Energy consumption/cold weatherl

We are (with the exception of a small wood stove for burning scraps in the basement) an all electric house.
Our year round, daily average energy consumption is around 65 to 75 kilowatt hours. With total cost of about $3,000 Canadian per year. What's that; say 2000 quid? This being a 60 by 37 foot four bedroom single storey bungalow, insulated wood frame with unheated basement, built in 1970 .
During our somewhat lengthy and cold winter and especially when temps. are below zero C and it is windy, it increases to well over 100 kilowatt hours per day.
Just wondering how you 'chaps' in UK are finding your energy consumption during what we understand are colder, more snowy weather conditions for a few days recently.
We put on our winter tyres in mid November this year, the date on which steel studded tyres being permitted having been advanced last year, to mid October from the usual November 1st. They are normally permitted until May 1st fallowing year, unless further extended by our Minister of Transportation. However it was only recently we added the extra weights in the back of our two rear wheel drive vehicles. My Nissan pickup has some 180 pounds of extra weight in a shallow wooden box near the tail gate.
Very few problems; e.g.. schools closed because of snow storms for only a couple of days so far and ferries disrupted, as often, during each winter by bad weather across the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Cheers.
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Are you far inland, or are you on the ocean coast ?
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FERGUS O'ROURKE
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Have you looked into gas heat my Monthly Kwh use is 175- 250 kwh, gas is cheaper per BTU where I live. Do you use cfls and have new efficent apliances or old hogs.
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ransley wrote:

Energy efficient lighting wont make any difference to winter electricity consumption if electricity is all you have. You need watts of power in to compensate for power loss. lightbulbs contribute to this.
They are just electric heaters that also give off light. Like an Aga is a space heater that you can also cook on.
I would say that fr a small well insulated hiuse in very sub zero conditions, 5KW continuos is what it would take - mine takes 10Kw or more.
5Kw is around 100Kwh/day. spot on with what the man is getting.
Its interesting to plot the power versus outside temperatures, assuming teh liner relationship implied by U values. For say an average indoor temperature of 20C.
In the UK the average temperature outside is about 9-12C depending on where you live. Lets say 10C. so average heatloss is for a 10C temp difference.
Go to -5 and its a 25C difference. 2.5 times MORE than average.
I find that spring/autumn really all we need is the 1Kw Aga and a bit of electrical contribution from all the kit in the hose - say 2Kw total.
In summer we need nothing at all apart from a little hot water.
In sub zero, we are running at at least 5Kw with still the 1Kw from electricity, so we go up 3x in oil burning from 1Kw to 3Kw.
wind was never allowed for in the original heat calcs, so a sub zero wind is a nightmare. Mainly due to losses through the floors and lower walls.
They are insulated, but a sub zero blast under the floors removes the nice insulating blanket of warm air that lives there.
I got serious improvements in insulation in the loft by plating over the rockwool with chipboard..rockwool is useless in wind...and by sealing any cracks I could find around window frames etc etc.
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wrote:

