Ways to lower electricity costs?

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Topic Author
I-Know-Nothing
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Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by I-Know-Nothing »

My husband and I bought our first house a year ago. It’s 2,050 square feet, and has an unheated pool. It was built in 1981. We have central AC, and there are 2 AC units for the 2 zones in the house. The AC units are fairly new, and we change the filters monthly. We are in Southeast Florida, where summer temperatures last about 6 months a year.

We took some measures to try to keep our electric costs down. We tinted the windows. We insulated the garage door. We got blackout curtains. We installed timed thermostats. This summer, we raised the temp in the zone we stay in during the day to 78, and the zone with the bedrooms is kept at 81. At night the bedroom temp goes down to 75. 78 is a little warm during the day, but we’ve gotten used to it. I work from home so we can’t really raise it higher during the day. Sometimes I swim at lunch if I need to cool down.

With all those modifications, our electric bill was still $303 last month. During the winter it was between $140 and $180.

I know some people locally who pay a lot more than this, but I know others who pay a lot less, and keep it cooler than us. My husband’s aunt lives nearby, in a house around our size, and she pays $90 a month, and keeps her temperature at 71. I don’t get it

Is there anything we can do to lower costs further, without spending a ton of money? We can spend some. We are due for a new roof in 5 years or so…will that help at all? We have thought about installing solar panels, but that will have to wait until the new roof is installed.

I’ve heard that installing impact windows could help, and would obviously be preferable if a hurricane hit. However, they are really, really expensive, so it would take a long time to recoup their costs if they only lower electric bills $40 a month or whatever.
sailaway
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by sailaway »

How is the insulation? Are there any places it could be added? Windows are of enormous importance in this equation, but the difference it will make to replace them will depend largely on what you have now.

Do you keep the sunny side curtains closed during the day?
runner3081
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by runner3081 »

Do you have time based plans?

Here in AZ, our plan has "peak hours" between 3-8pm and everything else is off-peak. If you do, check our super cooling. It absolutely works.

If not, disregard!
ragnathor
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by ragnathor »

Hopefully others can chime in, but some more detail will probably be helpful. How many kwh usage during summer and winter? Do you have a smart thermostat and can see how long your HVAC runs? Our home is larger, we keep it at 72, similar location/climate and our usage is about 1500kwh in the summer. Edit: it is a new home - 3 years old.
Silk McCue
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by Silk McCue »

Call your power provider and ask them about an energy audit.inefficient windows and improper attic insulation/ venting can be a problem. Inefficient water heater/too high of a heat setting could contribute as well.

Your aunts bill seems ridiculously low given it’s size and temperature settings.

I’m a lifelong Floridian. 2700 Sq ft single unit heat pump. Duke Energy 76 degrees 7a to 7p, steps down to 73 by 9p. 1484 kWh last month for $212.77. Key fact Water Heater is propane.

Cheers
Last edited by Silk McCue on Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
shunkman
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by shunkman »

Plant some shade trees. Add awnings over windows that have significant sun exposure. Are the condensing units in direct sunlight? If the house was built in 1981 the ductwork could be leaking and not adequately insulated.
Topic Author
I-Know-Nothing
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by I-Know-Nothing »

I unfortunately don’t know how the insulation is. This type of stuff is really out of my wheelhouse a bit, but I’m trying to learn. My husband understands a lot more than me, but he seems to think that we’ve reached the end of what we can do without spending tens of thousands of dollars. I imagine the insulation could be improved. It’s probably 40 years old. Would someone have to cut holes in the walls and add foam insulation?

We keep all the sunny side curtains closed during the day.

The windows are very old as well. I was told by the home inspector that they weren’t very good and should probably be replaced, but I thought he was referring to the fact that many of them don’t open properly. In the back of my head, I was thinking we should eventually replace them with impact windows, but that could be a $30k expenditure.

Note: everyone, please be gentle in your responses. I just read my response, and really think I sound like an idiot here, but I want to do better.
Topic Author
I-Know-Nothing
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by I-Know-Nothing »

I will get the other info people have requested and report back in a few hours. Thank you for all your help.
Point
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by Point »

Get sense.com device installed and monitor your actual usage at a granular level.

Analyze your cost of power by time of day and shift usage to lower cost time of days

If pool pump is single phase, change it to reduce power for most of runtime. And, run pump at low cost time of day.

If you determine that your power consumption will continue to be high, invest in solar and consider batteries to avoid high cost time of day charges.

Get a hand held laser thermometer and read all wall and ceiling surfaces to understand temp differences. Use it to read temp coming out of AC ducts, which should be <60°.
livesoft
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by livesoft »

So I think I live in a similar climate. Here are some numbers to help the OP make a comparison:

Our home is well insulated and not sprawling with its 2-stories and 3000+ sq ft.

We have gas heat, gas clothes dryer, gas water heaters.

We have electric fridge, microwave, stove, oven.

