You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2009.

True, but only when on. With my TED, I noticed that the toaster uses 1500 Watts. It is getting old and needs replaced. It is not toasting very well these days. The current toaster is a four slot. It is huge and I very rarely use all four slots.

Do they make energy efficient two slot toasters? It would be nice to have the option of putting only one side down it I wanted too.

Energy efficient toaster is more relative then real. My toaster toasts pretty fast. If I got one that “uses less” it will probably just take longer. But, if you pay a demand charge on your electric bill this upgrade could save you money.

I searched for “Energy Efficient Toasters” on Google.

I did find a cool model that saves energy by covering the tp of the toaster while toasting. The problem is that it draws 1 or2 Watts while not toasting. One review stated that it would use close to 9kWhrs just sitting around. I bet I don’t use that much while toasting for an entire year.

Toaster Reviews on WordPress. I found this site on google also. Not a bad place to visit.

This is the toaster I decided to go with, Black & Decker T2030

toasterIt only uses 850 Watts while on, is smaller than my current unit and costs less than $30.


Today is a good day for my conundrum. It is sunny and the wind is blowing an average speed of 12mph. The windmill in question is a skystream 3.7. At an average wind speed of 12mph I would be producing 400 kWhrs a month. I am guessing the cost installed would be $18,000. What does $18,000 towards a solar system get me? At about $10 a watt installed. 1800 Watt system. Of course, actual prices may very. 🙂 I have an average solar insolation value of 4. That is equal to 120kWhrs per month. Wow, did not see that coming! The one major problem is the neighbors, I don’t think they would like it if I got one.

Link to someone in Ohio that purchased one. His total cost was $15,087.00

After looking at that site, makes me think that 400kWhrs is way high. There maybe a lot of hot air in wind power. Hey, at least with solar all I have to do is place the panels in the sun. Don’t believe manufactures numbers. It is best to find someone else that will have similar conditions to yours.

What about a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT)


Urban Green Energy

Mariah Power

Cleanfield Energy

Wind Terra

I like the last link the best. Why? If I can mount it on top of the house and not have to install a pole. I will save money. But, it can’t keep me up at night during high winds.  i.e. it won’t shake the house. Major issue wit mounting on top of the house is weight. Some of these turbine weigh 500lbs.

At half the price, and 40% of the power…. It still is easier to put up panels. Maybe not as cheap per watt but easier. I believe that I am right smack dab in the middle. If I had higher than 4 solar insolation, I would get solar panels. If I had higher then 12mph annual wind, I would get a windmill. What I really need to find is a site that would have done this for me!

For a few years I have wanted a whole house fan. They are cheap to operate, bring in fresh air and are relatively easy to install. One very important thing to note. If you have a gas water heater that does not have a power vent then you have to make sure you open enough windows or you will back draft and bring toxic fumes into your house. I have a gas water heater. I plan one replacing it soon so I won’t have to worry about it.

How they work? Whole house fans suck hot air out of your house. They bring in cooler outside air in though open windows.  The added benefit is the air expelled from the fan is exhausted into the attic. This cools down the attic and that will cool your house down too.

Who makes them?

Air Vent, Inc.

Triangle Engineering of Arkansas, Inc.

Tamarack Technologies, Inc.

Installation? This is a straight forward process. Cut a hole in the ceiling. Block off trusses to make a box. Install shutter and fan. Supply electricity Sounds easy! Hints that I have found out. They (Triangle) makes shutters that enable one to install the fan without cutting the truss (joist). The joist will interfere very little with the operation of the fan. During the winter months I plan on making a insulation blanket to cover the unit. This will cut down on the heat loss thru the big whole in my ceiling. Installing a timer switch will allow the unit to shut off in the middle of the night so you don’t have to mess with it.

Temperatures in my area don’t often go above 90 degrees. At night, temps almost always go below 70 if not usually 60 during the summer. This is a great operating range for my whole house fan. I can run it at night and then close up the house during the day. This should save me tons of money this summer. I figure the unit may pay for itself in one season. Lowes sells the Air Vent unit. I do plan on purchasing the no-cut-joist shutter from the internet. I have though about angling the unit just like century homestead did. I will at least find out how much their unit cost. It may save me time and effort. One thing I do know, now is a good time the invest in a whole house fan.

I am not one for,

If its yellow let it mellow and brown flush it down.

But I want to save water. I already have a water saving shower head. I purchased a pet drinking fountain so I don’t let the sink water run anymore. What can I do next.