========================================================================
The OP again: Further. It's 10 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. That's around minus 11 Celsius. And somewhat but not highly, for here, windy.
Had the heat turned down during the night. And in the kitchen-family room area of the house temp. was around 12 degrees C (approx 56F). Quickly warming up.
We are less than a kilometre from the coast of the North Atlantic. Just saw neighbour complete with his fold-down ear-flaps (sealskin I think) hat, walk up the road towards the church. It snowed a few centimetres last night so will go out and shovel off the front step, check daughter's house behind this one and if necessary run the snow- blower down the driveways.
Shouldn't take long. Then come in and take a warm shower; having developed the habit of allowing warm shower water to stand in bottom of the bath tub to cool down to room temperature; thus saving an estimated 12 cents each time. Of course one has to run the bathroom fan to avoid moisture remaining within the house structure so some of that 12 cents probably gets chucked outside.
There is no piped in gas here, only propane which can be delivered or picked up in the typical refillable bottle, which have to be checked and re-certified/replaced each ten years. It is quite expensive and is used for camping, bar b-qs and by some for vented propane fireplaces. Such 'fireplaces' often have a dual vent with air in and air out; only problem is that if they face a wind or with blowing snow they can block up; even one that is some 7 feet off the ground!
Another comment is correct; there is no point using energy efficient bulbs (or appliances?) within the house. Some form of heating is required, here, almost every month of the year. Especially at night when the lights tend to be on. 'Ordinary bulbs' (40, 60, 100 watt) cost about 25 cents apiece. Our bathroom is often heated, while occupied, by the six 40 watters above the sink vanity.
The use of oil heat is fast disappearing; the competitive cost and convenience of electricity, problems with leaky oil tanks, need for chimneys, furnace maintenance costs all taking their toll. Also and a few accidents due to deteriorated combustion chambers. Some have converted air or water heating oil systems to 'electric furnaces' thus retaining the former heat distribution but getting rid of the 'burning apparatus' part, along with tanks, oil deliveries etc. Over 90% (soon to be 100%) of our electricity is hydro generated.
Virtually no homes have air conditioning here, mainly a vanity, except for perhaps eight days per year. Although some homes are now using heat pumps, some of which can be reversed to cool as well as heat .......... I bet, if of the 'air' variety they are not wringing much if any heat out of the cold air this morning. They don't work well at low temperatures and the homes revert to the auxiliary electric heat that is built into them. In some cases those auxiliary heaters are not adequate and complaints after spending those higher capital costs (somewhere, for a not too large 3 bedroom house, around plus $15,000?) ensue. Heat pump systems, which are essentially refrigerators in reverse also need a certain amount of maintenance'
And you can buy a lot of electrcity (about 5 years worth) for that extra $15,000!!!!! Our electric heat is individual baseboard heaters in each room. Each with it's own thermostat.
The maintenance on our electric heat in since 1970 has been less than $100. Two/three thermostats and one circuit breaker.
Things that waste electrical energy is outside lighting that is on all night, in our case one long life rural bulb, that we have on over front door at night for insurance security purposes; it can also be turned on and off remotely by the neighbours when we are away. Other lights are on motion sensors and on for only a few minutes each time. And the clothes dryer; but those pounds/kilograms of moisture could cause problems if sealed anywhere within the house structure, seeping out into the walls etc. and condensing there wetting the insulation! I didn't insulate this house myself and know the vapour barrier is not perfect! Ceilings are heavily insulated and our 60 foot long, low roof pitch attic is well cross ventilated and often checked; so no moisture build ups up there. Bathroom fan and clothes dryer vented directly outside.
The result is fairly dry house, but we like that and it ensures no condensation and mould problems.
The almost completely in ground basement, windows below ground level in window wells, is unheated and remains at around (I just checked) 49degree F. (+ 9 C).
Still somewhat windy. The unheated attached garage section of the house is today at the windy end of the house and that and the recessed front door helps 'break the wind'.
Hope this of interest. Terry ex-Liverpool 1956. Must go get another cuppa; cheers.
PS. The TV weather channel says minus 12C, wind chill minus 23C. winds to around 50 kilometres/hour. One thing aboot lower temps is that it not as slippery and the snow is lighter to shovel, than when wet and soggy!
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terry wrote:

We got down to that for a few nights over the last couple of weeks, but day time temps at their worst (SE England) have been no lower than about -4. (although the north and Scotland has seen significantly lower temps!)

Surprising that it falls so far... our place is also quite exposed to the wind, and the insulation standard is currently quite poor in some respects, yet the night time temps will rarely fall below about 18C.

Daft question, but how do those work - go thye just use an air jet or some form of brushes etc? (I can't imagine clearing the sort of snow we get here would be that effective with just an air jet)

Hmmm, that might be taking it a little too seriously! ;-)

Propane is not a particularly cheap option here either, although some places without mains gas will use it for cooking, and often oil or cheap rate electricity for general heating. Fortunately we have mains gas at about a quarter the price of electricity at the moment.

Similar applies here - but only for about six months of the year in the south...

I think the price gap here has close somewhat as well. Not having oil, I don't have any personal experience though.

