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making the best of electric heat

                            


Joined: Dec 15, 2010
Posts: 105
To clarify my last point a little, operating a freezer in such a manner would be like hooking your car to a 20,000 pound trailer, you have what it takes to get it up and rolling and can indeed pull it, however the damage to your car in doing so is so rapid you will be lucky to get 20k miles out of it instead of 200k, it just is not built for it.

Not unlike your car, if you modified it, you could indeed make it work effectively.

In the case of the freezer, changing the metering device and compressor out with ones designed for the pressure ratios of medium temp refrigeration in contrast to low temp would indeed make a chest refrigerator a very reliable device that would be more energy efficient than a standing model because you would not lose the cold air every time you open the door.


Professor of Thermal and Electrical Engineering, Welding/metallurgy: Licenses: PE license, Mechanical license Variety of other "certifications" from industry groups such as Refrigeration Service Engineers Society http://www.rses.org/, ASHRE http://www.ashrae.org/ Ect.
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1779
    
  10
I've noticed 'old' European houses were very compartmentalized - that is to say they heated the kitchen by way of cook stoves (with closed door) eat in there or took the food into the dinning area, usually part of living area with fireplace (closed door again).  Hallways, stairs and bathrooms usually never heated (sometimes bathing was done in the kitchen area).  Heating in bedrooms seems to depend on the expense of the house in question and if they could fit another fireplace in.

So if one wanted to really cut back electric heat in the winter with small children I would look to heating only a few rooms for playing, eating and napping.  This is hard with our modern open designed floor plans, but if you have a way to seal off rooms you can save $ and not freeze the kiddos.

For myself, because of EMF's I wouldn't leave any electric device plugged in where I sleep.  Just plug int and pre-heat the bed, then when you retire pull the plug from the wall outlet - conserving electricity and avoiding EMF's (Electromagnetic frequencies)
Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1286
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
paul wheaton wrote:
Here is what I think I understand so far:

96) at 50 degrees, the fridge will use less power overall, but more more power per shifted BTU.



Not sure at your home, but most fridges back up against a wall, often with a wall on one side and a cabinet on the other. This means that the fridge has it's own micro climate at the back. My kitchen right now is about 61F but the air behind the fridge is at least 63F (it may be higher, but I did not really give the thermometer time to settle before I read it). I would say the same thing for my freezer which has a wall (insulated) both beside the compressor and in back.... though the effect may be less as my freezer cycles less often.

I am not sure what this would do for your energy use... but one of your reptile warmers put down behind your fridge with a baseboard heater style thermostat in the cord would allow you to keep the air temp behind the fridge at least at 60F. Most fridges have a dedicated outlet back there so there should be a place to plug it in.

Here is the stat I have used to run small electric heaters:



[Thumbnail for SANY0689.JPG]

                      


Joined: Nov 30, 2010
Posts: 53
ok how about wool elmer fudd hat 90% of the body's heat thru the head and such.
one or  many of the solar beer can stack heaters and thermal mass
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
pajama report:  39(A)/45(B)/9(outside)

I feel plenty warm right now.  Last night I was up a little past my bedtime and started to feel a bit cold.  I put a throw blanket on my lap and felt better.  I could have fired up the 300 watt radiant heater, but didn't.  In fact, I haven't fired that thing up since october.

I'm barefoot and had to walk about 12 feet outside to see the outside thermometer.  But here it is about three minutes later and my toes are warm again.  That dog bed heater is awesome. 


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Joined: Dec 01, 2010
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
Put some socks on to help stay warm.  Something about warm ankles...
I have been thinking about you a lot, Paul.  Can't wait to get the update on the ele bill.


Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
hats:  I have a woolly looking fleece hat that I wear once in a while.  I think it works pretty good.  I do have something that is sort fudd-esque is my big-box-o-winter-gear, but it fits weird.

I think this is a good time to talk about dressting smart.  I try to remember that "cotton kills" (cotton is a very bad choice for staying warm).  At the same time, I think cotton makes a good first layer:  soft and sucks up body stink so it can go in the wash and other stuff doesn't need to go in the wash as often.

The trick for me is that I am giant size - I'm so freaky big that I cannot get stuff from just any ole store.  I get 2X t-shirts from the thrift store for a dollar, and they are like belly button shirts for me - but since I always wear overalls, nobody knows. 

