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Monday, December 29, 2014

Household Electrical Usage, What Kind of Conservation Makes Sense?

What can you do at a Residence that really makes sense in terms of saving electricity?

I will add to this article at a later date "when I have time" lol.   But for now let this suffice.    I am an expert in these matters, there are only 14,000 Certified Energy Managers (CEM) in the USA.   I am one of them, my number is in the low 9000's

There are a few things you can do at a household that make economic sense with a quick payback.    And there are lots of things you can do that hardly make sense at all based on economics and the value of your own time.    That said....anything we do to conserve energy or produce energy strikes a nail into the heart of The Nuclear Lie.

Replace any 10 year old or older  Refrigerator or Freezer with a new more efficient  unit.   If possible, if you have like 3 total units at your house, try to eliminate one completely.

Replace any electric water heater with solar water heat.    If you have gas water heating, it is unlikely that going solar will make economic sense.

Replace older conventional washing machines with modern Front Loader washing machines

If you have gas available, consider converting Electric Dryer to Gas

If you have incandescent lights, convert to CFL.    Consider converting to LED, but be careful, not all LED is cheap at this time.     The run hours of the light say everything about the economic sense of the changeout.    Contact me if you need help on a simple analysis.    I need original  watts, run hours, and replacement watts, and cost of replacement.

Install Solar PV.   This is pretty much a no brainer throughout the USA except in the areas with super cheap hydro-power.    In places like Hawaii, it is the Mother Of All No brainers.   What is the cost (less tax and utility incentives), and what is the output?    What is the expected rate of increase in power cost from your power company (the answer is likely around 6% per year).    The analysis is pretty simple.     The more systems that go in your area, the lower the costs will become.    However, be aware of tax credits going away in 2016. 

Install Power Strips on congregations of equipment that can be shutoff completely, like your entertainment center.    Lots of devices have lights or CPUs or microchips running whenever plugged in, even if off.     These are also called vampire loads.   The Vampire Loads can be as high as 10% to 15% of your entire household usage.

In high heat areas like most of Hawaii, installing a solar attic fan is an extremely cheap way to accomplish a lot of worthy goals.    With current tax credits, the cost is typically under $400 net cost.  You can achieve, cooler attic and less heat coming  into the house.   That means greater comfort and lower air-conditioning bills.   They will also prolong the life of your roof, make your storage space more useable (attic space can run 150F to 180F, damaging anything in there).

That's it, 8 no brainers


DO NOT --Buy any "black box" gizmos from salesmen that will mount in your garage and magically make all your energy consumption drop 30% (or even 10%).    These Capacitors, aka Power Conditioners, and other trade names are 99% smoke and mirrors.   Remember, the best  lies have an element of the truth.

DO NOT - worry too much about your electric range.    Even if you cook a lot, these are a very small fraction of your overall bill.    It will not make economic sense to change a range from electric to gas, But, and I have just done this, converted from Electric to gas in order to have better cooking, instantaneous heat control, and emergency backup in a power outage (you still need to be able to provide 120V for the range to operate, but this is small, think computer backup UPS)

DO NOT fall for well intentioned but damaging misunderstanding of technical information like an electrician saying to convert your Jacuzzi tub to 240V from 120V will cut your electric in half.     I have heard this kind of thing so many times, it wants to make me pull my hair out.   YES it will cut your amperage in half, that it a simple formula.   However, you buy electricity in KWH.   True your amperage is down by half, but your overall wattage you need to buy stays right about the same.    The  change in efficiency is minor, 1% to 3% by going to 240V. 

DO NOT switch to a "Instantaneous Water Heater" in areas of high calcium and especially silicate water supplies.    The savings attributed to these types of heater are vastly inflated.   The amount of energy lost through thermal conduction through the insulation of your water heater  is really small, a heater might lose 2 or 3 degrees overnight.     Electric Instantaneous is even worse than Gas Instantaneous.

DO NOT fall for a "change to gas water heat from electric"  IF you can go hot water Solar.    Gas heaters are not good FUTURE candidates for conversion to Solar.   Don't think 'I can always do solar later after the conversion to gas', it is not that simple.    The best backup heating system for a typical solar is electric backup.    Do not buy Gas Water Heat on a new house.   Solar is FAR better.   Developors will set their best salesmen on you to convince you the gas is better, simply because it is cheaper for them to build and they can make more money off of you.   

