# How well do you control your energy usage

Gold Member
Dearly Missed
Like is your house insulated to updated code, double glazed widows, cavity wall insulation, Do you control you energy usage

OmCheeto

Sophia
Yes, I live in an insulated building and have new plastic (vocab?) windows. There are regulators on radiators and we try not to heat more than necessary.

Well I live in a 1922 house so there are many energy issues. I have done my best to seal cracks, update storm windows on original windows and set a reasonable heat temp in winter.

Mentor
I monitor and control mine pretty well (because that's what I do!). Most of the building construction issues are taken care of by building codes, since my house isn't that old. But I did have an issue that my unfinished walk-out basement wasn't insulated, so I fixed that by finising and insulating it. That made a big difference.

I am constantly adjusting HVAC vents (registers) to push heat/AC only where it needs to go, which also makes a big difference. Little things like turning off an entertainment center at the wall outlet add up too. And I have a real-time energy monitor installed.

Mentor
...and set a reasonable heat temp in winter.
Heh - that is the one thing I will not do: I'll conserve where reasonable, but I will not make any changes that impact my comfort. I'm willing to pay a little more to be comfortable in my own home!

wolram
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
Heh - that is the one thing I will not do: I'll conserve where reasonable, but I will not make any changes that impact my comfort. I'm willing to pay a little more to be comfortable in my own home!

I agree one must be comfortable in ones own home, but would it be wise if one is feeling chilly to put a sweater on rather than crank up the air con .
I have noticed a shed load of new houses being built in my area, non have solar cells fitted, I would have thought that all new builds should be required to have them.
We have them and save about 20% on our electricity bill.

OmCheeto
Gold Member
Gold Member
... have solar cells fitted, would have thought that all new builds should be required to have them.
We have them and save about 20% on our electricity bill.

On the contrary, some US states have blocked or discontinued the Net Metering plans that oblige the utility to pay the customer retail rates for generated solar electricity. Hawaii was the first to stop NM. The large majority of the average electric bill goes to building and maintaining the infrastructure of the electric grid; only a small part goes to pay for the fuel used for actual generation. So substantially reducing the electric bill while remaining connected to the grid pushes the costs onto the neighbors.

Gold Member
I find it ironic that people cool their houses to $65^{\circ}$ in the summer and keep the heat on to almost $80^{\circ}$ in the winter and yes, I am accounting for the humidity difference...

Staff Emeritus
The bulk of energy use is for heating or cooling. During cold period the house uses natural gas heating, but I open blinds to use sunlight to heat the house, and allow inside to get cool at night ~ 60 F. During the hot summer, I'll set the AC, but as much as possible, open windows at night to allow the cool outside air to cool the house. During the day, I'll let the temperature get to 80 F inside, open windows when the outside temperature drops.

I'm looking at ways to shade the south side of the house, which gets direct sunlight and heat radiating from the driveway.

I've been able to reduce peak electrical consumption by about 50%. For about 8 or 12 months in the last year, I used less than 280 kWh/month, and for 6 of those 8 months used less than 240 kWh/mo. Electrical demand increased during July, August and September, due to outside temperatures > 90 F (32.2 C), with several days at or above 100 F (37.8 C).

wolram and OmCheeto
Rubidium_71
Switching to LED lights doesn't hurt.

Switching to LED lights doesn't hurt.
ah yes I've done that too. Pricey at first, but my electric bills are quite a bit lower even compared to CFL.

titatos
Kevin McHugh
When 93 octane was well over $4/gal, I controlled my energy usage by not driving my 70 Chevelle with a 383 ci engine, 195 cc heads (runners), long duration cam with almost 0.5" lift, and a Holly 750cfm double pumper. 7 mpg around town, 10 mpg on the highway @ 60 mph. Now I just pour the fuel in, and run it rich My house is very energy efficient, my monthly electric bill running A/C all summer is about$100/mo.

OCR
OCR
...my 70 Chevelle with a 383 ci engine...
Well, I was skeptical at first... but, now I know.[COLOR=#black]..[/COLOR] [COLOR=#black] ..[/COLOR]

Kevin McHugh
Well, I was skeptical at first... but, now I know.[COLOR=#black]..[/COLOR] [COLOR=#black] ..[/COLOR]

Yeah, bored and stroked. Rotating assembly balance to within 0.5 g. Blue printed the engine myself.

