Becoming more energy efficient

chris

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Jun 10, 2006
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Long Island, NY
#1
Show of hands, who likes their electric company? Mine happens to be the worst of the worst. Highest rates in the country and extremely poor service. During Hurricane Sandy, the entirety of Long Island was without power for an extended period of time. There were no shortage of stories on in the media about how ineffective they were both in preparation and restoration.

To say I'm not crazy about them would be an understatement. They are however the only game in town. Not much I can do, or so I thought. I realized there are some things I can do and that's figure out ways to reduce my costs. I've been everything but what you'd call a 'green' guy, but my dislike for my local power authority has definitely pushed me in that direction.

I'm just starting out, but I'm genuinely excited about reducing my payment to the LIPA cartel. The first step today was picking up a few LED lights. They're pricey, but you pay a fraction (about 1/6th) of a normal incandescent bulb. They also look a bit funky and the color is cool - it seems to be highly dependent upon wall color and your fixtures.

I figured a few other quick fixes would be to pick up Belkin Conserve Power Switches. I plan on using these for our Keurig, printer and not sure where else. Also got a power strip from Belkin that has a remote, so you can effectively turn off your computer, removing any draw from the outlet. This will eliminate 'phantom power usage'.

I love power. I use it quite a bit in my home. There are devices everywhere. I run a Mac Pro, which could heat a small office. I'm not about to start shedding my technology, but I can use technology to help reduce my monthly electric bill. We've only been in the house a few months, so we don't have a great idea of our average monthly intake. The central air was running regularly for most of the first few months, so it's not an accurate assessment of average usage. I know we can cut it down, just wish we had some numbers, so I could have some measurement of savings.

If you have any tips for becoming more energy efficient, I'd love to hear them.
 

Rugaby

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Feb 18, 2011
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Washington state
#2
I also hate my electric company. And that they can have monopoly and treat you how ever they like and you don't have another option.

I try to do the little things.
One out thermo for the house never goes above 63. Ever. Saves a ton of money. I also try to buy electronics that don't have indicator lights. Even when they are off. Like the little light that says standby on your DVD player or tv or stereo. I also found power strips with no power on light on the switch.
I also went tankless on my water heaters. Saves me about five hundred the first year. Paid for itself in two years. And is super hot.
 

chris

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Jun 10, 2006
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Long Island, NY
#3
I also hate my electric company. And that they can have monopoly and treat you how ever they like and you don't have another option.

I try to do the little things.
One out thermo for the house never goes above 63. Ever. Saves a ton of money. I also try to buy electronics that don't have indicator lights. Even when they are off. Like the little light that says standby on your DVD player or tv or stereo. I also found power strips with no power on light on the switch.
I also went tankless on my water heaters. Saves me about five hundred the first year. Paid for itself in two years. And is super hot.
I've heard tankless is an energy saver. What's the reason for the savings?

We have the Nest installed (programmable and can be controlled from iPhone), but you make a great point. It has an Away setting, but we never set it away when we leave. When I'm home, I watch it like a hawk, but I can definitely do a better job of setting it low when I'm out of the house.
 

Rugaby

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Feb 18, 2011
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Washington state
#4
Current water heater maintains a specific temp for the water in the tank constantly. Constantly heating it up so when u need to use it it is not. So as the ambient temp around the tank cools it to x temp it kicks on the heaters and takes it up to x temp.
A tankless heats the water as its being used.
 
Aug 2, 2007
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Long Island N.Y.
#5
I have to agree Chris about LIPA being the worst of the worst, we didn't get power back over here in Deer Park long island for a week after Sandy. Ill just state the obvious but pricey tip...Solar power, heres some FAQ's
http://www.builtwellsolar.com/faqs.html
this particular system dosent supply battery backup, so if theres a blackout, solar wont help in that situation.
 

Rugaby

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Feb 18, 2011
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Washington state
#6
I've heard tankless is an energy saver. What's the reason for the savings?

We have the Nest installed (programmable and can be controlled from iPhone), but you make a great point. It has an Away setting, but we never set it away when we leave. When I'm home, I watch it like a hawk, but I can definitely do a better job of setting it low when I'm out of the house.
The dogs have sweaters and we can always put a sweater on ourselves. Especially when you aren't home no reason to maintain a high temp. It is better to maintain a lower temp then bump up to a higher temp when you get home. Don't go to low though cause you are just using that energy u saved not maintaining to get it back up to the desired temp.
 

