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I cut 87% off of my electric heat bill  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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read the full article here: really saving energy




How much electricity are you using to stay warm? It adds up. Fast. I did some experimenting when I moved to a place in Montana in 2010 with only electric heat, and found a few ways to effectively cut my heat bill back, without freezing.

Here's where I started (outside temp (black line) and the amount of power needed (red) to maintain 70 degrees F):



And here's where I ended up:



Basically, it came down to heating me, instead of heating the whole room. I did some tinkering and found a few really helpful ways to keep my body warm while I worked and slept, and a couple of measures to keep the immediate surrounding space warm as well.









read the full article here: really saving energy






 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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"A lot of people go to rallies. They holler and carry posters and rage against the others. A lot of people argue about why war is wrong and people shouldn't die for oil. But what do they really DO? "

You hit the nail right smack on the head Paul.  We all want someone else to solve our problems. 

I liked the article, have tried many of your suggestions and will try more.  Unfortunately I am a lot like a reptile that cannot generate it's own body heat.  That is why I live in this part of the country.  I do pretty good at keeping the thermostat down until February - then I can't take it any more.  My solution was to pay for a membership for myself and my husband at the local YMCA.  As often as once a day I can get in the heated pool and the 150 degree sauna and steam room.  Makes my arthritic joints happy and the swimming helps us both keep in shape. 

I realize that the Y is also using up a bunch of fossil fuels to keep the pools and steam rooms going but at least it is available for large numbers of people to use instead of heating one big old house for just two people.
 
Lee Einer
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My central gas heat stays off.

After I covered a series in my local paper (used to be a journalist) about how the city was ripping off residents on their gas bills and using the overbillings to cover pet projects, I got pissed and had a masonry heater built. Now I spend several hundred bucks per winter on firewood (money that goes to a neighbor who cuts firewood on his rural property) and leave the fossil fuel heat alone.
 
Andreas Brevitz
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Location: Sweden, Stockholm
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Wow! The kotatsu seriously blew my mind, I will definitley set one up by my computer! I am one of those cold hardened people, in the summers I have to sleep on the balcony with no covers to get any sleep and I live a bit north of Stockholm (summers can be HOT here though). But I don't mind, I like sleeping out doors! And I totally sympathise with the notion that one could just put on some extra clothing instead of turning the heat up most of the time.

Oh, and one more thing. People don't get sick as a direct cause of being cold (if you havn't got a lowered immune system from hypothermia or something, but that is extreme). The reason why winter is flu-time is because viruses break down more rapidly in heat and UV-radiation and thus remains longer on surfaces when it's cold weather. So you are almost certainley NOT more prone to getting sick just because you are wearing less clothes or because your indoor environment is colder, if you havn't got the virus in your house already.

Edit: So all you parents out there. Let your children wear what they want!
 
Willy Kerlang
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That kotatsu has the potential to change my life!  I have a detached studio on our property that I use to work in, but I can't seem to keep it warm.  I tried a regular electric heater--horribly inefficient and expensive.  Now I have a radiant heater, which uses very little electricity and works well, but only on the part of my body it is shining on.  I can't afford to remodel the studio to hold a wood stove just yet, but in the meantime I think a kotatsu would be absolutely perfect.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Could the kotatsu heater be run off a small solar system?  And what do they use for cooking in Japan?  Heating hot water?

Kathleen
 
Cris Bessette
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I went a bit extreme last winter and saved on my electric/gas bill: I closed the door to the living room and stayed in there unless I had to go to the bathroom or cook.
The living room is the only room I heated. I slept, ate, dressed, LIVED in there for the coldest part of the winter.
Being a single guy this was pretty easy to do.
 
Mac Nova
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Having an extencive background in thermodynamics and power generation I have seen many ideas and power "saving" concepts over the years. Most are very technical or require doing without heat to save. Not my idea of saving this doing without. Heat scavenging is about the best low tech method of doing this thru heat exchange.

That being said there are two simple concepts with heat.

