Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December can be a tough month on the wallet!

Last December, I used 1,629 kilowatt hours of power to keep my home warm and to run my assorted appliances and electronic gadgets. December 2010 was a perfectly normal month from the standpoint of outside temperatures. The mean was 35.1F versus an historical average of 35F. That translated into an average daytime high of about 45F and a low somewhere below freezing. I own a heat pump and as you may know, they struggle to work at any temperature much be 32F. So, for most of the month, the ‘emergency’ mode went into effect whereby heating elements were turned on to make up for what the heat pump could not provide.

Last year, however, I made some changes both physically (installed plastic over the windows) and in terms of how I used power. I employed the aid of a device called the Total Energy Detective (T.E.D.) to help me monitor my power us real time. I also set a budge of no more that 52 kilowatt hours of power per day and that worked out pretty well. Whenever I could, I would avoid appliances like the stove in favor of the more energy efficient microwave. I used space heaters deployed in select rooms to facilitate point of use heating. I made sure to run my dishwasher less often as I did the washing machine (no more partial loads of laundry). I was on a budget and I stuck to it!

The end result was a 34% savings in 2010 over 2009! That lower electric bill was a real blessing during a month when all my other bills were high! Now, this year, I’m hoping to improve on 2010 and have reduced my electric budget by another 25%. That translates out to 52-13 kWh less power a day or about 39 KWh. If I get lucky this coming December will be a little bit warmer than the average of 35F. If that happens I’m sure I can make this work. Otherwise, if it gets colder than normal, I’ll certainly have a challenge on my hands.

If you’re wondering how I did for November 2011 – it was a 34% decrease!

Friday, October 21, 2011

A roomy experiment!

Just for fun, I thought to take advantage of a cool spell when the mean temperature was to run at about 42 degrees and perform an experiment. The day was clear with high pressure overhead and winds that were expected to come out of the northwest initially at 3-8 mph and then die down in the late afternoon and overnight. This would aid radiational cooling in the nighttime hours resulting in a winter like morning the following day.

In this experiment, I wanted to see how fast my house cooled down (or warmed up during the day) without the furnace on (TStat column) and whether or not I could save on electricity by heating just my bedroom with only a small 900 watt space heater. I tracked the information pertaining to this on a spreadsheet throughout the day and evening. Here are the results I obtained:

[click on to enlarge]

Technical -The area I heated, has a volume that of 1560 cubic feet. The space heater I used was a radiant element type made by a company named Lasko. It was set on low and put out about 600 watts of heat. It also has a crude thermostat so that once a comfortable temperature is reached; it will cycle on and off. Now this room also has a sliding glass door that is 35 square feet in area and a window that is about 11 square feet in terms of surface area. Both use thermopane glass, yet during the coldest part of the experiment, I could feel the cold if I held my hands close to the glass.

General Observations

I settled on a room temperature setting of between 69F and 70F as I find that to be a relatively comfortable climate. Once I had the space heater set properly, it worked pretty well and did maintain a room temperature that was close to the desired value (see data).

At around 2:30PM, I noticed sunlight coming in from the window that faces west. This added a significant amount of heat to the room as the space heater did not run for about a three hour period of time (note the increase in the room temperature).

As the evening approached, I could tell that this was a perfect scenario for a radiational cooling event! The temperature began to drop at about a 4 degree rate every hour. By seven PM, the winds stopped completely enhancing the effect.


Normally, when the mean temperature was in the forty degree range, my home had used anywhere from forty to fifty kilowatts of power. (That’s with the furnace set for 69F and when the usual stuff like TV’s, light and computers are running). In this experiment, however, I used only about 25 kilowatts* which is at least a forty percent decrease over whole house heating. Only about 4 kilowatts were used by the space heater itself. Now, the real test will come when it gets really cold as the other side known as Yang makes an appearance. In a situation where the temperature drops to say 20 degrees or less, I will have to make sure the house does not drop much below 58F so as to insure that no pipes freeze. This will mandate the furnace being on and running at some point during the early morning hours. Still, this should be an interesting test to see if a significant amount of power can be saved during really winter cold events.

* - In terms of actual power, the figure was closer to 12.1 kilowatts since I was running the furnace in the overnight hours prior to the experiment beginning (7AM reading of 24.5 minus the 7AM read of 8.4 on Oct 20).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Getting set for the winter of 2011-12!