OCR
2milehi
Split by hand with an ax or a maul. And we make a fire daily in the cold season (living at 9100 ft).

titatos
Gold Member
Well I live in a 1922 house so there are many energy issues. I have done my best to seal cracks, update storm windows on original windows and set a reasonable heat temp in winter.
Did you consult with PF members before sealing cracks, and updating storm windows?
I haven't researched the "cracks" thing yet, but "storm windows" can be a waste of money, if you don't understand the physics behind them.

I talked my mother into installing storm windows, about 35 years ago.
I was very embarrassed when I discovered that my suggestion was, um, "Sorry about that. But these are nearly worthless."

but "storm windows" can be a waste of money, if you don't understand the physics behind them.
hmmm I have some old thin single pane windows facing west and north. Last windows there was noticeable drafts. I tried various weather striping, but it's a pain and looks terrible. Wouldn't adding storm windows reduce that and help protect the original windows?

Gold Member
hmmm I have some old thin single pane windows facing west and north. Last windows there was noticeable drafts. I tried various weather striping, but it's a pain and looks terrible. Wouldn't adding storm windows reduce that and help protect the original windows?
Yes.
In looking over my notes from 1989, it would appear that all of my numbers were "theoretical".
Having looked at about 15 different websites this morning, it would appear that "empirical" numbers are quite a bit different.

In my defense, I will quote energy.gov; "Even though storm windows add little to the insulating performance of single-glazed windows (that are in good condition)"

And in your defense, I will finish their quote; "field studies have found that they can help reduce air movement into and out of existing windows. Therefore, they help reduce heating and cooling costs."

I guess this means, that I have to start doing window experiments now.

wolram
Gold Member
Like is your house insulated to updated code, double glazed widows, cavity wall insulation, Do you control you energy usage
I've done all of that, with the exception of looking at insulation codes.
Which I've just done, and found the title somewhat odd: Additional Measures / Required Options
Isn't the phrase "Required Options" a bit oxymoronic?

Anyways, my house is definitely not up to code, nor do I think it ever will be. But the improvements, so far, have cut my costs in half.

I also don't quite have double glazed windows, as such improvements always seemed a bit labor and capital expensive.
So I opted for the lowest price option: Shrink wrapping! About $1.50 per window. On the windows which do not receive sunlight, the system lasts quite a while. On those that do receive sun, the double sided tape eventually gives up the ghost, due to the temperature. But, there's always duct tape, and then they're back to spec. My sister, a couple of years ago, talked me into building a solar thermal collector. I had vacillated over building one, for at least a decade, as I didn't really think it would work, precisely where I live, exactly when I needed it. It is sitting in my living room. But! About a week ago, I started a project, which I had designed in my head, about 10 years ago. (04-07-2007 11:09 AM, to be exact) Of course, as a pauper, my current incarnation little resembles the above drawing. If you throw out all the watery stuff, replace the "radiator and fan" with a garage sale "bathroom fan" ($6, new!), and the "plastic pipe" with "dryer exhaust hose", you will have a pretty good picture of what's going on.
So far, my numbers have been a bit "iffy", as the weather has turned a bit "Londony".
But I've been collecting said numbers since September 21st, and plan on collecting them until spring.

The other thing I tried this year, was reducing the temperature of my water heater, in the summer, to make bathing just tolerable.

summer setting​

It made no sense to me, to have that much thermal mass, just sitting there, at 125°F, just counteracting upon what I was trying to accomplish.

winter setting​

But, of course, in our latitudes, this time of year, 120°F kind of makes sense.

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wolram
Sophia
There are different views on heating.
Is it generally better to heat only when you're at home (so you have to maximise heating after arrival) or is it better to set to medium temperature for all day?
I suppose the second option is better and cheaper but I can't do the calculations to prove it.

Also, is it wise to turn the heating off in rooms that are not used? How much extra heat will be needed in rooms that are heated because some heat will be lost in the cold room?

