You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2009.

Every time I turn on the Wii its is warm, almost hot to the touch. The little LED is Yellow. When you first plug it in, its red. When on, it is Green. What is the difference? How much power does each state use? Why is this thing hot when it is turned off? Time for some answers. I grub my kill-a-watt.

Red = 2 Watts

Yellow = 10 Watts (after being off for 2 minutes)

Green = 20 Watts

Mine is always yellow when off. This is a standby mode. I have read that since I connect to my WiFi it will be yellow unless I hold the power down to shut it off. (3 Seconds)

What does having the Wii yellow instead of red cost me. 8 Watts all day every day when I am not playing it with my son. 8 Watts x 20 hours x 30 days = Almost 5kWhrs or $0.50. Not much but still a waste.


I have been reading some about global warming, greenhouse gases, and the like. I find it interesting that many people believe that CO2 is a pollutant. CO2 is not pollution. CO2 is something that hundreds of billions of animals exhale everyday. Sure there is a natural balance. I would go so far as to say we are tilting that balance by burning fossil fuels. I hope to still be here in 50 years. During that time, I will see how mother nature starts to correct these imbalances. For all  know, I may have beach front property!

Here is a three day chart of the last few days.


In case you can’t read the little data tags on the bottom; the high bars are during the day and the low bars are at night. Air Conditioning is the “problem”. I am just one house. Imagine all the other houses that have air conditioning. Each one is adding at least 4 kW of extra demand on the power company. Power companies don’t build power plants to meet this demand. They build “Peaking Plants” These plants usually are Natural Gas and cost much more to operate then Coal Power plants. They are cleaner but they are costing you more money. I am not saying you should turn off your air. People can die from excessive heat. I just want everyone to know what is happening. Right now I am using 4.54 kW of electrcity. It is costing me $0.32 an hour to use at that amount, and I am generating 7 lbs of CO2 per hour.

Side note: TED is a great tool to help determine the size of a backup system. Fossil fuel or solar. If you notice, I demanded only 5kW at my highest peak. Granted this was averaged over an hour but you can get data for every second of the day if you wanted too. I am thinking about the generator systems sold at th big box stores. Generac comes to mind. Here is a link to there sizer. Heat Pump, Electric Range, Microwave, Freezer, Sump Pump are the options I select. What does it come back with. 17kW – 22kW generator. Since I have had my TED installed I have NEVER been about 10kW, and if I was above 7kW it was for maybe 5 minutes at most. So I would only get the 10kW unit. Maybe the 8kW unit if I left out the electric stove for the backup circuit panel.

I checked the Kill-a-Watt today. 360 Hours and 49kWhrs. That would be 3.27 kWhrs a day. I know this will go up slightly in the winter time because of the decrease in ambient temperature. Currently, the temperature in the basement is a wonderful 65 degrees. I only wish the entire house was that nice. I am still trying to figure out how to better use the cool air? I thought about trying to design a better cover with a intake and outlet ports. This would then be able to direct the incoming and outgoing air to do something useful. Airgenerate does sell an outlet port. But it costs $89.

After I set the new thermostat to the best temperature, we have never run out of hot water. The unit does turn on a bit earlier, but runs for a shorter period of time. This is what I had hoped for. (Less chance of unit freezing up)

After the the federal tax credit the unit will have cost me only $250. No bad at all. I hope some day they make a unit that has everything together. It would have made installing even easier.

I work with the Solar Power Forum quite a bit. Here lately, many people have asked about making solar panels. While this sounds like a fun project, it will not save you very much money.(If any)

You can buy solar cells from eBay for $2 a watt. This is only get you the material for the solar part of the panel not the frame, glass, bypass diode, or junction box. If you estimate this costs $50 for a 200 Watt panel, then you are up to a $2.25 per Watt.

Since you made these panel and they will not be UL listed you will not be able to do a grid-tie system. They will not have a warranty. And, you don’t have a warranty on power output. You can still use them for an off-grid system. But, if you mount them to your roof will your insurance company still cover them or your house if they caused a fire for some reason. I think not.

I know of a few places that sell blemished solar panels from Evergreen Solar for under $3 a Watt. You get a full power and manufactures warranty. And they are UL listed so you can claim the FEDERAL TAX CREDIT OF 30%. (USA only) If you use $3 a watt with a 30% credit, you get $2.10 a Watt. Now that cost less then making them yourself.

Don’t waste your time trying to make solar panels. Just buy them. Of coarse you could always just buy brand new Solar Panels . Then you would have full support from the manufacture and the dealer.

It is air conditioner time. I just received my latest Duke Energy bill. I used 999 kWhrs. At least I stayed below 1000kWhrs! TED thinks I only used 946kWhrs. I think I know what is happening. Every so often TED will stop receiving data. During that “blackout” The Air runs or we cook or use the microwave, maybe the toaster. TED does not know what is going on. So he makes a guess. Maybe he uses the last reading and the first reading after coming too. Any rate, it does not work out quite right. Thus we have the difference in the two numbers.

I seem to average about 32kWhrs a day. This is an increase of almost 12kWhrs. I know where it comes from. The AC unit. I need to look into a new unit and adding some insulation.

This next month I will have my new Hot Water Heat Pump adding to the usage. But I wonder how the cool air byproduct will effect my AC? I am interested to see what my Gas bill looks like too. The only thing that is currently using gas is the dryer. I would like to turn the gas off but I would need to replace my furnace first. Maybe a Heat Pump? Then I would need to buy a new dryer. I wish these guys would get a move on!