I would have thought that ground source heat pumps would be quite viable there. Your basement temperature indicates that there are accessible heat reserves a few feet down even in the worst of the weather.
[snip]

Yes, its interesting to get other perspectives on it! (especially when you see the amount of fuss that gets made over here when we have a few days of cold weather!)

--
Cheers,

John.

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wrote:

http://www.slideshare.net/kennyhealth/real-snow-problems
Andy C
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On Sun, 17 Jan 2010 06:44:31 -0800, terry wrote:

Yes, I think air-source falls over at about -20F, which is normally a significant portion of our cold days here. Ground-source is the only way to go. I've got the space to do it, but the installation companies charge a huge fee, and most of that seems to go on digging trenches and laying some coiled pipe. I can do that bit myself - but GSHP's don't seem to be quite "there" yet in terms of DIY; i.e. I've not seen any good sites explaining coil length/depth for different scenarios, and I'm not sure if all the equipment can be bought except via the companies who are going to want to sell you a "package" that includes installation. Plus my power company offer reduced rates if you have a GSHP - but only if it's installed by one of the companies on their 'approved' list.

Ours are like that, but the thermostats are just graduated low-high rather than any kind of meaningful target temperature. I really want something where I can set an actual degree valua, and also program them to ramp down at night and come on 30 mins before we get up - but I think I might piss my power company off in doing that (part of the deal of having them on an off-peak setup is that they're connected directly to the load-control equipment, so I don't know if I could get away with bypassing their normal thermostats and adding my own)

Here I can have the power company install a "yard light" that's on a special fixed rate per month no matter how much I use it. Opportunist crime seems unlikely because we're several miles from the nearest town, though - but at the same time we have a couple of neighbours close enough that 'planned' crime is unlikely (due to the risk of being seen).
I did find a telegraph pole with a light on it dumped in our woodland, so the previous owners had a yard light at some point in the past.

Yeah, I figure I'm better off insulating the heck out of the dryer ductwork given it's on for an hour a day generating heat and then for 23 hours it's just a good way for cold air to find its way inside.

Yep, exactly the same with ours. I'm going to frame + insulate down there this year. Half of it's wood storage, but there's no wood furnace any more - I want to get an external one though, but will build a wood store onto the back of the garage then instead. Kids want a playroom down there, and I want a computer room...

Ahh. Our big garage is separate, but I reckon it's got about 5 years max of life left in it. I'm itching to rebuild it, and will probably relocate it and attach it to the house then.

Warm again today here: -2C, -7C windchill. Know exactly what you mean about the wet snow - hate shovelling that stuff. Our propane tank's way round the back of the property, so I have to clear several hundred feet so the delivery truck can get to it. Wife wants a snowblower, I want a vintage D8 Caterpillar. I suspect compromise might be in order ;)
cheers
Jules
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On Sun, 17 Jan 2010 00:24:29 -0800, terry wrote:

I'll throw my 2 things of local currency in here, too - I find comparisons on things like this between different countries interesting.
We're in a 4-bed place of about 2000sqft up here in northern Minnesota, with an unheated/uninsulated basement of about another 1000sqft (all poured concrete walls / floors however). Old single-glazed French-style windows, lots of 'em, and they leak cold air something rotten.
We've got about 15kW of electric heat capacity, and a propane furnace / ducted air system serving the ground floor of the house only.
It's actually been relatively warm here this winter - temps have been hovering around zero degrees C for the last week. We've had a few days of around -30C, but not nearly as many as normal.
Our electric heat is all on off-peak (as is the clothes dryer and water heater); it's all load-controlled so the power company can shut it off during high-demand periods - with the propane furnace in theory taking up the slack when the 'leccy heaters are off.
Last month we used 1774kWH just for the electric heaters (and dryer / water heater) at 4.5 cents/kWH (2.7 pence) for a total (inc. misc fees) of $81.93 (£50 near enough)
I'm not sure on propane usage exactly - we dumped around 200 gallons in the tank last spring right at the end of the heating season, and we've basically gone through that much since turning the furnace on right at the end of October. I think it was around $400 for that much at the time, so it's somewhere around 400 / 2.5 months = $160/month in propane (£98 ish).
In other words, it's *far* cheaper to heat the house using electric. I think the current rate for propane here is down to about $1.80/gallon, but that's still far more expensive than electric. We normally run the propane furnace at around 65 degrees during the day and 60 at night.

