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Reducing home energy use 201

March 19th, 2009 at 06:32 pm

One of my New Year's resolutions is to reduce our home electricity use by 10 to 20 percent by the end of the year. In a house already filled with compact fluorescent bulbs, this will be no easy task.

My most recent electricity bill arrived in the mail this week, so I now have my benchmark kilowatt numbers. It's enough to make me queasy.

We used a total of 19,405 KwH in the past 12 months. The average U.S. family uses 10,656 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, or about 888 kwh per month. Our electricity usage has skyrocketed in the past year. I know what the culprit is.

We were well below average before we installed our new furnace.

In September 2007, we replaced our 1957 gas furnace with a geothermal electric heat pump.

Electricity is not my first choice for home heating and cooling. But, we really wanted a geothermal system, which is supposed to be earth-friendly. Even our lowest use month is still twice what it was before we installed the new furnace.

What we didn't know is that our furnace was not operating correctly for the first year. It ran constantly, due to some miscommunication with the thermostat. We had this fixed in mid-January. I am hopeful this will help, as I already notice that even in cold weather the furnace no longer runs constantly.

So, numbers in hand, our goal is to reduce our usage by 1,940 to 3,881 kilowatt hours a year. Our monthly average use is 1,617 kilowatt hours. Our monthly goal is to reduce usage by 161 to 323 kilowatt hours a month.

These are big numbers. We are planning to tackle this with a combination of upgrades large and small.

This month, We have already managed to implement part of our plan to reduce our kilowatt addiction.

* We installed the final three Energy Star windows in our house. We began this project last year, but because we are old fashioned, we only do what we can pay for out of pocket. We couldn't afford to do all of the windows at once, so we put off the last three (which we deemed to have less impact on our home's leakiness). Now, all of the windows are finished.This was our most expensive project, at $1,633.

* We hope to replace our washer with a front-loading energy star model. Our current washer is not energy star. I guess I was more concerned with price, as I had to buy a dryer, washer and fridge all at one time when I bought this house. We are still shopping around. Once we find a really efficient model, we'll start combing the scratch and dent stores for one.I think this will really reduce our KWH, as we do a lot of laundry now that we have a little one, and we use cloth diapers.

* I bought a Smart Strip for the computer, playstation, and entertainment center in the basement. I have a feeling this area is a huge user of vampire electricity. The strip cost about $35 with shipping. It turns off appliances and computer peripherals automatically when they have been idle more than 30 minutes. For other areas, I may just buy a plain old strip, plug everything in and then just flip off the strip when we aren't using what's plugged into it.

It's really hard to figure out where to cut when you've already plucked most of the low-hanging fruit. But, I'm determined.

5 Responses to “Reducing home energy use 201”

  1. my english castle Says:

    I'm interested in how you do with your goal. We also have almost all compact fluorescent bulbs, and I've become my father--zooming around turning off lights like crazy.
    Did you do the window installation yourself? We'd like to buy a a few windows at a time too, and I haven't really investigated the best windows yet.

  2. thriftorama Says:

    We didn't do the windows ourselves. I'm a big DIYer, but I know my limits. Plus, I was 8 months pregnant when first round arrived. It wasn't happening! We found a local company that manufacturers them and installs them. They are Energy Star windows. The first round, which was most of the house, cost us $5600 total. It cost much less than we thought it would be, as we have a lot of big windows. I think that pad for 9 windows? Not sure. We have been so happy with them. Our house is so more comfortable temp-wise and much less noisy with the new windows.

  3. lizajane Says:

    Good luck with the reduction. For 2009, you'll be able to take a credit on your taxes for the windows at least. (There wasn't any credit for 2008, but it's back in 2009). Check out details on energystar dot gov.

  4. Ima saver Says:

    We never put heat pumps in the houses we build. They do not do well in temperatures below 42 degrees. We put in propane gas heat instead.

  5. thriftorama Says:

    With geothermal systems, the only option is a heat pump. Geothermal is great, and the temp isn't a problem, as my loops are buried deep enough under the yard that it is always a steady temp year round.

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