1. Heat rises.
2. Heat moves from hot to cold.

A simple application for these two principles is in an apartment above the first floor. I lived in one for years on the thid floor in Northern Canada for years heated by electric power and never used it even in-40C weather. The idea is to open a window, yes open a window... The air flow created will draft out your hot air and inturn will create a low poressure zone in your apartment. Then open your apartment door and you will draw in all the warm air from the building and equalize the apartment temperature with the average temperature of the building in a few minutes. As I draw the heat from the building cold outside air will replace the warm air being drafted and the building heaters will kick in to reheat the air.

Its not free heat but I never paid for it just scavenged the hall heat and whatever drafted out underneath doors. At night as the apartment cooled heat flows hot to cold and being the clodest apartment at night heat would transfer to my apartment using this principle.

Much the same as a refrigerator working many think that the fridge cools off things in reality it removes heat it doesn't add cold. And the Idea of darkness you don't make somthing dark, dark does not exist its just an absence of light that prevents reflection.

The process works the same in hot climates for air conditioning thermal equalization can take place using an underground trench dig a trench four or more feet down run a pipe a have one end open to the outside and the other inside your home. As the hot air rises and exits your house on a hot day it will draft the air thru the piping and as the air travels thru it will try and heat the dirt in the surrounding trench losing its own heat in the process the heat will be lost to a max. of the ground temperature and this cool air will enter the house thru a vent. Another way to scavenge the heat from food items using this method is to convert a closet to a "cold sorage area is to vent in the cold air thru the bottom of the closet and the food will try and heat the cold air thus losing its own heat and becoming as cold as the vented air no need to insulate the closet and just leave the top of the closet open to insure continuious air flow. The food will equalize to the intake air temperature so as you dig monitor ground temperature and thats how cold the food will be. Hotter it is the more air flow and this draws in a greater volume of cooler air making the system more efficient.
 
paul wheaton
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Dale Hodgins
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She's not wearing a parka or ear muffs so you're probably being far too lenient.

Try getting her into those one piece thermal underwear with the built-in fire escape at the bottom. If she wore those and went out to chop firewood for 10 min. every hour you could probably shut all the heat off and light the place with fireflies.
 
Victor Johanson
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Interesting. I live in Fairbanks, and back in the '80s, my neighbor across the road (one of many fascinating characters living here) took this approach. His place was a small travel trailer, which had been covered with styrofoam insulation panels, and he heated with electricity, which is almost unheard of up here because it is ridiculously expensive (presently almost .20/kwh). He had an old recliner with heat lamps strategically positioned under and around it, and claimed it was the cheapest method he had found. He's since aged and moved to town, and I haven't seen him for awhile, but next time I do I'll ask him the specifics. He kept detailed records of his daily energy usage, correlated with the weather. He also rode his bicycle to town daily, even in below-zero weather, when he was in his sixties.
 
Jay Green
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We just heat with wood and use down comforters on the beds. A two story, drafty old farmhouse is kept comfortable and our electric runs from $18 -$48 per month in the winter, depending on who is in residence that winter.
 
Paul Overton
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Paul, good news! You no longer have to heat your bathroom (although you may want to). Here are some heated toilet seats. I only chose items with 4+ star ratings and sorted by cost.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_st?bbn=228013&keywords=heated+toilet+seat&qid=1350320623&rh=n%3A228013%2Ck%3Aheated+toilet+seat%2Cp_72%3A1248909011&sort=price
 
paul wheaton
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Sherry Jansen
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Holy crap! I thought we were the only people on earth who appreciated a house with no heating system!

We get by these 40degree days by doubling up on wool socks and long johns...I recommend Iron Clads with odor control. We also wear vests over the long johns.

I build a fire a couple times a day in one of the 10 rooms in the house. When we had the kids living here, sure, we nearly killed ourselves cutting, chopping and stacking wood. We since found out about rocket mass heaters and will be installing one under the older half of the house and one in a sauna.

That said, we also only heat ourselves. When I have to work in the coldest part of the house, the computer room, I sit on a heating pad and can work all day. That's enough for me to stay warm with very little input.

We also don't worry anymore that the fire goes out at night. We have sealed the pipe areas off plus insulated the pipes so if the temps drop to below zero, no problems. And, as a luxury, we have an electric blanket so there is no jumping into a cold bed.

There are so many benefits to living like this, besides using less resources-we rarely have colds over winter because germs can't grow here

As I wrap my shawl back over my shoulders, I commend you on your frugality.
 