In the future I will detail a CONSIDER LIST, it won't be that large


Modern refrigerators and freezers are extremely efficient, even with the electric heat defrost.

I bought a 20 Cubic Foot freezer to store 1/3 of my garden harvest.   I logged it using a kWH plug in meter.   These used to cost $120 and even as a CEM I only had 2, now they are in the $20 range and you can get them at the big box stores or online.

I logged my large freezer and in the heat of summer whilst loading it with warm product, it was using 1.2kWH per day, or a little less than $6 per month.   In winter, with the freezer in an unheated garage, I expect the usage to be much less, and I just deployed my logger to collect some REAL DATA.

Folks in order to make good decisions, we need REAL DATA.   Otherwise we spin our wheels, wasting our own precious energy and time.

To Emphasize a no brainer that doesn't even deserve analysis: if your refrigerator or freezer is over 10 YO, replace it, the energy savings alone will pay for the new unit.   Donate the old one to someone who really needs it.    Put it up on craigslist if need be.  


  1. #1 - purchase a small (less than or equal to 15A) power meter to verify consumption.

    Also, correct me if i'm wrong, but wouldn't inputting 240VAC into a heater/pump rated at 120 VAC have some undesireable safety and equipment lifespan consequences? (Solar heat for the hot tub?)

    Manufacturer's product warranty seems to speak to expected product life-span.
    If your new washer only ships with a one year warranty, don't just walk away, RUN! :P

    Voltage Reduction was a viable strategem employed by California to relieve the so-called "energy crisis" in the early 2000's, as proposed by Dr. Willard Wattenburg of Lawrence Livermore.

    See starting pg. 73 of 114.

    Public money paid for that study. "They" tried to quash it. "They" failed.

    Title: "Emergency Voltage Reduction Experiments, Proposals, and Utility Company Reactions During the California Energy Crisis 2000-2001"

    A.K.A. "EVR"

    Quote from page 77/114: "Laboratory tests showed no adverse effect of low voltages whatsoever on domestic appliances and commercial equipment when the voltage was as low as 100 volts (equivalent 200 volts for "240 volt" equipment). The biggest surprise came from the greatest domestic load on our power grids during summertime. Comprehensive tests showed that the most popular home air conditioner's continue to run well at voltages as low as 200 volts. In fact, they are most efficient at around 200 volts, not the standard 240 volts. Their power factor actually increases with lower voltage down to 200 volts. The drop in power output of the air conditioner motors is insignificant from 240 down to 200 volts. But the overall EER energy efficiency ratio (BTU's of heat transferred versus power consumed) actually improves slightly down to 200 volts."

    For an electrician or electrical engineer alike, it makes for riveting reading. It is a bitch of a document to quote though.

    Perhaps that might help those off-grid?

    1. Yes, that is the same "Dr. Bill" formerly of KGO 810AM, whom i used to listen to, until the denial exhibited by him concerning Fukushima drove me away.

      Check out his resume.

      Is he not also a "father of fracking" done basically on a dare (iirc)?

      Quote from page 81/114: "This means that an enormous amount of energy is being wasted on our power grids during peak demand times."

    2. Ya, the 240V conversion would require a new 240V and make sure heating element is up to it also.

  2. BC Hydro had a rebate program to buy back old refridgerators from residential customers for $30.oo each. They stated buying a new fridge could save $90.oo in electricity per year.

    (Sadly, many Americans and Eastern Canadians seem to think "BC Hydro" is a strain of marijuana.)

    Other jurisdictions might have similar programs or rebates concerning fridge purchases.

    Is it not also important to note if an utility is charging a customer based at least partly upon time-of-day consumption?

    1. Almost no households have a "time of day" consumption, its just a straight cost regardless of time of day. Give the consumer a break, they have other things to worry about than when they turn a switch on....such as getting raped by bankers and corrupt politicians who are purchased puppets.

      Yes your local utility may have an incentive to help buydown cost of new frig.

  3. From the commercial site, NoUViR:

    Title: "Don't Be LED Down The Garden Path (Part 1) - COLOR IN "WHITE" LEDs"
    Quote: "Just so you know where we're going with this series, LEDs are great for a lot of things. Unfortunately, lighting art and artifacts isn't one of them. For low-voltage, intermittent use, monochromatic color (RGB or even Y), or long life, LEDs can't be beat. But they don't do so well where color rendition is important or UV is a problem. And wired together in banks, they loose a lot of their reported efficiency. People are making lots and lots of claims for LEDs right now. Lets take a look at LED lighting."
    ... "And, we wouldn't be NoUVIR if we didn't remind you that none of these sources meet IESNA guidelines for museum (or commercial) lighting by filtering all non-visible radiation. No UV, no IR: NoUVIR."

