beer in it, and it is 110 degrees outside. Egad! I can't even imagine how much electricity it takes to keep those bottles cold, on the off chance someone is too lazy to walk inside to the fridge.

Another relative has one of those huge deep freezers from the 1950s. It's still running, but I just cannot fathom how much electricity it uses. I imagine they could make back the cost of a new deep freeze in six months or less.

Spork

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5753
    • Spork In The Eye
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2014, 08:01:39 PM »

Another relative has one of those huge deep freezers from the 1950s. It's still running, but I just cannot fathom how much electricity it uses. I imagine they could make back the cost of a new deep freeze in six months or less.

You might be surprised.  Some of the fridges from that era were extremely efficient.  A lot of inefficiencies came about when we added automatic defrosters.  Think of putting a tiny heater inside your freezer and what that does to the efficiently.

Emg03063

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 458
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2014, 08:30:47 PM »
Other than installing a 5kw PV system on my roof, the best thing I have done to cut my electric bill is to install a radiant barrier in my attic.  First month in (May), my power bill was 1/2 what it was the prior year.  Next month it was 2/3.  Radiant barrier will reduce your summer attic temperature by about 50 deg here in the southeast.  Payback was about a year or so.

oldtoyota

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3161
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2014, 08:50:50 PM »
The thing in our house that uses the most electricity, is the GAS clothes dryer. I setup a clothesline outside, and asked my wife to use it as often as possible.

LOL!

MikeBear

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 390
  • Age: 60
  • Location: Michigan
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2014, 09:27:31 PM »
The thing in our house that uses the most electricity, is the GAS clothes dryer. I setup a clothesline outside, and asked my wife to use it as often as possible.

LOL!

What's funny about that? I think it's smart to use a clothesline instead of a dryer. It drops our electric bill $30 a month.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2014, 09:29:03 PM by MikeBear »

horsepoor

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3201
  • Location: At the Barn
  • Horses: for sanity & poverty!
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #20 on: September 29, 2014, 10:31:53 PM »
Other than installing a 5kw PV system on my roof, the best thing I have done to cut my electric bill is to install a radiant barrier in my attic.  First month in (May), my power bill was 1/2 what it was the prior year.  Next month it was 2/3.  Radiant barrier will reduce your summer attic temperature by about 50 deg here in the southeast.  Payback was about a year or so.

Hmm, I like the sound of this.  We have a split level and the heat that traps in the attic over the main floor radiates right into the master bedroom, and we can feel it when walking up the stairs.


kelly1mm

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 69
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2014, 10:48:17 PM »
The thing in our house that uses the most electricity, is the GAS clothes dryer. I setup a clothesline outside, and asked my wife to use it as often as possible.

LOL!

What's funny about that? I think it's smart to use a clothesline instead of a dryer. It drops our electric bill $30 a month.

I think (just guessing here but it was my thought as well when I read your post) that if you want the clothesline used instead of the dryer, maybe you should use it?  It may be that you DO use it but I think that it could come off as a bit sexist/old fashioned to say that your wife should use it.

deborah

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8939
  • Location: Australia or another awesome area
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2014, 10:54:01 PM »
Other than installing a 5kw PV system on my roof, the best thing I have done to cut my electric bill is to install a radiant barrier in my attic.  First month in (May), my power bill was 1/2 what it was the prior year.  Next month it was 2/3.  Radiant barrier will reduce your summer attic temperature by about 50 deg here in the southeast.  Payback was about a year or so.

Hmm, I like the sound of this.  We have a split level and the heat that traps in the attic over the main floor radiates right into the master bedroom, and we can feel it when walking up the stairs.
And stop the sun from heating windows in summer by installing external blinds.

MikeBear

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 390
  • Age: 60
  • Location: Michigan
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2014, 11:03:32 PM »
The thing in our house that uses the most electricity, is the GAS clothes dryer. I setup a clothesline outside, and asked my wife to use it as often as possible.

LOL!

