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Dan K
10-01-2005, 10:37 AM
Since it is proven that many members here affer a wide range of advice from getting married to wireless internet. I was wondering if there is some advice on the best methods to lower my heating bills this winter, since there is a projected 71% increase in natural gas costs.

One item I think will help is to blow in more insualtion into my attic. I currently have 9 inches of fibergass batts, I was thinking of putting another 4-6 inches of cellulous (sp?) on top of this to help seal the gaps between Batts and build it up a bit more. Is this enough or should I have more for upper midwest ? Are there any pros and cons to cellulous ? Is there something better that is still cost effective.
I think the payback on cellulous would be less than 1 year given the cost increases and will also help lower cooling costs in summer.

I have low E windows that seal pretty good now, what about the doors, basement windows etc...

ski_king
10-01-2005, 10:48 AM
I keep looking at Geothermal Heat Pumps as a heat source but I am not convinced yet,

east tx skier
10-01-2005, 11:08 AM
There was some stuff advertised around here several years back called "Polar Shield." I had some people I know swear by it. Never quite figured out if it was a scam or not.

Lately, there have been lots of people ringing me up trying to get me into ___ Energy Co. A quick google search of __ Energy (I really can't remember the name) will bring up scam.com. Total multi-level marketing. Lots of fine print with huge cancellation fees and other provisions that allow them to raise rates with little or no notice.

6ballsisall
10-01-2005, 11:26 AM
Wood burning stove! Where you are at Ski, there's gotta be plenty of wood needing harvested!

ski_king
10-01-2005, 11:46 AM
I have an almost unlimited supply of fire wood, but don't have a wood burner, what is wrong with this picture?
I have a extra flue in the chimney just for one and a place in the basement ready for one.

When I was a firefighter, I seen many chimney fires, some resulting in the loss of the entire structure. I realize proper maintaince can prevent this, but that has kept me away from putting one in.

I see pellet stoves are big now.

Dan K
10-01-2005, 12:46 PM
What I am trying to do is get the biggest payback with the least amount of investment. So I would think tightening up what is there would be the quickest return.

Brn85ss
10-01-2005, 01:42 PM
Tankless water heater!

Leroy
10-01-2005, 03:44 PM
Programmable thermostat. You can get at hardware store for $30 bucks each.

erkoehler
10-01-2005, 03:53 PM
I have an almost unlimited supply of fire wood, but don't have a wood burner, what is wrong with this picture?
I have a extra flue in the chimney just for one and a place in the basement ready for one.

When I was a firefighter, I seen many chimney fires, some resulting in the loss of the entire structure. I realize proper maintaince can prevent this, but that has kept me away from putting one in.

I see pellet stoves are big now.

We have wood burning stoves in one of the cabins and the house that is winterized in Northern WI. When I get up there to open up the house, and the air is 0 degrees and inside the house, it is like 10 degrees I can have the house warmed up in 24-36 hours using the furnace, or I can fire up the wood burning stove and have the house to the point where you are opening windows by nightfal.

Leroy
10-01-2005, 03:58 PM
The new flourscent bulbs cut power where equivalent light output to 60W bulb only takes 13 watts. I even think they are a little brighter. Vanity where I have 5 100 watt bulbs now has 65 watts instead of 500 watts.

erkoehler
10-01-2005, 04:41 PM
I'll second the recommendation on the programmable thermometer. While your out for work, let it drop down in to the low 60's. Then have it kick back up 30 minutes before you get home. Do the same at night, but not as drastic of a low point.

Remember, if you have pets don't freeze them out :eek:

AirJunky
10-01-2005, 09:08 PM
............I see pellet stoves are big now.
I had a pellet stove in my condo in Redmond, WA. Their pretty nice if gas is what you don't want. Puts off plenty of heat. 40 lb bags of pellets were like $2.50 or $3.00 & would last about 48 hours of burn time. I rarely used more than 1 or 2 bags per week. Just depends on how much time your actually at home. And it put off more than enough heat for the 1300 sq ft 2 story place.

Upper Michigan Prostar190
10-02-2005, 09:32 AM
you could always drop the thermostat a bit and break out the extra blankets and warm clothes. even while lounging around the house, throw a blanket over you, or wear long underwear under your sweat pants, etc... thats one way.

get those 3M things you put over your windows that you blow dry on. its a extra heat loss barrier. I am going to have to look into that too. :(

gonna be a spendy winter this year....

Leroy
10-02-2005, 10:07 AM
See if electricity has the same increase. Even using a couple of "space heaters" where you are, kitchen, living room allows the rest of the house to drop many more degrees.

