Suggestions on cutting energy bill --

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Hi all,
I'm not sure about the rest of the country, but here in Central Texas (specially out in the country) the energy prices are doubling if not more. My dad (who uses the same energy provider as I) got his bill Saturday and it went from $140 the prior month to $270 this month. Mine should be coming in a week or so, and if my usual $200 electric bill is $400 I'm screwed!
So with that being said, can someone give suggests I've not thought of to cut the energy bill? Luckily now through the next month or two is good open-window weather for us, but come April the temps start creaping back up and A/C starts coming on. If my electric bill runs $200-$300 with NO A/C or Heat, what're folks supposed to do?
My home is all electric, and we've already quit running the dishwasher and we're starting to hang-dry our clothes instead of running dryer. We're buying fluorescent bulbs to replace all the incandescent light bulbs in our house. We've never really left the TV on while not watching, but we do run a little XM Radio for back-ground music while doing stuff around the house. Also I have an older fridge in the garage we use to store sodas andsuch, but I'm pulling the plug on that and putting it in the paper to sell (takes up too much space anyway).
What else can I and anyone in my situation do to save some extra bucks on energy? My home is 22 years old and on a concrete foundation. As for insulation, I'm planning on adding another layer to the attic sometime soon. Also I have some french doors I put in not long ago that are sitll roughed out and not well sealed -- so I'm planning on finishing that.
As for inside the house, we've bought binds and curtains for all windows and the french doors, which I hope will help. We also have a ceiling fan in our bedroom we run during warmer nights... but that's not enough for those 90'F at 11pm nights we have in the Texas summers.
I've even thought about adding a hot water heater timer, but given our hot water heater is only 2 years old and VERY efficient, I don't know if this'll do any real good from what I'm reading.
Is there anything I'm missing? Our electric is from a rural Coop, which isn't regulated like others, so I can't switch companies. Also short of adding solar panels or wind-powered generators, not sure what else to do.
Thanks for any insight or ideas. Also is this just a Texas thing or across the US? Thanks --
Sam Alex
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Sounds like you are doing a lot. Consumer reports just said that a dish washer uses much less water (which is hot water) than hand washing so maybe you want to keep using it.
Real problem is our politicians and electric companies went in big for gas powered power plants in the 90's. Gee now there is a gas shortage (helped by Katrina). Assume much of your elec power is gas generated. Thankfully here in Virginia ours is mostly coal and nuclear. Course my heat's gas so I'm paying more too.
I'm afraid we are going to see alot more of this in the future.

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Jeff wrote:

There is NO political gas shortage.
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Jeff ( snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com) said...

Running the dishwasher (and clothes washer and dryer) in off peak hours can result in a savings. For most of us, this savings is not direct as we pay for electricity based on how much we use, not when we use it, but the utility's price will be based on what they pay and it is related to when it is used, so any shift in the load to an off peak time will indirectly effect price. If you have a smart meter, it will save you directly.
That said, be careful HOW you shift your usage to an off peak time. I know a number of people who use the delayed start feature on their diswhashers to have it clean the dishes in the middle of the night, and this can be MORE costly.
Some dishwashers have fully electronic controls so you can specify what cycle to use and when. Many do not, and they use a dial you turn to the various settings. Our dishwasher is of this type and we can set a delayed start up to 6 hours. The trouble is, when this is done the WHOLE dial is used, so when the cleaning actually takes place we get a HEAVY cycle. If the load of dishes can be sufficiently cleaned with the normal cycle or even the short cycle, we are stuck with the heavy cycle when using the delayed start.
By simply starting the dishwasher before going to bed, it is possible to select the cycle needed.
There is another issue that applies if your hot water is heated with natural gas or propane. Both of these (at least in our area) are cheaper than electricity. When manually starting the dishwasher, you can first run the hot water until it gets hot, so the dishwasher gets filled with gas-heated water. On the delayed cycle, it fills with cooler water that is in the pipes. The dishwasher will then heat, by more expensive electricity, the water so that it is at the temperature needed to wash the dishes.
Of course, if your hot water is electrically heated, it doessn't matter whether the hot water heater heats it or the dishwasher (it may actually be more efficient for the dishwasher to heat it in this case!).
--
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"Never ascribe to malice what can equally be explained by incompetence."
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Probably more accurately, many utilities use gas as boiler-fuel in steam plants. Relatively quick, cheap and dirty changeover for them.
Rather than using the gas to power gas-turbines or diesels and see some efficiency. Or, even fund research on Stirling engines.
They just buy huge quantities of gas at low rates and monitor cash-flow.
Coal is the problem of the guy downwind. Nukes are quite thermally inefficient (saturated steam) and are essentially uninsured.
Enjoy, J
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They built one of those here (East Texas). The electricity where I live actually comes from coal.

