Energy Costs.

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Diallo B, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. Diallo B

    Diallo B Screenwriter

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    i recently bought a house and have concerns about energy costs this upcoming winter. i used to live in an apartment where i never had to turn on the heat because everyone elses heat warmed my apartment. so, now i have to figure out how to heat my own home and avoid the 250 buck plus gas bills that i see some of my friends have.

    what are some of the best ways to limit my energy costs? i have gas heating, a gas water heater and a gas stove. is it better to convert my gas energy appliances to electric?
     
  2. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    There is really no cheap or easy way to energy-ify a home without a platinum card an a trip or 2 to Home Depot. I also don't think you can modify appliances to run on straight electricity, thats more of an 'all new' purchase.
     
  3. CRyan

    CRyan Screenwriter

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    You probably would not see a cost savings in changing out your gas furnace for electric heat for at least 5 years (assuming you are replacing a working unit). However, gas is simply higher around here. Funny that it used to be cheaper. I actually wonder why they are still putting gas heat in new homes - Used to be because it was cheaper.

    If you are not at home during the day, turn it off - the old addage that it is chepaer to keep a warm house warm all day than to heat a cold house at night is wrong. Do not run it when you are away from the home for the day. An LCD programmable thermostat is great for this. Have it kick on an hour before you get home and kick it off an hour before you leave. They are cheap and easy to install as long as your thermostat wiring supports it. It should I would think. If you have pets, it hardley ever gets to cold in the house for them during the day. However, you may find that when you come home they are in a sunny spot! [​IMG]

    Small things like closing obvious gaps around doors is helpfull. Also, cloth curtains on windows helps. You can buy the "window shrink" at a hardware store. You put it up inside windows and then blowdry it to make it tight. This actually worked wonders in an older house I rented for a few years - Single pane windows.

    Gas fireplaces are ABSURD. Do not use it if you are pinching pennies - They cost a fortune to opperate at length.

    If your water heater is in a garage or basement, get a blanket for it. They should have one approved for gas.

    As for the stove, they will have to pry the gas meter out of my cold dead hands before I give up my gas cooktop!

    Wear an extra layer of clothes and keep your socks on. If you have children this is a no go obviously. Our heating is usually in the $150 range while my neighbors with kids and the same size house have bills in the $280 and above range during the coldest months. Honestly, seeing all of our neighbors gas bills during the winter kept us waiting for the BIG gas bill to come. It never came...well at least never over $160...and that was only once. I think I would have had a heart attack if I had seen $300 gas bill.
     
  4. Diallo B

    Diallo B Screenwriter

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    thanks for the ideas fellas. i would consider switching out my gas water heater and gas heater for electric if i would see a difference in energy costs. but i will always keep my gas stove!

    i have one of those lcd programmable thermostats. i have yet to use it though.

    i might go postal at DTE if i ever saw a 300 gas bill.
     
  5. Philip_T

    Philip_T Supporting Actor

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    Don't forget to close vents in rooms you don't use and keep the doors to those rooms shut as well. Unless your thermostat is in that room. Make sure there are no large gaps in any of your doors or windows.

    CRyan mentioned alot of good things in his post. Especially about turning your heater off, or at least down during the day. My wife and I turn ours down at night as well and let the down comforter do its thing. We also shut off our gas fireplace. Maybe get some electric blankets for the couch area for watching warmer.

    I would look at replacing windows before converting the heating system of my house. Especially if you have old single-panes. I can't imaging the cost of converting to electric. Unless your talking about just getting a little portable heater. We use one of those for cold mornings in our bathroom as it has valted ceiling and tile floor and tends to get pretty chilly.
     
  6. CRyan

    CRyan Screenwriter

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    I have actually seen that happen. Gas reader guy come back to give a second look and says it was accurate. Neighbor goes off the handle at the poor guy. He was not too happy about a legitimate $420 gass bill. [​IMG]

    The gas water heater would not save you much of anything. Mine seems to be fairly efficient costing only a little per month. No big savings there.

    Really depending on area you would only see about a $30 a month savings on your heating per month during the coldest months. Guessing that a complete new electric unit would cost around $1500 installed and you have 5 really cold months to see the $30 savings, it would take you 10 years to break even. Not worth it IMO.
     
  7. Bob Graz

    Bob Graz Supporting Actor

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    The programmable thermostat is a must. Set it back 5 degrees or so at night while sleeping and when you aren't home. Don't set it so low when you are not home to risk pipes freezing.

    If your hot water heater isn't insulated already, you can buy a blanket for it.

    You can also do simple things like installing door sweeps, insulate your outside wall sockets.
     
  8. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    on the news last night they said excel submitted a proposal to DOUBLE natural gas prices here. Ugh.
     
  9. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Where I live, gas is three to four times cheaper to use than electricity. And here I am in an all-electric neighborhood without the option of using gas. I'm actually thinking of installing a propane system. It's about twice as much as natural gas, but still almost half what I spend on electric heat. A propane gas cooktop would be nice, too.

    What CRyan said is correct. Just don't listen to people who insist that heating a cold house costs more than keeping a house warm. I just isn't true.

    A programmable thermostat is a must. I set my thermostats (I have a six-zone system) back to 55 degrees during the night or while we're away. With down comforters it's actually pretty warm and cozy. The heat comes on at 5:30 AM on work days, so the bedrooms and bathrooms are toasty warm in the mornings. Getting up is pretty easy.
     