Wool, silk and synthetic are clothes that will keep you warm.  I could go for a long, super soft, very plain scarf.  I have a wool scarf, but it makes my neck itch. 

I think that for doing this every day at home, gloves and glove like things are generally out.  Even those things that look like fingerless mittens.  Too often I get a snack or pee or something and then want to wash my hands, and ...  after a while I'm just not putting them back on.  And a primary component of this experiment is comfort.

With my face getting cold, I sometimes think about wearing some sort of ski mask - but that gets into the whole eating thing again.  And that also seems like going too far with the experiment.  I want to find a path where there are huge energy savings, but life is pretty much the same.  Heat the person, rather than the whole house.  A little bundling is okay, but a ski mask is way too far.  Therefore, if my face is cold, I'm doing this all wrong. 

I have some thick socks.  Some are wool and some are .... I have no idea.  But all of my thick socks are are bit of a struggle to put on and take off.  My feet are also really big.  So I tend to just stay barefoot.

I guess the important part right now is that there is a lot of room for improvement in how I dress to do this experiment.  And that's kinda the idea:  a small shift in heating and maybe a little in how you dress is all you need.


paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
The electric bill came in a couple of days ago and I reported on it here.

Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4820
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
181
paul wheaton wrote:
My feet are also really big.  So I tend to just stay barefoot.


Barefoot  Eeek - not sure I could handle that in the winter.  For indoor use I like a pair of cheap mock-crocs with a fleecy liner.  I'm forever having to get up to see to the old man at all times of night and day and I find they are ridiculously easy to slip on and off, even in the dark, and without either bending or using my hands, and the soles are thick enough to insulate against cold floors.  They're also suitable for wearing outside if I end up out in the yard for any reason.  And they're easily washable, which is a big plus.

I'm not sure about wearing t-shirts that are too small either.  I'm definitely warmer if I have a t-shirt that covers the small of my back.  In fact, I usually end up wearing night-shirts as they are much longer than normal ones, and they tend to have long sleeves which is an extra bonus.   

Woolly hats are a must - lined ones are twice as warm.  And a stretchy fleecy waistcoat, in XXL and extra long seems to keep the body heat where it belongs without adding much bulk.  It hides the night shirt, too...

My teenage son attempts to spend as much time as possible burning the midnight oil at his computer, but he knows I'll flip out if I catch him up late with a heater on so he's taken to using fingerless gloves and wearing a balaclava.  He looks totally ridiculous IMO, but he seems to be warm enough.  I just have to remind him to pull the balaclava off his face when he goes outside else he'll freak the neighbours out...


What is a Mother Tree ?
Mountain Don


Joined: Jan 11, 2011
Posts: 2
Paul, your indoor temperature is even colder than many of the interior spaces at McMurdo station, Antarctica. They aim for 65 F as a high (or lower). They do have a strict lights off when not needed policy.
Emma Olson


Joined: Feb 18, 2010
Posts: 155
charles johnson "carbonout" wrote:
is your computer by your feet ? they put off alot of heat .


True. and I used to typically sit with my computer on my lap, which helped keep me warm. However, I've read recent studies that this can be really dangerous for your health.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: woodland, washington
    
  53
paul wheaton wrote:
I think this is a good time to talk about dressting smart.  I try to remember that "cotton kills" (cotton is a very bad choice for staying warm).  At the same time, I think cotton makes a good first layer:  soft and sucks up body stink so it can go in the wash and other stuff doesn't need to go in the wash as often.


cotton is a bad choice for outside.  it insulates just fine if it's dry, particularly the "thermal" fabrics that have air pockets designed into their texture.  it's just no good if it gets wet from sweat or weather or anything else.  at that point it's only good for cooling off.  other fibers insulate better and last longer, but cotton is comfortable and cheap compared to most other options.


find religion! church
kiva! hyvä! iloinen! pikkumaatila
get stung! beehives
be hospitable! host-a-hive
be antisocial! facespace
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
My nose got cold.  I replaced the reptile heater that was pointed at my face with the 300 watt radiant heater. 

I hope that all of this leads to better products.  And one of the better products I  would like to see is a radiant heater that can be better aimed and adjusted. 