Sherri Lynn
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In reply to Paul Wheaton:

I like the concept of heating just the person, but I am curious about why you didn't just go to the Goodwill store and buy a used ski suit?
 
Ken Peavey
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Came across this: Under the Desk Heater
120 Volts, 170 Watts, 1.4 Amps.
70 bucks.

I'm thinking this will keep my feet plenty warm.
 
paul wheaton
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Ken Peavey wrote:Came across this: Under the Desk Heater
120 Volts, 170 Watts, 1.4 Amps.
70 bucks.

I'm thinking this will keep my feet plenty warm.


Keep in mind that the most efficient form of heat is conductive.

I think my dog bed heater is rated for something like 45 watts, but actually uses 15 watts according to the kill-a-watt.

Here is one that I bought for Jocelyn a few years ago. It is designed to warm people-feet instead of dogs. It has all sorts of tilt and comfort settings. She has put a lot of miles on it. It can even be configured to be like yours.



amazon

 
Ken Peavey
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At home, at night, in the winter
I use the bedroom for sleeping, often with a heating pad for the back. The new bed is MUCH warmer than the old one. Got some different blankets that are toasty.
I use the bathroom for a few moments at a time. Longer periods of use has ample hot water involved.
I use the kitchen for a few moments at a time. Longer period have the stove going and sometime some hot water.
For the most part I'm at my desk.
I don't use the back bedroom or the living room. I don't really care about heat in the laundry room. I've shut off vents in those rooms, heating them does nothing for me.
This place uses electric heat and the bill is less than 100 bucks. It's been well insulated to keep the Cool in. Florida does not need much heating, but sometimes this place gets HOT. Right now it's daytime and I have the door open. Being a tightwad, I'd like to see how much I can cut that bill down.
 
R Scott
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Ken, shut the furnace OFF (or set the thermostat just high enough to prevent frozen pipes if that is a concern) and see what happens. I run my furnace maybe 6 days a year--1 to make sure it still works and then a couple days of gone for the holidays.
 
Ken Peavey
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I turn it down to 50 when I leave.
 
R Scott
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Try leaving it at 50 all the time.

I find a good down vest helps keep the core warm, and a hot water bottle or heating pad over the kidneys warms you up all over.
 
Kota Tsuki
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Location: Western world......
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:Could the kotatsu heater be run off a small solar system?  And what do they use for cooking in Japan?  Heating hot water?

Kathleen


According to this website kotatsu usually run on 110V, since this is the standard voltage for Japan. So basically a solar system that could handle a "normal" device should be able to handle a kotatsu as well right?

In Japan old houses usually rely on electricity for cooking, while newer houses have gas as well. The main reason why gas isn't as popular as in other countries is because of the earthquakes that frequently occur and the added risk of fire that causes.
 
Linda Secker
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Location: Lancaster, UK
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Our house is heated with gas, but similar things still apply.

We have barely used the gas central heating since we put a woodburning stove in our kitchen (we both spend a lot of time in there and it used to be really cold) but I still get cold in my office upstairs and have to keep going to the kitchen for a warm-up!

If the stove isn't lit, I wear a woven wool shawl and put a hot water bottle on my knees or under my feet. LOVE the idea of a heated dog bed.

At night, I put the hot water bottle in bed at foot level, then go clean my teeth, get a drink etc. By the time I get in, there is a lovely warm spot where my feet go and i can pull the hottle up for a cuddle
 
paul wheaton
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I did this experiment six years ago.  Surely other people have been able to duplicate the experiment?
 
duane hennon
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I use the heat lamps at the computer and the bathroom
I set my thermostat at 58 (I heat with oil)
my heating oil consumption is down by about 25%
my electric has stayed about the same probably due to
less electric usage by the oil furnace (burner and blower)

I recommend buying one of these (or a similar brand)
http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-2023985/biddeford-electric-mattress-pad.jsp

an already warm bed on a cold night
I set it at 2 (out of ten) and with a sheet and comforter I stay warm

product review
http://www.electricblanketinstitute.com/biddeford-mattress-pad.html

yes, there's an "Electric Blanket Institute"
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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