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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: justajane on September 29, 2014, 12:29:40 PM

Title: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: justajane 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?
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Bob W 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.


Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: GuitarStv 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: justajane 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!
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: justajane 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!).
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: GardenFun 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: guitar_stitch 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...
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: teen persuasion 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: CommonCents 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!
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: acroy 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!
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: MikeBear 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Edge of Reason 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: tracylayton 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: daverobev 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Paul der Krake 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?
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: justajane 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Spork 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Emg03063 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: oldtoyota 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!
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: MikeBear 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: horsepoor 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.

Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: kelly1mm 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: deborah 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: MikeBear 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: kelly1mm 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Goldielocks 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!
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Bob W 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!@
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: justajane 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: MikeBear 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...
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Spork 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.)
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: dorothyc 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Kaspian 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Spork 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Mother Fussbudget 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: SomeDaySoon 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Guses 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...

Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Guses 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!
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: justajane 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: fireferrets 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. :)
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: retired? 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Spork 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Guses 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: justajane 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).
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Nate R 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!
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Nate R 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!
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Mother Fussbudget 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...) ]
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: eyePod 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Scandium 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: innkeeper77 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)
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Spork 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.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Kaspian on October 10, 2014, 01:12:02 PM
...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)

I've been using CFLs for about three years (I guess?) and still haven't had one die on me.  (Except for that one which rolled off the counter onto the tile floor.)  According to FAQs on them a CFL running 5 hours per day should last 4-8 years.  I never run any one bulb anywhere near that many hours, but I'm just wondering--have you been using them even longer?  (I know they seemed to be commonly available in the USA before they hit Canada.)  Is it possible there are some weird power grid fluctuations in your area?

Yeah, I still don't like the mecury thing.  But fiinding out there's less mecury in a CFL than in a can of tunafish made it easier to overlook.  Yeah, I've met parents who feed their kids tuna, have no problem sticking grandma's old thermometer (contain 100 times more mecury) in a kid's mouth or bum, but are scared of CFLs.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Scandium on October 10, 2014, 01:20:49 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.
ohyes. One of our bedroom fan/lights has those smaller sockets. The only philips LEDs I saw were $22 each, and I'd need four!

The standard 60 W Crees I've seen down to $6 now though, so I'll probably pick up some next time I need a new standard bulb somewhere. But I'm doing this as I go along, not changing out every bulb just because. I've had a couple CFLs burn out on me, mostly in bathrooms I think. It's probably right that the ones we cycle more die first, so I'll consider putting LEDs there if I have to change
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Spork on October 10, 2014, 03:41:03 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.
ohyes. One of our bedroom fan/lights has those smaller sockets. The only philips LEDs I saw were $22 each, and I'd need four!

The standard 60 W Crees I've seen down to $6 now though, so I'll probably pick up some next time I need a new standard bulb somewhere. But I'm doing this as I go along, not changing out every bulb just because. I've had a couple CFLs burn out on me, mostly in bathrooms I think. It's probably right that the ones we cycle more die first, so I'll consider putting LEDs there if I have to change

Most of ours are recessed cans.  I've seen them range from $22ish to about $35, depending on brand.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: falcondisruptor on October 10, 2014, 05:41:02 PM
We recently found out we were power hogs and and been cutting back.

We lowered our electric water heater from 140 degrees to 125 degrees.
Unplugged our xbox 360 and ps3
Put the tv/computer combo on a power bar (so we don't just turn it on mindlessly)
Moved the TV upstairs, downstairs has halogen lights.
Obviously turned off lights when not using them.
Bought a drying rack to dry clothes inside.
Turned switched dishwasher to regular cycle no heat dry
Do the dishes and laundry at night (time of use billing)
Turned off the furnace fan that had been running continuously.
Unplug phone chargers and such when not in use.
Unplugged the central vac and air purifyer systems we never use.
Turned off AC

I can't wait until we get our next bill to see our lower usage!  I know I won't be crazy low like some people here, but we had a high of 38 kwh/day last year and I was happy to be at 20 kwh when I found out that that's still pretty high.  Can't wait to find our new number.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Sid Hoffman on October 10, 2014, 11:08:42 PM
oh yes. One of our bedroom fan/lights has those smaller sockets. The only philips LEDs I saw were $22 each, and I'd need four!

Lowes carries a brand called OSRAM which I picked up a few 40-Watt replacement bulbs for $9 each at the start of July this year.  They are rated at 6-watts of power draw although my Kill-A-Watt showed draw actually at more like 4 watts, although I can't vouch for how perfectly accurate it is at such light power draw.  I suppose there's worse problems to have than your lightbulbs drawing so little power that you're having trouble measuring the power draw accurately!  At any rate, they are performing beyond my expectations so far.  I would say they are brighter than any of my CFL's that say they are 40 watt replacements, and probably halfway between CFL's rated for 40 and those rated for 60 watt replacement, in spite of the LED only being rated for 450 lumens.

