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The little things  RSS feed

 
gardener
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We talk about a lot of huge energy savers here on permies. See especially rocket mass heaters and how Paul cut 87% off his electric heat bill.

In this thread I'd like to talk about the little things. What are some of the little things we can do to save energy? Please add to this list.

31) Refrigeration - converting a chest freezer to a fridge can save 90% of refrigeration energy… but most people who travel this path get sick of crawling in to the refrigerator to get the things out of the bottom
32) Nearly all effort to mitigate “phantom loads” uses more energy than the “phantom load” - so not this
33) A haybox cooker can save energy and keep your home much cooler in the summer.
34) A rocket oven can help you convert a few twigs to pizza, cake, lasagna, pie, etc.
35) A toaster oven gets small jobs done with far less energy than a full-size oven.
36) Put a timer on bathroom fans
37) A plug-in kettle heats water with one third the electricity of a stove top kettle
38) Put outdoor flood lights on a motion detector
 
Posts: 76
Location: mid Ohio, 40.318626 -83.766931
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change all lights to LED
 
pollinator
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For those in traditional homes with central heat/air, determine any rooms not needed and close the vents to those rooms.
 
wayne fajkus
pollinator
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One i consider huge is an electric pressure cooker. The pressure can take hours of cooking time off roasts, whole chicken  stews, soups. 20 minutes cook time vs 3 hours is a lot of energy saved.

They are available with stainless steel pots. You dont have to settle on teflon.
 
pollinator
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I installed two used high efficiency alliances and cut my gas/electric bill in half.
Gas dryer with moisture sensor and a front loading cloths washer .
Low flow toilet, plus the cloths washer, cut my water bill in half.
 
master pollinator
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Orient your home to take advantage of southern aspect for winter heating

This winter, watching how much the sheep drank out of their livestock tank meant over the winter we filled the livestock tank to that level and no more. Without water to freeze, we had no electric stock tank heaters to run. Some months it used to approaches $350 a month over normal to keep our water tanks free of ice; this year we saved $1200 or more.

Use a candle to check for drafts in a home. Weather striping and caulking add up to a 2x2 foot hole in the average sized home. If you had a 2 x 2 foot hole in your home, wouldn't you stuff it with plywood and some insulation? Get some caulking and seal your home.

In the winter, I get my coffee maker to start my coffee and warm it, but then I shut it off and use my woodstove as a warmer for the decanter throughout the morning.

Consider 2 wheel tractors, they pack a lot of work into a tiny machine for small acreages.

Take an adult education welding course (men and women), the ability to fix, repair and build your own stuff. I often build farm implements for $10 when buying it would means thousands of dollars spent.

 
pollinator
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There is one cost-effective way to manage phantom loads: Unplug anything you don't trust, or plug it into a power strip with a switch.
 
gardener
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Shawn Klassen-Koop wrote:32) Nearly all effort to mitigate “phantom loads” uses more energy than the “phantom load” - so not this


I heartily agree.  I found a power strip on my tv used as much juice as the tv when it was off.  1.5 watts each.  The price I paid for my Kill-a-Watt will take me decades to pay off with my phantom savings.
 
pollinator
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...Phantom loads....I simply don't keep things plugged in. Nor do I use appliances with clocks or computers. Where it's difficult or inconvenient to plug and unplug, I have the outlet on a handy switch...kinda of like having your garbage disposal on a switch. Simple. Flick on the outset when you need power. Keep it shut off the rest of the time.

In addition to things already mentioned:
...I have a friend that has an electric clock in the wall of just about every room in his house. No me. Not one clock. I use a wristwatch.
...no electric power gadgets. I see folks with all sorts of electric powered do-dads in their homes.  Electric air fresheners. Mini water fountains. Bubble lamps. Strobe lights on their Christmas tree. Nothing exists like that in my house.
...I don't need central heat, but when we need heat to take off the morning chill, I use a wood stove.
...When the wood stove is running, I use it to heat water for coffee, dish water, or to cook something simple.
...I use a solar oven for cooking and dehydrating.
...I use a homemade rocket stove for cooking the chicken food. I've been known to cook our dinner on it too at times.
...I keep lights turned off when not in use. And no outdoor flood lights on all the time.
...I have an on-demand propane water heater. The old one had a pilot light which we did not keep on. By only turning the unit on when we needed hot water, we saved 3/4 of our propane. Incredible savings. Our new unit does not use a pilot light, which is even better.  
...my propane range does not have pilot lights. Pilot lights are energy hogs.
...I changed my habits!!! I stopped needing to use hot water more than twice a day. I stopped using items that used lots of energy of I didn't need them. I seldom ever use the microwave, toaster, oven, etc. I hang my wash out on a clothesline. I use a chest freezer and a chest refrigerator. We gradually switched over to eating more non-cooked foods, like salads, fruits, or assorted finger foods. For example, dinner tonight was garden celery stuffed with freshly made cheese, crackers, bananas, beef strips previously cooked in the solar oven, and a few macnuts. For tomorrow's dinner I'm considering boiled potatoes (cooked on the wood stove) rolled in my own dehydrated herb mix (previously dehydrated in the solar oven) & macnut oil (our own. No electric needed to produce it), hard boiled eggs (previously cooked in the wood stove), the rest of the cheese,  papaya slices, avocado slices, and cherry tomatoes.
 
