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Trying to save a buck

Discussion in 'Work Safe' started by John A., Aug 10, 2019.

  1. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

    Messages:
    14,404
    Nope, this isn't one of those weird hunting stories.

    Like many people, my electric bill is the highest utility bill that I get every month. While it averages a little under $200 a month, I have seen it as much as $430.

    I've been trying to cut down on power as much as I can.

    For the last two months, the clothes dryer has sat empty and we've been hanging clothes out to dry. This has helped a lot and has saved me about $15 off of my bill. And I know that cold weather is coming and I can't really do that year round, but at least there will be a few more months of nice weather that I can take advantage of.

    Our AC/heat pump has been serviced and the thermostat replaced. Now, we are able to keep the thermostat set 2 degrees warmer in the summer and 2 degrees cooler in the winter, which has helped with the cost a little but not by huge leaps and bounds.

    In a few days, I'm going to install a 240v timer on my hot water heater so it won't be heating the water throughout the night when we never use it. I'm thinking I could shut the hot water off between 10PM and 5AM. By doing that, the hot water should stay warm enough for a while after it's turned off for the night if we wash our hands or something before it cools down, and by turning back on about 5AM, should be warmed back up for the morning shower. Or, at least that's the hope and plan. If I don't have to adjust the on/off time, that would be almost 200 hours a month the hot water heater won't be running.

    The timer costed $53 so I'm hoping within about 3 months to have saved enough off the bill to have paid for the timer. Even if I cut off $20 or $30, that's 20 or 30 that I have for whatever else we need to buy.

    I'm curious if anyone else here has tried that and how it worked out. And if you could see a difference on the electric bill?
    meanstreak likes this.
  2. fellmann

    fellmann .270 WIN Supporter

    Messages:
    329
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  3. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

    Messages:
    14,404
    Yes, that is a pretty big cost. But I could see how it could be beneficial and save a lot of money over the long run.

    At this time, I have a full basement and 70% of it is underground. It stays about 60 degrees year round.

    In the summer, I have a fan that I have vented in the basement that blows the cool air upstairs into the den, which is near to the thermostat. Just the cool air coming in from the basement does travel back through the den/living room and bathroom area to the return intake on my AC/heater. So, while it's not really a geothermal setup, I am at least getting some free cool air circulating from the basement that I'm not paying for, except for what the fan is using.

    I wish I could do that with the whole house, but the newest bedroom additions are too far away to see the benefit of it.
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  4. Scoop

    Scoop .30-06

    Messages:
    1,769
    If your peak bill exceeds $400 you should definitely take some steps toward reducing usage. Get a current tester from your friendly electrician [or spend $25 for one of your own].

    [​IMG]
    Test every appliance you can in your home. Then you can find out where to focus your timing solution.
    Even if you have 2 identical box fans, test them both. If one is poorly lubed it could use twice as much as newer one.
    Get the rate sheet from your power company; it is probably online. They will email you one if you ask.

    That's just some top of my head stuff.

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  5. Ernst

    Ernst .270 WIN

    Messages:
    129
    John, all of your "instant on" systems like tv's, steros, even some computers and printers use electricity 24/7. Unplugging them when not in use for periods of time is the only way to save.

    The biggest saver I found is ceiling fans (or even pedestal fans) which can be used both winter and summer by simply reversing direction. Circulating the air allows you to turn your thermostat up several degrees in summer and vice versa in winter.

    The other trick, depending where you live, is to open your windows at night when it's cool and close them during the day. If you have a two story house leaving an upstairs window partially open on the shady side of the house during the day lets hot air escape.

    Keeping the freezer section totally full by using frozen water bottles which saves run time on both refrigerators and stand alone freezers. Frozen bottles help regulate the temperature and reduce dead air space in freezers.

    Might try two shut off periods for your water heater timer during the night and during the day depending on your life style.

    Hope these ideas help.