I think at this point I don't see the need to ever buy CFL's again.  The LEDs like this latest crop have sufficient brightness, low power draw, and low enough cost relative to their lifespan that they are (finally) superior to CFLs.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: justajane on October 11, 2014, 06:44:20 AM
Turned off the furnace fan that had been running continuously.

Eureka! This is precisely why I started this thread, because I knew people would bring up to the rest of us things that we had never thought of. Thanks!

We have a "high efficiency" furnace with a fan that runs all year long. The original installer said this would be good for our air flow in the home, but now I'm wondering if it is an energy hog.

Have you noticed anything different about the way your home feels, since you have turned it off?
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: wwweb on October 11, 2014, 07:12:35 AM
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.

Other forum members have pretty well covered electricity savings.  I just wanted to go through the math on fridge replacement. 

If you buy a $500 fridge which saves you $125 per year in electricity costs then...
After 4 years you've recovered the cost of the fridge
After 13 years (average fridge life), you've recovered the cost of the fridge and saved an additional $1125 which you can invest.

If you use the $500 to buy a bond returning 4% you will have $841 after 13 years.

In either case, you'll likely have to replace a fridge at the 13 year mark.

Just looking at the numbers, I'd replace the old fridge immediately.


Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Sid Hoffman on October 11, 2014, 10:32:24 AM
On the topic of refrigerators, I've actually not yet had a power hog one, and my first fridge was a side-by-side that came with my house in 2000.  I'm guessing it was maybe 5 years old when I purchased the home.  I used a Kill-A-Watt and left it plugged in for several days of regular usage.  It worked out to about 2.4Kw/h per day.  Three years ago I purchased a slightly larger, but brand new bottom freezer unit that Consumer Reports listed as a most efficient model.  It used almost exactly the same amount of power when measured over a period of several days.  Now I'm in a rental home with an old side-by-side again and the fridge is likewise almost exactly the same: right around 2.4Kw/h per day when averaged over several days of regular usage.

I'd suggest measuring the usage of your current fridge over the course of several days to know what you're starting with and not assuming a new fridge will be much better than 2.4Kw/h per day.  As was mentioned, if you're only saving a couple hundred watt-hours a day, you'd potentially never make up the difference in cost of replacement, barring any other factors, such as the old fridge being broken and having a $500 repair estimate or something like that.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: falcondisruptor on October 11, 2014, 10:43:21 AM
Turned off the furnace fan that had been running continuously.

Eureka! This is precisely why I started this thread, because I knew people would bring up to the rest of us things that we had never thought of. Thanks!

We have a "high efficiency" furnace with a fan that runs all year long. The original installer said this would be good for our air flow in the home, but now I'm wondering if it is an energy hog.

Have you noticed anything different about the way your home feels, since you have turned it off?

Yup.  Dampness.  Especially in the basement.

But we didn't do A/C this summer, it's been a wet fall, we haven't installed our new shower fan, and we started hanging our laundry to dry inside.  So, there are a lot of factors at play and we're still working everything out.

Now that it's October, I turned on the furnace.  It's only come on once or twice so far but when it has I've noticed that it hasn't seemed nearly as moist. 

So I think for us occassional use when needed is a good idea, but always on is a waste.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Guses on October 11, 2014, 02:41:53 PM
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.

Other forum members have pretty well covered electricity savings.  I just wanted to go through the math on fridge replacement. 

If you buy a $500 fridge which saves you $125 per year in electricity costs then...
After 4 years you've recovered the cost of the fridge
After 13 years (average fridge life), you've recovered the cost of the fridge and saved an additional $1125 which you can invest.

If you use the $500 to buy a bond returning 4% you will have $841 after 13 years.

In either case, you'll likely have to replace a fridge at the 13 year mark.

Just looking at the numbers, I'd replace the old fridge immediately.

In the US, the average rate per KWh is 0.13 $.

In order for a fridge to save you 125$ per year in electricity, it would mean that the new fridge would consume 961 kwh less than the old fridge.

That is technically possible but probably a bit optimistic.


An unrelated question that I have is whether it would save money to buy a cheaper electric hot water heater vs the better insulated one if you insulate the cheaper one yourself?