Dan K
10-03-2005, 10:15 AM
Ok here is the list of things I have done, not sure if they all have a short ROI

Programmable Thermostat
Light Timers & Photocells
Cleaned Furnace(s)
Changed air filters
Cleaned Humidifier
Added Extra Insulation (this weekend) R30+
Changing to lower wattage bulbs as needed
Checked all window & door seals
Low E windows
Sealed around recessed lights with foam, zero clearance type ( I have 90 of them)

I could not justify the cost of changing to +90% effiecient furnace from my 80-85 % for teh thousand of dollars furnace co. wanted.
I also need to look at the caulking around the house to make sure it is all solid.

PeteS
10-03-2005, 10:30 AM
When using a programmable t-stat, does anyone know where the threshold is on when the costs to heat your home back up to your non-vacant setpoint, outweigh lowering the temperature in the first place?

In other terms, what is the maxiumum amount you can drop the temp in your home when you are not home, before it becomes more expensive to heat it back up rather than just maintaining the temperature?

Tough to phrase the question, but if you drop the temp 10 degrees when you are away, the furnace would have a lot of demand and costs to bring the temp back up to the normal setpoint, of say 70 F. Where is the point of diminishing returns? 3 degrees? 5 degrees?

Dan K
10-03-2005, 10:35 AM
PeteS,
That is a good question for some of our experts, I think that the temp drop as you stated is one factor but you also have to look at the amount of time that you are at the lower temp as well.

PeteS
10-03-2005, 10:45 AM
You're right, Dan. We need someone with a backround in thermo-dynamics to jump in on this one. There are probably a lot of factors to consider including: home size, furnace BTU's, furnace efficiency, low-fire time (lower temp time), and others. Although, it would be nice to have a general guideline to follow.

It's been something on my mind for the past couple of years since I've owned my first home, and like you, want to maximize energy efficiency.

Hoff1
10-03-2005, 10:56 AM
Regarding lowering your thermostat while you are away for extended periods of time, I’ve always heard that you should never go below 50F. Not really sure what the ideal point is for short durations like when you’re at work.

In my opinion, it still is cheaper in the long run to have to run the furnace/heat pump for an extended time when you get home than it is for allowing frequent start/stop cycles. The amount of amp draw for the starting of the fan motors and refrigerant compressors overwhelms the extended run time. Kind of like how cars use more fuel to start than they do for idling.

shepherd
10-03-2005, 10:59 AM
Here's a relatively simple experiment. At the beginning of a 24 hour period, note your kWs on your meter. Leave your thermostat on a constant setting. Note kWs on meter after 24 hours. Then lower the thermostat when you leave for work, go to bed etc... Check kWs at the end of that 24 hour period and compare.

I haven't tried this yet, but might this winter. My guess is that the lower you set your thermostat for at-work and sleep periods, the less benefit you'll get because it may take a few hours of constant running for your furnace to get the temp back up to your "at-home" temp, depending on house size and insulation qualities.

Of course the comparison would change as the outside temperature changes, but may be worth trying in mid-winter when outside temps are relatively stable...

I'd also recommend a wood stove if wood is plentiful in your hood. Friend of mine in MD used wood EXCLUSIVELY to heat his house and it stayed pretty warm. Of course, he says he enjoys cutting firewood... :cool:

phecksel
10-03-2005, 11:06 AM
Make sure you're properly humidified

Install a skuttle fresh air make up unit to pressurize the house.

I've personally found anymore then 5° dial back is counter effective.

Increase attic insulation, BUT make sure the venting is not blocked. Home depot sells rafter baffles which are very effective at keeping the venting open.

Did I mention humidification?

Huddle in bed with your significant other :)

LakePirate
10-03-2005, 11:11 AM
Pete all that you mentioned are factors as well as what your lot looks like, (trees or no trees), insulation, wind, etc.

I believe that the biggest factor is you climate, it is much easier to warm it up from 50 to 70 when the outside temp is in the 40s than it is when it is in the teens.

I think someone already suggested to make sure that there are no drafts or other areas where heat escapes and cold air enters. Heat rises so if you are not using the fire place make sure that it is sealed off so you don't lose heat up the chimney.

You might also want to make sure that all of your duct work is fully insulated.

I have helped my grandfather work on HVAC for all of my life and often times we would find where service has been done and the insulation was not replaced on the ducts, or had become brittle and was not serving any purpose. It is a pain to replace it or to put it back, so a lot of times it dosen't get done.

LakePirate
10-03-2005, 11:14 AM
Hey Shepherd you got a furnace? I didn't think they sold those in Florida.

shepherd
10-03-2005, 03:14 PM
Hey Shepherd you got a furnace? I didn't think they sold those in Florida.