    Regards
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  6. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

    Messages:
    14,404
    I have put two cases of bottled drinking water inside of my deep freezer. Though I admit that I did it for other reasons.

    I put the water in there for power outages so it would help keep the food frozen long enough for the electric company to restore power without having to fire up the generator within an hour of the power going out.
    meanstreak likes this.
  7. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    7,299
    John our power bill was $576 this month.

    A lot of that was for air conditioning, and three refrigerators.

    I was also running 16 various aquarium pumps. Plus I spent a fair bit of time with the power tools.

    I think that's the highest power bill I have ever had in 45 years. Thank God that we do not struggle to afford this kind of luxury.

    It will be less this month for sure as I have already disconnected at least seven different pump, plus heaters and lamps, in the past couple weeks. That's about 1300 kwh hours a month. It would be worth more but the heaters and lamps don't run much in the summertime.

    I will soon disable two more pumps as I won't need them much longer. Individually those things only draw about 1 or 2 amps, but I had at least a dozen of them going and they run 24 hours a day.
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  8. Ernst

    Ernst .270 WIN

    Messages:
    129
    Couple of other things I do.

    We have a room over the garage and while the floor is well insulated, opening the garage doors at the end of the day to released the hot air buildup plus opening the doors early in the morning to allow cool air to flow in helps regulate temps and save on electricity.

    In room you don't use every day like spare bedrooms closing the doors and partially closing air conditioning vents helps reduce the cooling demand. And if you have zoned thermostats you can set higher temps during times you don't use these areas.

    Even small things like minimizing time standing in front of a refrigerator with the door open staring at the contents helps. Yes, we all do it from time to time. Can't blame old age memory loss totally!

    Another big saver is using motion detectors on outside lights. Burning multiple outside lights every night costs lots of electricity.

    If you have combination heat pumps and a gas fired furnace doing a cost benefit analysis may save you money over the winter. Depending on the constantly changing cost of gas it may be cheaper to run your furnace on propane or natural gas in the winter, especially when temps go down. And unless you have an airtight fireplace insert your probably losing heat up the chimney. Even with the damper closed cut piece of rigid insulation and stick in front of the damper to reduce heat loss.

    Again, hope these ideas help.

    Regards
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  9. MikeD

    MikeD I'm Your Huckleberry Staff Member Global Moderator "Philanthropist"

    Messages:
    11,795
    Funny. I've replaced the furnace with a more efficient model. I've replaced the hot water heater with a more efficient model. I now turn my computer and stuff off whenever I'm not using it. I have replaced almost all the lights with LED's and I have not noticed any difference in the bill.

    I know the led bulbs make a huge difference. At my cabin i can run multiple without my generator coming out over idle down mode. I can't run a single bulb of the older designs without the generator ramping up.
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  10. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

    Messages:
    14,404
    Yeah, I've had a hard time noticing any difference in the bill too Mike.

    Seems like every time that I update to something newer, the electric company either increases the bill, or adds on some new surcharge. And either way, I end up paying more.

    It's like I can't win for losing.

    My electric bill was $233 this month. Last month was $166. But I'd still like to reduce it down more.
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  11. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

    Messages:
    14,404
    I was just looking at my meter and electric bill.

    I read the fine print where they estimated my bill last month due to inclement weather, which we haven't had anyway.

    So, I'm going to be watching this coming bill for that. My meter is only about 15 feet from the edge of the road. The meter reader doesn't even have to get out of his truck to read my meter. And normally doesn't.

    Looks like they have overcharged me last month.

    The bill said actual meter reading on 6-19 was 74742.

    But last month they ESTIMATED the reading for 7-19 (this bill) was 76996.

    That is 2,254 kwh that I was charged for.

    I just went outside and read my meter, and it says that I've only used 823 kwh since last month which is about half of what I normally use. I average about 1500 kwh month unless it's real cold.

    meter reading is 77819 and I did take a picture of the meter to show them if I have to go up there.

    So, if this coming bill isn't the lowest bill that I have had in a whole year, I'm going to talk to the electric company.