250$ HWH + 20$ insulation material vs 500$ energy star HWH


Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: DarinC on October 11, 2014, 02:54:00 PM
Most of ours are recessed cans.  I've seen them range from $22ish to about $35, depending on brand.
There are some for $15 at hd.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/TCP-65W-Equivalent-Soft-White-2700K-6-in-Dimmable-LED-Retrofit-Downlight-RL12DR6527K/204664711?AID=10368321&PID=361116&SID=ebs2d326372d8816d1413060707949sbe&sourceName=detailpage

Occasionally I'll see them around $10.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: hwstar on October 11, 2014, 02:58:53 PM
What everyone overlooks are "Wall warts" These are  Death by a Thousand Cuts. They are supplied with all of your gadgets, and sit there getting warm dissipating anywhere from 1-10 watts each, even when the device they are powering is off. The gadget manufacturer has no interest in making wall warts energy efficient; it just drives up their costs.  Even though there are standards for Standby power consumption, they are not mandated.

Wall warts come in 3 flavors. AC (transformer only), linear DC (regulated and unregulated), and regulated switching DC. The first two use iron core transformers at mains frequency (50 or 60 Hz). The ones with iron core transformers are built with as little iron as possible as it is metal and expensive. In these types, the iron core slightly saturates, and this is why they feel warm to the touch. The switching types are better at conserving energy, but again making them more efficient drives up the cost.

My advice is to put all wall warts on a power strip, or if you are technically inclined replace the switching types with CEC-certified equivalants or level -V equivalents. Make sure you match current, voltage and jack polarity. Make sure any replacement wall wart has got the safety marks for your region of the planet (e.g. UL,CSA, TUV, or VDE). Cheap adapters without these marks could cause a fire or be s shock hazard, or cause radio frequency interference.

Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: PabloHoney on October 11, 2014, 04:37:34 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.


I was amazed by how much dryer balls cut down drying time, believe it or not.  Combine that with a clothesline when possible and you're golden.
http://www.amazon.com/Whitmor-6754-3655-Dryer-Balls-Set/dp/B007Y2TBI4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413066995&sr=8-2&keywords=dryer+balls
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Spork on October 11, 2014, 07:53:09 PM
Most of ours are recessed cans.  I've seen them range from $22ish to about $35, depending on brand.
There are some for $15 at hd.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/TCP-65W-Equivalent-Soft-White-2700K-6-in-Dimmable-LED-Retrofit-Downlight-RL12DR6527K/204664711?AID=10368321&PID=361116&SID=ebs2d326372d8816d1413060707949sbe&sourceName=detailpage

Occasionally I'll see them around $10.

Wow... thanks for that.... looks to be sold out online, but I will check the stores.  I don't know that brand (and I've been burned before by the cheaper brands).  But at $15, I could do one room as an experiment.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: falcondisruptor on October 12, 2014, 01:03:15 PM
I was amazed by how much dryer balls cut down drying time, believe it or not.  Combine that with a clothesline when possible and you're golden.
http://www.amazon.com/Whitmor-6754-3655-Dryer-Balls-Set/dp/B007Y2TBI4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413066995&sr=8-2&keywords=dryer+balls

When I tried dryer balls I noticed that our clothes seemed to wear out faster.  Have you noticed anything like this?
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Goldielocks on October 12, 2014, 02:26:02 PM
Turned off the furnace fan that had been running continuously.

Eureka! This is precisely why I started this thread, because I knew people would bring up to the rest of us things that we had never thought of. Thanks!

We have a "high efficiency" furnace with a fan that runs all year long. The original installer said this would be good for our air flow in the home, but now I'm wondering if it is an energy hog.

Have you noticed anything different about the way your home feels, since you have turned it off?
We live in a very moist climate now, and I notice that the basement is a bit mustier.  I will put a tiny circulation fan in there this fall / winter.  In summer, without the fan we don't get as much cooling from the basement in the house, but that's OK.

 The Direct Current (on / off only) fan at our old home was using $45 of electricity per month.  Variable fans, as most high efficiency furnance have,  are a lot better for efficiency. 
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: happy on October 13, 2014, 06:02:09 AM
My electric kettle pulled tons of power. The "instant" nature also created a bad habit of heating the water, then getting distracted and not making the tea, then just hitting the button again.
I now use an old fashioned whistling kettle on the gas stove. Its slower, and I never waste a boiled kettle. gas is cheaper than electricity where I am, but I don't have a direct costing. The gas bill didn't noticeably increase when I swapped over.

Also turn off and unplug the teenagers, those critters just eat up the power.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: catccc on October 13, 2014, 08:07:08 AM
Unless they are being used, the following are unplugged in our home- microwave, television (and auxillary devices), toaster.  So what stays plugged in- alarm clocks, stove, fridge, washing machine and dryer, lights.

And we have other things on outlet timers- wifi router & box.