We have very few LEDs lights and do not use lights much anyways.

We do not use TVs, stereo. We do charge our cell phones.

We do not have a pool with its pool pump.

Our electric bills when not using AC (Nov to Mar) averaged $43 a month for those 5 months in 2019-2020, but with a 3rd adult in 2020-2021 averaged $60 a month. 3rd adult has a lot of computer equipment and a few big monitors.

When we run the Central Air Conditioners (we have 2 complete systems, one for upstairs, one for downstairs), the bills average about $225 for Jul-Aug-Sep. So we can calculate that the central AC uses about ($225 - $43) to ($225 - $60) extra in the summer or say $170 a month extra. The OP can calculate their extra AC cost in a similar way to be about $143 a month which seems OK to me given the OP has a smaller home. Our AC units date from 1993, but were not inefficient at that time.

It is hard for me to look up kilowatt hours used.

Look on the bright side: Your $303 electric bill will probably be the highest one for 2021. :)
Last edited by livesoft on Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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andypanda
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by andypanda »

"The AC units are fairly new"

Have they been checked for efficiency, proper operation, pressures, etc? Just because it's working doesn't mean it's tuned properly.

If you have electric hot water, set it for 120 or 125. If it's located in a cold or cooler space, put an insulation jacket on it.
livesoft
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by livesoft »

andypanda wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:47 pm "The AC units are fairly new"

Have they been checked for efficiency, proper operation, pressures, etc? Just because it's working doesn't mean it's tuned properly.
The OP can get the electric utility to provide them with a history of the monthly bills and usage for BEFORE they bought the house and BEFORE they replaced the AC units.
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bi0hazard
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by bi0hazard »

OP: I have the answer. the KEY is insulation. Since you can’t do anything meaningful about wall insulation, you absolutely need to maximize your attic insulation. Go to attic, measure depth of insulation. Measure dimensions of at attic. Then go to Home Depot, rent insulation blower, and get insulation packets. Then blow as much as insulation as possible ( careful NOT to block soffit vents) into attic. That is going to be your best move.

After, you need to make sure your roof has enough soffit vents and roof top vents. You must have airflow thorough the attic. This you cannot do your self , but it is required. I like whirlybird vents.

Once all this is done you can think about radiant barrier in the roof, better windows. I didn’t do radiant barrier, but it’s very very good.

Insulate all your AC vents ( in the ceiling) AND at AC handler with mastic to prevent cool air loss.

After all this, which I did, you should see results. Feel free to DM me with more questions. It doesn’t matter what other people pay. They have different houses and different electricity rates. So play your own game.

Of course, you should be certain your AC units are functioning well.
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cchrissyy
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by cchrissyy »

I think the best bang for your buck is one of those real-time energy monitors where you get an app that shows you exactly what you are using. you might find a certain appliance is the main problem. or you might learn the electric companies time-of-use rules are really at the heart of it.
This type of stuff is really out of my wheelhouse a bit, but I’m trying to learn. My husband understands a lot more than me, but he seems to think that we’ve reached the end of what we can do without spending tens of thousands of dollars. I imagine the insulation could be improved. It’s probably 40 years old. Would someone have to cut holes in the walls and add foam insulation?
I am in a very different climate than you but for what it's worth, I bought a house where i did not know what the attic and insulation situation was. but that was easily remedied by getting 2 companies to come out for a free quote! both of them told me it was not bad, which was good to hear, and recommend blowing in a little more for modern standards. I did that for like, $2000. not 5 figures. I suggest if you don't know the state of your attic insulation or what could be done for the walls or windows, that's not hard to find out by getting a couple of free quotes. good luck!
Last edited by cchrissyy on Sun Sep 12, 2021 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
livesoft
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by livesoft »

bi0hazard wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 4:04 pmOf course, you should be certain your AC units are functioning well.
As I hinted at, I think the OP does not have AC nor insulation issues. I will pin my money on their electric water heaters and the 60 minute showers they didn't tell us about. :twisted:
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baconavocado
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by baconavocado »

In sunny parts of the country, large shade trees can make a HUGE difference in cooling costs during the summer. You want to have large deciduous trees shading the south and west sides of your house, including the roof.

Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter so they'll let the sun warm up your house during colder months. Besides all that, they clean particulates from the air and trap carbon from the atmosphere.
RetiredAL
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by RetiredAL »

I-Know-Nothing wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:08 pm
We took some measures to try to keep our electric costs down. We tinted the windows. We got blackout curtains.
Blackout curtains just trap the heat between them and the glass. Most important is to outside shade all windows that get a lot of sun. Think awnings, roll-up bamboo shades, or similar. Reflective window film (outside) is OK, but will appear to be a near mirror to your neighbors. Direct sun heating is approximately 3400 btu per square meter, but you must factor in the sun angle to approximate how much sun heat actually comes into the house through the glass. A 45 degree sun elevation is .71, a 30 degree elevation is .87. Cheap test: tape aluminum foil or a space blanket (aluminized mylar) to the worst sun windows.

