Lets talk energy efficiency!

How much did the solar hot water system cost you? I vaguely remember seeing $15k installed quotes for Seattle, which is ludicrous.

Isn’t it better to fully charge the battery (in case you need it later) and then just take it out and use the laptop as though it was a desktop if you aren’t going to be moving it around?

That’s a very good pdf summary of energy and climate change. Thanks for linking it.

$202 per QUARTER? I am so jealous. My Energy bill is like $170 PER MONTH. I need some solar panels and a windmill.

That’s what the instructions for my netbook said, and that’s what I do.

Here’s the data on my 1800 sq.ft. town home in Texas. This sucker’s electrical.

I wish it could be May all the time.

And why is January so ridiculous? Does it get so cold that you use electric heat more than air conditioning?

So you used more electricity in January than we did during the whole year? :D That’s pretty crazy. Granted, we have central heating, so heat isn’t reflected in our electric bill, but still.

It was installed on the house when we bought it, but they’re generally just a few thousand dollars (Australian) including installation and government rebate. As you can imagine, they’re fairly widespread.

Ours is a thermosiphonmodel. I’d say we use the electric booster about 6 times a year (30 minutes gives us about 1-2 days of hot water), and apart from the occasional clean of the panels it’s hands-off.

Without consideration for the efficiency of different heating and cooling methods, heating a home in a cold winter to habitable temperatures uses more energy than cooling a home during a hot summer.

Cooling: 102F to 72F = 30F difference.
Heating: 22F to 72F = 50F difference. (moar energeez!)

We use a smartstrip in my home theater.

It has one control outlet that detects whether the device plugged into it is turned on or off based on power draw, and that controls the rest of the outlets. You still end up with one device on the control outlet that can passively leech energy, but it saves on everything else.

This is the first I’ve heard of LED bulbs. Can you put them on a dimmer? You can’t with CFLs (or, at least, it’s not recommended).

The benefit of LED bulbs is that they are 100% dimmable.

Home Depot is selling 40W equivalent (8W actual) LED bulbs for $20 USD. I’m really tempted to get a few for the most often-used lights in the house, but then I realized that it doesn’t offer any savings over a 40W CFL bulb aside from the longer life and lack of mercury - They’re both 8w give or take.

I picked up a couple of these last week. I nearly freaked because they’re sold out online, and I figured it would take awhile before they’d appear in stores.

It’s a pretty neat bulb, but it still needs a bit of work. For starters, the price is way too high. I picked up a couple of them for the novelty factor, and also to “vote with my dollars” as it were. But there’s no way I’m going to convert all of my bulbs to them.

Also, it’s kind of hard to see this from the picture, but the illuminated part of the bulb isn’t as big as a CFL or an incandescent bulb. It looks a little odd in a chandelier, but I think it would be best suited for a light over the sink, or something that’s pointing the bulb down.

Enigdigm’s data somewhat matches mine, perhaps off by a month or two. Here is the data for my 1800 sq ft place in Charlotte, NC.

Some key dates:

  • Late summer of 2009, switched all household lighting to CFL.
  • October of 2009, switched to laptop gaming. This will/should make a huge difference over this summer since to power PC’s in the gaming room required it’s own in-window AC just to keep temps below 75 in that room.
  • Power use in the winter here is heavily based on cold spells, otherwise it’s pretty low overall.
  • Power use in the summer in the South relies on 24 hour A/C and I have an aging 12 year old HVAC unit that isn’t great on power savings.
  • Enigdigm’s power cost seems much higher than mine, although I didn’t track my power bills, my highest topped out at $336 with my lowest bill at $107.

Indeed, my electrical bills are annoyingly high for such a small home. I knew when buying it that the cost of electrical central heating was more, but it wasn’t, perhaps, a large enough concern than it should have been. I find it strange that there is a 1000/KWh floor that i cannot seem to move past on even the mildest months. I can’t really believe that they are cheating on my electrical use… except, that two years ago i owned it about a month and a half before moving in, during which time i started receiving surprisingly large bills, despite not actually turning anything on. I would write down the KW use every day… but just can’t convince myself that such conspiratorial thoughts are valid. I do need a larger and more modern AC unit; i think that almost every home in Texas, btw, needs some measure larger of a unit than it’s supposed rating, 50% or so. Those families that have recently upgraded their systems to newer, more modern, and larger systems, have related how their bills have been cut in half.

Even stranger i’ve been on the flexrate plans, and my average KWh costs have always been about .03c cheaper than the lowest posted fix rate plans for some time. It will probably switch in a year or two when the price of gas recovers.

It’s true though that living in Texas you become more acclimated to the heat than the cold. 72 is generally cold enough for me in the summer, though i will turn it down a bit more during the peak summer season if my bedroom feels warmer than the thermostat claims. Anything below 68 in winter though … that’s just not civilized! Brrr.

You and I have the same problem I think, older or not very efficient appliances. Don’t forget to add in your fridge, stove, microwave, dishwasher, washer, dryer, and hot water heater. I know for a fact that besides my home HVAC system being old, 5 of those items above are old as well and should probably be replaced with something more efficient.

Thats electricity. My home is heated by a wood-burning stove or oil-fired heating. The oil is probably $400 a year, and the wood is about $300 more.

This house has crappy insulation, and the building regulations prevent me having double glazing. Eventually, I’ll insulate everything one way or another and hopefully the wood and oil costs will tumble.
Even just fitting new thermal-lined curtains everywhere is noticeably better.

It doesn’t use double the energy. The best independent source of measurement for lighting stuff is the US DOE’s Caliper program, which tests out various products on a regular basis.

In downlights (that is, recessed lighting), the best LED products, like Cree’s LR6, have a luminous efficacy of 62 lumens/watt. That compares favorably with CFL’s typical 40 lm/w, but obviously isn’t double.

And in traditional light bulb applications, it’s a much worse story for LED, for two reasons.

First is that LEDs are heavily directional, as anyone who’s used LED christmas lights knows. So in a downlight, where the LEDs are shining all their light straight down and CFLs are wasting a lot illuminating omnidirectionally, this plays to their strength. But in a lightbulb where you want omnidirectionality, that advantage is turned into a disadvantage, so even an optimal LED lightbulb wouldn’t be more efficient than an optimal CFL.

Second is that LED efficiency is closely related to heat. Those downlights are basically custom-designed around giant heatsinks; Edison-mount bulbs aren’t, and they don’t allow nearly the heatsinking that would be ideal, which is why Edison-mount LED bulbs are always low-power and inefficient.

What LED does have going for it is a fast improvement curve. Cree’s already announced downlights that are supposed to hit 80 lm/W, which is 30% better than their existing best; you’re not going to see that same kind of improvements in CFL.

But that’s why LEDs are probably inevitable in the future. For today, they’re a great purchase for downlights, but a lousy one for legacy Edison-mount sockets.

Oh. Well, if you factor out temperature control, those numbers don’t seem nearly as reasonable.