The 300 watt radiant heater I have now can sit on my desk and point at me.  But it points at me from the side.  And it cannot get too close or the base interferes with my mouse and/or keyboard. 

Further, 300 watts is usually too warm - and a lot of juice.  Although on such a cold day and it being too far away, 300 watts is about right.

There is one on and off switch.  Assuming that I cannot get a variable control that works the way I would want it to work, how about something that has three switches on the front: 50, 100, 200.  If I turn on "50" I get 50 watts of heat.  If I turn on "100" and "50" I get 150 watts of heat.  This gives me all of the following options:

50
100
150
200
250
300
350

Along these lines, here is one more idea: since my nose gets cold, I think it is because I am breathing cold air through my nose.  I think a neat invention would be something that could mount on top of my monitor and be aimed at my face.  It could use a parabolic dish to optimize for the average distance for a face from a monitor.  It could also be a little higher up, to minimize any concerns about infrared light in the eyes all day.  I would think that something like that could have two switches:  40 and 80.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I got too warm so I turned off the 300 watt radiant heater. 

So for a few hours is was the 300 watt radiant heater, the 15 watt dog bed heater, and one 60 watt reptile heater.  375 watts.  Still way less energy than the personal heater (800 watts) and way less than turning the heat up for the house. 


paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I'm not sure whether to be annoyed or not that the chair heater died.  I think I would like to conduct more experiments with it. 

On the upside, it is using conductive heat - the most efficient heat.  So I could feel a lot warmer for just a few watts. 

On the downside, while it did heat me a lot, it did seem to be too warm.  I think my butt and back are gonna be kept plenty warm through just good ole insulation.  Part from my clothes and part from the chair itself.



                                


Joined: Jan 11, 2011
Posts: 1
On the same line as a tent, but different. I have seen curtains between rooms in work places for
the purposes of limiting dust migration. They are made of clear mylar (I think) strips maybe 1/8"
thick and 2 or 3 inches wide thatare oriented to hang down so that about a 1/4" or so overlaps each segment with the last. This way they tend to staticly cling to each other forming a seal. It is easy to push through them. You hardly notice them. The possible use here would be to make a partition around your work space. You could make some heavy colored drapes to complete the
path to the ceiling. Some imagination needs to be used here to make something that is visualy
pleasing yet practical.

The other idea I had was to get or make the four poster type bed that they had in olden times that you could have a top and suround curtains for retaining the heat at night. Plus they
could be an elegant addition to the decor.

Just my two cents here.
Bruce
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I have been thinking of rigging something up under my desk.  Something of fabric.  The idea is that the dog bed heater throws off heat, and it would be trapped in that general area.  Excess heat could then be channeled to come out under my face - and help warm my face.
                            


Joined: Dec 01, 2010
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
We moved into our house in January after we put drywall in one room.  The rest of the house was insulated, but that was it.  Since we had no permanent heat, wood burners or anything but space heaters, I hung plastic sheeting over all the door ways.  It kinda draped down on the floor and wasn't stapled to anything on one side so we could get through easily enough.  Then just straighten it some after you got through.  We lived in this one room for some time, sleeping, office area, eating, tv.  Heated this area and eventually had one little space heater in the bathroom.  We did have a blanket over the bathroom doorway so there was a little more heat retention and privacy while showering.  Then we hooked the edge of the blanket over a nail to let out the steam afterwards.  Amazing how each layer helps.

I had to chuckle about Paul's clothing tips.  I remember my mother telling me to go put a sweater on every time she felt chilly.  Now as I get older, my arms get chilly faster.  Yesterday I told my husband to go put a sweatshirt on!!    (It's official, I have turned into my mother.)

A sweatshirt or any long sleeved shirt makes a big difference.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
40(A)/46(B)/15(outside)

Good night's sleep.

As for the four poster bed thing - my only concern with that is plenty of good air.  I worry about oxygen levels.  I realize that I am pretty much alone on this one, so I'll chalk it up to weirdness on my part. 