Air leakage into the house will quickly increase the humidity, as will steamy showers, which the AC has to remove.

If the windows are single pane, do note single pane windows are poor thermo insulators. This heat gain is in addition to any solar heating. And single pane were not build to air leakage criteria most double/triple pane windows are.
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CAsage
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by CAsage »

I'm in So Cal - sunny, only unbearably hot a few nasty weeks in the late summer. Last year, I replaced the roof on my garage/workshop room with the goal to keep it as cool as possible. I paid the roofer to remove the old roof and plywood, then install new foil faced plywood, the foil installed down towards the garage and airspace in workshop, and put on a white "Cool Roof". This prevents the solar heat from radiating down. I don't remember the brand, but it was a commercial style rolled bitumen (?). Foil ply, then two layers tar paper, then the white top. It's INCREDIBLE how much cooler that garage is now compared to my (overpriced, architectural brown shingle) main house. I DEEPLY regret not getting at least the back 3/4 of my main house, the part not visible from the street, done the same way but it was a few years earlier. During the summer, my main house attic overheats incredibly and all that heat flows inside... Seems like that would be worth researching in Florida....
Salvia Clevelandii "Winifred Gilman" my favorite. YMMV; not a professional advisor.
mary1492
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by mary1492 »

I-Know-Nothing wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:08 pm My husband and I bought our first house a year ago. It’s 2,050 square feet, and has an unheated pool. It was built in 1981. We have central AC, and there are 2 AC units for the 2 zones in the house. The AC units are fairly new, and we change the filters monthly. We are in Southeast Florida, where summer temperatures last about 6 months a year.
We have 2 central AC units as well, for a 3300 square foot home. One for the bedrooms, and the other (larger one) for the rest of the house.

I'm as frugal as they come. We're in the northeast, and I refuse to turn the heat on until November 1 - even if we have to bundle up for a few weeks in October. At night, during the winter, the thermostats go down to 57 before I let the heat turn on.

Every year, I refuse to turn the AC on unless it feels like an oven in the house - has to be above 80...pushing 85. I dread every time I hear the AC turn on because that's money being sucked out of my pocket, for something which disappears instantly. We have fans in every room, but as you can imagine, it can be difficult falling asleep in the heat.

All that being said, a few months ago, I bought a window AC unit for our bedroom and it's been wonderful! This window AC unit is very efficient and we've used it a lot this year - significantly more than we've ever used the central AC. When the first full month electric bill came, I was ecstatic when I saw the usage was only 13% higher than last year, when I would begrudgingly use the central AC. We're two people in a large home. Why cool the whole thing? Once I identified that we wanted the most comfort at night when going to sleep, the solution was easy.

So, my suggestion is to consider the one time investment in (a couple of) small window AC units for the room/rooms which are most important to have AC in and only use the central AC if you really really need to. Even though they may be efficient, they still guzzle electricity.
DoubleComma
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by DoubleComma »

If you still have single speed pool pumps they are killing you. Changing from single speed to variable speed, and spending time to dial in the various stages and times, you can cut you pool filtering expense by 70%+.

Without knowing your electric rates I can’t tell you what your specific impact is, but here is my experience.

When we moved into our new home, I kept my precious vacant house for a few months trying to make a sell/rent decision. Anyway, the vacant house was 2800 ft two story. AC was set to 85* (outside temp was 75-85) so it didn’t run). We had 3 exterior light fixtures with LED bulbs on dusk-dawn sensors and my pool running 1.5 HP single speed pump for 8 hours and a second 3/4 HP single speed booster running for 3 hours to drive the sweep. That vacant house power bill was $90 months.

New house has variable speed pool pump where you can dial in the RPM/Time which shows exact power consumption. This new pump runs 14 hours a day, but at ultra low RPM which cost next to nothing in energy cost. This new pool cost ~$16 month in energy cost to run the filters and sweep.
Topic Author
I-Know-Nothing
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by I-Know-Nothing »

ragnathor wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:21 pm Hopefully others can chime in, but some more detail will probably be helpful. How many kwh usage during summer and winter? Do you have a smart thermostat and can see how long your HVAC runs? Our home is larger, we keep it at 72, similar location/climate and our usage is about 1500kwh in the summer. Edit: it is a new home - 3 years old.
It looks like we used 2,415 kWh during the month of August.

The thermostat in the back is on a timer and is programmable. We don’t have one with a timer for the unit in the front, but we just keep that one at 78 all the time.

I don’t think we have a way of seeing how long our HVAC runs.
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I-Know-Nothing
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by I-Know-Nothing »

Silk McCue wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:28 pm Call your power provider and ask them about an energy audit.inefficient windows and improper attic insulation/ venting can be a problem. Inefficient water heater/too high of a heat setting could contribute as well.

Your aunts bill seems ridiculously low given it’s size and temperature settings.