I'm not really sure what this actually saves but I like to think it is doing something.  But the wifi on a timer helps me get to bed at a reasonable hour.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Jules13 on October 13, 2014, 08:17:13 AM
I have been wanting to do this in my house.  Our electricity usage/bill is nuts.  Can someone recommend a good kill a watt meter?  There are several on Amazon.  My instinct would be to go with the cheapest one/good reviews.  Recs?  Thanks.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: quelinda on October 13, 2014, 08:25:09 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!

I live in the Milwaukee area too, also have the "time-of-use" plan and do the same thing with our dehumidifier (except that we still have a bucket and empty it manually every morning). We also only do laundry and run the dishwasher during off peak times.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: quelinda on October 13, 2014, 08:26:36 AM
Unless they are being used, the following are unplugged in our home- microwave, television (and auxillary devices), toaster.  So what stays plugged in- alarm clocks, stove, fridge, washing machine and dryer, lights.

I've always thought that things with "regular" plugs like toasters don't pull electricity when they're not in use. Am I wrong?
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Goldielocks on October 13, 2014, 09:25:51 AM
Unless they are being used, the following are unplugged in our home- microwave, television (and auxillary devices), toaster.  So what stays plugged in- alarm clocks, stove, fridge, washing machine and dryer, lights.

I've always thought that things with "regular" plugs like toasters don't pull electricity when they're not in use. Am I wrong?
Most plugged appliances are drawing power, even toasters and such.  Usually very little, but there are the occasional surprises.  Then there are modern appliances with clock displays and standby features that pull quite a bit when off.

Here is a pretty good article describing phantom energy, with a nice comparative example of typical items and their annual cost, at the bottom.

Note that the electricity cost is less than 8 cents per kWh, plus taxes and variable fees, to arriv at close to 11 cents per kWh all in.  Even so, one family is spending $260 per year on power for devices that are turned off.

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/b-c/phantom-power-leaving-electronic-devices-on-standby-will-drain-your-finances-1.944814 (http://www.timescolonist.com/news/b-c/phantom-power-leaving-electronic-devices-on-standby-will-drain-your-finances-1.944814)
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: BlueMR2 on October 13, 2014, 09:58:01 AM
And we have other things on outlet timers- wifi router & box.

I'm not really sure what this actually saves but I like to think it is doing something.  But the wifi on a timer helps me get to bed at a reasonable hour.

I've noted that those timers can be pretty warm.  I'd check the power consumption on the timer itself.  It might not be a savings to do it that way.

We put our networking gear on a power strip with a physical switch, so we can cut the power completely when not in use.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: TomTX on October 13, 2014, 10:19:48 AM
So, we have a compromise on the dryer, as our washer leaves serious wrinkles due to drum speed. Shirts and pants get tumbled on low with dryer balls for up to 5 minutes to remove wrinkles,  then hung to dry. This works well enough that we don't iron the martial arts uniforms anymore, except for a special event (such as belt testing about every 3 months.)
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Sid Hoffman on October 13, 2014, 10:23:35 AM
I have been wanting to do this in my house.  Our electricity usage/bill is nuts.  Can someone recommend a good kill a watt meter?  There are several on Amazon.  My instinct would be to go with the cheapest one/good reviews.  Recs?  Thanks.

Energy usage is very different between different climate zones and with regards to what the energy users are.  For example many could look at my energy usage and say it's high, but I don't have natural gas for stove/water heating and don't have gas/oil for winter heating either.  I see a lot of people talking about how low their electric usage is, but then they live in a cool climate and have gas/oil for water & home heating.  Energy usage is very much an "it depends" situation.

As for meters, I've been using the original Kill-A-Watt (http://www.amazon.com/P3-P4400-Electricity-Usage-Monitor/dp/B00009MDBU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413217122&sr=8-1&keywords=kill-a-watt) since 2002 or something and like it.  I do see some alternatives on Amazon around $16-17, although I have only used the P3 International one linked above.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: justajane on October 13, 2014, 10:28:44 AM
So, we have a compromise on the dryer, as our washer leaves serious wrinkles due to drum speed. Shirts and pants get tumbled on low with dryer balls for up to 5 minutes to remove wrinkles,  then hung to dry. This works well enough that we don't iron the martial arts uniforms anymore, except for a special event (such as belt testing about every 3 months.)

We don't line dry everything, just shirts, kid PJs, baby clothes and a couple of other things. This still reduces how much drying we have to do. Plus clothes last longer when they are hung up. With many of our heavy pants, I pull them out before they are dry and hang them up. I hate to run the dryer an extra 15-20 just because a pair of jeans haven't dried yet.