-------

If anybody else does this for two or three days, please post something here.  I can imagine a lot of people thinking that what I am doing is extreme and uncomfortable.  My point in documenting all of this is to say that I am perfectly comfortable, and frankly, I have no problem living the rest of my life this way.  Further, I am so comfortable that I think there will be ways to do this even cheaper.  The thing that makes other people uncomfortable when they hear about what I am doing, is that they do not understand the power of radiant/conductive heat over convective heat. 

Another hurdle is that one person sounds crazy, but if a bunch of people do it, it sounds plausible.

Another hurdle is that since the energy savings are so massive compared to the light bulbs, many people will believe that it is not true because if it were true, the government would have told them about it already.  Since the government is singing the lightbulb song instead, then all this stuff about personal radiant heat must be hooey.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
In this post I express how I may have cut my december heating bill by 78%.

I want to say "I replaced CFLs with soon to be outlawed incandescent bulbs and cut my power bill."  Which is, technically, true.  And, some people will get their knickers in a twist because the bulb change did not lead to the savings.

But I think the bulb change may have lead to the savings:

1)  I  think a lot of people turn on 20 CFLs and leave them on a lot.  After all, if you turn a CFL on and off a lot, it will shorten the life of the bulb.  I replaced all of the CFLs with incandescent and used a strategy I like to call "turning the lights off when I am not using them"

2)  I use incandescent lights as heaters.  They also happen to give off a lot of light.  Which, in the winter where the days are short, is good for you.  So rather than a light bulb plus a heater, I get a two-fer.  I am curious to know if a ten watt incandescent puts out the same heat as a ten watt light bulb.  Possibly.  But when the game is radiant heat as opposed to convective heat, I suspect that the CFL falls short.

3)  I use a lot of LED night lights.  I think this eliminates the need to turn a CFL on for a short while.  Or intend to have a CFL on for a short while and leave it on for hours.  I just buzzed around my house with the "kill-a-watt" thing.  Most of my nightlights turn off during the day, and when they are on, the kill-a-watt reads zero - so probably a fraction of one watt.  I did find two strands of LED christmas lights that I keep plugged in all the time.  They were five watts each.  And one strand of LED lights that are not christmas lights:  4 watts.  14 watts * 24 * 30 is 10kwh.  I'm told that the average cost for power is currently ten cents per kwh - so one dollar per month.  These lights do put off far more light than I need, so I could probably replace them with the ones that use less than one watt and come on only at night.  But at one dollar per month, I am okay with the luxury.  And then there is the savings of not turning lights on there at all. 

4) Anywhere that I have an incandescent light where the normal use is less than a minute, I get more light for less power than a CFL.  CFLs consume a large power spike in the first half a second.  When they do come on, they produce about 1/3 of their potential light and it can take two to three minutes until they produce their full light. 

tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: woodland, washington
    
  53
paul wheaton wrote:
In this post I express how I may have cut my december heating bill by 78%.


but you didn't cut your electricity bill.  if you can talk to the previous tenant about his electricity consumption, you're bill comparison will be a lot more meaningful.  maybe he was recharging an electric car every night (probably not).  all you've mentioned so far is that he used CFLs.

paul wheaton wrote:
I want to say "I replaced CFLs with soon to be outlawed incandescent bulbs and cut my power bill."  Which is, technically, true.  And, some people will get their knickers in a twist because the bulb change did not lead to the savings.


personally, I think pushing the CFL point is counterproductive.  I think I understand why you're doing it: to be a bit controversial to bring attention to more effective ways to save energy (correct me if I'm wrong about that).

but you've already conceded that switching to CFLs would save a large number of people a substantial amount of electricity and money.  seems like something along the lines of "I saved even more energy than switching to CFLs" might be more attractive, since it wouldn't get folks' defenses up over a change they've tried to make for admirable reasons.  instead, they can still feel good about this one change they made, and then maybe take it a few steps further to what you suggest, instead of feeling like 1) they've been duped or 2) some asshole is calling into question their enviro-credentials.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
but you didn't cut your electricity bill.  if you can talk to the previous tenant about his electricity consumption, you're bill comparison will be a lot more meaningful.  maybe he was recharging an electric car every night (probably not).  all you've mentioned so far is that he used CFLs.


I don't understand your point.  Did I not qualify things enough?  Did I not already express that I hope to track him down and ask him?

to be a bit controversial


I'm not trying to be controversial.  