I’m a lifelong Floridian. 2700 Sq ft single unit heat pump. Duke Energy 76 degrees 7a to 7p, steps down to 73 by 9p. 1484 kWh last month for $212.77. Key fact Water Heater is propane.

Cheers
Yes, I think this is a good idea. It looks like we can schedule free energy audits with FP&L. Thank you.
Topic Author
I-Know-Nothing
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by I-Know-Nothing »

livesoft wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 4:09 pm
bi0hazard wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 4:04 pmOf course, you should be certain your AC units are functioning well.
As I hinted at, I think the OP does not have AC nor insulation issues. I will pin my money on their electric water heaters and the 60 minute showers they didn't tell us about. :twisted:
Our hot water heater is a Rheem that is less than 2 years old. The sticker on it says that estimated annual costs from it are $419. So $35 a month. We do not generally take long showers.
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cchrissyy
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by cchrissyy »

I don’t think we have a way of seeing how long our HVAC runs.
you could get a smart thermostat such as the Nest. when I did this, my electric company sent a $100 rebate, about half the cost. perhaps your local electric company has a rebate program too.
while you're at it, look for one of those gadgets to tell you your live usage. I think people like the one called Sense?
livesoft
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by livesoft »

I-Know-Nothing wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:07 pmOur hot water heater is a Rheem that is less than 2 years old. The sticker on it says that estimated annual costs from it are $419. So $35 a month. We do not generally take long showers.
Our natural gas bill in the past 4 months (in the summer when there is no furnace being used) has averaged $31.62. That's for 2 water heaters and the gas clothes dryer. Does your husband's aunt have gas water heaters and gas dryer, too?

But we all know that gas is less expensive and you have what you have.

So now I am agreeing with the others about the pool pump.
Last edited by livesoft on Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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TJat
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by TJat »

Pool is an easy fix. A variable speed pool pump would save a lot. My guess is the builder put in a single speed oversized unit that is probably $80 a month by itself. A good (hayward) variable speed is about 1200 but costs me <$10 a month running 24x7. Though hard to believe, These are serious prices based on my own set up

The AC is another big one. Personally I can’t imagine keeping the house at 78 and sleeping at 75. Sweat city, but YMMV. I wouldn’t bother changing the filters every month unless they get dirty. I have 3” filters that last 6 months. I bet you have some inefficient units though, but your husband is right that there’s only so much you can do. Air sealing and insulation, especially in the attic, would be good.
Monsterflockster
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by Monsterflockster »

I-Know-Nothing wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:08 pm My husband and I bought our first house a year ago. It’s 2,050 square feet, and has an unheated pool. It was built in 1981. We have central AC, and there are 2 AC units for the 2 zones in the house. The AC units are fairly new, and we change the filters monthly. We are in Southeast Florida, where summer temperatures last about 6 months a year.

We took some measures to try to keep our electric costs down. We tinted the windows. We insulated the garage door. We got blackout curtains. We installed timed thermostats. This summer, we raised the temp in the zone we stay in during the day to 78, and the zone with the bedrooms is kept at 81. At night the bedroom temp goes down to 75. 78 is a little warm during the day, but we’ve gotten used to it. I work from home so we can’t really raise it higher during the day. Sometimes I swim at lunch if I need to cool down.

With all those modifications, our electric bill was still $303 last month. During the winter it was between $140 and $180.

I know some people locally who pay a lot more than this, but I know others who pay a lot less, and keep it cooler than us. My husband’s aunt lives nearby, in a house around our size, and she pays $90 a month, and keeps her temperature at 71. I don’t get it

Is there anything we can do to lower costs further, without spending a ton of money? We can spend some. We are due for a new roof in 5 years or so…will that help at all? We have thought about installing solar panels, but that will have to wait until the new roof is installed.

I’ve heard that installing impact windows could help, and would obviously be preferable if a hurricane hit. However, they are really, really expensive, so it would take a long time to recoup their costs if they only lower electric bills $40 a month or whatever.
Not cheap but I’d think you’re a candidate for solar.

Makes me thankful for our climate that ranges from 55-70 degrees year round. Stay cool! 😎
suemarkp
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by suemarkp »

Is the variable speed pump also 1.5 HP? It takes a certain amount of work to filter a pool -- X gallons per minute times Y hours translates into a given amount of energy. You can use a small pump and run it longer, or a huge one and run it less. That is, if your pipes can take the flow and you're not wasting half the energy in water pipe friction.