What's funny about that? I think it's smart to use a clothesline instead of a dryer. It drops our electric bill $30 a month.

I think (just guessing here but it was my thought as well when I read your post) that if you want the clothesline used instead of the dryer, maybe you should use it?  It may be that you DO use it but I think that it could come off as a bit sexist/old fashioned to say that your wife should use it.

I work 48 hours a week, (12 hour shifts) and my wife works 25 hours a week, 5 hours a day at a job that pays barely over minimum wage and refuses to get any sort of training or education to do better. I don't do house work as that's her job. Yes I'm old fashioned and I'm going to stay that way. We've been married 33 years, and that's the way both of us prefer it.

kelly1mm

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 69
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #24 on: September 29, 2014, 11:34:18 PM »
The thing in our house that uses the most electricity, is the GAS clothes dryer. I setup a clothesline outside, and asked my wife to use it as often as possible.

LOL!
What's funny about that? I think it's smart to use a clothesline instead of a dryer. It drops our electric bill $30 a month.

I think (just guessing here but it was my thought as well when I read your post) that if you want the clothesline used instead of the dryer, maybe you should use it?  It may be that you DO use it but I think that it could come off as a bit sexist/old fashioned to say that your wife should use it.

I work 48 hours a week, (12 hour shifts) and my wife works 25 hours a week, 5 hours a day at a job that pays barely over minimum wage and refuses to get any sort of training or education to do better. I don't do house work as that's her job. Yes I'm old fashioned and I'm going to stay that way. We've been married 33 years, and that's the way both of us prefer it.

Whatever works for you and your spouse is none of my business, so if that is the way you two have decided is best, who am I to judge?  Anyway, I was just trying to let you know why someone may have LOL'd at your comment.  I think I was right as they did highlight the part about asking the wife to use the clothesline.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2014, 01:18:33 AM by kelly1mm »

Goldielocks

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6493
  • Location: BC
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #25 on: September 29, 2014, 11:39:41 PM »
Other than installing a 5kw PV system on my roof, the best thing I have done to cut my electric bill is to install a radiant barrier in my attic.  First month in (May), my power bill was 1/2 what it was the prior year.  Next month it was 2/3.  Radiant barrier will reduce your summer attic temperature by about 50 deg here in the southeast.  Payback was about a year or so.

I have radiant barrier rolls waiting to be installed.. Bought for a previous house, then we moved to warmer climate.  I will have to try it. Had them for over seven years now.


Surprising hog for us was whole house fan on furnace at $45 per month electricity.  Does a great job at circulation but so expensive!  Non variable fans on furnace in winter is another hog.

Electronics near TV and kids charging... Definitely.

Table saw.

I need to check our door chime!

Bob W

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2947
  • Age: 60
  • Location: Missouri
  • Live on minimum wage, earn on maximum
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #26 on: October 09, 2014, 01:17:22 PM »
Doorbells are optional.  They always seem to hum or go bad.  When I rehabbed the house I left the bell off.  Knocking works great for the 1 person per month that needs to .   I used to door to door sell.  They said never ring the bell always knock as 1/2 of door bells don't work.

Someone asked about our electric rate.   I think it is 11 cent per KWH.  Then they tack on about 20 in bullshit charges.   

I just googled what it cost to run a minifridge and the site said $80 per year.  So I was a bit off on my 25 per month guestimate. 

I'm glad someone mentioned the cable modem.  Something sure spiked our bill and I believe the spike occurred with the introduction of cable and the minifridge.

I'm buying a Kilowatt damit!@

justajane

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2147
  • Location: Midwest
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #27 on: October 09, 2014, 01:37:44 PM »
We've lived in our house 7 years and have never had a functioning doorbell. I figure it's an easy way to avoid solicitors.

I believe someone mentioned up thread that their thermostat used a lot of electricity. How did you gauge that, since I imagine you couldn't use a kill-a-watt on it? All I know so far is that it is a battery hog.

