Suggestions on cutting energy bill --

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Alex wrote:

Bingo! Why cool the whole house when everybody's in the bedroom asleep?
Think efficient window unit for sleeping. You can get a 110VAC unit at Walmart for ~$150. You'll save that much the first month.
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Look into sealing leaks in your ductwork and leaks in your attic.
see: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_sealing

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Good start on saving energy. Big cost items are usually those that involve heating/cooling:
Find and seal all leaks in your house. This one is a biggy, since extra insulation won't do much good if the warm (or cool) air just leaks through the holes. This can be a big job.
Put in a setback thermostat. Every degree less saves you some energy -- it's noticeable.
Since you are in a warm climate, you can probably look at area (or room) heating. Lots less energy required than heating the entire house.
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"1. Alex Jan 17, 4:42 pm
If my electric bill runs $200-$300 with NO A/C or Heat, what're folks supposed to do? "
You didn't tell us what your electric rate is or how big your house is, but this sounds very high for a typical house without using electric for AC or heat. I second the idea previously suggested of finding out exactly how much power you are really using, where it's going and figuring out if the meter is correct.
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Hi Everyone,
Thanks for the great advice and feedback! Someone said I didn't give much info on my home, electric rate, etc. My home was built around 1982 and is 1600 sqft. It's on a concrete slab with an attic spanning the entire length of the house. It's also all electric with central air and heat.
The house was built with small 35"x35" windows in the bedrooms and a 35"x70" window in the living room -- all about 4 feet off the ground. I was told this house was built during the early 80's 'energy crunch', so I'd think this would help. We have curtains and blinds in every window though.
The biggest thing I think that's pinging us is the french doors I put in our dining room/kitchen (pretty much the same room). They're all glass doors, but we have drapes over them. I also didn't finish out the doors, so though there's no gaping huge hole, it's not sealed all that well. I'm sealing and finishing this next paycheck.
I'm not sure how insulation is rated, but I'll get into my attic and measure the thickness of the insulation. Also we have a three bedroom house, but one bedroom is a guest room we rarely use. Would it be practical to close the air vent in this room and keep the door closed? I'd say that room is about 300 sqft, so that'd mean we're heating/cooling only 1300 sqft instead of 1600.
As for the dishwasher, I do have a new one (about one year old), and it does have the option to turn off heated drying. I'll start using that instead. Also the clothes dryer is in a utility room, so I'll close the vent in there and keep that door shut when being used. That might help alittle too.
I think the key is getting the house better insulated. I'm not sure if there's anyway to better insulate the walls and windows (short of replacing the windows which is $$$), but I do plan on getting more insulation for the attic.
Thanks again for all the feedback...
Sam
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My house is the same size and built in 1978. My electric rate was .15 kWh and my last bill was $159 for December, no heat (except running the burner) I have two refrigerators, freezer, wine fridge, electric dryer. Last month the consumption was 1080 kWh. December required more lighting and since my grandson moved in with us the bill jumped about $30 for dryer use more than anything. (not to mention the food bill)
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Hi Everyone,
I just called my electric coop, and they're charging 13.75 cents per kWh. I'll check my next bill, which comes out on the 19th, and see what my useage is for the last 30 days. I sure hope it's not too crazy because I can see the costs inching up.
I found this site that is great: http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/howmuch.html
I'll be keeping a spreadsheet of our used kilowatt hours per month and seeing what I can do to shave the price. I'm also looking into further insulation for the attic and plugging the places where hot and cool air leave the house.
It still doesn't help that my central air and heating system is almost 22 years old... I'm sure that thing SUCKS the power.
Oh hum -- one more worry in life I didn't need :-/
Sam
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One other thing not mentioned yet is thermostatically-controlled attic ventilation. Works great for me in SW CT, so I don't know how you survive without one from June to October in TX.
You can get a fan and t-stat pkg for < $100. Took me a couple hours to make up a transition from plywood to attach it at gable. Effect is clearly noticeable in mid-pm temps on floor below in Aug., and shingles should roast much more slowly. Just be sure you have adequate inlet area. (Insulation is below attic floor in my case- you want to vent above the insulation.)
HTH, J
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"One other thing not mentioned yet is thermostatically-controlled attic
ventilation. Works great for me in SW CT, so I don't know how you survive without one from June to October in TX. "
Since his prime concern is energy usage, a ridge vent will do the same thing without using any energy.
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Anything you can do with a fan can be done with soffit and gable vents, with no electrical energy. With A ft^2 of vent area at top and bottom and an H' height diff and dT (F) temp diff, cfm = 16.6Asqrt(HdT).
For example, an attic with 2 2'x2' gable vents and equal soffit vent area and H = 8' and dT = 10 F would have 16.6x2x2x2sqrt(8x10) = 1188 cfm of airflow. I'd close the gable vents in wintertime with plywood doors hinged at the top. Nick
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snipped-for-privacy@ece.villanova.edu wrote:

