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I received a new shower head for Christmas this year. The Evolve low flow shower head uses only 1.5 gpm @ 85psi. I think my pressure is lower so that means it uses slightly less. My old shower head used 2.5 gpm. Since my water/sewer bill has just about doubled I think this should help to reduce the overall impact of the increase. The increase is NOT from usage it is from flat-out utility robbery. Nothing I can do about it other than conserve.

My wife and I have been using it for over two weeks now. After getting use to the lower water volume it has been very nice. You just turn on the shower and walk away. After the shower gets to temperature it shuts itself off automatically and stays that way until you plug the chain to start the flow of water.

How much could it save me. I take about a twenty-minute shower and my wife, about the same. In a week that adds up to over 250 minute of showering. Now that is equal to 250 gallons of water! (2.5 gpm-1.5gpm = 1gpm) I am figuring that is mostly hot water. (75% is a good number) The amount of hot water saved is close to 200 gallons! WOW! I had no idea. 1000 gallons a month and 50kWhrs a month. (63 degree rise of 800 gallons of water. 1 gallon = 8.33 Heat pump is about 250% efficient. 3413 BTU per kWhr)

Only time will tell if I see this in my utility bills. I would hope I could see 1000 gallons since I only use an average of 4000 a month now. I really need to replace my toilets now and see what happens.

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Alas, I don’t have TOU (Time-of-use) pricing. I still have cheap power but not TOU pricing. You may have it so if you do and have an electric water heater this tip may help save you some money.

I will use Duke energy from another state as an example. North Carolina sounds good. So I look at the rate schedules and I actually find a specific one just for water heater. I am going to post the TOU verbiage.

This service is solely for the purpose of water heating and will be provided from the Company’s 60 Hertz, single-phase residential service. This service will be controlled by the Company using a load control device, and submetered in the Customer’s water heater circuit. The Company shall have the right to interrupt service to the Customer’s water heater under this Schedule. All water heating controlled under this Schedule shall be served through a single submeter. The submetered service will be available at least six hours out of twenty-four hours.

What does this mean to us normal people? Well, most likely the six hours is going to be in the middle of the night. You are going to have to heat the entire days water at night. This could be a problem but all you need to do is turn the water heat up. Not a natural thing but there is a device that will help you not to burn yourself. It is called a tempering valve. Some call it a mixing valve because it mixes the very hot water from the tank with some incoming cold water. Usually they are set at 120 degrees but you can change the setting. The job of the tempering valve is to maintain the set temperature at its output regardless of the incoming hot or cold water temperature. So, if you wanted to, you could set the tank for 160 degrees. This would burn you instantly if not for the tempering valve.  50 gallons of 160 degree hot water mixed with 50 gallons of 60 degree cold water give you 100 gallons of 110 degree water. (shower water temperature) Now I have an 80 gallon tank so I could have 160 gallon of 110 degree water. That is a lot of hot water. And just so you know, the rate for this service is 4.23 cents per kW hour. The normal rate is 8.60 cents per kW hour. This amounts to a saving of over 50%. Since the little yellow tag says the water heater use over 4500 kW hour a year the total saving is about $200. Since a tempering valve costs just north of $100, you could see payback in under a year. This is a submetered utility controlled deal. That means you don’t have to do a whole lot. I am not for sure but it sounds like they come out and hook it up. Done.

For the remainder on the population, you are going to have to buy a water heater timer. Like this one. It sells for no more than $70. The nice thing is that it is just like a programmable thermostat.

The time switches can be programmed for repeat daily scheduling, 5-day working week scheduling, weekend scheduling or any individual day scheduling. Timers can be scheduled for operation during the lowest time-of-day rates or to switch off the electric heater during period of utilities peak power usage. The time switch can be set to operate for up to 6 ON/OFF operations daily for a maximum of 42 on/off operations weekly.

Here is a good site all about water heater timers. You could cut your water heating by as much as 50%. Me, I think 25% maybe more realistic. Add that to TOU electric rates and then you could easily get over 50%. It is very easy to install and will pay for itself in less than a year. But, since I don’t have TOU billing, I will have to let someone else save money.

My next door neighbor replaced his heat pump this past year. He replaced it with the cheapest one he could buy. (13 SEER / 7.8 HSPF) If he went with the highest rated model, (Goodman), he would have purchased a 18 SEER/9.5 HSPF maybe his electric bill would not have been so high. It was $339! By my guess, he used almost 4000kW Hours. Most of this was because it was so cold outside. I managed only to use 999kW hours in the same billing cycle with 136 Therms of Gas used. That total for the two was $237 , or almost $100 dollars less.

If he had installed the more efficient heat pump he could have reduced his electric bill by at least 20%. That is equal to almost $70. The summer bill should also decrease.  Winner every single month!