Same here. There's about a foot of snow on the ground, but we've had no school closures or late starts yet. I was out shovelling snow in a t-shirt the other day because the sun felt so warm. I expect this warm spell will end soon and we've get another major snowfall, though.
cheers
Jules
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On 17/01/2010 16:31 Jules wrote:

They are.
We were in Alaska and Canada last October. It seems that schools in Fairbanks (and, I think, all of Alaska) are not allowed to close until the temperature gets down below -50F!
We also noticed that public car parks have sockets into which engine block heaters are plugged to avoid engines freezing up.
Not directly comparable with the average UK winter, but an indicator of how cold it gets there.
--
F



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On Sun, 17 Jan 2010 17:16:42 +0000, F wrote:

Ouch. They'll usually do a 2 hour delayed start here if it goes below -30F windchill. We had a handful of days like that last year, but nothing this year. Outright closures are rare.

Yep, we get those here too. Block heaters / sump heaters are very common. I need to get one for our Toyota (they're only about $50) as it sounds a little unwell for the first few revs when it's an extremely cold day.
cheers
Jules
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wrote:

Lots of comparisons and comments there Jules. Thank you. Hope they may also be of interest to my UK ex-kin. Having been in Canada some 50+ years and built and then maintained two wood frame homes and brought up a family in them it is interesting to compare notes.
If we built again today (unlikely at at age 76!) we would be using thicker walls and more insulation. Today that would be two by six (500 mm by 150mm) framing and more attention to insulation etc. is normal. The so called R-2000 standard. Both our houses were built by two local carpenters using two by four framing, with myself doing the plumbing/ electrical etc. We still live in this second house and the first one is still in good shape with its fourth owner. Wood frame construction is very forgiving, generally easy to maintain and/or modify. Also today thicker plasterboard would be required for walls and ceiling to meet fire codes.
Originally on well and septic field; this house has town water and sewer for last 30 years plus.
Temperature today minus 11C. Not as windy as yesterday. Few centimetres more snow. Not enough to shovel. Birds around looking for feed, so went out on the wooden deck/patio in rubber boots and dressing gown and refilled the feeders. Chilly for a moment. But it's a 'dry' damp.
Yes, ground source heat exchanger/pump systems much more effective than air systems. And for residential use quite expensive; $20,000 has been mentioned for a typical home. But not sure if that includes the ground excavation etc. Obviously the time to do that is during first construction. Whether there is a enough area in what is now the typical urban plot am not sure. We have a quarter acre here, even now, after donating the back half lot to daughter. The new local school has fifteen wells drilled into the ground each will have a loop of fluid being circulated to extract heat from the ground.
Our almost completely in the ground poured (8 inch) concrete basement is uninsulated, for the most part, except for small area used as an electronics workshop. The rest of the approx 48 by 36 foot area is used for storage (50 years of junk!) and workshop. Except during very cold/windy weather the temperature down there remains around 50 to 55 degrees F. You may remember I checked it yesterday and it was 48F when outside was 10 degrees F and windy.
All windows in this house are double sliders; not very modern or elegant but virtually maintenance free. There are two separated sets of Al. metal channels within each wooden window box set into the walls. The metal channels are about 1.5 inches apart and in which sliding glass each also in it's metal frame slide, and interlock. There are four pieces of glass in each window, the inner and outer sets being interchangeable. They have been in place since 1970. If a window needs replacing it is matter of taking that sliding unit into glass shop and getting a piece of glass cut to that size. Then either fitting it oneself or often the shop will do it for a nominal charge, thus also ensuring the cut size was correct. No visit to the house being required by the glazier. Has turned out to be a happy choice. Somehow we cracked two pieces while sliding something into the basement through its widest window (six feet by two feet) and it then cost, few years ago $35 (bit less than 20 quid?) for two new glass.