I am trying to express that the new laws are really silly.  For most uses, I think the incandescent is a far superior choice.  I think that outlawing the incandescent has far more to do with somebody, somewhere making big money.

but you've already conceded that switching to CFLs would save a large number of people a substantial amount of electricity and money.


Please direct me to where I made this concession.  I'm pretty sure I have not.

I think that if I found somebody that lived alone in a house where 20 lights were on almost all day and night, instead of suggesting that they switch to CFL, I would try to encourage them to turn lights off when not in use.  

20 100 watt incandescent light bulbs when all 20 are on:  2000 watts.

Replaced with 27 watt fluorescent lights:  540 watts (and you get less light, even though the box says you get the same amount of light)

20 100 watt incandescent light bulbs when 19 are off:  100 watts.

The last solution is the winner by far.

People that have mastered the concept of turning lights off when not in use really won't save much money (if any) if they switch to CFL.

The current energy policy is to sing CFL songs long and loud.  I can think of three strategies that are far superior:

1)  If switching to CFLs will save significant money, turning lights off when not in use would save that same person a lot more money.

2)  using a clothes drying rack.

3)  turn your thermostat down and heat people instead of the whole house.

Bradon Wesche


Joined: Dec 20, 2009
Posts: 38
I live in Texas and this week it finally got really cold (30-35 F) which has lead me to this thread.

I live in a one bedroom apartment that is set up in such a way that if I close the bedroom door, I reduce the air space of my 450 sq ft unit in half to 225 sq ft.  This is an attractive concept to be because I spend 95% of my time at home in the living room area not in my bedroom.  I usually sleep in a hammock set up in my living room.  Closing the bedroom door means I don't want use the central heat (forced air furnace) because I would be heating the bedroom/bathroom half of the apartment.

My solution has been to turn the central heater off completely and turn my oven on to it's lowest setting while I am home: approximatively 100 F.  I don't know enough about how much energy the oven uses.  I do know that my last electric bill, before I switched to the oven, was much too high.  I was using the central heat to warm the whole apartment.  My bill states I used 675 kWh between 11/23 and 12/28.

Am I using less energy with this oven as a heater strategy or should I switch back to central heat?  I'm not attached to one strategy over the other, I just want to use the least amount of energy possible to stay comfy.


http://www.bradonw.com
charles c. johnson


Joined: Dec 02, 2009
Posts: 369
Paul could you Please  post info on the following.

1. homes age
2. insulation amount in wall and attic
3. window and door quality

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Bradon,

I think your strategy about closing the door is wise.

Something you might want to be aware of is pipes freezing.  Under the right conditions, it could be 60 degrees inside, and 30 degrees outside, and your pipes freeze and break.  Lowering the inside temp to 50 could increase the odds of that happening. 

I think the oven strategy might turn out to be kinda lame.  I think you will see savings, but not a lot of savings.  In the meantime, the area of your house just above the oven will probably be VERY warm and a lot of that warmth will find its way outside. 

Any chance you can get a personal heater?


paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Charles,

1) About nine or ten years.  I'm in an area where there are no building codes, so don't make assumptions in that space.  The house is definitely built "on the cheap."  Frankly, I moved here with the idea that it would be temporary while I find land, but I have to admit that I really like this place.  The guy that built is cool, and the place has a lot of character and simplicity.  Low rent.  I'm really getting attached.

2) I suspect that the insulation is average or better. 

3) double paned glass.  One outside door - goes to a carport (so a little extra protection from the weather).  There are exactly three windows and no skylights - and this place has a huge amount of light. 



paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
It's 37 degrees (F) outside.  And raining.  49(A)/52(B) inside. 

I'll probably open the windows in the early afternoon and get some fresh air in here.

Did some cooking yesterday and got the temp up to almost 60 inside.

                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Bradon Wesche wrote:
, I just want to use the least amount of energy possible to stay comfy.


To me, it sounds like you want to keep the space at a temperature that you find comfy, rather than emulate Paul's method of only keeping his body comfortable. Is that right? If that is what you are trying to do there are a lot of variables; size of space, quality of construction/insulation, and the costs of the fuels being compared. In many places (like where I am) electricity is more expensive to heat a space than natural gas.