MikeBear

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 390
  • Age: 60
  • Location: Michigan
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #28 on: October 09, 2014, 01:57:37 PM »
We've lived in our house 7 years and have never had a functioning doorbell. I figure it's an easy way to avoid solicitors.

I believe someone mentioned up thread that their thermostat used a lot of electricity. How did you gauge that, since I imagine you couldn't use a kill-a-watt on it? All I know so far is that it is a battery hog.

Some thermostats are 120 volt, and use transformers. There's many different types, not just battery ones...

Spork

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5753
    • Spork In The Eye
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #29 on: October 09, 2014, 02:01:09 PM »
Doorbells are optional.  They always seem to hum or go bad.  When I rehabbed the house I left the bell off.  Knocking works great for the 1 person per month that needs to .   I used to door to door sell.  They said never ring the bell always knock as 1/2 of door bells don't work.



or you can get an old timey door bell that is just a crank that rings against an actual bell.  They're sort of retro ... if you're into that sort of thing.   We put one on our back door.  (I didn't think to wire for a bell there and we have foam insulation so it's a pain to add.)

dorothyc

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 249
  • Age: 59
  • Location: Los Angeles
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #30 on: October 09, 2014, 02:14:40 PM »
A very surprising energy hog is a portable space heater.  Our 1500 watt unit uses a much power as it takes to run the entire house unit.   Electric space heaters are major power suckers.   We still use one in the bath in the morning for about 30 minutes rather than try to heat 40,000 cubic feet of air in the house.

Can't you switch to showering in the evening in the cold months, since the house will more than likely have time to warm up before then? That is what I do as my wife doesn't like the central heating switched on in the morning.

Kaspian

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1536
  • Location: Canada
    • My Necronomicon of Badassity
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #31 on: October 09, 2014, 02:37:15 PM »
I read somewhere awhile ago that the most expensive appliance is generally the coffee maker? 

I remember--it was on Len Penzo!
Great article here:  http://lenpenzo.com/blog/id663-approximate-energy-costs-of-your-home-appliances.html



Don't forget to clean the heat exchangers with some nice soapy water and ensure the air intake for the fan is dust bunny free.


Thanks for that, Bob!  I vacuum the coils at least once a year, but never thought to check if they were dirty/sticky.

Spork

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5753
    • Spork In The Eye
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #32 on: October 09, 2014, 02:46:38 PM »
I read somewhere awhile ago that the most expensive appliance is generally the coffee maker? 

I remember--it was on Len Penzo!
Great article here:  http://lenpenzo.com/blog/id663-approximate-energy-costs-of-your-home-appliances.html


I calculated mine to be $1.30 a month (including grinding the beans).  I'm okay with that number.


** side story that is only tangentially related:   
I work in an IT type area.   We were in a planned electrical outage to replace some panels and generators.  The main generator was off line and we brought in a small gen set to run only a handful of critical servers that needed to stay up.

It was deep into the night ... a friend of mine tried to make coffee off of one of those rackmount APC 1400 UPS's.  It drained the UPS immediately.  He got just a few drops.   He plugged it into another one.  Same thing.

Our electrician was working diligently and you could hear the whir of a medium sized gas engine running ... as the doors were open to try to use the cool air outside to keep the room cool.   Suddenly the generator went from "whirrrrr" to "ROOOOOAR".  The electrician got up and ran outside.   And there sat my buddy and his coffee maker.

so... yeah... they can pull some juice.

Mother Fussbudget

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 832
  • Age: 57
  • Location: Indianapolis, IN
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #33 on: October 09, 2014, 03:12:15 PM »
Power Saving ideas:
- LED light bulbs everywhere.
- Electric kettle for boiling water. Using the stovetop is 2nd, and microWAVE is least efficient way to boil water.
- Pre-boil water for cooking (rice, pasta, etc) in the electric kettle.
- Smart Strips for PC's, and TV's.  I used a Kill-A-Watt on the entertainment devices (Blu-Ray player, XBox, and TV) and discovered my TV uses the least power (when off), so I put all 3 on a smart-power-strip.  Now the Blu-Ray player, and XBox can only be turned on once the TV has been switched on.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2014, 10:18:02 AM by Mother Fussbudget »

SomeDaySoon

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #34 on: October 09, 2014, 03:13:25 PM »
We have an older dryer and it started "acting" up so we started line drying our clothes.  Our energy consumption went down quite a bit since we started doing that.  I know newer dryers are more efficient but probably worth checking.

