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What do YOU do to save energy?  RSS feed

 
Caitlin Elder
Posts: 69
Location: Missoula
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What is the one thing that you find helps you save the most energy, there for saving you the most money?

I flip the breaker switch for my furnace at the beginning of May and go as long as I can with out turning it back on. This brings my energy bill down from around $150 to around $40.
 
                    
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I find it difficult to narrow it down to one thing.

Here in the high desert of NM the arrival of month of May automatically reduces the amount of time the furnace is used. It's not a big energy user anyways. We have a pair of hot air solar collectors that contribute to keeping the house warm during the day on sunny winter days. Their small blowers are powered by their own small PV panels. They used to use 120 VAC blowers in their original configuration, but I changed that a few years back when PV panel prices dropped enough.

Our energy reduction has been a systematic replacement of some of the home infrastructure and appliances. The old, circa 1985, furnace was replaced with a 95% efficient gas furnace. The old water guzzler evaporative cooler was exchanged for a 19 SEER refrigerated A/C at the same time. That change resulted in a net reduction on the combined gas, electric and water utility.

The hot water heater is a newer model, has extra insulation and uses an on demand recirculation pump to save on water waste. A new tankless heater would have had some advantages, but due to the rambling layout that would have required 2 tankless heaters, re-plumbing both water and gas lines, etc. Next best thing was a recirculating pump to make warm water available at the distant taps by pressing a button a minute before you want it. That saves standing there running water down the drain as hot water makes it's way through the pipes to the point of use.)

A new roof with greater reflectivity than the original roof helps some. Also more insulation was blown into the attic space to bring the R-factor up to a probable R-45 value.

The refrigerator is only 2 years old, and is an energy star model. The dishwasher is new and a true marvel at saving water and electricity.

The lighting is mostly CFL or lone tube FL and has been for many years. Lights used only for a very short periods at a time are not CFL's as that can shorten their life.  Automatic sensor switches control some of those lights so we don't forget them in the on position.

We don't have a lawn any more. Doesn't make sense in the desert to pour water and $$ into the ground and then have to cut it to make it look pretty.

Grid tie solar panels, not enough to supply 100% of the power needs do contribute to the net amount consumed.

Eventually the windows will be replaced with Low-e glass units. We may also remove the stucco and wrap the building with sheet foam insulation and re-stucco over that.  not sure on when that might be.



edit:  Thinking about it the changes that saved the most energy use also cost the most.
The furnace and A/C, refrigerator and dishwasher.
 
Caitlin Elder
Posts: 69
Location: Missoula
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I am currently renting, so I am unable to make such changes to my current residence.  I did winterize the windows this winter which seemed to help alot.
 
                    
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It's hard when you rent.

Did you use those clear films that are heat shrunk into place? We have used them on the RV which helps it a lot on cold weather.
 
Caitlin Elder
Posts: 69
Location: Missoula
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Yeah I did, I happen to be renting a trailer right now.  I wish I could of covered the whole thing with plastic.
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
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A tree fell on my house 4 years ago leaving me with no electricity, heat, hot water, AC, refrigeration or lighting.  So that cut the bills down some.
 
                                    
Posts: 32
Location: Ishpeming, Michigan
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We use the plastic every winter along with insulated curtains.
Wash dishes by hand they same way Paul does.
All small appliances are pluggled into power bars and when they aren't in use they are unpluggled.
If the sun is shining the lights aren't.
I often batch cook to save time, money and energy. A freezer that is full is more efficient than an empty one even if the only freezer you have is on top of your fridge. It's just as easy to do a big batch of something as a small one and you only have to clean a major mess once instead of repeatedly. Also it makes meal prep stressless on days when you don't have the time or the will to cook.
We try to do errands away from the house all in one day and in the shortest amount of distance to save gas.Sometimes I'm able to fit these things in after work as I'm all ready in town.Sometimes that's just not possible as I only work the weekends and sometimes passed the hours that credit untion/businesses are open.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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in the summer i sleep outside and cook in the outdoor kitchen( wood stove, cob oven, solar oven) and eat food from the garden 10 ft away. not only is it a money saver, its fun and enjoyable.
 