A 1.5HP pump is large for a pool (and I'd say too large for most unless you have a larger than 2" inlet pipe). I had a 15,000 gallon pool that originally had a 1/2HP pump. I upsized to a 3/4HP high head pump. That provided 50 GPM of water flow which was about all the 1.5" pipes could take. This had enough suction to run the vacuum which I'd throw in at night. 5 hours would be the time required to run all 15,000 gallons of the pool through the filter. I usually ran it for 6 to 8 hours.
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wriley4409
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by wriley4409 »

Silk McCue wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:28 pm Call your power provider and ask them about an energy audit.inefficient windows and improper attic insulation/ venting can be a problem. Inefficient water heater/too high of a heat setting could contribute as well.
+1

My electric provider will actually pay for an energy audit, and that can give you very detailed and specific things to do to reduce the energy consumption in your home.
HomeStretch
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by HomeStretch »

Do whatever you can to be cost-effectively energy efficient. But with a pool and 2 AC units, your increased electrical cost of $123-$163/month during the months you use the pool and AC seems very reasonable. For comparison, during the summer my electric use (and cost) doubles. Half of the increase is due to the pool filter running daily and half is due to the run time of 3 AC systems.

Is your pool filter set to run the proper (minimum) # of hours daily? Your pool company or troublefreepool.com forum users can help with the # hours.

If your electrical rate is variable, do you run the pool filter at the time of day with the lowest electrical rate? Alternatively can you install solar panels (with a reasonable pay back period) for the pool filter?

Do you have and use programmable thermostats for the 2 AC systems?

Edit - clean AC filters regularly for best performance
Last edited by HomeStretch on Wed Sep 15, 2021 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Topic Author
I-Know-Nothing
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by I-Know-Nothing »

TJat wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:14 pm Pool is an easy fix. A variable speed pool pump would save a lot. My guess is the builder put in a single speed oversized unit that is probably $80 a month by itself. A good (hayward) variable speed is about 1200 but costs me <$10 a month running 24x7. Though hard to believe, These are serious prices based on my own set up.
Thanks. We will look into this brand of pool pump. We do have a single speed pump now, so that could be costing us a lot.
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I-Know-Nothing
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by I-Know-Nothing »

livesoft wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:13 pm
I-Know-Nothing wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:07 pmOur hot water heater is a Rheem that is less than 2 years old. The sticker on it says that estimated annual costs from it are $419. So $35 a month. We do not generally take long showers.
Our natural gas bill in the past 4 months (in the summer when there is no furnace being used) has averaged $31.62. That's for 2 water heaters and the gas clothes dryer. Does your husband's aunt have gas water heaters and gas dryer, too?

But we all know that gas is less expensive and you have what you have.

So now I am agreeing with the others about the pool pump.
No, we don’t have gas and very few people around here do.

TY. I am investigating the pool pump.
niagara_guy
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by niagara_guy »

you can get a kill-a-watt or similar to check electrical devices that plug into 110 (like fridge, freezer,...). I borrowed one from my local library. I think that the ac is probably the big user (and if you have electric hot water it's a killer) but it never hurts to check other devices. Investigate if you are on time use or if changing to it will help. If on time of use, your electric costs in the peak period will be much higher than off peak. I agree that getting an energy audit from your electric provider is a good idea.
DoubleComma
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by DoubleComma »

suemarkp wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:21 pm Is the variable speed pump also 1.5 HP? It takes a certain amount of work to filter a pool -- X gallons per minute times Y hours translates into a given amount of energy. You can use a small pump and run it longer, or a huge one and run it less. That is, if your pipes can take the flow and you're not wasting half the energy in water pipe friction.

A 1.5HP pump is large for a pool (and I'd say too large for most unless you have a larger than 2" inlet pipe). I had a 15,000 gallon pool that originally had a 1/2HP pump. I upsized to a 3/4HP high head pump. That provided 50 GPM of water flow which was about all the 1.5" pipes could take. This had enough suction to run the vacuum which I'd throw in at night. 5 hours would be the time required to run all 15,000 gallons of the pool through the filter. I usually ran it for 6 to 8 hours.
Not sure who this was directed to, but since I brought pool pumps I’ll assume me.

The entire point of a VS Pump is you can run a high HP pump as a much smaller pump, but for the brief time you need high flow for the sweep or chlorinator you can. Otherwise on single speed pumps, the pump is sized for the highest flow needed and run at that rate always, even when far lower flow is required, costing a fortune.

My old pool was reasonably large, 150 linear foot free form but don’t recall the gallons. The DE filter was 37 ft, too small for the pool and a huge regret since I custom built the pool and let that get last me. That pool had 3 single speed pumps; 1.5 HP to filter, .75 HP booster & .75 HP water feature pump. The water feature didn’t to much matter as the spitters and waterfall didn’t run much.

The current pool is 20’x40’ geometric shaped, ~35k gallons. All plumbing 2” with sweeps, no 90s. The goal was reduce head pressure as much as possible for efficiency. OP very likely has 1.5” pvc w/ 90s if the pool in >10 years old. Our filter is a 60 sq ft DE filter.

Both pools used traditional chlorine tabs.

Current Variable Speed Pump is Hayward 1.85 HP. It has been awesome and extremely efficient.

The single pump also runs pool sweep (suction side not pressure side) and the water features.

