Sunday, July 13, 2008

It May Pay To Waste


Sometimes you have to wonder if any energy saving measures is actually worth it or not. Being one who likes to conserve where I can, I keep a close eye on my electrical usage but nothing seems to matter. We switched all our incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescents. The Jacuzzi tub is rarely ever used. We have the heat turned down most of the time and never use the air conditioner. I’ve turned off the electric fences, yet our power usage is the same.

This reminds me of this house I once owned. It was old and drafty, so I had it insulated, put on new siding, I replace all the single pane windows with double pane units. I replaced the doors and put in an energy efficient furnace and my power usage doubled. WTF? I would have been better off leaving the windows open.

I remember when radial tires came around. They were supposed to save energy so I put them on one of my cars back then and I started losing 2 mpg with them. WTF?

It all makes me wonder if there is some conspiracy out there, just like ethanol is supposed to use less oil, but instead it cost nearly a gallon of oil to produce it. It burns less efficiently, decreasing your gas mileage and just to burn you it corrodes your fuel system. I just had to replace a carburetor on my two-year old string trimmer for $110 because of ethanol. Really when is all the savings supposed to kick in for all these conservation efforts?

7 Comments:

Blogger MissKris said...

I am SURE there is SOME kind of conspiracy out there. And we just shut up and put up with it. Once upon a time there was a very affective solution to a lot of what was giving Americans the old shafteroo...the Boston Tea Party. What ever happened to our zest for fighting for our rights?? Ah well. That's why we're in the condition we are today.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Mike S said...

The radials would have gotten better mileage if they were the ones for the car & inflated properly. They dont wear as well as the old rocks though.

I hear you about the 'old drafty' building. Being an engineer type and a natural cynic, I had 2 surveys done to see how much heat/cool this 100+ year old place loses as I pay the heat & power bills for all the units. The results were shocking to say the least. If I was less of a cynic I'd have gone with that study.

What I did do was contact a couple friends who teach physics and thermal dynamics at the state university. With a little persuasion(a bottle of good Scotch each and a spaghetti dinner) they came and spent 24 hours taking readings on all their gadgets.

The results were about the same, so I started to resign myself to paying for a major energy upgrade. It wasn't to be though. The two pals showed me all their charts and readings and came to the conclusion that if I upgraded, I'd downgrade the natural convexion built into the place 100 years ago.

Amazing, seeing as I figured everybody musta froze to death back then, thus accounting for our low population. Seems that before we 'upgrade' what seems inefficient, we should take a careful look at the original idea.

As it is, this place, with insulation not apparently much good, is far cheaper to heat than those around me that upgraded. I guess there's truth in the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

9:13 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

There is no conspiracy. You are charged for energy used.
Reducing (or understanding) your power bill is easy and fun.
First, you need a few tools:
Get one of these:

http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_200343851_200343851

Also, get an amp meter; the type that clamps around a wire.

And of course, a claculator. :-Q

You will need someone that is qualified to work in your breaker panel if you are not.

Step 1:Leave all breakers ON, and unplug or turn off everything on the property.
Remember, many TVs and computers still draw power EVEN WHEN TURNED OFF. Unplug if any doubt.
With everything deenergised, take an amp reading on both phases coming into the panel from the transformer.
If you get a reading; did you forget to unplug something?
Still getting a reading?
One by one, turn each breaker off until the meter reaches zero.
Carefull, there could possibly be more thatn one circuit still drawing. So if you see a drop in draw but not to zero, go looking for the sourse, then continue.
You should reach zero at some point.
If you find a circuit that cannot be brought to zero, you have located a phantom load.
The source of this draw MUST be located before continuing further.
I have a friend that complained forever that his electric bill were double mine.
We found a wire that went to an old well casing and was buried in the mud. That thing was drawing BIG AMPS day & night, for nothing.

Another time, I found a light curcuit with a ground fault. Not enough to trip the curcuit, but enough to drain your wallet.

Step 2: Turn everything back on and now measure the power drawn from each circuit (breaker).

If you see one circuit that is too high, unplu or turn off each load until you find the source.
This is a good time to borrow a label maker and mark your breaker panel up.
When you find the appliance with the large load, research it to see if it is normal, or if you have a problem.

Use your Kill-O-Watt meter to check out loads in question.

You electrical usage is not faith related. It is black & white, math.

Trace it out, it's fun!

Our electric bill is very modest and fair.

9:41 AM  
Blogger richpix said...

gearhead, your link to the Kill-a Watt didn't make it. Did you link to the 4460 model? It actually computes the cost for you based on charges from your utility bill, so no calculator should be needed.

Amazon has it for $37.99: Kill-a-Watt P4460

They also have a much cheaper model ($19.94) requiring more calculations: P4400

2:00 PM  
Blogger richpix said...

Oh, and the 4460 has a battery (yes, another battery!) so data is saved once the unit is unplugged. The 4400 goes blank once it's unplugged, so you have to save the info some other way and it may not be too convenient to read it where it's plugged in.

2:15 PM  
Blogger MissKris said...

RE: your Carlton comment...next time thru, Dear Hubby and I will park and take a little walking tour, maybe stop for coffee. We just LOVE to do that in the 'great little towns' of Oregon! A great way to soak up the atmosphere.

6:29 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Kris, the place I was talking about is on a back street behind a park and some houses.

And for the rest of you, I was just making a point on how there are so many things for sale out there that promise to nake life better or more efficient, and I don't think most of them work, though in concept they sound good.

5:39 AM  

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