My how time does fly! Here it is, already the fall of 2011, and time to get ready for another blast from old man winter! As it is still only the latter part of October, I still have some time left to check and do the following:

Have the heat pump checked by service personnel.
Change the air filter in the furnace.
Inspect the outside of my home for leaks.
Check all outside door seals.
Set heat pump thermostat at 68F.
Deploy my two space heaters; one in the living room and one in my bedroom.

(This year I will not be installing plastic over the windows as I don’t feel that they lose that much heat).

Goals for this season

Following are the kilowatts of power I used during the three coldest months of the year 2010-11:

Month             kWh                Avg kWh
December        1629                      54
January            2071                      69
February          2087                      70
Totals              5787                      64

At about ten cents per kilowatt hour, my bills added to more than $500 for those three months last year! I'm hoping to do better this year, but at the same time I realize that I'm somewhat at the mercy of Mother Nature and here's why.  Consider that a key variable which will dictate much money I will have to pay, is determined by the mean temperature (a total of the highs and lows averaged together) for that month. Let’s look at last December as a case in point.

December of 2010 normally has a mean temperature of somewhere close to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that if you take the high temperature and the low and average them out you would get a figure of 35.

 [click to enlarge]

As you can see by the graph, a typical day is likely going to fall somewhere inside the yellow box whereby the sum of the high and low for the day add up to 70 with the average being 35 degrees. This means then, that for most every day, the temperatures (usually at night) will drop below the 32 degrees. A point below which my heat pump works. In other words, pretty much the entire month will see the ‘emergency heat’ lamp on fairly often. This means that heating elements have been turned on in the furnace to provide heat which the heat pump is unable to provide.  When that happens, you can basically count on having a high electric bill by month's end.

So, a month like December (and January and February, for that matter) are going to cost you quite a bit unless you can figure out a way to beat the ‘physics of the situation’. In my view, there are three ways to accomplish this on a realistic level; one, move to Florida for the winter, two, you can move to a basement (if you have one) where you’ll be able to utilize the buffer that is the earth to lower your heating costs, or three, you can employ the use of space heaters in only the rooms you absolutely need to occupy while setting the furnace stat to a lower than normal (say 60F) temperature setting. Then, hunker down and think plenty of warm thoughts! For anyone that might be interested, here is a graph I constructed that allowed me to estimate the electric power I would likely be using for a given mean temperature. This assumes that the furnace is heating the whole house! It worked surprisingly well:

[click to enlarge]

As you can see, if I am experiencing a mean temperature outside of 35F. (red line), then I can expect to use somewhere in the neighborhood of 65 kWh of electricity. I can control this figure to some extent by cutting back on an unnecessary use of power like the TV, radio, etc. Also, if the sky is sunny, I can open the drapes and catch a little heat that way. But other than executing the 'basement' alternative, I'm pretty much stuck!

Well, that's my plan for this winter! I'm hoping for a wet and snowy one as that will ratchet up the mean temperatures quite nicely. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Heating a house just one degree!

Here’s a graph of the power needed to raise the temperature in my home from 68F to 69F that was part of an experiment just prior to the heating season for 2011. Notice the second stage kick in? It also too half an hour to accomplish the feat! It’s early October and the temperatures in the mornings are only dipping down to the low forties. So for now, I can get along with very limited use, but come November I’ll have that baby cranking pretty much full time!

Last winter, I had the thermostat set at 69F and was able to live with that as long as I had a couple of space heaters going in key rooms. The wintertime is by far the most expensive season in terms of electricity used. Here is a list of the power used lat season starting with November:

Nov 2010        1734
Dec 2010         2282
Jan 2011          2049
Feb 2011         1359

Believe it or not this was much better than the season before by about 15%. I think the reason for this is that heat pumps become less efficient as the outside temperatures get much below 32F. More and more often then the ‘auxiliary’ or ‘emergency’ heat kicks on which are a set of heating coils in the furnace itself. This form of heat is much less efficient and can really racks up the energy cost. However, if you are selectively heating some rooms with portable space heaters, you are helping to actually reduce your overall heating bill. That’s my theory anyway.

This year, some weather watchers are forecasting colder than normal temperatures. If that happens, I will be able to see how well I do.

Using space heaters to save on heating costs.