    Title: "Don't Be LED Down The Garden Path (Part 2) - UV AND IR IN "WHITE" LEDs"
    Quote: "The problem is, lighting manufacturers tend to limit their data to the visible range. Until recently UV and IR were not considered problems. Then they either extrapolate (believe without testing) that the data continues along the same curves, or if they know better, they let you believe that the data continues along the same curves.

    The fact is that it doesn't. The low points at the end of the visible range are not the tail ends of the LED spectral outputs, they are simply low points (valleys) in the data. You need to know that significant UV and IR emissions continue past the data points most manufacturers show you."

    ... "The photo above shows a UVX Radiometer using a 200nm-300nm head (UVB and UVC) in the actual testing of a major brand "white" LED luminaire. The meter shows a UV output of 3.8"W/cm2 for their "cool white" LEDS. The spectral power distribution from the manufacturer's website shows peak output for this LED to be roughly the same intensity, 3.7"W/ cm2. Their "warm white" LEDs show even worse results, a peak output of 1.9"W/cm2 and a short wave UV output of 2.9"W/cm2. The bottom line is that these fixtures put out as much UV as they do blue light."

    1. Title: "Don't Be LED Down The Garden Path (Part 3) - EFFICIENCY AND LIFE EXPECTANCY OF "WHITE" LEDs"
      Quote: "Hearing a lot about "white" LEDs? So are we. We hear things like "50,000-hour life" and "huge energy savings." That sounds terrific. But, let's see the numbers!

      LEDs are current sensitive. An LED circuit needs to regulate current to the LED as the LED's temperature changes. It needs to do this for each LED individually. You can't have one LED burning out and taking out the whole array like a string of old style Christmas lights. You dim LEDs by limiting current, not voltage. A rheostat won't do it. All this requires very sophisticated, and not terribly efficient circuitry."

      ... "Regular electric lamp life is measured by the average age (under absolutely ideal conditions) at which they fail. We know that overdriving LEDs can make them brighter, but it significantly shortens their life. We also know that LEDs tend to change color and loose intensity as they age. While LEDs advertise extremely long life numbers, one begins to wonder just how useful those final years of life truly will be.

      The chart above along with reported research by RPI shows that under the good conditions LEDs can be expected to loose 40 percent of their intensity in the first 4000 hours. Under overdrive conditions the graph seems to indicate that this loss can be as much as 90 percent. With new products coming out almost daily it will be some time before really accurate life data is available. Bear in mind simple life testing itself (running 24/7) will take eight years. We are on uncharted ground. But, it would be best not to count too heavily on extended life until test data is available.

      Finally, keep a eye on LEDs. There is a tremendous amount of R&D going into LEDs and some of these hurdles may be overcome."

      Disclosure: I have no relationship, professional, personal or financial, with the aforementioned company. They have a neat sounding sales pitch on the main page. Their book store has one title that i believe Ontological might recommend (another source of?) titled "QED The Strange Theory of Light and Matter" by Richard P. Feynman.

      Quote of Richard P. Feynman: "Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts."

      Perhaps it might be worthy to note manufacturer's warranty length and conditions when planning a purchase.

      What do i know? I might as well be a MacDonald's worker! Pay grade? I pay attention. There are slave-labor immigrants that have higher pay-grades than me. Money ain't everything though. Even i can make a positive contribution in this world. I am living proof.

      So can you, the reader.

      (to the tune of Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It!") "Tip it real good!"

    2. Ah, WHPPSS!

      The Feynman quote makes me sound like an expert ... in ignorance!

      I am truly sorry stock. I meant no offense by that quote.

    3. @Dud, thats funny, if it make you sound like an expert....and other believe in the ignorance of

      Some LEDS are not cost effective.

    4. No matter where you are, Theremino you go!

  4. Disclosure: I have no relationship whatsoever with the following company either:

    This is not for advertising their product unsolicited, but for fair usage. It is not an endorsement nor is it intended to verify their claims (am skeptical about winter usage; be that as it may). It is to promote open exchanges of ideas to save this continent and others from slavery of manifold kinds.

    Hey, that seems a variation on PlowboyGrownUp's link to evaporative cooling!

    Proverbs 19: "Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool."



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