OP - It’s probable your pool costs a lot more than you might realize. A simple change is VS Pumps, but there could be dozens of others. Some time spent reading on Trouble Free Pools might be very valuable.
Last edited by DoubleComma on Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
mary1492
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by mary1492 »

I-Know-Nothing wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:01 pm The thermostat in the back is on a timer and is programmable. We don’t have one with a timer for the unit in the front, but we just keep that one at 78 all the time.

I don’t think we have a way of seeing how long our HVAC runs.
As someone else mentioned, consider the Google Nest thermostats. They have a couple of flavors, but the low end cheaper model does fine for us. Our electric company sent us two of them for $20 each. It gives very detailed reports of how much you use by day/week/month and you can see specifically day by day when it turned the heat or ac on and off. Additionally, it is highly programmable. I installed ours by myself - 3 of them, 2 on the main level, and one in the basement (we have 3 zone heating, with 2 of them having AC). If your electric company doesn't offer any special pricing for them, you can get the lower end model for about $40 each on Ebay. There are similar offered by other HVAC vendors (Honeywell, for example), but I like the Google Nest because it integrates extremely well with Google Home and we have other Google Home products and are very happy with them all. With these thermostats, you can check on them remotely with your smart phone, and additionally turn the heat or ac on/off remotely.
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I-Know-Nothing
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by I-Know-Nothing »

I am definitely looking into changing out our pool pump as everyone has suggested. I think it could really help. Just to be clear though, the pool pump currently runs the same all year long, so any increase in electric costs this summer was not due to the pool pump. I’m sure everyone will think I’m crazy, but I used the pool during this last winter, even when the temperature dropped to the 50s. A cold swim is challenging, but I felt really good afterwards.
Topic Author
I-Know-Nothing
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by I-Know-Nothing »

mary1492 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:09 pm
I-Know-Nothing wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:01 pm The thermostat in the back is on a timer and is programmable. We don’t have one with a timer for the unit in the front, but we just keep that one at 78 all the time.

I don’t think we have a way of seeing how long our HVAC runs.
As someone else mentioned, consider the Google Nest thermostats. They have a couple of flavors, but the low end cheaper model does fine for us. Our electric company sent us two of them for $20 each. It gives very detailed reports of how much you use by day/week/month and you can see specifically day by day when it turned the heat or ac on and off. Additionally, it is highly programmable. I installed ours by myself - 3 of them, 2 on the main level, and one in the basement (we have 3 zone heating, with 2 of them having AC). If your electric company doesn't offer any special pricing for them, you can get the lower end model for about $40 each on Ebay. There are similar offered by other HVAC vendors (Honeywell, for example), but I like the Google Nest because it integrates extremely well with Google Home and we have other Google Home products and are very happy with them all. With these thermostats, you can check on them remotely with your smart phone, and additionally turn the heat or ac on/off remotely.
I will get this. Thank you.
mortfree
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by mortfree »

I would get the nest thermostat model that allows you to have a separate temperature sensor, say in the bedroom, so that temperature can be controlled.

In my house I have one HVAC system but there are two thermostats. One on first floor and one on second floor.

In summer the temps at the thermostat are hotter so I have separate temperature sensors in first floor master and second floor kids room. This helps for AC since it can maintain temperature easier.

Vice versa in the winter for heat where it is easier to satisfy the main thermostats in the living room and second floor hallway. At night though I switch it to sense the bedrooms so we are comfortable.
toomanysidehustles
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by toomanysidehustles »

I-Know-Nothing wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:08 pm My husband and I bought our first house a year ago. It’s 2,050 square feet. It was built in 1981.
I'm guessing you have zero or very poorly insulated walls, windows and doors. I'd start with researching what you have there after you get a smart thermostat. But a smart thermostat isn't going to help much if your insulation consists of siding, 1/2 inch plywood, and sheetrock. If it was insulated, it probably has blown-in cellulose which may have settled.
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Svensk Anga
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by Svensk Anga »

toomanysidehustles wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:52 pm
I-Know-Nothing wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:08 pm My husband and I bought our first house a year ago. It’s 2,050 square feet. It was built in 1981.
I'm guessing you have zero or very poorly insulated walls, windows and doors. I'd start with researching what you have there after you get a smart thermostat. But a smart thermostat isn't going to help much if your insulation consists of siding, 1/2 inch plywood, and sheetrock. If it was insulated, it probably has blown-in cellulose which may have settled.
In Florida, odds are that walls are concrete block and drywall. In 1981 there would have been no insulation.

My first house, 1981 vintage in FL, had a placard in the attic, at the top of the stairs showing the insulation value installed. R19 if I recall. Maybe this placard was a code requirement at the time. See if you have one. You want at least R30 these days. Blowing in more should be reasonable. You will probably need baffles near the end of the trusses in order to keep insulation off the eave vents.