I think that's an overstatement.

Please point us to a derivation of your equation so we can consider its assumptions.

I know that my attic has vents similar to your example, and that its temperature was well in excess of 120 degrees before adding a fan. With an outdoor temperature of 90 degrees, I should have had a near hurricane going on up there according to your calculation, but didn't.

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Closing vents in winter can easily lead to mold moisture problems, that is why they are built open. I tried closing mine in winter and mold grew on the roof deck.
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Whoa there on the dryer. Here are a couple of things to be aware of: 1. If your clothes take longer that 30-45 minutes to dry, your vent is clogged. See www.CleanYourOwnDryerVent.com and
2. DO NOT close the utility room door while the dryer is running. It needs at least 100 sq inches of open space to draw in relacement air - air to replace what is being blown out the back of the dryer. By closing the utility room door, your dryer will work harder, use more electricity and wear out sooner.
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Hi --
Thanks for the input and the link, but though the website you linked to has some great info, why do they want $24.95 to get their PDF? Also is there such a thing as a "Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician"? Sounds like a scam to me...
I agree with you that possibly leaving the laundry room door closed might not be such a good idea, but in no place I've lived have I ever had a full load of clothes dry in 30-45 minutes. Maybe a pair of jeans and a few shirts or some towels, but never an entire load. My dryer is about 5 years old and takes about 60 minutes for a full load (4-5 pairs of jeans, 4-5 shirts, and maybe some shorts mixed in).
I'll check my dryer vent this weekend, but with the amount of lent it throws out into my back yard plus the steamy air that comes out on cold days I doubt it's clogged to much if any.
Thanks for the info --
Sam
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Alex wrote:
<snip>

haha -- sounds like you're resurrecting an old argument ...
it

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I have a Roper dryer that's almost 14 years old. It always takes longer than 45 minutes to dry a load.
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Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.laughingsquid.com
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It is the Chimney Safety Institute of America that runs the Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician program.
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Sam wrote:
"As for the dishwasher, I do have a new one (about one year old), and it does have the option to turn off heated drying. I'll start using that instead. Also the clothes dryer is in a utility room, so I'll close the vent in there and keep that door shut when being used. That might help alittle too. "
Sam, closing off all air inlets to the laundry room could be a bad idea. In order to dry clothes efficiently, air is blown through the wet clothes, then exhausted outside. Where is the air for your dryer coming from? If you use outside air, the cool drying temperatures may not work very well.
Stretch
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Its not just a Texas thing, it is a world thing. I'm half the Earth away from you in a similar climate. The problem is the same.
Don't forget all the little things. You say your TV is off, but is it actually in "standby" mode. If you turn it on with a button on the remote, then it is sucking a little power 24 hrs a day. The same with all those devices with clocks in them , microwave, VCR, stereo system and of course your computer. It all adds up.
Your fridge and freezer are two of the biggest users of power. If they are a few years old, consider replacing them with new , efficient models (if you can find them). At least check all the seals and keep them clean.
Good luck. Stay cool.
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