Florida??? We live in "lower Alabama" :D

Actually, in Orlando it got purty dang cold -- like in the 50s! :eek:

LakePirate
10-03-2005, 03:37 PM
Florida??? We live in "lower Alabama" :D

Actually, in Orlando it got purty dang cold -- like in the 50s! :eek:

Was down there for the coldest weekend of the year a couple of years ago, the big problem was people with out furnaces. Of course this was in Tampa/St. Pete

Man you live in the Rivera.

BuoyChaser
10-03-2005, 03:58 PM
what about solar and the whole $4k tax rebate, anyone know anything about that deal???also heard something about a $400 tax benny by having all Energy Star appliances...

etduc
10-03-2005, 04:37 PM
what about solar and the whole $4k tax rebate, anyone know anything about that deal???also heard something about a $400 tax benny by having all Energy Star appliances...

Exactly, how sunny is it, at night. :rolleyes:
Not sure about current EnergyStar stuff. Couple of different programs. It did apply to new homes, really not hard to achieve. Some programs, meant a slightly lower mortage rate. It may all change, as new laws regarding energy efficiency, will take effect January 1,2006. For new and old homes.

mitch
10-03-2005, 06:04 PM
All good suggestions. Check w/ your energy supplier, they may offer a free audit. I told my kids and wife not to touch the themostat this winter or they risk losing some digits. 8p We used a tank of oil a month during peak heating season last year and they s/b about 500 clams/mo. this year unless we cut down. Lakehouse uses a cord of a wood a year for every other weekend. I'm told that a cord equal's a tank of oil, so at $180~225/cord seems like some savings, however it is a PITA IMO. I used to burn 4+ cords a season and I don;t miss it. To each his own. :D Bottom line is learning to keep the thermostat down. Good luck :toast:

Chris M
10-03-2005, 09:49 PM
I would definantly go geothermal, Depending on how tight your house is, you will see a quick return on your money. I've been installing them for about 15 yrs.

shepherd
10-03-2005, 10:45 PM
I would definantly go geothermal, Depending on how tight your house is, you will see a quick return on your money. I've been installing them for about 15 yrs.

How does the geothermal thing work?

André
10-04-2005, 07:56 AM
How does the geothermal thing work?

First,you write a really big check... :eek:
So big,that i'm really not sure about the fast payback.
Comfort,yes,fast payback,not sure... :twocents:

ChrisM ?

Zach S
10-04-2005, 09:15 AM
I have geo-thermal, it is unbelievable. We have a 2,300 square foot log home that is all electric. Our electric bill has never been over $100 / month. That includes running the air all summer and heating the house all winter. It is very pricey to install, but if you plan to stay in the house for a long time it is well worth the money.

For those wondering how it works... There are pipes that circulate fluid through the ground. Typically there are wells dug and the pipes are run vertically. The fluid circulates through a unit similar to an AC unit that is inside the house. The heating / cooling unit will heat or cool (through an exchanger) the fluid in the pipes and the earth brings the back to about 55 degrees. And the cylce continues. This is a very simplified description

shepherd
10-04-2005, 01:09 PM
Thanks for the explanation Zach :popcorn:

Hoff1
10-04-2005, 01:15 PM
My company makes these things. I'm sure I could dig up a marketing brochure if anyone is interested. Shoot me a PM.

Rockman
10-04-2005, 01:20 PM
Nuclear???

No, no this sucker's electircal...but it takes a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 Gigawatts... :D

Sorry...had to say that!

maristarman
10-04-2005, 01:26 PM
When using a programmable t-stat, does anyone know where the threshold is on when the costs to heat your home back up to your non-vacant setpoint, outweigh lowering the temperature in the first place?

In other terms, what is the maxiumum amount you can drop the temp in your home when you are not home, before it becomes more expensive to heat it back up rather than just maintaining the temperature?

Tough to phrase the question, but if you drop the temp 10 degrees when you are away, the furnace would have a lot of demand and costs to bring the temp back up to the normal setpoint, of say 70 F. Where is the point of diminishing returns? 3 degrees? 5 degrees?

That would vary depending on the type of heater you have. Whether it's a one stage or two stage heater makes a big difference. So does the age of the heater. The newer the heater, the more energy efficient it should be.

I don't think there is a magic formula for figuring it out, given the various factors that would affect the answer.

I liked the "trial and error" idea about monitoring the electric meter.

chico
10-04-2005, 07:26 PM
To save money with a set back stat you have to set back at least 5 deg. for at least 5 hrs.the bryant 355 furnace is the best on the market.it uses 80 watts of power on high fire.i heat my place with the 40/20 unit.it runs most of the time on low fire(20,000btu),no condensation on the windows.on low fire you have to stand next to it to tell if it`s running.also use the new water panel style humidifier with outdoor sensor for humidity.

phecksel
10-05-2005, 11:26 AM
To save money with a set back stat you have to set back at least 5 deg. for at least 5 hrs.the bryant 355 furnace is the best on the market.it uses 80 watts of power on high fire.i heat my place with the 40/20 unit.it runs most of the time on low fire(20,000btu),no condensation on the windows.on low fire you have to stand next to it to tell if it`s running.also use the new water panel style humidifier with outdoor sensor for humidity.
What is a water panel humidifier, as I have to replace my humidifier this year?