Why would I be thrilled. I used almost 500kW hours less electricity then the same time last year. I only used 999kW hours this past bill. Last year I used 1528kW hours. Here is the special thing. I run two small space heaters during the night. Since the furnace does not heat each of my children’s room constantly, I close the vents and run the electric heater instead. My son likes it cooler (67) and my daughter likes it warmer (72). We also run an electric space heater in the bathroom when we shower. (No one wants to leave a warm shower for a cold bathroom)

For about ten days during the billing period the temperature were unseasonably cold. The Gas furnace seemed to run most of the time. (Gas bill was higher than last year) The furnace has an electric fan that draws a little over 500 Watts when running. The fan running 50% of the time for a month would be 180kW hours. I am sure it was less than that but may have been about 100kW hours or 10% of total usage.

I will be very interested to see what spring brings. Not running the AC or Heat should make for some low bills. Even lower than last year. Just remember, all of my reduction have come from the awareness that the TED unit has given me. Without it I would be in the dark so to speak. I think everyone should have a TED or something similar. Smart Grid anyone?

So I would say it is the middle of winter. Maybe not by the calendar, but the thermometer says so. From my observations, the electricity usage for the hot water heat pump have increased from 3.33kW hours to about 4kW hours per day on average.  This increase can be attributed to three factors.

  1. The incoming water temperature has decreased because of colder ground temperatures.
  2. The heat pumps ambient air temperature has decreased.
  3. The shower “anti-scald valve” has caused me to increase the tank temperature.

Factors explained.

  1. This is easy. Colder air temperatures cause the ground temperatures to go down also.
  2. I would say the air temperature in the summer for the heat pump was about 80 degrees. Now it is around 60 degrees.  This makes the heat pump work heard to get the tank back to the set point.
  3. The shower fixtures in my house have a anti-scald valve. This is for safety. This means that cold water is always mixed with incoming hot water and that comes out of the shower head. I use to have the tank set at 120 degrees. Now I have to have it set at 125 degrees to get the same hotness of water at the head. I was also informed today that “my shower was not hot enough”, so I may have to increase the tank temp. again.

If I had my old gas tank, I would only have to deal with 1 and 3. Personally, I think it is 1 and 3 that are causing the biggest increase in energy usage. This means I am still money ahead in using my hot water heat pump.

I read somewhere that these films can damage your windows. But if it means I can delay replacing them for a few more years than it would be worth it. My windows are construction grade windows. My guess is the minimum allowed by law at the time. (Like everything else) So if I can get more usable life from them then I am going to try. I don’t want to spend too much but I also don’t want to buy junk. After reading around on the Internet, I have decided on Gila window film from Lowes.

I will wait a few months, right now I want to sun to warm the house. Hopefully, for about $60, I can reduce the amount of heat gain on the south side of the house. This film will also reduce heat loss. Maybe I will buy a roll now and apply some on the backside windows. As inexpensive as it is, it is worth a try.

According to Gila’s website it is safe for double pane windows.

This is with just about everything off. The only thing left are clocks and phantom loads from appliances.

DC00149

That is correct, 50 Watts! That is why I took a picture!

I looked but I can not find one anywhere. So I made my own. I had an extra roll of R-13 insulation. I cut the roll into strips and taped the end together. Looks okay, but you have to remember this is in the utility room anyway.

Not Pretty, but not an issue.

Not Pretty, but not an issue.

I will have to watch the kill-a-watt and see if I get any better? Now with winter coming maybe my kw hrs won’t go up that much.

I heard on NPR the other day that purchases of CFLs are down again this year. They peaked in 2007. Some say that there needs to be more incentives for CFLs so more people will buy them. I say no. Why, you ask? Because I just replaced my second CFL in six years inside my house. (Notice I said inside) I have CFLs in just about everything. I mean everything. I just purchased some Cold Cathode CFLs for the refrigerator.  (More on the later) The only fixtures that don’t have a CFL are the oven (on brainer!) Dryer, (again no brainer), and above the stove (Still working on that one). In all that time I have replaced two. So yes, I have purchased less this year and last year. Because I am not replacing burnt out ones!

Outside, I have replaced my two garage lights three times. This is because they are one all night averaging 12 hours per night. The first thing I did when I moved in was replace them with CFLs.

I know that having the CFLs is saving me money. I like the fact that it takes a few seconds to come to full brightness. I still have the problem with what to do with the good used incandescent light bulbs. Maybe in a few years they will be worth money since you won’t be able to buy them.

That is my new rule of thumb. What made me think about it? I have a UPS (Uninterpretable Power Supply) for my computer. Because this one was plugged into a difficult outlet I have not checked it with my kill-a-watt meter. Today I made time to check it out. When I first plugged it in, I got 15 Watts. Not too good or too bad. Then about 15 minutes later it went up to 45 Watts. Not good. Now, two hours later, it reads 30 Watts. Not good either. Now I am thinking about just getting a plain old surge protector strip and calling it good. I don’t need a smart strip because when the computer is off the monitor uses only 1 Watt and the printer uses about the same.

At 30 Watts, for 24 hours. That is equal to 720 Watts. From my last blog, I know that this is about equal to 7% of the minimum daily usage. Sadly, this is equal to 22kW hours a month. Two things to note, the unit is off, and it only trips on about three times a year during thunderstorms. Power strip, here I come.