John Rushton
Posts: 35
Location: Norman, OK
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I find it perfectly tolerable to live without air conditioning, and that is in central Oklahoma where the august temps can rise to nearly 110 at times.  It helps that I have trees and an attic fan to cool the house at night, and I wear few clothes when home (I am also about 110 lbs and very heat tolerant/cold intolerant).  That is the biggest energy saver I have found.  I have yet to invest the money in many strategies for winter.  However, one thing that has made a surprisingly large difference is heavy drapes.  I haven't even made proper curtains of them yet, just nailed them to the tops of the windows, and it turned a perfectly miserable, drafty apartment that would not stay warm with the central furnace running full time into a place that could be made quite tolerable with just a space heater, two or three on the very coldest of nights, and a blanket.  Drapes are perfect for renters, unlike most other strategies for insulation.
 
                          
Posts: 24
Location: Zone 5a (Canada)
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I grow tubs of morning glory and passion flower on my (rental) balcony to block the sun and to allow us to cook and eat outside during the summer. I also wonder why external shutters don't seem to exist in Toronto... though I guess that doesn't help much.

Incidentally - my rental contract explicitly forbids the hanging of aluminium kitchen foil in the windows, so I guess that must work too.

I leave doors and windows open over night to allow the apartment to cool down each day.
 
charles c. johnson
Posts: 369
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We cook outside or eat raw food. We have solar shades outside over the windows. We keep the  CFL bulbs  off a much as we can . If we do need light we use the ceiling light so the heat will stay up there.


In the winter we bake and cook more to help heat the house. I have a baking stone that stays in the oven at all times it holds the heat well.  This is my first winter at this house so well play it by ear.
 
Brice Moss
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
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window plastic in winter
minimal thermostat setting in winter (55)
no AC
I'm schedule my college courses for two days a week to reduce commuting
my diesel jetta gets 45 mpg on a realy bad week
swap the cfl's in summer and incandescents in winter when the waste energy is not wasted
all my electronics are on power bars which get turned off when not using the gear (bloody frustrating how much power the tv and game console eat in standby mode)

 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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I telecommute whenever possible.
 
                    
Posts: 4
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I think the best approach is to first find out exactly what amounts of energy you are using for each function. For electricity you can get a Kill a Watt Electricity Usage Monitor
(for example at Amazon) and you plug  your appliances into it. For example I plugged my refrigerator into it for about a day and found I was using about 1300 KWH per year. So I replaced it with a new energy star refrigerator which uses about 335 KWH/year.
 
                              
Posts: 22
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I alway's find that running an extension cord to my neighbors house helps....lol....Just Kidding.
 
                            
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
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I do everything that everyone else does, and of course, the things that heat and cool are the energy gluts.  One thing that I hadn't thought of was putting my baking stone in the oven and leaving it there.  Thanks, Charles, I bet that does hold down on the oven kicking on as much. 
I try not to use my oven or range much.  When I do, I try to do as much at one time, like baking three loaves of bread at a time instead of one.  I use my slow cooker a lot and cook on top of my wood burning stove.  It doesn't have a cook top, but I'm getting it figured out.  I'd like to try a 'hay box'.  It's basically an insulated box that you put a hot cooker in, then leave it all day and have cooked meals hours later. 

I freeze water in a couple milk jugs by sitting them outside over night (it's cold here now), and then putting them in the frig during the day.  On the flip side, you can heat water in jugs in the summer the same way, and use the water for dishes.  I also use my slow cooker outside in the summer so there's no added heat in the kitchen.

The biggest help on the energy is hanging our clothes instead of using the dryer.
 
Chris Fitt
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
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We have our housing provided for us as part of our internship, so we are limited in what we can do with the space.  It is a trailer and since it heats and cools quickly we always turn down the heat or ac when we won't be in it.  Not that we run either excessively.  Same thing with lights, big batch cooking, wearing more clothes and layers in winter. 

But the main thing that I do and have done consistently in all rental situations is hang laundry out to dry.  I've always had a dryer or access to a dryer but tried the best I could to do laundry on sunny days.  We live in Texas now and I am surprised that more people don't hang out clothes.  We usually have at least one sunny day a week.  It is a little harder now that it is winter.  But all the other months it just makes sense.  Besides not hanging out clothes, I have been surprised how hot some people keep their houses here in the winter.  We were down in Austin a few nights ago and it was a chilly 36 or so and the house we were staying at kept the thermostat at 75!!!
 