Two stage flushing. I could buy a retrofit kit from TwoFlush. But when I Googled it, I found that some people were not happy with it. Additionally, on their checkout page they do not have my brand of toilet listed. (Mansfield) The cost is $50. Plus another $15 to ship. What other alternatives do I have?

How much water are we talking about? The toilet that I am targeting is the main one downstairs. I figure it gets flushed well over a dozen times a day. But I will estimate higher because one of my kids is still in diapers. Let settle for 20 times. At 1.6 Gallons per flush. We have a total of 32 gallons a day. That is equal to almost a 1000 gallons a month. Money wise is $5 per month, 60$ a year.

Alternative? Replace the toilet. They make dual flush toilets. I started searching. One of the better sites I found was Terry Love’s. It has ratings and links to his forum with lots of customer perspective. There are a few dual flush toilets listed. I kind of like the Sydney Smart Toilets by Caroma. It only uses 1.28/0.8 gallons. Here is the only problem I have. My current toilet is not broken. I would be replacing a perfectly good toilet. When it is time to replace the toilet then I will do it with a dual flush model.

I have two options. Buy the TwoFlush system or modify my current toilet. I think I am going to modify my current toilet. I have a toilet fill valve with the float at the end of the metal arm. Where the are attaches to the fill valve there is a set screw. This screw controls the point at which the arm stops the fill valve. I turned the screw down to where I figure I save about 1 quart of water. That is equal to 5 gallons a day. Not as good as a dual flush but at least it did not cost me anything.

I am seriously considering turning off natural gas service to my house after this winter is over. I figure I can save money by using electricity and in the process, produce less CO2.

My current Gas appliances are;

Furnace, water heater, clothes dryer, and fireplace.

The fireplace. I plan on converting it to LPG. I only use the fireplace a few times a year. I plan on running a short line outside and having a tank in the ground.

The Clothes Dryer. I have blogged about the unit that I want. A heat pump dryer. They just need to get off their butts and make it.

The Water Heater. I blogged about this also. I may go with a hot water heat pump. I am worried about plumbing a solar hot water heater.  With limited roof area, I would like to leave enough room for PV panels. Remember, once a solar hot water tank is fully heated you are wasting the suns energy hitting the panels.

The Furnace. I want to upgrade to a high efficiency heat pump. Both neighbors have one and they really like them. I know for a fact they don’t get a winter heating bill of $300 like I do.

Saving Money and CO2 emissions

Saving money is the easy part. At least for me, Natural gas is more expensive per BTU then Electricity.

At $0.10 per kWhr = $29.30 per million BTUs.

At $1.70 per therm = $17.00 per million BTUs.

Heat pumps are about 200% efficient. $14.40 per million BTUs.

Gas furnace is only 80% efficient. $21.20 per million BTUs.

Gas Water Heater is 62% efficient. $27.42 per million BTUs.

As far as CO2 emissions. Coal plants are only about 35% efficient. Not including transmissions losses. But, I am not going to include transmission of gas either.

Coal emissions per million BTU is equal to 215 lbs. But to get one million BTU at the house is 615 lbs. At 200% efficient heat pumping would be 308 lbs. That is a lot of CO2.

Natural Gas is 117 lbs per million BTU. At the worst case 62% efficient would still be 188 lbs. So I am wrong. I won’t save CO2, just money. Even at 300% efficient heat pumps, I would still be at 205lbs. But this is why I am working towards going solar. Point of use electricity.

My cat won’t drink water from any other source. Most of the time the water gets left running all the time. How much does that cost me? Here is a website with an answer. The water has to stream out of the faucet, dripping won’t do. I estimate that it is running for a minimum of 6 hours per day.  (Sometimes it is on all night, most times a few hours a day) I went to the sink that we always use for the cat and turned it on. I then measured the time it took to fill an 8 oz cup. (30 seconds) The magic number is 45 gallons a day. This is equal to 1100 Gallons a month or 20% of my total usage. Oops! Sure, that only costs me a few dollars month but what a waste. If I take 20% of my water and sewer bill I get $6. $72 a year.

My solution. The Drinkwell® Platinum

Supposedly, it uses only 2 watts of power to operate. (1.4 kWhrs / month, $0.14 / month) This cost is far superior to the cost of water. The filter needs replaced every two months. At a cost of a little over two dollars. That is eqaul to only a dollar a month for filters. Here is a biggest reason to just the drinkwell. THE CAT WILL STOP BOTHERING ME FOR WATER! That alone makes is a good purchase. I don’t think I can get it soon enough.