For the upstairs we made the windows the minimum required by code (was 10% of the floor area). Also, having the land width we added two feet to both ends of this house before building at very little extra cost. Increasing the main floor area by approx. 150 sq. feet.
Heating is by individual electric baseboard heaters in each room. Four bedrooms. But the unused room are turned down low and this time of year are chilly but get some indirect heating from the adjacent heated rooms. Regarding electricity consumption (now about 10.1 cents per kilowatt hour) with no off peak or night time cheap rates, we have the usual appliances, electric cooking, right now am drying out one of the bird feeders in the oven, with a nice smell of 'cooking' cedar! Two computers on continuously, TV used evenings, dishwasher, etc. Electric hot water tank (30 US gallons. 120litres?), any heat escaping from that heats the basement very, very slightly, But since it takes an observed two weeks for the tank to completely cool down, that loss is rather small, so we haven't looked at those 'Instant hot water' heaters although they seem to be gaining some popularity? The thought of the cost for wiring for over 9 kilowatts into (or below) say the bathroom along with the cost of the high rate water heater being off- putting! The last time we self-replaced our hot water, my son and I did it one evening in Dec. 2006 for at total of around $250; and that included a new $25 pressure relief valve. Tanks are now, I gather closer to $280. Each heater/tank have lasted on average with our somewhat acidic and often iron infested water about ten years. So a water heating unit first cost, over the years of about $20 per year, 5.5 cents per day, seems OK? They typically have two 3000 watt elements that are wired flip flop, each with it's own thermostat. But can easily be rewired for individual operation for high demand. Only done that once in 40 years (visiting US relatives!) but the tank is wired for 30 amp capability (#10 AWG) if required.
Electricity does not require delivery as does oil, or delivered (and expensive) propane. There is no natural gas system here; although it is understood that maybe 100 years ago there was a coal gas plant serving part of the adjacent city of St. John's Newfoundland. (Long before it became part of Canada!). Traces of that old installation occasionally show up!
The electrical supply although coming from hydro generation many hundreds of miles away is highly reliable. Also the use of almost 100% aerial distribution means that power restoration is prompt (even during storms) due to excellent work by very dedicated crews of out local electric utility.
Not sure Jules where Minnesota gets it's electrcity? But this part of Canada is working on the Lower Churchill hydro project in Labrador- Newfoundland which will export into the north eastern US.
Thanks for the discussion. BTW my neighbour who once worked 'up north' told me that plugging in a motor vehicle was only way to get it restarted when it' minus 40F! Also big diesel construction machinery runs all the time in those cold climates and even in Western Canada. And even here where it is relatively mild we often have booster cables at the ready to help out others or occasionally ourselves! Got a set in the pickup right now.
The new 11HP 300ccs.+ Ariens snow blower (Snow thrower?), kept in the unheated cold garage, although it has a mains electric starter (no battery) has started first or second pull cold or hot so far! It has a set of rotating blades at front in a big metal scoop that chop up the snow and any twigs, leaves and stones and divert it to a circular impeller. Thence up a chute that can be turned away from the ever- blowing wind with a cap on top that can be adjusted to direct the snow near or far. Full open and with deep dry snow this can can chuck it some 20-30 feet. But beware of flying stones on vehicle and house windows. I flicked one in daughter's driveway yesterday as big as a small spud (Oh gee; Minnnsota knows a potato?). Speed of blower travel can be set by moving a lever etc. the engine driving two wheels; haven't put chains on yet. This machine with it's bigger wheels and 'luggy' tyres does not seem to really need them? But frankly while have used it about four times since November, we haven't had much snow. Maybe by end of winter we will have the pile of snow on the deck/ patio as big as a VW? Main thing is to watch for too much snow on the roof; it normally blows away. Only had to shovel the roof twice in last 40 years. One occasion it took me two shifts totalling 13 hours! On the other only some nine hours of fairly easy sliding snow build up in chunks off side of roof. Oh by the way; snow piled up around the concrete house foundation conserves heat loss by shielding it from the wind.
Must go and do something useful; cheers.
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