Well, I am happy to announce that the first round of measures we took to reduce our utility bill worked well. We managed to reduce our consumption by 500Kw/month. (read previous post). We went from 2000kw/month down to 1500kw/month. It’s hard to say what attributed the most to the cut, but if you follow the rule: watch out for heaters, motors and pumps, I suspect it was the leaky hydrant that caused our well pump to run constantly was the main culprit. However, soon after that post, we started our summer heat cycle and on came the central air conditioner.
Our home is modest in size, but it was designed with ‘green’ in mind over 8 years ago with a house made with concrete walls. Not the walls where blocks are stacked on top of each other in brick-type fashion, but using ICF technology, Styrofoam forms filled with concrete giving us a wall thickness of 13″ on the top level and 15″ down stairs. We have a SIP roof (Structural Insulated Panel) that is 10″ thick, so we have a home that is quite substantial in separating inside from out. However, that does not solve the electricity problem.
So on to round two. Just recently, we removed the steam generating humidifier unit and replaced it with a passive water flow system. In the winter, this should reduce our bill from 1600W (run 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week) down to zero watts. We also replaced the AC motor on the furnace to a DC unit. It apparently will have a higher fan speed and only use 1/4 of the electricity the old motor did. And the savings for this will be even more apparent next summer when we start to use the A/C again. Moving more air across the condenser unit will cool the house off faster. One thing that is very important for those with air conditioners: keep the outside coils clean. Once a year, have the outside unit washed and cleaned, especially the coils. This will make your A/C unit run more efficiently. The more efficient, the less electricity you will use. Please remember these outside condensers are extremely dangerous (high voltage) and you should hire a professional to do this work.
We also have 2 air to air exchangers in the house, one filtering the living area, the other filtering the underfloor crawl space. With mold being an issue in homes, the air to air exchanger in the crawl space helps to circulate the air while removing humidity. But the question is: How can you do that more efficiently? The solution we came up with is to install a humidistat in the crawl space, so the air to air exchanger is only on when it needs to be.
The last step we are taking, in this round of changes, is to install built in wall timer switches for all our ceiling fans, and have them work for only certain times during the day and not all day.
So, if you noticed the pattern here: motors, pumps and heaters. We’ll report back later at what these changes do to our electrical consumption, and then lay out the plans for the next round. I suspect that old ‘free fridge’ we inherited a while back has it’s day’s numbered. What good is free if your electrical bills are high every month?
Being green takes effort and yes, money, but our goal is to reduce our energy consumption to a point where we can consider looking into adding solar panels and produce all our own electricity. However, I want to point out that there are many ways to save electricity, save money and be green that doesn’t cost any money (or very little). We’ll investigate that a bit further a little down the road, but for now, let’s see how these steps work and I will report back later with these results.
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