But towels and sheets? Underwear and socks? We definitely dry those, especially in the winter. I don't think clothes dryer versus line has to be an all or nothing proposition. 
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: nawhite on October 13, 2014, 10:30:20 AM
I notice lots of people discussing zombie loads from wall warts. I've always been surprised that from a total energy use of a family, idling a car for 1 minute uses FAR more energy than unplugging ALL of your wall warts for a full day. Granted it is kinda is apples to oranges with gasoline vs electricity but in terms of watts of energy you use, don't idle your car.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: deborah on October 13, 2014, 01:46:26 PM
I have been having a great time following this discussion, but at the moment I am a bit lost by the terms used. From googling, I assume that "wall warts" are AC/DC adapters. What are zombie loads? And am I right in thinking that US power points don't have a switch on them (ours do) - so you need to have a powerboard to be able to switch things off while leaving them plugged in?
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: CrazyinVA on October 13, 2014, 02:45:52 PM
I have been wanting to do this in my house.  Our electricity usage/bill is nuts.  Can someone recommend a good kill a watt meter?  There are several on Amazon.  My instinct would be to go with the cheapest one/good reviews.  Recs?  Thanks.

First check your library or local energy programs, I was surprised to find out my library checks them out like library books!
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: bacchi on October 13, 2014, 03:01:45 PM
What are zombie loads? And am I right in thinking that US power points don't have a switch on them (ours do) - so you need to have a powerboard to be able to switch things off while leaving them plugged in?

A zombie load is when you think something is off but...it's still ON! :o It's common for TVs and stereos to draw power even when turned "off." Sometimes they're waiting for the remote signal and sometimes they're just not well made.

Correct, US plugs don't have switches. We need power strips, which I assume is a "powerboard," to actually leave something plugged in but cut the circuit.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: dorothyc on October 13, 2014, 03:06:08 PM
I have been having a great time following this discussion, but at the moment I am a bit lost by the terms used. From googling, I assume that "wall warts" are AC/DC adapters. What are zombie loads? And am I right in thinking that US power points don't have a switch on them (ours do) - so you need to have a powerboard to be able to switch things off while leaving them plugged in?

That's correct about US power sockets - they look like this : http://cdn.innovativelanguage.com/wordlists/media/thumb/3517_fit512.jpg

Some houses have a wall switch to control some of the outlets, for plugging floor lamps in, but most don't. Zombie load is the power draw that items on standby consume.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Spork on October 13, 2014, 03:08:06 PM
I have been wanting to do this in my house.  Our electricity usage/bill is nuts.  Can someone recommend a good kill a watt meter?  There are several on Amazon.  My instinct would be to go with the cheapest one/good reviews.  Recs?  Thanks.

The model I have is the cheapest... about $20.  It works for any US 120volt/15amp or less outlet.  If you need to go bigger than that (i.e, 240volt), you'll probably have to get a clamp on ammeter.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: dragoncar on October 13, 2014, 03:45:51 PM
I was amazed by how much dryer balls cut down drying time, believe it or not.  Combine that with a clothesline when possible and you're golden.
http://www.amazon.com/Whitmor-6754-3655-Dryer-Balls-Set/dp/B007Y2TBI4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413066995&sr=8-2&keywords=dryer+balls

When I tried dryer balls I noticed that our clothes seemed to wear out faster.  Have you noticed anything like this?

Depending on the responses here, I'm getting these:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31Nm2tnK0XL.jpg)

Unless they are being used, the following are unplugged in our home- microwave, television (and auxillary devices), toaster.  So what stays plugged in- alarm clocks, stove, fridge, washing machine and dryer, lights.

I've always thought that things with "regular" plugs like toasters don't pull electricity when they're not in use. Am I wrong?
Most plugged appliances are drawing power, even toasters and such. 

I really doubt the toaster, unless it's some fancy push-button model.

Was recently trying to decide if I should remove my motion sensor light switches, since I've heard they draw about 1 Watt (optimistically)
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: nawhite on October 13, 2014, 04:48:20 PM
Was recently trying to decide if I should remove my motion sensor light switches, since I've heard they draw about 1 Watt (optimistically)

Why bother? If they draw about 1 watt, its going to take 40 days for them to use 1 KWh. Average electricity cost around the US is $0.13/KWh. So each of these sensors will use about $1.15/year in electricity. Use your electric clothes dryer for two hours less per year and you'll save more energy.

Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: dragoncar on October 13, 2014, 05:04:20 PM
Was recently trying to decide if I should remove my motion sensor light switches, since I've heard they draw about 1 Watt (optimistically)

Why bother? If they draw about 1 watt, its going to take 40 days for them to use 1 KWh. Average electricity cost around the US is $0.13/KWh. So each of these sensors will use about $1.15/year in electricity. Use your electric clothes dryer for two hours less per year and you'll save more energy.