I'm lucky in having a well zoned modern gas furnace system. We keep the space we use at 68 degrees (thermostat setting) in cool weather. But we also have a solar air collector that raises the actual indoor temperature into the low 70 by noon.

The DOE has a calculator spreadsheet that may be of interest to anyone wanting to compare heating costs. That is the cost of heating a space.
http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/experts/heatcalc.xls

I think I'll post that link in it's own topic for reference.
charles c. johnson


Joined: Dec 02, 2009
Posts: 369
Paul just a thought maybe wooden screens around your computer space would help.Thanks for the info.
maybe you could light some sage and stand in front of doors and windows to see the amount of draft .
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
charles johnson "carbonout" wrote:
Paul just a thought maybe wooden screens around your computer space would help.Thanks for the info.
maybe you could light some sage and stand in front of doors and windows to see the amount of draft .


Wooden or even draped fabric.  I have considered it.  I think I might try a kotatsu first.

But before trying even that, I want to see how it goes with the heated keyboard and mouse.  After all, if that is a success, then I might be all set for about 37.5 watts.  And whittling at 37.5 watts seems not worth the effort.

                                


Joined: Jan 13, 2011
Posts: 12
How about this, I havent read every responce in this thread, so this may have been suggested already but here goes anyway.
Put a big ol' pot of water on the stove, bring that bad boy to a simmer an let it cook. The temp. in your place will be far more comfortable because you will have all these little hot water molicules floating around thus increasing the humidity level with warm moisture.
How's that sound (nobody likes humidity in the summer, but wouldn't it be nice to have it back in the winter)?
Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1286
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
paul wheaton wrote:

3)  I use a lot of LED night lights.  I think this eliminates the need to turn a CFL on for a short while.  Or intend to have a CFL on for a short while and leave it on for hours.  I just buzzed around my house with the "kill-a-watt" thing.  Most of my nightlights turn off during the day, and when they are on, the kill-a-watt reads zero - so probably a fraction of one watt. 


most are in the .7watt range. What is interesting, is that the night lights that turn off in the daytime seem to use more power than those that are one all the time.... LEDs in general run about 20ma... it is hard to build a power supply to monitor the ambient light that draws less than that... so total  is 40ma or so when the light is on and 20ma when off... the one that is on all the time just draws 20ma all the time. I have both around here so I don't have to turn on the lights at night to get to the bathroom or fridge. I am not in a big hurry to switch them all to one style because the savings are too small to worry about... as you said less than we can measure. The only time it starts to matter is for those who are off grid. Sometimes the automation uses more power than just leaving it on. This shows up big with some of the bigger inverters that have two power settings... the low power setting has better idle specs. However, most of this is irrelevant to how the average person can save on hydro.... just and interesting side note.

Turning lights off is another issue.... I again walked in the door today to find every light in the house on.... and must have been on for at least 5 hours... with no one home. There are some lights where a 30sec timer would work well. Other places a motion detector that starts a timer might help. These are products that are not on the market right now but maybe in the future. The problem will be that they will be smartgrid devices... means waste power talking to the grid and control by the grid.

What is interesting about your experiments, is that you are showing that it may be possible and even practical to use electric heating from solar electric..... a horrible thought, but a lot of the ideas would translate to the placement of water radiators with solar heated water making that water last more cloudy days.
                                          


Joined: Jan 14, 2011
Posts: 1
I happened to stumble onto this forum from I don't remember where but I thought I'd add my suggestions.  I rent a smaller 2 bedroom house.  My roommate and I don't have a ton of cash to be paying for oil so we keep it quite cold, 50 at night, 58 during the day.  It actually isn't so bad once you get used to it.  We are in our early 30's and with a hat and sweater, its completely bearable.  We have forced air heat and it isn't the most efficient (lower 80's%) we have good, newer windows but our insulation is only average at best.  Not sure what's behind the 50's era plaster walls.  There's a sun porch on the front of our house thats windows all around.  It should have a french door or something separating it from the living room but its completely open (7ftx9ft opening).  One nice feature to this place is the mud room out back.  Its the entrance we usually use and is 3 to 4 feet below the rest of the house.  It makes a great cold air sink.