Yes, research says that one will use less water in a dishwasher than washing dishes by hand. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

About 60% of the energy used by a dishwasher goes towards heating the water, so models that use less water also use less energy.

Another feature I am looking for is “no heat” drying option. Since the electric heating element consumes about 7% of dishwasher energy use.

First place I need to look is Energy Star. WOW, look at all the dishwashers. One thing I don’t see is water usage? Two brands that really stand out are Asko and Bosch. But if they don’t wash dishes very well then they are not worth having around. My current dishwasher has got to be one of the worst. So if I compare to that, then I would be happy with anything else.

I need some epinions. Asko is not getting the best reviews. People are complaining about the dishes not getting washed completely because the rack has them spaced too close together. That leaves Bosch. My in-laws have a Bosch. Very Nice, works great and is very quiet. But I still don’t know how much water they use?

Bosch has a few models that use only 190 kWhrs a year. That is really low, of coarse they cost almost $1500. For $500 less you can get a 500 series that uses 69 kWhrs more electricity  per year. It would be cheaper to buy the more expensive dishwasher if I were to plan on completely off setting my electric bill with a grid-tie solar system. I will have to consider the unit that uses less power. Someday I would like to “Go Solar”. Right now, I am planning. This appliance is part of that plan. If solar panels continue to decrease in price then the cheaper model may make sense. But, I figure that cost would have to come down 50%. That is not going to happen anytime soon.

I am on a quest to root out the ghosts in my house. These phantoms are constantly using my electricity and I get nothing in return. Except a higher electric bill. Armed with my new friend, TED, I set out to find these little phantoms. My average nighttime load is about 600 Watts. Some of this 600 Watts is known.

  • Landscape lights – 50W
  • Garage Lights – 17W
  • Kitchen Night Light – 9W
  • Fans and noise makers (Sleep aids) – 200W
  • DVR computer – 65W
  • Nursery Night Light – 9W

This total is 350 Watts. That leaves 250W of unknown phantom loads.

How many electric clocks do you have? If your house is like my house, then you have one on just about everything. Microwave, range, VCR, Telephones, and your regular bedside alarm clock. Now think about all of your “toys” that have a wall charger. Cell phones, iPods, laptops, shavers, even your Wii. Do you leave them plugged into the wall all the time? Sure you do. It is easier that way. Well, don’t. That little wall wort is costing you money. One last new phantom, digital converter boxes. Since I don’t have cable or satellite TV, I get over-the-air TV. I needed converter boxes. I purchased two Zenith DTT900. I wanted these because they only use 1 watt when not on, and only 13 watts when fully powered up. I set the sleep timer for 3 hours. This will turn them off if I forget. If both of these were to run an extra 16 hours a day for an entire month, that would be almost 12 kWhrs. Sure that is only costs me a dollar but that releases 25lbs of CO2 for no good reason at all!

I figure I can save some watts by replacing the fans with real noise makers. They use about a 60% less energy and I feel they are better because they don’t move the air around.  Unplugging all the wall worts when not in use will help a little. Installing a smart power strip to shut down extra computer stuff and TV stuff will also help. My goal would be to shave off 200 Watts. At 12 hours a day, that would 72 kWhrs a month. About $7.20. I can pay for my upgrades in a little over a year and a half. After that, it is money in the bank!

Simon Property Group, Inc. operates malls all across the U.S. The company is based in Indianapolis, IN. That’s where I hail from. Here is a outtake;

Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc. (NYSE: SPG) has completed the largest solar facility installation by a shopping mall owner in the U.S. Simon has entered into a purchase power agreement with Element Markets for the output of the solar facility on the roof of The Shops at Mission Viejo in California. It took less than a month to finish the 173 kilowatt project.

This is link to the press release.

I did not see anything about project costs or potential savings. What I would love to see is real time energy production. Something like the sunnyboy web portal would be perfect.

Time Magazine

I saw this article while waiting at the doctors office.

And nine states already require utilities to meet a percentage of future load growth through efficiency; the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy says a tough national standard could eliminate the need for 450 power plants by 2020.

Maybe this will help people understand how important it is to conserve energy. If we don’t start now we will continue to pay more and more to power our homes. We will continue add to the global warming of the planet. We will continue to waste our precious resources.