[snip]
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Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.laughingsquid.com
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Alex wrote:

If you want to save power you need to know where it is going. And to do that you will need to measure every major electrical load in your home to figure out which ones are consuming the most and then find some way to reduce those loads without making life intolerable.
I purchased my own power meter but I understand that some utilities have such equipment for loan to their customers. In fact your utility may well have an energy audit program where they will come in and tell you where your power/money are going in the home and how to improve the situation.
Your idea of unplugging the old fridge is a good idea -- old refrigerators are really major energy hogs compared to new ones. You can pretty safely start using the dishwasher again since most of them are quite efficient -- just don't run it more times in a day than absolutely necessary and turn off the heated dry if you can live without it.
In my area the electrical rates haven't gone up noticeably but the natural gas prices are _way_ up. Water rates are flat but the sewer charges have just about doubled because the utility let the infrastructure fall apart and was forced to fix major problems.
--
John McGaw
[Knoxville, TN, USA]
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In the winter a clothes dryer is a double waster...
it used about 5 kW directly and it also takes nice warm air from your home and pushes it outside. Of course this warm air is then replaced by cold air that leaks in to replace it...which makes your heat come on more....
Mark
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Mark wrote:

The dryer COULD push the heated air back into the house with a damper on the exhaust.
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It could , but it also introduces other problems like excessive moisture, lint that will clog inlets on burners, etc.
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Pantyhose collects the lint, and the moisture is useful during the heating season.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Excessive moisture in the winter? The dampers I've seen have lint screens.
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John,
I have a question about power meters, I would like to do some consumption monitoring at my house. I see the cheap plug in meters and the $500 Fluke recording multimeters. Is there anything in between? I would like to measure on some 220V appliances and I don;t think that the plug in ones will do it. Any advice?
Thanks, Kev
Quoted Text "I purchased my own power meter but I understand that some utilities have such equipment for loan to their customers."
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Kevtrane wrote:

FWIW, Harbor Freight has some really cheap, serviceable clamp-on ammeters. They won't give you all the information a wattmeter would (especially when power factor is important) but they can nonetheless give you some pretty good clues at very low cost.
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FWIW, Harbor Freight has some really cheap, serviceable clamp-on ammeters. They won't give you all the information a wattmeter would (especially when power factor is important) but they can nonetheless give you some pretty good clues at very low cost.
My appretice had a cheap meter. We used it on a service call. We turned the power off at a breaker marked for that unit and checked it with his meter. It showed 0 volts. I started disconnecting a wire and got lit up by 240 volts. We tossed his meter and got mine. A cheap meter can kill you, it certanly will not give you good answers. I have seen many times that cheap meters lie to you (not accurate) but his was the worst.
If you are measuring anything, good tools will give you better answers.
Stretch
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: FWIW, Harbor Freight has some really cheap, serviceable clamp-on : ammeters. They won't give you all the information a wattmeter would : (especially when power factor is important) but they can nonetheless : give you some pretty good clues at very low cost. : : : My appretice had a cheap meter. We used it on a service call. We : turned the power off at a breaker marked for that unit and checked it : with his meter. It showed 0 volts. I started disconnecting a wire and : got lit up by 240 volts. We tossed his meter and got mine. A cheap : meter can kill you, it certanly will not give you good answers. I have : seen many times that cheap meters lie to you (not accurate) but his was : the worst. : : If you are measuring anything, good tools will give you better answers. : : Stretch : Uhhhh, you used a clamp-on to measure VOLTAGE? Or are you talking about a different kind of cheap meter? (rhetorical only) You used a meter without knowing it worked? Were the cords plugged into the right jacks? Set to measure volts & not OFF or ?? . Sounds like a fishtale to me, especially with your reference to an "appretice" which was probably supposed to lend credibility?
Pop
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"My appretice had a cheap meter. We used it on a service call. We : turned the power off at a breaker marked for that unit and checked it : with his meter. It showed 0 volts. I started disconnecting a wire and : got lit up by 240 volts. "
Which is why even after turning off the breaker, or seeing 0 volts, I still treat it as possibly alive, until I can try shorting the hot to ground.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Yes. Any meter, no matter how expensive, can fail (or be misused).
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How about measuring the voltage both before and after turning off the breaker (to verify that the meter is working)?
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Mark Lloyd wrote:

Seems like a good idea to me, but ...
I suspect that the anecdote might have arisen because somebody didn't have one of the probes where he thought he did -- even your proposed solution wouldn't necessarily remedy that (depending, of course, on how/whether the probes were attached in a way that could be guaranteed to stay the same before/after switching the breaker).
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