Guses

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 917
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #35 on: October 09, 2014, 03:23:37 PM »
Another relative has one of those huge deep freezers from the 1950s. It's still running, but I just cannot fathom how much electricity it uses. I imagine they could make back the cost of a new deep freeze in six months or less.

Chest freezers (which is what I think deep freezers are) are actually pretty efficient even if they are older. We have one from the 70s and it would take more than 15 years to break even if I were to purchase a new one. Modern freezers are so cheaply made, I would probably need to replace that one before I even broke even...

It's important to keep things in perspective when looking for energy savings. Lots can change in 15 years...


Guses

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 917
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #36 on: October 09, 2014, 03:30:04 PM »
Power Saving ideas:
- LED light bulbs everywhere.
- Electric kettle for boiling water. Using the stovetop is 2nd, and microsoft is least efficient way to boil water.
- Pre-boil water for cooking (rice, pasta, etc) in the electric kettle.
- Smart Strips for PC's, and TV's.  I used a Kill-A-Watt on the entertainment devices (Blu-Ray player, XBox, and TV) and discovered my TV uses the least power (when off), so I put all 3 on a smart-power-strip.  Now the Blu-Ray player, and XBox can only be turned on once the TV has been switched on.

LOL. That is quite the inefficient way to boil water. Do you put your pot on top of your computer and run some intensive calculations? ;-)

Seriously though, I just saw that there are currently incentive from my power company for buying LED lightbulbs. They come to 2-3$ each with the rebate... Maybe I should jump in!

justajane

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2147
  • Location: Midwest
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #37 on: October 09, 2014, 06:09:13 PM »
Another relative has one of those huge deep freezers from the 1950s. It's still running, but I just cannot fathom how much electricity it uses. I imagine they could make back the cost of a new deep freeze in six months or less.

Chest freezers (which is what I think deep freezers are) are actually pretty efficient even if they are older. We have one from the 70s and it would take more than 15 years to break even if I were to purchase a new one. Modern freezers are so cheaply made, I would probably need to replace that one before I even broke even...

It's important to keep things in perspective when looking for energy savings. Lots can change in 15 years...

True. I just assumed that an older model freezer would be less efficient, but it appears I might be wrong. I'm not convinced, though. Items might be more cheaply made today, but that doesn't mean they are drawing more energy. I should stick a kill-a-watt on that thing next time I visit!

The bigger problem is that I don't imagine they defrost it too often. We fell prey to this as well. My husband noticed the other day that our deep freeze was not closing properly because there was a small amount of ice obstructing the door. Doh! We intentionally bought the manual defrost freezer because it uses less energy, but that only helps if you actually defrost it.

fireferrets

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 98
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #38 on: October 09, 2014, 06:23:10 PM »
- Electric kettle for boiling water. Using the stovetop is 2nd, and microsoft is least efficient way to boil water.
Thank you - was looking for the winner of this comparison. We make a lot of tea in my home. :)

retired?

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 664
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #39 on: October 09, 2014, 06:57:52 PM »
Very helpful post.  I had no idea RE Wii and Xbox stuff.

Is it easy to install a timer for the water heater?  Has that been covered in the DIY forum?

I love the inline idea for a water heater at the shower......my wife likes doing dishes with very hot water, but I am fine without or just putting in dish washer.

Spork

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5753
    • Spork In The Eye
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #40 on: October 10, 2014, 08:03:50 AM »
Another relative has one of those huge deep freezers from the 1950s. It's still running, but I just cannot fathom how much electricity it uses. I imagine they could make back the cost of a new deep freeze in six months or less.