I've heard several theories but my physics education nor experience is sufficient to objectively decide what is correct

I'm asking about apartment located on the highest floor (10th) in the south - east corner of the house, if that matters to the answer. The regulators on the radiators can't be set to a certain temperature. You can only manually regulate flow of hot water, but there's no automatic thermostat.

wolram
Psinter
Do you control you energy usage
I don't consume much power. I have a 10 watt LED bulb and I use it with a dimmer. I don't have a TV either because I felt I was becoming dumber with the stuff they had to show (specially the news) so I got rid of it.

I just wish I had an air conditioner. I'd want to drop temperatures, not raise them. At least to 83F or 80F. I conform with that. Rare nights when temperature has dropped to 83F I have had to use my thick blanket to sleep. Otherwise I cannot sleep much because I feel cold as time goes by (I'd sleep like 3-4 hours at most without my blanket). That temperature is okay for me as long as I have a blanket to sleep with. Just being able to drop room temp to 83F: that's all I need.

All in all I monitor my watt usage. Since I already use very little, I don't skimp on it when it comes to using a little more.

Edit:
I suppose the second option is better and cheaper but I can't do the calculations to prove it.
I think that it is better left for experimental data on a per building basis. Theoretical calculations would require knowledge of the whole building structure and materials. I think experimental would be less of a hassle since all one would need are devices to measure energy consumption of the heater and room temperature. Then running the experiment to gather the data, and make conclusions from there with it. Although it would apply only to the building and specific place that the experiment was made on.

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wolram
Mentor
There are different views on heating.
Is it generally better to heat only when you're at home (so you have to maximise heating after arrival) or is it better to set to medium temperature for all day?
I suppose the second option is better and cheaper but I can't do the calculations to prove it.

Also, is it wise to turn the heating off in rooms that are not used? How much extra heat will be needed in rooms that are heated because some heat will be lost in the cold room?
These are often stated as controversial, but really do have straightforward answers as long as the questions are sensibly stated:

1. Is it better to set back your house temperature during the day or does the extra energy for the "catch-up" when you return home negate the savings(or even cost more)?
Answer: It is better to set back the temperature because heat loss/gain is proportional to the temperature difference through the wall. So the total amount of heating/cooling required is lower even with a high demand "catch-up" period.

2. Is it better to close vents in rooms you aren't occupying or does the extra heat transfer betweeen the occupied and unoccupied rooms negate the savings?
Answer: It is better to close the vents in the rooms you aren't occupying. The only heat transfer that matters is the heat transfer through the outside walls, and you're reducing it.

Now, caveat: the way you worded the first question implies you mean three different setpoints instead of two (a "medium" temperature is in between a high and low?). If that's really what you meant, the question is unanswerable because it depends on the specific setpoints and times. But why would you want to do such a thing anyway? The issues should be totally independent of each other: if you are comfortable at that "medium" temperature, you should be using that when you are home.

wolram, OCR and Sophia
Mentor
It is also worth noting that in most areas in the USA, there is a lot more energy to be saved in air conditioning than in heating, for a couple of reasons:
1. You are home when you need the most heat (at night), but away at work when you need the most air conditioning.
2. The temperature differences are wider in heating, so you get less benefit from a temperature setback.

Example for #2:
Summer Outside Temp: 95F
Summer Inside Temp:75F
Winter Outside Temp: 20F
Winter Inside Temp: 70F

Summer Delata-T: 20F
Winter Delta-T: 50F

So a 1F setback reduces your cooling energy usage 2.5x more than it reduces your heating energy usage. And for unoccupied setback (when you are at work during the day), the sun makes the savings difference even bigger.

Sophia
These are often stated as controversial, but really do have straightforward answers as long as the questions are sensibly stated:

1. Is it better to set back your house temperature during the day or does the extra energy for the "catch-up" when you return home negate the savings(or even cost more)?
Answer: It is better to set back the temperature because heat loss/gain is proportional to the temperature difference through the wall. So the total amount of heating/cooling required is lower even with a high demand "catch-up" period.

2. Is it better to close vents in rooms you aren't occupying or does the extra heat transfer betweeen the occupied and unoccupied rooms negate the savings?
Answer: It is better to close the vents in the rooms you aren't occupying. The only heat transfer that matters is the heat transfer through the outside walls, and you're reducing it.

