Brent Rickenbacker

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since Jun 13, 2011
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Recent posts by Brent Rickenbacker

Make sure you have enough clearance from top of your riser tube to the top of the tank. If you don't have enough clearance I have seen this cause reduced performance.

Kudos on your design! I like the wheels!
7 years ago

One thing that could help you pinpoint the energy hog... About two years ago I bought a Black and Decker energy monitor... It comes with a sensor that mounts on your electric meter. A handheld unit monitors the sensor output and gives you real-time energy usage... It also does a great job of forecasting what your bill will be based on current\average usage.

I got mine from Amazon:

This thing really helped us figure out what things in our house were energy hogs. Our heat pump system was definitely killing us. I found a few things that were just sitting there eating current. The good thing about this monitoring device is that it is a whole house monitor... It enables you to get the big picture on overall usage, yet you can also use it to see the effect of turning on or off different devices \ appliances. It has definitely paid off.


8 years ago
I think you can definitely cut that bill by a LARGE percentage.

I was in the same situation... House about 3000 sq ft. Electric bill was through the roof. I've cut my bill by 50% or more, and I really haven't sacrificed much at all.

It is important to take into consideration not only the house itself, but also the humans living in the house... Their habits... The times the house is occupied... etc.
It is important to get the people in the house to be on your team with the concept of saving money \ energy. If they don't go along with it you will fail in reducing your bill. You will have to educate everyone on how to turn off lights, and how to deal with slight differences in their routines \ ways of life.

Heating a house of that size is a costly endeavor with electric heat. While some here might recommend a rocket mass heater, I would personally recommend a free-standing wood stove. I actually built and installed a rocket mass heater in my home, but I later removed the stove (kids needed the room) and I put a free standing wood stove in another room. ( The rocket stove heated up the room it was in well, but it wasn't quite enough to heat the whole house. It required frequent feeding.

We moved kids into the room where the rocket stove was... No more rocket stove. We installed a free standing wood stove in our den. Man, the heat is just outstanding!! The burn times are great, and it will heat the whole house. (You can run the fans if you have a centralized AC and it will circulate the heat.) I'm lucky because I have a lot of land and free firewood. Here is the link to my wood stove install project ( It wasn't until I installed this wood stove that there was happiness in my home in the winter months. When we were running the heat pump we paid through the nose every month... and we were still cold. No more! We stay warm now and our bill is low.

In the winter turn our heat pumps OFF. In the summer we set our thermstats to about 78 and use ceiling fans, or we open in the windows.

Another thing... Use a clothesline if you can. An Electric Dryer is an evil thing.

With an electric bill of 600 bucks a month it would also do you some good to determine where its all going. I recommend going room to room and check out all of your devices. Put them on timers, turn them OFF, or use power saving modes where possible.

Hope this helps. Keep us posted! I look forward to hearing how you are saving!
8 years ago
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.

Good luck to all.
8 years ago
So what you are saying is that your vehicle serves a purpose and it is a necessity. Nothing wrong with that! And I can totally relate to living in the boonies.

Like I said... Transportation is a necessary evil. It's very hard to live without it these days... The trick is finding the happy median in which you get to have a vehicle you can use as needed without feeling as though you are working your life away to pay for said vehicle.
8 years ago
I'm not sure why you would assume that I would assume anything about you.

My point was simply that people tend to overlook what the actual cost is. As for my taxes, I'm not overly shocked. It's no secret that the things you own end up owning you. All I was getting at was that those taxes need to be remembered throughout the year and not just at tax time... As with all of the other expenses. It is important to quantify these things when one commutes to work.

We are not in a Roman Chariot race... We don't need shimmering state of the art... We need something with which to transport one's hindparts from point A to point B whilest still leaving some cabbage in the pocket.
8 years ago
Man, I just got my vehicle tax bill and I think I have seen the light about vehicle ownership. People look at a car payment and say "Oh that's not bad"... But you really have to ask yourself "What is this car really costing me each month?".

[Car Payment] + [Monthly Insurance Cost] + [Vehicle Tax Amount \ 12] + [Yearly Vehicle Registration Cost \ 12] + [Inspection \ 12] + (Yearly Maintenance Costs \ 12) + [Fuel Cost] + [Yearly Oil & Fluid Change Cost \ 12] = Actual Monthly Payment

A car gets you from one place to another. Thats IT! People confuse transportation with status \ identity... A costly mistake! A driveway full of vehicles is a guaranteed path to financial woes. The corporations and governments are thriving on the money they make from your vehicle ownership. Investing it a vehicle is like throwing your cash into an incinerator. Sure, transportation is a necessary evil, but you have to gauge how much evil you are willing to tolerate and understand that when you sign your name on the dotted line you are agreeing to labor for years and years to pay for something. You might be able to buy something much cheaper that will get the job done just as well.
8 years ago
I have been a user of both Rocket Mass Heater as well as a conventional wood stove in my home. I build my RMH out of an old water heater tank. It was fun to build and it did an OK job of heating the room it was in, but I found that it just didn't put out as much heat as my conventional wood stove. Here's a link to my rocket stove...

With a rocket mass stove you will burn less fuel, but you will find yourself feeding the stove more often.... Unless you can rig up some sort of gravity feed system. If you use your RMH within masonry \ cob you get the benefit of storing the heat in a thermal battery for an extended time.... My house is about 2900 sq feet, and the RMH just wasn't heating my house well. The room that my RMH was in got repurposed (Kids)... Sooo... Now my RMH is a patio heater. I am thinking seriously about cutting the top off of the unit and welding a flat top onto it with a hole for exposed flame for outdoor cooking.

This past year I installed a Vogelzang Wood Stove (The Durango. Got it from I also added a device called a "MagicHeat" into the flue pipe. The new stove heats my entire house. The MagicHeat really cranks out a lot of heat. For the first time since my house was built it was actually warm this winter. I burned about 1-1/2 pickup truck loads of wood. I simply could not be happier with this setup!! Wood is abundant in my area, and I am going to build a wood shed to store my firewood for next winter!! Here's my new setup...

8 years ago
Thanks for all of the replies! So far I've already saved about 24 bucks this week by not going out to lunch.

My lunches are real cheap this week. For lunch this week I am brown bagging.
I found a pretty good deal on some microwaveable Ravioli's, Soups, etc that cost about .60 to .80 each.
P, B, and J's are super cheap.
Nutrigrain bars, or similar.
And most importantly... I drink water. No more paying for soda's, coffee, etc.

An added bonus... Because I eat while working I go home an hour earlier. That's worth a lot to me too.
8 years ago
I saw a two seater version of the pic above going down the road a few weeks ago. It was very cool looking and it appeared to handle really well. It definitely looked like a commercial build... Maybe a Can-Am or something.

I just started riding a motorcycle again... And man... I can't even put into words how much I have missed riding over the years. Keep us posted!

8 years ago