I received and installed my new and improved Tstat yesterday. I think I installed it up side down. But once it is set I probably won’t mess with it again. The temp bulb does extend down about an extra foot. This will help too start the unit sooner and hopefully won’t run it for as long. I worry about it freezing up in the winter when basement temps are cooler and it runs for four straight hours.

Removal and installation took about and hour and a half. Not too bad. Took my time and was trying to work smart. For a small moment I thought about just leaving the unit shroud off. I thought the improved airflow would help with efficiency. But, in the end I thought it better to leave it on.

I now have the temp set at 110 degrees. I hope I can keep it this low. Water is hot when I want it and no one has complained. When the thermostat bulb now lower in the tank I hope that this help start the unit sooner. Also, the thermostat is only a 10 degree on/off hysteresis. After the unit did kick on I noticed it did not run as long. Three hours instead of four or more. Will this reduce electricity usage. Maybe. The tank temp of 110 degrees most certainly will.

I installed my new hot water heater and hot water heat pump this weekend.  Works perfectly (Almost)! I decided to purchase an 80 gallon Whirlpool lifetime tank and a heat pump unit from Air Generate. Together the total cost was about $1100. $600 for he water heater and $500 for the heat pump. Since my old unit was not in the best shape I could deduct the cost of the tank, but I switched from gas to electric and you can buy smaller gas water heaters because the recovery time is usually better. I figured on about $400 dollars for a new gas tank. That would make the upgrade cost about $700.

Installation was a trip to say the least. Actually, the biggest problem was removing the hot water nipple from the new tank. The nipple only extends maybe a half inch from the top of the tank. In the end I had to buy a huge 16″ channel locking pliers, set the tank on the floor and use my weight to finally get it to come off. The nipple was destroyed but I was not needing to use it again anyway. That fiasco took over three hours.


After the nipple was removed the remainder of the process was very straight forward. The instructions do a good job explaining everything. Air Generate also has an installation video on their website. After everything was done I only had one leak. It was from the fitting that passes the thermostat wire outside the tank. I just added some Teflon tape and tightened it down. No more leak.

Some time ago I purchased an extra Kill-a-watt. Now I can see exactly how much electricity this unit uses! With that,  I filled the heater full and bleed out all the air. The heat pump ran for a little over 6 hours and used 3.33kWhrs of electricity. The temperature was set to 115 degrees. I just looked at the Kill-a-watt and it now reads 12 kWhrs over 72 hours. That would be 4kWhrs a day. But, I also raised the temp setting to 125 degrees. The main reason for raising the temperature is because the tank is so big and the current thermostat has a 15 degree on/off hysteresis. My I take a shower cold water enters the bottom of the tank. Then ,when the wife jumped in an hour later the tank temperature would even out to around 100 degrees. She did not like taking a shower at 100 degrees. So I had to turn it up.

The current thermostat is only 26″ long and the new one will be 38″ long. This will allow it to extend further down the tank. Thus after a shower the unit should turn on. Also, the new thermostat will have a on/off hysteresis of only 10 degrees. After I install the new thermostat I will go back down to 115 degrees. This should bring the electricity usage back down. (I found out about the new thermostat after I called about the leaking fitting. They are sending today. Customer service was very good and helpful. On the phone and Email!)

One more important thing to note. I DID NOT PLUG IN THE WATER HEATER! That is correct. This is just a storage tank. The tank has a lifetime warrenty. So hopefully, I never need to mess with another tank again.

To follow up on the SEER thing, I wanted to know what HSPF rating was all about. So, what does HSPF mean anyway?

It is basically the same as SEER. It takes into account the variations in temperature that can occur within a season and is the average number of BTU of heat delivered for every watt-hour of electricity used by the heat pump over a heating season.So a HSPF of 10 delivers 10 BTU/hour of heat per watt of electricity.

The higher the the HSPF number, the better. Most units have at least a HSPF of 9 but some can go beyond 12.

Rebates and incentives are the same for Heat Pump as they are for Air Conditioners.
One federal, one State and one local. They can be found for your location by looking here. (At least in the USA) Federal is worth up to $1500, State $100, and Local is $200. I need to purchase at least a SEER 15 and HSPF 8.5 unit.

Now, I like Heat Pumps. They don’t burn things. (I don’t like Gas in the house but currently do have it.) They can be very efficient. And are very easy to maintain. Plus since it is a heater and air conditioner all in one, one less appliance to worry about.

In my quest to reduce my energy usage I was thinking about replacing my almost 10 year old air conditioner. So, what is SEER mean?

A S.E.E.R. (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) is the rating and performance standards that have been developed by the U.S. government and equipment manufacturer’s to produce an energy consumption rating that is easy to understand by consumers. It has a universal formula and conditioning that can be applied to all units and compensates for varying weather conditions.

In a nut shell, the lower the SEER number the more energy you use to cool your house. I think I have a SEER 10 AC unit. What does the 10 mean? A SEER 10 AC unit makes 10 BTU/hour of cooling per watt of electricity.

The minimum SEER value changed on January 23, 2006 to a SEER of 13. It was 10 before that. This means that newer units are 30% more efficient then older SEER 10 units.

Rebates and incentives: I have three going for me right now. One federal, one State and one local. They can be found for your location by looking here. (At least in the USA) Federal is worth $1500, State $100, and Local is $200. I need to purchase at least a SEER 15 unit. (Edit: The Federal Tax Credit is worth 30% of the total installed cost! Up to $1500)

Just think, a SEER 15 unit is 50% more efficient then my old unit. And since I will be getting a new furnace too. I bet the air handler will be that much better then the old unit to boot.

Note: While searching the internet I found this cool site. I could save $130 a year by changing from my current SEER 10 to a SEER 15.