Now, caveat: the way you worded the first question implies you mean three different setpoints instead of two (a "medium" temperature is in between a high and low?). If that's really what you meant, the question is unanswerable because it depends on the specific setpoints and times. But why would you want to do such a thing anyway? The issues should be totally independent of each other: if you are comfortable at that "medium" temperature, you should be using that when you are home.

Thanks for the answer, now I understand it better. I also like the way you posted the questions, that's exactly what I meant!

Psinter
How could I have missed this:

I believe I had seen it before elsewhere in the forum. This is very right .

russ_watters and Sophia
OCR
Winter Outside Temp: 20F
Yeah, as of right now !
It hasn't been very nice around here the last couple of days, about 4 inches of snow, also...[COLOR=#black].[/COLOR]

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russ_watters
Mentor
Hehe - where I live, 20-30F is a common daytime high in the middle of winter.

Another issue that can get complicated is how to heat your home when you have multiple methods available. I generally recommend using a space heater for a bit of spot heating in the room you are in, but if you overdo that, it may end up costing you, especially if you have natural gas fired central heat. If the electric space heater is really blasting, it might cost more to heat that room than it would to heat your whole house with gas.

Mentor
Yeah, as of right now !
It hasn't been very nice around here the last couple of days, about 4 inches of snow, also....

And much colder to come... My ex-inlaws lived in Lolo, MT. I remember visiting there around Christmas one year, and seeing -39° (F) one evening on the temperature gauge at a local bank. The next day it warmed all the way up to -20° (F) during the day. For those who are familiar only with the Celsius scale, -40° (F) = -40° (C), so -39° (F) is about -38° (C).
Lolo and Missoula are laughingly called the "banana belt" of Montana, but only in comparison to areas in the northern part of the state (the Highline) where it can be considerably colder, such as Havre and Cutbank. While Lolo was enjoying the relatively "balmy" temp of -39°, it was -50° F in Havre. And it can get colder there!
Record minimum for Havre in January -- -57° (1916) http://www.intellicast.com/Local/History.aspx?location=USMT0159

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wolram and OCR
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
So far the out side temperature has been 15c at the lowest, we have cavity wall insulation, 1ft of glass fiber in the loft, and double glazing and we have not had to heat the house so far, if we feel a bit chilly we put on sweaters and we are quite comfortable.

Mentor
Like is your house insulated to updated code, double glazed widows, cavity wall insulation, Do you control you energy usage
The house my wife and I live in is fairly new (built in '98), so it adheres to all the building codes in place then. All the windows and sliders are double pane, and the walls, ceiling, and floors are well insulated. I replaced the outside lights with LED bulbs a few months ago, and I replaced the switch for them with a timer.

The thermostat is digital, and is set to accommodate my wife's preferences for heating. The thermostat comes on when she gets up (she's still working -- I'm retired), and go off at 9AM. She gets home about 3PM, so the thermostat kicks in again at that time, and goes off at 10:30PM, with a setting of 60 deg (F). When it's on, it's set for 69 deg (F). If it were just me, I would set it a bit cooler, but she isn't as well adapted to cooler temps as I am. The house is well enough insulated that it almost never cools down to 60 during the night, which would cause the theirmostat to start the furnace.

Our house is in W. Washington, where the temps are pretty moderate. During the winter, it might get down into the low teens (F) for a few days, but this is pretty rare. In summer, the high temps can get to the mid-90s (F), but the usual temps are mid-70s to mid-80s (F) (say 20 to 25 deg. C). As a consequence, very few houses are air conditioned. In the almost 50 years I've lived in this state, I've only ever seen it get above 100 deg. (F) twice.

wolram
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
Hehe - where I live, 20-30F is a common daytime high in the middle of winter.

Another issue that can get complicated is how to heat your home when you have multiple methods available. I generally recommend using a space heater for a bit of spot heating in the room you are in, but if you overdo that, it may end up costing you, especially if you have natural gas fired central heat. If the electric space heater is really blasting, it might cost more to heat that room than it would to heat your whole house with gas.

We have a coal fire which heats the house and the water, people think a coal fire is inefficient but we only stoke it up three times a day.