I have not seen lighting addressed. If there is any incandescent left you need to be rid of it. Not only do LED and fluorescent use less energy per unit light output, they put out less heat. The heat from incandescents puts more load on the AC. Your utility may give you free or subsidized bulbs.
Lalamimi
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by Lalamimi »

Are the windows original? single pane? replace windows. Its probably the pool. Our friends say it adds over $100 a month to their bill here in Texas.
How old is your fridge? They say older ones pull alot of energy. Try unplugging all TVs, etc for a few days when not in use (and overnight). Can you see daily usage? Does the pool run too long? We are in Texas, and can choose plan. We have 3K square ft, 2 units, one really old. installed all new windows and a new roof. Built in 1996, moved here 3 yrs ago. We change filters every 3 months. Blown insulation is also good. Do you have attached garage? Leave door open? Ceiling fans? We leave ours on 74 bill this month was $145 (I do have an above ground pool that runs all the time).
Pu239
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by Pu239 »

Michael Bluejay has an excellent webpage devoted to ways for saving electricity. https://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/ Some of the suggestions have saved us hundreds if not thousands over the years.
Between the idea And the reality...Between the motion And the act...Falls the Shadow - T. S. Eliot
DoubleComma
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by DoubleComma »

I-Know-Nothing wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:19 pm I am definitely looking into changing out our pool pump as everyone has suggested. I think it could really help. Just to be clear though, the pool pump currently runs the same all year long, so any increase in electric costs this summer was not due to the pool pump. I’m sure everyone will think I’m crazy, but I used the pool during this last winter, even when the temperature dropped to the 50s. A cold swim is challenging, but I felt really good afterwards.
Our municipality have summer rates and baselines different than winter months. So the exact same usage in January will be ~20% less than in July. So pool does cost more in our summers.

Then you add AC and it quickly escalates your rate tiers and that’s why our winter bills are 1/2 our summer bills.
mgensler
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by mgensler »

OP,

If this were me, my plan would be:

Install mechanical timer on pool pump if it is fairly new. Otherwise replace with a variable speed. You want to turnover or filter all the water in the pool 1x per day as a baseline. Then if it's not clear, slowly add more time until it clears up. So, you will need your pump manual and do some math to calculate this.

Replace all bulbs with LED.

Get an energy audit with blower door and infrared camera. Cost should be around $300. They will review your house mechanicals, ductwork issues, air tightness, and insulation. This is the scientific method and only real way to prioritize fixes to the house itself. From there, you will have your plan and can decide if it's worth the cost(it usually is).

Summers are getting hotter so whatever you fix now will keep saving you in the future.
psteinx
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by psteinx »

OP, you need a handle on how much electricity you're using, and an allocation of that electricity to the different devices (HVAC, pool, major appliances, etc.)

You can do a bit of a "self-audit", by using a Kill-a-watt device for the small stuff, and perhaps some selective monitoring for the bigger stuff. Re: the latter - find your electric meter, learn how to read it (one spin of the meter means *how much* electricity? Then, in some cases, you can turn off the big stuff, ideally for as long as 24 hours, though that may not be practical, and selectively turn things on, to try to pin down usage.

===

I don't know 'bout pools, so I'll defer to the others.

Lighting is an easy and obvious thing to check, and cheap and easy to deal with, if its an issue. Note, of course, that an old incandescent may be inefficient, but if its in a closet and seldom turned on, it's likely not much of a problem. Focus on the stuff that's on the most.

Kill-a-watt will help with devices and appliances. You may be surprised by some phantom/vampire electricity hogs. Cable boxes and DVRs are one possible issue. Old fridges, especially the really old one or freezer, that's a spare in the garage, may be an issue.

Try to determine what the SEER rating of your A/C units are. Higher is better. 16+ is a good target. An old 9 SEER A/C will use, IIRC, twice as much electricity as an efficient 18 SEER A/C.

Try to assess your insulation situation. Hopefully you've got a hatch into the attic crawlspace. You could measure the depth of the insulation, then look that up on an internet chart. As far as the walls go, you could drill a small pilot hole in an obscure location to get a sense/look.

Are your windows single pane or double pane? Are the edge seals good, or drafty?
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firebirdparts
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by firebirdparts »

I-Know-Nothing wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:29 pm I unfortunately don’t know how the insulation is. This type of stuff is really out of my wheelhouse a bit, but I’m trying to learn. My husband understands a lot more than me, but he seems to think that we’ve reached the end of what we can do without spending tens of thousands of dollars. I imagine the insulation could be improved. It’s probably 40 years old. Would someone have to cut holes in the walls and add foam insulation?
That is not going to be worth doing, no. But the attic is another matter. You can add insulation there where there's nothing finished over it.