Chest freezers (which is what I think deep freezers are) are actually pretty efficient even if they are older. We have one from the 70s and it would take more than 15 years to break even if I were to purchase a new one. Modern freezers are so cheaply made, I would probably need to replace that one before I even broke even...

It's important to keep things in perspective when looking for energy savings. Lots can change in 15 years...

True. I just assumed that an older model freezer would be less efficient, but it appears I might be wrong. I'm not convinced, though. Items might be more cheaply made today, but that doesn't mean they are drawing more energy. I should stick a kill-a-watt on that thing next time I visit!

The bigger problem is that I don't imagine they defrost it too often. We fell prey to this as well. My husband noticed the other day that our deep freeze was not closing properly because there was a small amount of ice obstructing the door. Doh! We intentionally bought the manual defrost freezer because it uses less energy, but that only helps if you actually defrost it.

Older freezers tend to be more efficient because (a) they are often smaller and (b) they don't have auto defrost.  Auto defrost is a huge inefficiency.  You are taking a tiny little heater and putting it inside the walls of the freezer.

Guses

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 917
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #41 on: October 10, 2014, 08:29:03 AM »
Continuing on the older freezer, I have measured that mine uses about between 1 KWh per day. That's 365 KWh per year or 29$ at my marginal energy rate.

Even if I could have a freezer that used 0$ per year in energy, it would take quite a while to break even.

We save way more by buying in bulk when things are on special (0.97$ per pound turkey, 1.99$ beef and pork, 1.29$ chicken), cooking in advance and preserving stuff.

Ours is always pretty full.

justajane

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2147
  • Location: Midwest
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #42 on: October 10, 2014, 09:11:08 AM »
I guess I am not old enough to know historically the sizes of chest freezers, but in the one my inlaws have you could lay a short adult body flat. It's identical to the old one my grandparents had that was decades and decades old in the 80s when I was a child. I find it very hard to believe that a new one of comparable size with manual defrost, which you can still buy today, would not use less electricity. Plus, have they replaced the seal on the freezer in the last twenty years? That will dramatically reduce the efficiency of a unit.

I'm all for the "they don't make 'em like they to" mentality, but it only goes so far, especially when you're talking about energy efficiency. 
Having said that, you could certainly argue that it is better for the environment to keep the old freezer, factoring in the amount of fossil fuels it takes to manufacture new freezers (that last less time anyway).

Nate R

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Milwaukee, WI (Bay View)
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #43 on: October 10, 2014, 09:48:21 AM »
One thing I noticed when we looked at fridges recently was how damned big they all are. The only spot in our kitchen for a fridge is very small, so we are limited in what we can buy to replace the existing one. But people must be hemorrhaging money on their fridges!

I agree! We put a 10 Cubic foot Fridge/Freezer in our last kitchen, and that was JUST enough for the 2 of us (And raw dog food.)
We have an 18 CF now that came with the current house, and find it's easy to "Lose" or forget that certain items are in there. I can't imagine what people lose/forget in those monstrosities!

Nate R

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Milwaukee, WI (Bay View)
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #44 on: October 10, 2014, 09:55:59 AM »
If you have a dehumidifier, use the bucket vs. the constant drain method.  Minus the South in summer, let the humidity build for 1-2 days, then run the unit until the bucket is full.

We purchased a new dehumidifier this year (50 pint) with an energy star rating but with the %RH set at 60, it was still using  6-8 kW's per day.  This is in Wisconsin during a quite nice (not hot or muggy) summer.

I ended up going on to a "time-of-use" plan. I pay like 28 cents/KWH from 7AM to 7PM M-F. But I pay <6 Cents/KWH at all other times. I set up the dehumidifier to constant drain, but then put it on a timer so it only runs during the off-peak hours. Seems to work out well enough!

Mother Fussbudget

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 832
  • Age: 57
  • Location: Indianapolis, IN
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #45 on: October 10, 2014, 10:22:13 AM »

... microsoft is least efficient way to boil water.