garden master
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Put up a clothes line and quit using the dryer.

Some benefits besides saving on electricity: You don't heat up the house so you save $$ for A/C, the clothes smell so fresh and the white clothes are whiter


 31) Refrigeration - converting a chest freezer to a fridge can save 90% of refrigeration energy… but most people who travel this path get sick of crawling in to the refrigerator to get the things out of the bottom  



Go to Dollar Tree and get plastic baskets for $1.00  then add labels so you know what is in the baskets.  These can be stacked on top of each other.
 
pollinator
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Shawn Klassen-Koop wrote:We talk about a lot of huge energy savers here on permies. See especially rocket mass heaters and how Paul cut 87% off his electric heat bill.

In this thread I'd like to talk about the little things. What are some of the little things we can do to save energy? Please add to this list.

31) Refrigeration - converting a chest freezer to a fridge can save 90% of refrigeration energy… but most people who travel this path get sick of crawling in to the refrigerator to get the things out of the bottom
32) Nearly all effort to mitigate “phantom loads” uses more energy than the “phantom load” - so not this
36) Put a timer on bathroom fans
37) A plug-in kettle heats water with one third the electricity of a stove top kettle
38) Put outdoor flood lights on a motion detector



For what it's worth, the chest fridge conversions claim of 90% less energy is comparing a small chest fridge to a large upright fridge&freezer.  When you compare them to a similar size fridge only, the savings is much smaller, perhaps 50%.
However, that is still a significant savings.  Whether that is worth the nuisance of having to dig around for stuff, and cleaning out condensation occasionally, is a personal choice.

Phantom loads typically aren't that significant these days.  Modern electronics have very little standby power use (if any).  The phantom load for my entire house is around 20 watts if you don't include my servers and other networking equipment, the servers, DSL router, wifi, etc. add another 25 watts.  
If you are off grid, then completely eliminating phantom loads would allow you to shut down the inverter(s) most of the time.  If you are on-grid or grid tied, it's probably not worth the effort to try to chase them down.

Note: Modern "LED" TVs can be remarkably efficient.  I have a 46" TV that only draws about 100 watts at night, it draws about twice that much if we watch it during the day because the display automatically brightens up when there is a lot of ambient light.  This is a 10 year old set, I think the newer ones are even more efficient.

I wired my bathroom fans into the light switch.  That way you can't forget to turn them on when you take a shower, and since we are already in the habit of turning off lights when we leave a room...
My house came with outdoor flood lights, I rarely use them.  At one time I considered upgrading them to LED lights, but I think I've used them maybe 4 times in the last 10 years so not really worth the time and money.

I installed a blower fan in my attic crawl space that is controlled by the temperature difference between the attic and the house.  When the attic is warmer than the house that fan blows warm air through a filter down into the house.  This provides all the heating I need on days when the outdoor temps are above approx 45 degrees F.
A 12,000 BTU heat pump provides heating when the temps are below 45.  
We also switched the water heater to a heat pump.  We no longer have to buy propane, that was costing us about $500-$600 a year.  I figure it will take about 4-5 years to break even on the cost of the heat pumps and the solar panels to run them, perhaps a bit longer if we were off-grid.

A note on sealing your home.  You don't want to go overboard sealing every possible leak or your air quality will suffer.  The folks that build super well sealed "passive houses" usually have to install expensive air-to-air heat exchangers to pull in outside air.  These have to run continuously and the energy used by them is often more than the energy you would lose through air leaks.
 
I love a woman who dresses in stainless steel ... and carries tiny ads:
Rocket Oven plan download
https://permies.com/t/rocket-oven-plans
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