You asked earlier about the roof. That can make a big difference, but you probably have to consider hurricane resistance as the top priority. it seems like concrete shingles would be better than something lighter and thinner. I know they're popular there. Metal is great as a radiation barrier, but a bunch of flying debris in a hurricane would really ugly it up, I think.
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Valuethinker
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by Valuethinker »

I-Know-Nothing wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:08 pm My husband and I bought our first house a year ago. It’s 2,050 square feet, and has an unheated pool. It was built in 1981. We have central AC, and there are 2 AC units for the 2 zones in the house. The AC units are fairly new, and we change the filters monthly. We are in Southeast Florida, where summer temperatures last about 6 months a year.

We took some measures to try to keep our electric costs down. We tinted the windows. We insulated the garage door. We got blackout curtains. We installed timed thermostats. This summer, we raised the temp in the zone we stay in during the day to 78, and the zone with the bedrooms is kept at 81. At night the bedroom temp goes down to 75. 78 is a little warm during the day, but we’ve gotten used to it. I work from home so we can’t really raise it higher during the day. Sometimes I swim at lunch if I need to cool down.

With all those modifications, our electric bill was still $303 last month. During the winter it was between $140 and $180.

I know some people locally who pay a lot more than this, but I know others who pay a lot less, and keep it cooler than us. My husband’s aunt lives nearby, in a house around our size, and she pays $90 a month, and keeps her temperature at 71. I don’t get it

Is there anything we can do to lower costs further, without spending a ton of money? We can spend some. We are due for a new roof in 5 years or so…will that help at all? We have thought about installing solar panels, but that will have to wait until the new roof is installed.

I’ve heard that installing impact windows could help, and would obviously be preferable if a hurricane hit. However, they are really, really expensive, so it would take a long time to recoup their costs if they only lower electric bills $40 a month or whatever.
Trying to draw this together

1. energy audit - local utility often offers a deal. You don't have to use the same contractor to do any improvements eg to insulation. This is important if you are considering solar, because generally an oversized solar system is not helpful-- you get very little return for production in excess of your needs.

Are you on Time Of Use tariff? It may be that you can shift some of your consumption out of that typically 4-8pm peak period? Again that depends on carefully monitoring usage.

Attic insulation is usually fairly cheap to install. It's quite possible to have some really irrational things done in the construction of the house, like air intake ducts that run through the really hot roof space. Or simply big air leaks.

2. pool pump - I see you are on that one.

Does a Florida climate necessitate an insulated pool cover? In colder climates it makes a huge difference to how many months you can use the pool. Saves on heating costs, too. Also by keeping the leaves out makes cleaning less of a chore.

3. lights. Any remaining halogen or incandescent bulbs? We have outdoor lights which are some terrifying wattage (300?) but we don't use them much. It's quite easy to save $10 pcm switching to more efficient bulbs. And that will save you heating.

4. old fridge or freezer A 1980s fridge can burn 2000 kwhr pa. A modern fridge can burn less than 500 kwhr pa. That's a huge potential saving - I think President Bush signed the last energy efficiency act in 2006 so any fridge since then is pretty efficient. There is (was) an Energy Information Administration (part of Department of Energy) website where you could type in your model number and get a measure of efficiency.

Many people keep an old fridge as a "beer cooler" in the garage or basement. Not realising that it can be costing them $400 pa to keep it running.

5. check that AC units are operating efficiently

6. windows are very expensive things to replace, and don't usually have a good payback in energy terms - 10+ years or even 20+. However something which gives you external shading of those windows, especially on the south side of the house, will be a significant win. Reflective film for example (be mindful of the neighbors).

If the problem on the south-facing windows is really bad, I would consider replacing those windows with high energy reflective windows. You can get those which aren't too bad on shading visible light. That will be expensive though, and your house could look odd with windows of different ages on it.

Most of all you need more information, and a Kil-o-Watt type meter which can show you when your power consumption is peaking. Will give you a feel.

Local utilities usually offer some form of energy savings service. Regulators have tended to incentivize this, because the cheapest kwhr for consumers is one that is not consumed. Not consuming beats generation of electricity.
Gundy
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by Gundy »

a comp:

I live in SWFL. New construction. A/C @ 75 day, 73 night.

June, July, August electric bill avg $127.

I'm surprised it's so cheap- and I don't know why. I do nothing to conserve electricity.
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Valuethinker
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by Valuethinker »

Gundy wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 5:12 am a comp:

I live in SWFL. New construction. A/C @ 75 day, 73 night.

June, July, August electric bill avg $127.

I'm surprised it's so cheap- and I don't know why. I do nothing to conserve electricity.
I believe that after one of the hurricanes Florida substantively revised its Building Codes?

Strengthening of building fabric, windows, roof etc.

But also possibly more and better insulation, energy efficiency?

Square footage would make a big difference (yours v. OP). Or in fact external surface area - houses are not perfect cubes so the form of the house has an impact on the total SA.

I suspect OP's pool pump is making a big difference in terms of additional consumption.
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winterfan
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Re: Ways to lower electricity costs?

Post by winterfan »

Our electric bills aren't generally very high, but we saved around $30/mo by running the shorter cycles on the washer and dishwasher. Our clothes and dishes are clean.
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