    And that's not even including what the meter reading is going to be for the bill after this month once I get the hot water heater timer installed this evening when UPS drops it off.
  12. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    7,299
    The electric company meter reading has been a big issue in California.

    They changed everyone's meter to have Wi-Fi capability and they just read your meter remotely.

    This sounded like a great system and it was going to save everybody money.

    Unfortunately the Wi-Fi adapters they put on everyone's electric meter had a high failure rate. They were probably made by Huawei in China for General Electric and sold to PG&E as American Products.

    Anyhow because of the failure rate they were starting to estimate people's power bills without telling them. Because we live in the desert summertime power bills are three times winter power bills. They were sending people summer power estimates in the winter.

    There were huge complaints and lawsuits over that and they went around and changed all of those electronic adapters.

    Now it seems that problem is solved and our bills are coming out correct if incredibly High. We buy lots of power from the electric company so we subsidize the electricity for the poor, or for anyone who conserves in the extreme. In other words anyone with a low power bill benefits because they raise the power bills on high consumers.

    Anyhow they recently went around and installed the same adapters on the gas meters so we'll see how that works out.
  13. rjpoog1989

    rjpoog1989 20g

    Messages:
    824
    You guys sure do pay a lot for electric. My bill is generally between $110 and $150 per month. We have the WiFi meters that actually read every month vs estimates.
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  14. fellmann

    fellmann .270 WIN Supporter

    Messages:
    329
    Lol.. my bill is about $62 ( 2 room apartment, single, no life )
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019
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  15. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

    Messages:
    14,404
    My electric company is too cheap to replace all the meters in my county. They'd rather contract out meter readers.

    I was able to get the timer installed Thursday morning and it's working well. Wife hasn't complained about waking up with a cold shower, so that's good.

    I have it set to go off from 9:30PM to 3:00 AM. That's about 165 hours a month that it's not going to be kicking on and off for no good reason.

    I did see a meter reader today near the house. I wasn't aware their contractors worked on Saturday, but I actually saw 2 different trucks, so there's no reason not have read it this month. It was blue sky and 94 degrees out today.
  16. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    OK guys. I went out and read my meter this morning since it's been a month and I wanted to see how the timer did.

    The hot water heater timer did make a significant difference. Perhaps not enough to run around in little circles and start speaking in tongues, but I would rather keep my money in my pocket rather than give it to the electric company.

    With the exception for where they estimated it last month which I am ignoring altogether because the estimate was high/wrong completely, I am looking at my last bill and it shows how many Kwh that I have used each month going back all the way to October last year.

    This months power usage is 1,426 kwh. This is the lowest that it has been in 12 months, with the exception of last May, which we didn't have to use much heat or AC during that month because the temps were so pleasant. That month, we used 1109kwh. So, by installing the hot water heater timer and shutting it off between 9:30PM and 4:00 AM, reduced my electric bill by about 144 kwh this month when averaging out how many kwh we used per month.

    That was a $13 savings based on the .09 rate.

    While I did admit $13 isn't enough to run out and throw a party over, but saving $13 a month will add up to considerable more over time. That's $156 a year that I get to spend somewhere else.

    I would personally prefer to shut off the hot water all the time except for when everyone is taking their showers, but just shutting it off about 6 hours out of 24 is going to help. Looks like the hot water heater is using about $50 per month when running 24/7.
  17. Sniffler

    Sniffler .270 WIN

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    157
  18. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    7,299
    My wife said last month's bill was $592. (July)

    I don't want to know . . .:brick:
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019 at 12:26 PM
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  19. Bobster

    Bobster .30-06 Supporter

    Messages:
    1,857
    I've had this device for 5 years or so now. Used it when I first got it, then the novelty wore off. Think it was $20ish from NewEgg.

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  20. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

    Messages:
    14,404
    Yeah, I really should go through all of my electronic devices with one of those and see what kind of vampires that I have.
    meanstreak likes this.

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