LOL. That is quite the inefficient way to boil water. Do you put your pot on top of your computer and run some intensive calculations? ;-)

Seriously though, I just saw that there are currently incentive from my power company for buying LED lightbulbs. They come to 2-3$ each with the rebate... Maybe I should jump in!

LOL!!!  You have to admit - Microsoft *IS* an inefficient way to boil water :-)
[My days making PowerPoint are showing (again...) ]

eyePod

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 966
    • Flipping A Dollar
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #46 on: October 10, 2014, 11:00:10 AM »
You can get one of the devices that measures output from Amazon. Pretty neat information from it.

Scandium

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2223
  • Location: EastCoast
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #47 on: October 10, 2014, 11:14:46 AM »
Power Saving ideas:
- LED light bulbs everywhere.
- Electric kettle for boiling water. Using the stovetop is 2nd, and microWAVE is least efficient way to boil water.
- Pre-boil water for cooking (rice, pasta, etc) in the electric kettle.
- Smart Strips for PC's, and TV's.  I used a Kill-A-Watt on the entertainment devices (Blu-Ray player, XBox, and TV) and discovered my TV uses the least power (when off), so I put all 3 on a smart-power-strip.  Now the Blu-Ray player, and XBox can only be turned on once the TV has been switched on.
I'm still not totally sold on LEDs. I'm at least not going to switch out perfectly functional CFLs for new LEDs. Even new ones I'm not sure about untill they come down in price. I have bought a few for our most used lights.

For most of my lights I'd use ~10W less by switching (20ish W to 10-13W). If I've done my math right it's about $1/year per 1 W if it's on 24/7. But our lights are only on a few hours in the morning and evening, and only in the room we're in. So buying $9 LEDs (vs $1 CFLs) to save maybe $1/year? Not adding up.

innkeeper77

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 242
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #48 on: October 10, 2014, 11:25:47 AM »

For most of my lights I'd use ~10W less by switching (20ish W to 10-13W). If I've done my math right it's about $1/year per 1 W if it's on 24/7. But our lights are only on a few hours in the morning and evening, and only in the room we're in. So buying $9 LEDs (vs $1 CFLs) to save maybe $1/year? Not adding up.

LED's are much more resilient than CFL's when you turn them on and off frequently. Many CFL's die prematurely because of that. If you have CFL's die in areas where you flip them on and off frequently, consider LED's simply to extend their lifespan, maybe breaking even.. You also get the instant on benefit, and no mercury. (I used up my collection of CLF bulbs before going to LED's- we still have a couple CFL's in use)

Spork

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5753
    • Spork In The Eye
Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
« Reply #49 on: October 10, 2014, 12:43:24 PM »
Power Saving ideas:
- LED light bulbs everywhere.
- Electric kettle for boiling water. Using the stovetop is 2nd, and microWAVE is least efficient way to boil water.
- Pre-boil water for cooking (rice, pasta, etc) in the electric kettle.
- Smart Strips for PC's, and TV's.  I used a Kill-A-Watt on the entertainment devices (Blu-Ray player, XBox, and TV) and discovered my TV uses the least power (when off), so I put all 3 on a smart-power-strip.  Now the Blu-Ray player, and XBox can only be turned on once the TV has been switched on.
I'm still not totally sold on LEDs. I'm at least not going to switch out perfectly functional CFLs for new LEDs. Even new ones I'm not sure about untill they come down in price. I have bought a few for our most used lights.

For most of my lights I'd use ~10W less by switching (20ish W to 10-13W). If I've done my math right it's about $1/year per 1 W if it's on 24/7. But our lights are only on a few hours in the morning and evening, and only in the room we're in. So buying $9 LEDs (vs $1 CFLs) to save maybe $1/year? Not adding up.

My main issue with them (for now... ) is that the non-standard shapes and sizes of LEDs are still pretty expensive.   And finding name brands to get that expected 30 year life: they're even more so.   I will buy in when they come down a little more... and I'm pretty sure there will be a cliff where they all come down to roughly the current price of a normal A type bulb.