Rugaby

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Feb 18, 2011
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Washington state
#7
I have to agree Chris about LIPA being the worst of the worst, we didn't get power back over here in Deer Park long island for a week after Sandy. Ill just state the obvious but pricey tip...Solar power, heres some FAQ's
http://www.builtwellsolar.com/faqs.html
this particular system dosent supply battery backup, so if theres a blackout, solar wont help in that situation.
I would love to be more solar. I live somewhere that only has forty five sunny days a year.
 

chris

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Jun 10, 2006
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Long Island, NY
#8
I have to agree Chris about LIPA being the worst of the worst, we didn't get power back over here in Deer Park long island for a week after Sandy. Ill just state the obvious but pricey tip...Solar power, heres some FAQ's
http://www.builtwellsolar.com/faqs.html
this particular system dosent supply battery backup, so if theres a blackout, solar wont help in that situation.
We did investigate solar, but we've got too many trees. We went to one of the home shows at the Coliseum and one of the solar guys said it wasn't possible in my area.
 
Aug 2, 2007
1,743
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48
Long Island N.Y.
#10
We did investigate solar, but we've got too many trees. We went to one of the home shows at the Coliseum and one of the solar guys said it wasn't possible in my area.
What Sandy didn't take care of your tree problem? :p ...Yep location and prices make it a difficult choice sometimes.
 

iphonewarrior

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Apr 11, 2008
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#11
There are so many different ways of saving energy, LED light fittings are a good way to start. But you have to remember that they're more pricey, but the length of time they run for i.e 10+ years makes it more worthwhile in the long run.

You also need to remember with LED lamps is that you've got to find the right type, as some will stay brighter for longer than the others. The more you pay the better they're going to be.

Another way to save energy with lighting is to install PIR's, for those that don't know what a PIR does it basically detects movement in a room/area and switches a contact i.e light switch. You can put these on a timer so that they only come on for a certain amount of time, so you don't have to worry about leaving light switches on. Another route, would be to get mircowave transmitter for your lights, they detect movement as well, in a more intelligent way. As you get close to one of the transmitters the lights are at a 100% and as you move further away the lighting can be staged downwards. As you walk away from an area or room the lighting will dim to 75%, 50%, 25% then off as you get further and further way.

With any sort of heating or cooling system you either need a well placed thermostat, so you get a well proportioned temperature of your house or multiple thermostats for each room. Then it's case of having each room controlled correctly via a series of dampers or A/C split units. That way you can independently heat or cool one or more rooms in the house rather than everything at once. With individually controlled rooms you don't want tight setpoints, so saying you wanted to keep a room at 19c/66f you would want to heat or cool the room to a couple of degrees above and below. If you keep your setpoints too tight you will find that your heating system will chase the setpoint and use more energy.

Solar energy is great, it's expensive and with current technology your photovoltaic panels won't last as long as you may think, fact.

You can monitor your usage by sub-metering electrical appliances with extension cables. You can clip CT's onto your toys and find out how much energy they're using and when you convert the kwh into money you'll soon start turning them off more.
 

chris

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Jun 10, 2006
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Long Island, NY
#12
There are so many different ways of saving energy, LED light fittings are a good way to start. But you have to remember that they're more pricey, but the length of time they run for i.e 10+ years makes it more worthwhile in the long run.

You also need to remember with LED lamps is that you've got to find the right type, as some will stay brighter for longer than the others. The more you pay the better they're going to be.
We receive instant rebates on some products that are energy efficient. I went to Home Depot yesterday and spoke with an informed rep -- he explained that the cost of the LED high hat was less expensive that their actual cost due to rebates. I believe the government provides the power authority with a pool of cash, which they then distribute to various programs. Lighting is one of those programs.

For me, a 6-inch high hat was $22, down form $40. These can add up pretty quickly, depending on how many you have in your home. Ideally I'd like to put them in our family room, which next to the kitchen, is our high traffic area. My challenge is getting my wife on board. The coolness of the light is a bit harsh and she's not a fan. I don't think it's so bad when you look at them alone. In direct comparison, you can definitely tell the difference. If she took over the electric bill, I bet she'd warm up to the cooler lighting fixtures.:D
 

chris

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Jun 10, 2006
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Long Island, NY
#13
What Sandy didn't take care of your tree problem? :p ...Yep location and prices make it a difficult choice sometimes.
We lost so many trees that it really changed the look of our neighborhood. I think there will be a lot of people proactively before the next storm season. I hope people plant more to offset some of the losses.
 

imutter

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Apr 4, 2011
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#14
We will build a house once we are fully retired and not moving again and it will have a Hybrid Solar/Wind.
We have looked at plans and companies but since we are still a few year from then there is not much but watch development of such technologies