If you’re a person that hates paying high electric bills, then the later fall months are the best in that regard. I’ve been able to go for half of September and all of October so far with both the AC and furnace turned off. For those occasional cool mornings, I’ve bought a couple of space heaters which are doing a nice job so far. I have one in my bedroom and one in the living room. At this time, I’m turning them on manually but plan to get a couple of timers so they can be set to turn on at about 4AM.

The jury is still out as to how effective these devices are in reducing heating costs. To that end, I’m planning on performing a little bit of research this coming winter to find out. Right now I have two types of heater; a resistive element type and a ceramic heater. Within the next couple of weeks I plan on purchasing an oil filled radiator type to round out the selection. These will be strategically placed in the house and timed so they turn on early to bring select areas up to 72F. The central furnace will be set for 60F. I will then watch to see how much I suffer, and or, how much electricity is saved…or not. This effort will more than likely end up as a You Tube video at some point.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A word on solar panel systems!

I've rarely been accused of brevity, but in the case of solar energy, I will exercise it now; in just two words, don't bother.

I've investigated home solar energy schemes for some time. It's a great concept after all; free power from the sun! Who wouldn't want that?

The problem is, there are only two ways the typical homeowner can go; either build a cheap crappy system (Power4Home and Earth4Energy come to mind), or invest in a high quality (read mega buck) system that might pay for itself twenty years down the road.

My advice is to stay away from solar (and wind power for that matter) until such time as the overall quality-performance to cost ratio vastly improves. When you see the companies that are in the business of making these panels fail left and right, there just may be a problem.

You would probably be better off in the long run by spending your time and money on lobbying your local power provider for lower rates! It also couldn't hurt to write or email your congressperson to suggest they stop building weapons of war and maybe switch to making cheap power available to everyone. Who knows, America might just rise again?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Just in case this winter is a doozy!

My hippie-dippie weather forecast post (US Long Range Winter Weather Forecast for 2011-2012) calls for things to possibly get a little on the extreme this coming winter, so I’ve begun to think of ways I might be able to save on electricity.

My first thought, and one that is running out front at the moment, would be to pack my bags and head for the Florida Keys. I seem to remember seeing efficiency apartments for a reasonable price if I were to rent by the month. Yes, Florida is my first choice.

My second choice will be to move down into my basement where I have a small bedroom that can be cheaply heated with a small room heater while the rest of the house’s thermostat is set back to the mid fifties. I could then pretend I was a Inuit Eskimo living in a small igloo who ate seal blubber and smelled accordingly.

That, so far, are my two well thought out plans should the temps really go crazy. Then again, I guess I could just set the thermostat to 80 and watch my electric meter go wild! More to come on this topic as it gets later in the year!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Crosley washing machine energy use profile!

As part of my group of entries depicting individual energy users, I decided to check the energy graph of running my Crosley washing machine set to medium load, warm cold cycle on 10 minute wash.

The graph, as you can see shows the machine running and using about 700 to 800 watts to run the motor while the rest of the early graph represents the water heater tank recovery cycle.

While I did not calculate the overall cost of one run of laundry, I can guess that it was only a few pennies. Surprisingly the dryer didn’t use all that much energy either (see post).

Sear Kenmore 70 series dryer electrical use profile.

Referring to the graph, the baseline energy use with most everything in the house tuned off is somewhere between 300 to 400 watts. Occasionally, the refrigerator compressor will come on adding about 200 watts to this for ten minutes or so. In the graph you can spot the ‘surge’ as the three phase motor kicked in. This unit uses sensor to step down the heat as it senses that the humidity on the dryer goes down.

I began the run at 11:17 AM and it finished at 11:43 for a total of 26 minutes. As you can see the unit used about 3 kilowatts of power over this time which still only amounts to about 30 cents worth of electrical power.

Energy profile for the cost of a quick shower!

Out of curiosity, I monitored the electrical usage incurred when I too a quick shower. The total time of the show was about six minutes. As the graph shows at about 9:35 AM the 40 gallon GE electric water heater kicked in. It used an average of 5 kWh of power for a period of six minutes to reheat the water I had used. At ten cents a kilowatt hour, I figured my cost to be less than a penny.