  10. Philip_T

    Philip_T Supporting Actor

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    Ugh, don't get me started on excel. It's bad enough I have no realistic alternative to using them, but I have to watch them spend Lord knows how much money on advertising via commercials and naming rights to arena's. Now they want more money? Fine, I understand the price of natural gas is going up, but stop showing me commercials saying how much you care about your customers and blah blah blah. Why don't you take the millions you spent on naming rights to excel energy arena pass along the savings? [/rant off]
     
  11. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    no worries, I have aquila and they're no better.
    to heat my 1500sf townhouse in the winter it can be 120 bucks a month.
     
  12. LewB

    LewB Screenwriter

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    I once rented an all-electric house, the electric bills were amazingly high in the winter.

    I can't see how using electricity could ever be cheaper than gas or oil. The utility company has to burn gas oil or coal to make the electricity, then send it to you. You've now introduced some 'efficiency fraction' to the primary fossil fuel, and you have to distribute it and make a profit. Burning the fossil fuel at your house eliminates middle man (electric company).
    My house is all N.G. Just got a mailing from the utility asking me to commit to a locked in price of .80 per 100CF of gas 'till 10/05. Prices are running around .73-.75 now. I decided to go for it.
     
  13. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    Natural gas is still cheaper here than electricity, too (well, at least it was last winter). We have gas heat, gas water heater and gas clothes dryer, with the oven/stove being electric. Our winter gas bills are around $200 - $225 per month for a 2,500 sq ft home (that footage does not include the 1,400 sq ft basement).

    We have a newer furnace and use a programmable thermostat to reduce the temperature during the day and while we sleep at night. We still have the original windows from 1977 (hopefully to be replaced within the next two years). I close the vents in the basement, unless we are using it (it's a finished recreation room).

    Unless electric is a lot less expensive than gas in your area, I cannot imagine that replacing your furnace with electric heat would pay for itself soon enough to even consider.
     
  14. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    All the ideas mentioned here are great. Setting your thermostat to 65 during the day when you are not around and 68 when you are saved me a tremendous amount of money in my previous house, which had a garage with uninsulated doors underneath the main living space. Also if you are in the habit of leaving a few lights on during the winter while you are at work so that you come home to a lit home, try replacing them with compact flourescent bulbs. CFs don't save too much on fixtures that you only use infrequently, but if you have a main hall light or flood that you leave on most of the time they can certainly help.

    If its an older place definitely look at the door sweeps and weatherstripping around the entries, as these can rot or become torn up and ineffective. The window shrink sounds like a good bet too.
     
  15. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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    Check with your gas and electric companies and see if they offer "budget" billing. They can look at the average usage for your home and spread the charges evenly throughout the year. That way you're not socked with huge bills in the winter.

    I don't know how drafty your house is.. but up here in Wisconsin, people in older homes put window insulation kits on in the winter. It's like heat-shrink plastic and can be put on inside or out. We used to live in a 100+ year old house and these really cut down on that drafty feeling.

    EDIT: Oops.. I see CRyan beat me to the window shrink idea.

    I'd say throwing on a sweatshirt and turning the thermostat down a few degrees is the best way to save money.

    Since we're talking about energy costs... my subdivision requires each new home has a photo-switched lightpost in the front yard. This is fine with me since the subdivision has no streetlights. However, this means I have this 60 Watt incandescent bulb lighting my yard for no reason... all night. I've looked at a CF replacement.. but all the ones I find state not to use them with photo-switches.

    Is there a CF bulb (or some other low energy bulb) that'll work with a photo-switch?
     
  16. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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    We are lucky that we have two furnaces - one for the basement and main floor area, and one for our 17X25 master bedroom. So, when we go to bed we turn the main heater off (or reduce it to 55*) and enjoy lovely warm air around 70* while we sleep.

    Our heating bills have been ~$65 per month with this programme. We have programmable thermostats but the problem with those are if you have a change in plan you can be heating an empty house for hours. Our heating bill came down substantially when we stopped programming the bloody thing and just turned it off when we left and on we we returned.
     
  17. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Lots of great suggestions here, I'll agree with some of them:

    * Install a programmable thermostat right away! You can save huge dollars with one! When you're not home, make sure it's way low.

    * When you're home, turn the thing down and wear sweatshirts and slippers.

    * Hot Water Heater tips: * Don't run it too hot. * Keep the burners clean. * Insulate it with a blanket if you can. * If you need a new clothes washing machine, buy a front-load Energy Star unit - they use much less water, which means lots less hot water when running in hot - saves lots of money.

    * Run your dishwasher on "Air Dry" and dry off the dishes with a towel when they're done.

    * Install Compact Fluorescent bulbs everywhere.

    * If you have southern exposure windows, leave the blinds/curtains open and get natural radiating heat from the sun.

    Go to your gas company's web site, they probably have a great deal of information about this subject, most do. Believe it or not they want to encourage conservation.
     
  18. BrettB

    BrettB Producer

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    Holy crap!

    My wife would kill me if I turned the heater off at night. [​IMG]
     
  19. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    One thing to remember is to clean your furnace filter once a month (you just take it out and vaccuum the dust off of it.) When it is dirty, your furnace must work harder to produce the same amount of heat. It wears out your furnace (which can cost you $$$ over heating bills) and causes higher heating bills as well.



    Be sure to clean your furnace filter every 4-6 weeks in the winter, it is well worth it.
     
  20. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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    The Minnegasco guy just left our house from tuning up the main unit. So yes, annual tuneups of your furnace and central air will also help to ensure that things are running smoothly and efficiently.



    We try to change our filter every 45-60 days...we don't have the mordern super thick filters that are good for a year.
     

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