                          
Posts: 140
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Currently going through a Minnesota winter with no heat.  Not by choice....LOL

Not fun but we have adapted.  Keep the water on at a trickle.  Only froze up once so far.  I try not to check the temp, but I can see my breath right now.
 
Len Ovens
pollinator
Posts: 1452
Location: Vancouver Island
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Tinknal wrote:
Currently going through a Minnesota winter with no heat.  Not by choice....LOL

Not fun but we have adapted.  Keep the water on at a trickle.  Only froze up once so far.  I try not to check the temp, but I can see my breath right now.


Congratulations. I am glad to live somewhere a bit warmer... we had snow a week ago, but it is mostly melted already. It may seem cold inside, but comparing inside to outside may prove interesting. If you have a basement... it may be warmer.

I haven't made that choice either... i know we could do it, but I like to be warm Do you have power at all? Running a space heater even at half power can do a lot. Or build a campfire outside and heat rocks/pots of water to bring inside overnight. Setting up a tent inside to sleep in may help too. How do you cook?

You have probably thought of all these things and more.
 
                    
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Tinknal wrote:
Currently going through a Minnesota winter with no heat.  Not by choice....LOL



What happened?
 
                          
Posts: 140
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PastTense wrote:
What happened?

Poverty happened! 

We have electric and cook with an electric fry pan, microwave, crock pot, etc.  The full basement does help moderate the temps and helps keep the water working.  We have a pile of blankets on the bed and sleeping is actually quite comfortable.
 
Rachell Koenig
Posts: 71
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I'm finally hanging up ALL my clothes instead of using the dryer. My hubby made about 5 clothes lines right in the house! Clothes racks are okay... but these lines are the bomb!
I loved reading everyone's posts on this topic! I'm getting so many good ideas.
 
Brent Rickenbacker
Posts: 23
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Largest energy saver: Installed a wood stove and turn heat pump OFF in winter. The savings is phenomenal.

Second largest energy saver: We use a clothesline when ever possible. We also use a laundry rack next to our wood stove.

We also keep the curtains closed at night in the winter.

We keep the curtains closed during the day in the summer.

Use a Kill-A-Watt to identify any energy hogs you may have, and unplug them. DVRs, TVs, Stereos, Cell Phone Chargers, etc can all slurp juice even when idle.

Motion sensor light in the bathroom. (kids cant seem to turn off manual switches.)

Keep the fridge closed.

Frequently used indoor lighting - Use Occupancy Sensors.
Outdoor lighting: Run on Motion Sensors.

Pools - Put the pump on a timer.
Hot Tubs - Turn them OFF. Get rid of them. (LOL)

Solar Panels with GTI... Great for backup power, but I readily admit that I am not entirely convinced it is paying off.

Feel free to check out my blog where I post some of my ideas on conservation, energy etc.
http://streetjesus.blogspot.com

Good luck to all.
 
Jeremiah wales
Posts: 137
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Ride a Bicycle almost everywhere. I even have a small bicycle trailer to haul stuff. I only use a car if I have a long way to go or if it is raining out. Even then I walk and use an umbrella. Dont start the truck unless I am going over 10 miles and if I really need to go.
Then I heat with wood, and heat or cook on the wood stove while I am heating the house. Heat water all the time on the wood stove.
Solar panel to charge batteries and use 12 volt lights in the house. I use the Huge light reflectors with an led light in the center of them.
Solar Hot Air panels pump hot air into the house from outside too.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 6027
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
398
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
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We heat with wood which also heats our bath water, dish water and all hot water needs, dries our clothes when it's raining out (on a rack near by), cooks our meals, provdes warmth for indoor seedlings, simmers dye pots and on and on. I miss it when the weather warms.
I think the other way we save energy is to throw the electric breaker when we leave...even for a few hours. This has also kept us less dependent on electric appliances which also saves energy. We use an on demand gas water heater when the woodstove isn't in use. This is not our ideal but the best for the situation we are in.
And we take naps......
 
laura sharpe
Posts: 244
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Tinknal McCoy wrote:Currently going through a Minnesota winter with no heat.  Not by choice....LOL

Not fun but we have adapted.  Keep the water on at a trickle.  Only froze up once so far.  I try not to check the temp, but I can see my breath right now.