Well I don't really know how much they use.  Could be a lot higher.  Plus, who has $1.15 just lying around?
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: PabloHoney on October 17, 2014, 11:46:54 AM
I was amazed by how much dryer balls cut down drying time, believe it or not.  Combine that with a clothesline when possible and you're golden.
http://www.amazon.com/Whitmor-6754-3655-Dryer-Balls-Set/dp/B007Y2TBI4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413066995&sr=8-2&keywords=dryer+balls

When I tried dryer balls I noticed that our clothes seemed to wear out faster.  Have you noticed anything like this?

Depending on the responses here, I'm getting these:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31Nm2tnK0XL.jpg)

Unless they are being used, the following are unplugged in our home- microwave, television (and auxillary devices), toaster.  So what stays plugged in- alarm clocks, stove, fridge, washing machine and dryer, lights.

I've always thought that things with "regular" plugs like toasters don't pull electricity when they're not in use. Am I wrong?
Most plugged appliances are drawing power, even toasters and such. 

I really doubt the toaster, unless it's some fancy push-button model.

Was recently trying to decide if I should remove my motion sensor light switches, since I've heard they draw about 1 Watt (optimistically)

Look at those cute little hedgehogs!  I, myself, haven't had a problem with clothes wearing out due to dryer balls.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: colganc on October 17, 2014, 12:56:53 PM
Last year I worked on reducing my electric bill. Cut usage by one third and got it down to 200kwh per month average.  Located in Portland OR.  This year I purchased n electric car (had to replace previous vehicle due to accident) and then purchased a PV system to cover my electric needs including the car.  I estimate I am up to 300kwh per month average again and now as long as I stay within my PV system I am paying around .02 per kWh for the next 20 years.

Looking for added insulation and other passive methods for keeping my home inside a comfortable band.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: deborah on October 17, 2014, 01:25:36 PM
Last year I worked on reducing my electric bill. Cut usage by one third and got it down to 200kwh per month average.  Located in Portland OR.  This year I purchased n electric car (had to replace previous vehicle due to accident) and then purchased a PV system to cover my electric needs including the car.  I estimate I am up to 300kwh per month average again and now as long as I stay within my PV system I am paying around .02 per kWh for the next 20 years.

Looking for added insulation and other passive methods for keeping my home inside a comfortable band.
What did you do last year?
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: colganc on October 17, 2014, 01:48:00 PM
Last year I worked on reducing my electric bill. Cut usage by one third and got it down to 200kwh per month average.  Located in Portland OR.  This year I purchased n electric car (had to replace previous vehicle due to accident) and then purchased a PV system to cover my electric needs including the car.  I estimate I am up to 300kwh per month average again and now as long as I stay within my PV system I am paying around .02 per kWh for the next 20 years.

Looking for added insulation and other passive methods for keeping my home inside a comfortable band.
What did you do last year?

Right that would have been smart to include, sorry.  Purchased a kill-a-watt and systemically went through my house.  Unplugged my gaming system that still took 20w when in "sleep mode".  Stayed in bed to watch movies instead of using the large flat screen.  Put my laptop in my closet and stuck to using a smaller tablet.  Swapped all possible bulbs to LED.  I have a few CFL T5 circular bulbs in rooms left.  They only pull 20w each and are infrequently used, no big loss there.  Measured my total drain per day when I'm away from the house and no heating or cooling being used is at 2kwh per day.  About 1kwh per day due to my fridge (doesn't seem to fluctuate much when I use it).  Rest was due to always on internet "modem" and router and something else I still haven't identified (500watt hours per day unknown).  Watched electrical use day to day to understand the impact of my dishwasher and clothes washer/dryer.  The dishwasher electric use halved or so (may not be remembering this correctly) once I turned off heated drying and played with my hot water heater (it runs on gas).  Tuning my hot weater heater reduced the pre-heating my dishwasher did and made for less time waiting for heat when showering etc.  The washer is a front loader and I started loading it with more clothes to reduce the amount of water per clothing item, thus reducing the amount of drying needed.  The increase in load size also reduced the number of times I need to run it.  The dryer is now my largest user (besides the car) and it takes up 1/3rd to 1/4th of my total usage each month (again ex-car).  Ex-car I am now in the 4kwh arena when I don't run laundry and 10-15kwh on a day where I do.  Laundry is run every 4 days.  The car is still new.  I projected a 75kwh usage rate per month, but currently I'm running around 100kwh due to it.  I expect that to go down as I bike in the summer and the novelty of the electric car wears off.  My 4kwh system should deliver about 4mwh per year so even with the extra due to the car, I should be fine even with degradation over the 20 years with the system.  Pay back is expected on the solar system within 5 years (not accounting for savings in gas vs electricity and only for the electric use due to the car).
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: deborah on October 17, 2014, 02:18:33 PM
My 4kwh system should deliver about 4mwh per year so even with the extra due to the car, I should be fine even with degradation over the 20 years with the system.  Pay back is expected on the solar system within 5 years (not accounting for savings in gas vs electricity and only for the electric use due to the car).
Thanks for that! Are you charged net usage or actual usage for your electricity now? Most providers here charge actual, so if you were to charge the car at night, you would be charged for that usage - or do you have batteries with your PV system?
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Dyk on October 17, 2014, 02:28:19 PM
We have a gas stove, gas water heater and gas furnace.