Thrall
10-05-2005, 12:09 PM
Put in the woodstove. Fuel's free, save for chainsaw gas.

chico
10-05-2005, 05:37 PM
It has a solenoid valve that opens on a call for humidity and lets water trickle down a perforated panel.These are self flushing to prevent scale buildup.There is no standing water to promote mold growth.the most popular model is the generalaire 1042.check out generalaire.com.Also if you are in the market for a filter system check out a mechanical type hepa filter,no cleaning just change the filter media once a year.

Workin' 4 Toys
10-05-2005, 10:57 PM
Since it is proven that many members here affer a wide range of advice from getting married to wireless internet. I was wondering if there is some advice on the best methods to lower my heating bills this winter, since there is a projected 71% increase in natural gas costs.

One item I think will help is to blow in more insualtion into my attic. I currently have 9 inches of fibergass batts, I was thinking of putting another 4-6 inches of cellulous (sp?) on top of this to help seal the gaps between Batts and build it up a bit more. Is this enough or should I have more for upper midwest ? Are there any pros and cons to cellulous ? Is there something better that is still cost effective.
I think the payback on cellulous would be less than 1 year given the cost increases and will also help lower cooling costs in summer.

I have low E windows that seal pretty good now, what about the doors, basement windows etc...
I have not read this entire thread so I am not sure what others said.
We had this house built a few years ago, they used R19 batts in the ceiling, then blew in an additional R11. So we had approx R30 fiberglass in the ceiling. In my basement and crawlspace there was R11.
I had a company come out about 1 year after we were here, and blow cellulose insulation. Added R19 to the attic over the fiberglass, and removed ALL the basement and crawlspace fiberglass and replaced with R15 (thickness equivalent of 11 in fiber as I understand it) I do not have a great comparison on the savings because we were only in one year prior. But I can tell you this, if felt different, it is much quieter, the temps were more consistant all over the house after. If I had to guess, the money we paid for all that probably paid itself off in about a year and a half in energy savings.

Workin' 4 Toys
10-15-2005, 11:44 PM
Dan, What did you ever do with this?

Leroy
11-17-2005, 12:42 PM
Has anyone ever broken down their electric bill like this? I think I can save around $50/month with the new low energy light bulbs, programmable thermostat will save mostly on the gas bill, if I could shut down the garage refrigerator would also save quite a bit.

These are just my estimates!

Foiler
11-17-2005, 01:02 PM
I have a wood furnace...it ties in to my duct work and the heat comes out all of my registers. All of my house is warm and I haven't bought propane in 6 years.

It's a little extra work but I enjoy the exercise in the off season. I can heat all winter with 5 or 6 truck loads...not bad at all.

.

ski_king
11-17-2005, 01:04 PM
Has anyone ever broken down their electric bill like this? I think I can save around $50/month with the new low energy light bulbs, programmable thermostat will save mostly on the gas bill, if I could shut down the garage refrigerator would also save quite a bit.

These are just my estimates!
Do you think it costs you $26 per month for your computer(s)?
My average year round is about $75 per month with 2 refigerators a freezer and kids who never remember to turn out the lights.

I have also been replacing my light bulbs as they burn out with the new flourscent bulbs.

Leroy
11-17-2005, 01:34 PM
Yes, that is what the numbers say! I have 3 and they are at least 200 watts each (probably 300w with monitor) and on all the time, now I'm going to put them in energy saving mode.I used the estimated annual usage cost for refrigerators.

bcampbe7
11-17-2005, 02:14 PM
Yes, that is what the numbers say! I have 3 and they are at least 200 watts each (probably 300w with monitor) and on all the time, now I'm going to put them in energy saving mode.I used the estimated annual usage cost for refrigerators.


I think that is peak draw. PC's draw more power when they are booting up.
There is a study out there that someone did (is that vague enough) detailing power consumption of a PC/Monitor when left on versus turning it on and off daily. I will try to find it...
There are alot of factors to consider, but on average a PC consumes less power per day by leaving it on versus turning it off and on. Hibernate and Standby consume the least amount of power.
I just have mine set to turn the monitor off after 20 minutes of inactivity and leave the hard drive on and active.

EDIT:
Found the study I was looking for but it is pretty old.
http://www.sslug.dk/~chlor/power.php
Here is a newer study:
http://windows.uwaterloo.ca/Hardware/PC_Power_Consumption.asp