Author Topic: Let's Cut That Electric Bill In Half (HVAC, DIY)  (Read 1773 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Let's Cut That Electric Bill In Half (HVAC, DIY)
« on: February 06, 2017, 08:33:34 PM »
After chopping some low hanging fruit in preparation for some financial changes. I set my sites on the utility bills.

My power company uses smart metering. Lets see how we're doing. $74. Better than average. Not too bad, right? Right?


The face-punch-worthy backstory:
A few summers ago, my furnace blower motor and control relay blew out. I bypassed the fan control to keep the unit working and my local HVAC guy helped replace the motor. However, HVAC guy was not interested in replacing the board.

I ball-parked the fan was costing me $7 per month. What's $7 when you're wasting money hand over fist? Inspired by MMM, I vowed to take a stand. I set out to cut my bill by $7 per month and ended saving $30~$100.

As with all such projects, the constraint is that quality of life must be unaffected (or improved).

Reasons not to do it:
Order the wrong part and waste time / money.
Connect it wrong and blow the controller up.
Connect slightly wrong and risk electrical fire while asleep.
Connect slightly wrong and risk over temperature / fire while asleep.

I pushed past these concerns and Amazon'd a replacement. Replacement parts should be readily available if you search by the model number. I ordered the generic replacement for $100 vs. $180 for the exact replacement. In retrospect, if you are a beginner, I recommend paying the higher price for the exact copy for ease of installation. I pulled the old board out and...

The previous homeowner bypassed the fuse (electrical fire risk). My smart thermostat was occasionally not responsive. I assumed it was a software bug. It wasn't. DUE TO INADEQUATE AIRFLOW, THE FURNACE WAS OVERHEATING AND CUTTING OUT.

I would consider the risk created by the lack of fuse relatively high, and lack of air flow relatively low (cut-out worked). However, the safety cut-out was creating pre-mature cutout and therefore a cold house.

By taking no action, I was living with the safety risks I feared creating.

Emboldened by this success, I proceeded to insulate my attic. Cost was about $400 for 10 bags of fiberglass insulation. Equipment rental was free and truck rental was only $20. It's a two man job, but much easier than I expected.

I was feeling content, waiting for summer to roll around to save the real $$$. The next morning, everything on my kitchen table was covered in pink fiberglass. The FUQ?


A few very uncomfortable minutes of a too fat man laying on rafters, and the vent was smashed back into place.

Although my wife doesn't care about the cost savings, the improvement in conditioning earned plenty of points to allow the more annoying follow up work (turning off lights, etc.)

My wintertime bill should drop from $78 to around $30. Maybe half of that $30 is “always on.” More work to do, but I'm saving a ton of money and my wife is happy, which lets these kinds of cost cutting adventures continue.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Let's Cut That Electric Bill In Half (HVAC, DIY)
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2017, 08:12:33 PM »
You should grab a bucket of mastic ($15-20) and go around and seal all of your ducts as well. All systems leak, so sealing them up as tight as you can will save you money.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Let's Cut That Electric Bill In Half (HVAC, DIY)
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2017, 10:42:38 PM »
Thanks for the tip.