You are on the correct path with the kill-a-watt.  However, big changes can be made without one too.  We did 2 things:
- Changed our light bulbs to a mix of CFL/LED - The power company gave them to us for free!
- My wife line dries everything (dryer is electric)

Our average use for a family of 7 is now half of what it was.   For example, 268kwh this September vs. 587kwh last September.  This is before changes from kill-o-watt.

Now, our neighbors just sold us a refrigerator that should run < 50% of the previous, so I think our usage, which is currently 8kwh/day will go down.  I would run your kill-o-watt on the fridge, my estimation was that we could save up to $80/yr. this made purchasing a new one harder to justify.  We had better things, insulation in attic, to do first with our money, and then luckily this fridge fell in our laps.  Check Craigslist, try used.

Surprises?  Garage door opener that pulls 10w constantly (not when operating).  Coffee pot and microwave.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Spartana on October 17, 2014, 02:46:42 PM
I just got my electric bill today (150 kWh at .10 cents/kWh - $15 plus some fees and taxes - for the month single person plus sister here on weekends) and there was something called a "Calif Climate Credit" for a $40 credit on it. Don't know what that is but like it. Computer is biggest electric use and it's often unused and unplugged. Pretty much unplug everything that's not in use, and don't use much lighting.

 Natural gas bill was 14 therms and also around $15 for the month. Gas is for heating (which I don't need or use often) cooking, water heater, and gas dryer.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: colganc on October 17, 2014, 11:35:24 PM
My 4kwh system should deliver about 4mwh per year so even with the extra due to the car, I should be fine even with degradation over the 20 years with the system.  Pay back is expected on the solar system within 5 years (not accounting for savings in gas vs electricity and only for the electric use due to the car).
Thanks for that? Are you charged net usage or actual usage for your electricity now? Most providers here charge actual, so if you were to charge the car at night, you would be charged for that usage - or do you have batteries with your PV system?

I'm on a net metering plan.  If I make 100kwh more than I use in a summer month, I receive credits that can be applied during the winter.  The credits can be banked over a 12 month period.  No batteries on my PV system.  With my relatively quick payback and net metering plan, I get to use the grid as a battery.  Eventually the plans could change and I may be forced off the net metering plan, but I don't believe that will happen in the next five years.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: deborah on October 18, 2014, 01:27:29 AM
My 4kwh system should deliver about 4mwh per year so even with the extra due to the car, I should be fine even with degradation over the 20 years with the system.  Pay back is expected on the solar system within 5 years (not accounting for savings in gas vs electricity and only for the electric use due to the car).
Thanks for that! Are you charged net usage or actual usage for your electricity now? Most providers here charge actual, so if you were to charge the car at night, you would be charged for that usage - or do you have batteries with your PV system?

I'm on a net metering plan.  If I make 100kwh more than I use in a summer month, I receive credits that can be applied during the winter.  The credits can be banked over a 12 month period.  No batteries on my PV system.  With my relatively quick payback and net metering plan, I get to use the grid as a battery.  Eventually the plans could change and I may be forced off the net metering plan, but I don't believe that will happen in the next five years.
That's a really good deal! Even the people here who got net deals (a few years ago) just get it settled monthly, so there is no credit banking.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: BlueMR2 on October 18, 2014, 11:13:42 AM
I notice lots of people discussing zombie loads from wall warts. I've always been surprised that from a total energy use of a family, idling a car for 1 minute uses FAR more energy than unplugging ALL of your wall warts for a full day. Granted it is kinda is apples to oranges with gasoline vs electricity but in terms of watts of energy you use, don't idle your car.

Gasoline really is an excellent, dense, way to store energy, even once the conversion costs are calculated.  It's astounding how much energy is wasted by accessories on cars yet it barely touches the MPG at all! 
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: mozar on October 19, 2014, 04:29:11 PM
Surprising energy hog: my ex doing their laundry all the time.
Solution: kicking them out.

Seriously though I just put up an attic barrier today, and plastic over my windows. I hope it helps.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Prairie Gal on November 02, 2014, 08:16:42 AM
Quote
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.