The bedrooms in our place are both around 100 sq ft.  I don't mind as there is enough room for my large computer desk and hammock.  In the evening when things start to cool down, we both close our bedroom doors and the heat from our computers keeps the space much warmer than the rest of the house, I'd guess in the lower 60's.  In general we try to heat the spaces we use with waste heat.  We try to cook at home a lot.  If its a really cold night or the air is really dry, we run warm mist humidifiers.  These things are awesome because they humidify by slowly boiling water.  Not the most efficient source of humidity but I think it works well since it heats and humidifies at once.  Also, dogs are great at warming up you bed before you go to sleep.

We live in the most north eastern state in the nation and see pretty cold temps throughout the winter.  so far this year we have burned only around 100 gals of oil.  I expect to get through the remainder of the year with no more than 150 additional gallons.  The previous tenant said they used just over 400 gals last year while heating the house to 55 at night and 65 during the day.

One note on led lights and power supplies:  It is hard to make a power supply efficient over a range of current draws.  For example, when a computer is turned off, some of its components are still being powered.  There is still power to the mother board to keep the cmos values and card slots still get power (to support wake on lan among other things) The power used in only a watt or two.  Efficiency in this state is so horrible that the power supply likely wastes more energy converting from 120 ac to 3.3, 5, and 12v than the computer actually uses. 
I wouldn't be surprised if led night lights were basically shorted out during the day instead of turned off.  The effect would be the same and it would match the observation that they use more power when off.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
yukkuri_kame wrote:

The kotatsu is a delightful Japanese hybrid between a coffee table and a blanket. 

 


I have now set something like this up under my desk.    Basically, I just took a blanket and stapled it to the underside of the desk.  The blanket goes all the way to the floor on the far side of the desk (near the window) and reaches all the way to the floor just to the left and right of my legs, but is a fairly high where my chair slides in under the desk. 

I'm guessing that it could triple the power of the dog bed heater (which you can see in the pic).

So, I present my feeble attempt at a poor man's desk kotatsu.  I haven't even used it a full 24 hours and already I like it.


[Thumbnail for desk-kotatsu.jpg]

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
That long cold spell finally broke.  It is 44 degrees outside now.  The snow is melting. 

Even though all thermostats in the house are set to 50, all thermometers in the house are over 50. 

Thermometer A reads 55.  Thermometer B reads 60.  I have three others that read 55 to 62.

I'm in a bathrobe and basking in the luxury of the 15 watt dog bed heater - and nothing else.  We'll see how the day goes.

                        


Joined: May 26, 2010
Posts: 278
Location: Iowa, border of regions 5 and 6
paul wheaton wrote:
I'm in a bathrobe and basking in the luxury of the 15 watt dog bed heater - and nothing else.  We'll see how the day goes.


AAHHHRRRGGGHHH!  Too much information!  It's an image I will never get out of my head!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
By "and nothing else" I'm referring to how I have no other heat sources turned on.

But!  I'm glad to have made a cameo appearance in your head!  Look!  I'm doing a jiggly dance!
                        


Joined: May 26, 2010
Posts: 278
Location: Iowa, border of regions 5 and 6
paul wheaton wrote:
By "and nothing else" I'm referring to how I have no other heat sources turned on.

But!  I'm glad to have made a cameo appearance in your head!  Look!  I'm doing a jiggly dance!


Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1286
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
paul wheaton wrote:
So, I present my feeble attempt at a poor man's desk kotatsu.  I haven't even used it a full 24 hours and already I like it.


Putting a sheep skin or other thick rug under the dog heater (Hmmm, maybe putting a dog under there would work  ) may make it work better too. Have to wait for colder weather again to try it sounds like.

Our lower level is unheated but for the computer and dehumidifier. but even at -10C (10-12F?) outside the temp down there never seems to go below 12C (50F-ish) The ground temp may also have something to do with it.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15219
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
50(A)/56(B)/42(outside)

I did hear the heater come on last night.

I ran only the 15 watt dog bed heater all day yesterday.  I think the cheesy desk kotatsu is working especially well. 

I also opened all the windows and aired out the house - something I like to do every two to three days.   I feel a bit like I am living in a zip lock bag, and cannot help but think about how I am constantly burning up the oxygen in my zip lock bag. 



 
 
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