Ok I am going to come out of the closet here, I am prepper too...no not some gun carrying antigovernment type at all, just feel that thinking about handling emergencies is something everyone should do. I live in the chicago area and so I have given much thought to how to handle loss of heat during the winter. I also live in a standard house so setting up a rocket mass heater on the main floors is not in the cards.

This is my midwinter loss of heat emergency plan....

Move into the basement and cut the water off in the remainder of the house, this will keep the pipes from freezing. In the toilets empty the water from the back by flushing after the water is off. Pour into all the drains something to keep them from freezing (antifreeze for car windows or salts).

Mind you the earth is a really nice thermal mass so yu are already warmer. Set up a small tent to sleep in in the basement, this will warm up by sheer body heat....use as much insulation under yu as yu sleep as you can spare...might even move a matress in there. Set up a table to sit at and do whatever you do most of the time, computer....eat etc with a big old comforter on top which should drape to the floor and put a heat source in there if yu can and you have electricity so you do (btw computers generate a lot of heat).

I would build a rmh, collecting parts now, in the basement..it is the only room with cement walls and floor making it safe and vent it out the basement window. I will not be using cob but recovered building materials as my thermal mass This is not necessary but it would move the living situation from survivable to minimal comfort.

Now I am sure you are thinking...omg no toilet, i know i think that. I am afraid that is the most unsavory part of this plan. One idea is to have a waste container down there which is carried up to the toilet with a separate bucket of water...dump the bucket of waste and flush it down with the water then put more salts into the toilet. Perhaps you live in an area where making a humanure pile is possible, I do not.

Adding anything insulating to the basement ceiling would make it more comfortable but you are in the basement so really how much can you change the temperature .

good luck this winter
 
Stevie Sun
Posts: 55
Location: Devon, UK
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Back in the summer I started to take my showers cold. It was inspired by whataboutwilma.com and http://impossiblehq.com/cold-shower-health-benefits.

It was fine. Took some getting used to, but for most of a few months I was taking cold showers. I then went into hospital for some planned surgery and although it's been more than 3 months I'm yet to get back into the swing of them again yet. This has affected both my water and gas bills. I was using less water because I was in the shower for less time (you wash quick when the water's cold). I was using less gas because I wasn't heating water, and because I am not generally feeling the cold I've been able to not have the heating on in my bedroom and only on low in the rest of the house.

This change over only 4-5 months has meant a reduction in the amount of my direct debit to the gas/electricity company! In that time prices went up but my usage was so down my bill has still gone down.

Inspired by what about wilma I've also had days without electricity (excepting lights, fridge/freezers (don't want to completely turn them off) and my kettle (need my cups of tea)).

These things help me save energy AND are good for my health. Win win.
 
Shane McKee
Posts: 108
Location: Northern Ireland
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A number of years ago one of the biggest energy-saving things I did was get my car stolen and end up in a protracted fight with my insurer, resulting in my getting a bike... unfortunately I don't think the Earth benefited much - the thief used it to rob a store, then set fire to it in a lock-up garage containing a number of propane canisters. You can guess the rest.

However, it's unavoidable for me to commute to work by car now. I keep a bike at work, and use that for travelling between sites in the city, rather than taking the car. It's faster, saves a load of money, saves energy, and helps keep me fit - and now more and more of my work colleagues are following suit. So I like to think in my own little way I'm helping to make Belfast a nicer place. Long way to go...
 
Ann Torrence
steward
Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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Electric mattress pad heater. Not a nasty electric blanket. It's a wonderful comforting heat. The bedroom is on a zone electric wall heater and we can keep it really cool in there in the winter. For 4-5 months a year we can turn it off altogether. The bathroom also has its own zone heater that only gets turned on during the shower time.

BTW I was dubious about the electric zone heaters our electrician recommended, sold by our rural electric coop. We have 4 from Convectair that are in the main rooms, and 3 toe kick heaters in the bathrooms and kitchen that almost never get used. The Convectair heaters are nearly silent, can be programmed and are super efficient. We saved a ton by not putting in ducting (not to mention forced air heat is my least fave to live with). My worst power bump was 2012 when it was -10F for several nights, and compared to our summer load (no AC) we heated 1000 sq ft for <$90, the worst month of the year. Usually, the winter bill is was more than $50 over the summer load. Now we have a wood stove, so we are using the heaters even less. We have ridiculously cheap power here (<$.07 KWH) but even so. Our neighbors on propane are easily going through $300-400 a month in winter.
 
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