This is surprising. I was thinking of using a space heater to just heat the living room where I spend my evenings rather than running the gas furnace to heat the whole house. Maybe that isn't such a good plan.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: daverobev on November 02, 2014, 12:53:39 PM
?! A 1500W space heater is going to use 1.5kW for the time you have it on! That should be self evident!

They are great for 'topping up' smaller spaces - assuming the space has a door. Two years ago I'd work in our smaller bedroom with the door shut, house at 15 degrees C or less, and me nice and toasty at 20. It clicks on and off as needed.

Not sure how it can be surprising that something literally called a 1500W heater uses 1500W!
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Sid Hoffman on November 02, 2014, 09:18:40 PM
?! A 1500W space heater is going to use 1.5kW for the time you have it on! That should be self evident!

Modern space heaters have thermostats.  They will only draw power on an as-needed basis.  Power is not energy.

You could have a 100,000 watt space heater and still only use the same amount of energy to heat a room from 60 to 70 degrees.  The 100,000 watt space heater will just do it 67 times more quickly than the 1500 watt heater.  Each would use the same amount of energy to maintain the room at 70 degrees, per the thermostat setting.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: dragoncar on November 03, 2014, 09:05:19 AM
?! A 1500W space heater is going to use 1.5kW for the time you have it on! That should be self evident!

Modern space heaters have thermostats.  They will only draw power on an as-needed basis.  Power is not energy.

You could have a 100,000 watt space heater and still only use the same amount of energy to heat a room from 60 to 70 degrees.  The 100,000 watt space heater will just do it 67 times more quickly than the 1500 watt heater.  Each would use the same amount of energy to maintain the room at 70 degrees, per the thermostat setting.

Also, you'd be dead
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: daverobev on November 03, 2014, 10:50:17 AM
Ok smart aleck :P I take your point. But if you have a space heater, and it is turned on, and it comes on a significant portion of the time, it is going to be using 1.5 kW a significant portion of the time.

Generally they say 'should not be used unattended' I believe, so in theory one would know - roughly - how much of the time it is on. They would, therefore, be able to calculate roughly how much electricity is being used!

Space heaters use big chunky amounts of power, just like an oven, just like a hot water tank. If it's clicking on a lot, it'll be using a decent chunk of power.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Sid Hoffman on November 03, 2014, 02:05:32 PM
Yeah the best case scenario for space heaters in a residence is in places that are all electric (no gas, oil, wood pellets or anything else for heat) since it's a 1:1 comparison.  I fully acknowledge that if you have cheap natural gas and a high efficiency furnace, you're probably best off just setting your whole home to a sensible temperature.

What I was looking at was trying to determine where the space heater could make sense, and about the only thing I come up with is that all-electric home, but let's say instead of heating the whole home to 70 degrees, you lower the thermostat for the home to 60 and just heat a single room which makes up 10% or less of the square footage to 70 degrees.

I'm still not personally a huge fan of space heaters, but it's give and take because I also like the idea of only having to heat the spaces you're using.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: daverobev on November 03, 2014, 04:17:48 PM
We have a very inefficient natural gas furnace in our crawlspace. Love it. Fixed fees aside, I think we spent $600 on the actual *gas* part of the bill last winter (including the 'delivery' bits). Replacing the furnace would be several thousand... and save us maybe $250 a year. Not worth it.

So ya. This year will be worse as our little one will be, er, one, and her room needs to be warm enough, as does ours.. and if we put two heaters on at once it trips the breaker. Oops. So it'll be 18C in the whole house all the time. Ho hum.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: MoneyCat on November 03, 2014, 04:22:57 PM
We were stuck with an inefficient fridge because it was the only one that would fit properly in the smaller space available in our kitchen.  I have no idea why fridges are all 26 cu ft or larger these days.  It's nuts.  I found that our other hogs were our Roku box and our old incandescent light bulbs, which I replaced with CFLs.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: nawhite on November 03, 2014, 06:25:56 PM
Just measured the Irrigation system controller and it came in at 6 watts when off.
Other things I've found but decided I don't care about finding an alternative for:
2 watts for the Garage door opener
2 watts for the pellet stove when not running
2 watts for the microwave
1 watt for the chromecast

Putting my money towards a better fridge is a much better plan than bothering getting rid of these loads.
Title: Re: How low can you go: surprising energy hogs in your home?
Post by: Nate R on November 25, 2014, 08:33:45 AM
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.

Just got rid of my DirecTV, and NOW find out between the SWM switch, the DVR and the other receiver, I was likely using about $5/mo in electricity alone to power these things! Not HUGE energy hogs, but I use gas dryer and water heater, so this turns out to be 8-10% of my electricity use!