As almost an afterthought, I went down to the basement where the unit is located and covered about three fourths of the tank with insulation that was R rated a value of 4.0. I’m not very confident that doing this will result in much in the way of savings, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The July Heat Wave in Forsyth Missouri

The graphic represents the temperature range that has existed in and near Forsyth Missouri during the month of July 2011. The data is from the first to the end of the month for the graph above. During that period the majority of high readings were at or above 90F with the red line representing 95F. In addition, eight of the days were one hundred degrees Fahrenheit or higher.  When combined with nighttime lows that often never dropped below the mid seventies, the end result was a classic heat wave scenario. This kind of heat, especially when combined with little rainfall (less than half an inch) made it very difficult for both animals and plants. It was also a time of stress for the central air conditioner in my home.

The chart here shows a couple of interesting tidbits of information. Displayed is the average temperature for each day and below that the amount of energy that was used for air conditioning. As you can see when ever the average temperature reading ran at 80F or higher there was a corresponding dramatic rise in energy usage. The total for the period through the 23rd was 410 Kwh or about $38 worth of electricity.

 As a final thought, apparently the local Electric Coop (Empire) is also struggling with heat related problems. They have experienced a record seven outages in my area over the last few weeks with the worse one lasting more than two hours yesterday evening. Whether the outages are due exclusively to the heat remains to be seen. It's also possible that aging infrastructural problems may be plaguing the company.

Friday, April 1, 2011

March Weather Recap for 2011

Maybe I should have called this blog, 'What went on with the weather in March and why anyone should care'. Few people actually read articles concerning stuff that was done to them in the past. Ask the average Joe on the street what the weather was a few days ago and he'll begin to do that squint things that people do when they been asked something that makes them uncomfortable. I could just as well as asked, 'Is that stain on your shirt of recent origin'?

The thing is, weather does play a major role in our lives whether we like it or not! String a few cold and overcast days together and many of us become a little bit depressed. When a month is colder than normal or predominantly overcast, this effect can become magnified. On the other side of the coin, if a month was warmer and sunnier than normal, then that can have a very good effect cumulatively. That's my theory at least.

This March 2011 was interesting in a number of respects. It was both warmer (by .9 of a degree) and wetter (by half an inch) that would be considered average if you took the last thirty years for comparison. This data was taken from the West Plains, Missouri data which is a little bit more accurate than the readings from Springfield, I feel. (Springfield, it should be noted was very similar to West Plain this time around).

Here is the raw data for West Plains. Mo.:

After the disaster that was the last three months in terms of rainfall or lack thereof, it was encouraging to see the drought in this area moderated a little bit. Following is a table showing the historical precipitation readings for the West Plains and Springfield, Missouri area:

30 yr
W. Plains










While we did have plenty of rain this month and last, January only recorded a miserly 0.40 in West Plains and 0.26 of an inch in Springfield! So, while February and March did help dig us out of a rainfall hole, we finished the month still behind. If we do get a lot of rainfall in April, so much to the good.

Temperatures in the area were a little bit below historical standards when averaged for the three month period for both reporting stations.

W. Plains









Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When gas goes to ten a gallon!

Should some really bad things happen to our oil supply, then the price of gas could go into the upper stratosphere at some point. America has made it official policy to ignore the exploitation of its own reserves in favor of getting it from people who basically hate both us and our lifestyle. I think that much is common knowledge. We all knew in the back of our minds that someday, bad things could happen where the oil we buy may get partially or completely cut off. Sadly, that day is now upon us as a country!

Ask a person living in Arctic Village, Alaska what its like to try and live with $10 a gallon gasoline. They’ve been paying that for some time now and will tell you that while life does go on, it’s not one they would wish to have. Up there, filling up a Chevy Suburban gas tank costs about $310! So, just getting around at all is a luxury. Going to a grocery store up there is also a bit of a shock as the high fuel costs have placed even some common items off limits for all but the wealthy.  In 2008 a bag of flour costs $55 in some locations. I wonder what it costs these days.

In reality, such an increase would pretty well spell the end of this country and others. On a bright note, the death spiral would be pretty short.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

January 2011 Recap

Wx Stats

January 2011 is now safely tucked away in the meteorological history book. Here in southwest Missouri, we had one good snowfall. It was about three and a half inches and occurred on the twentieth of the month. The mean temperature at 31.7F was a little above the average of 31.4F. Precipitation was lacking, however, as I recorded only .38 of an inch against a thirty year average of 2.6 inches (West Plains Missouri data). So, a pretty much ho-hum month against a background of chaotic events world wide.

World Events

Gasoline hit the $3 mark, locally, for the first time since 2008 as unrest in the middle East (especially Egypt) continued to cause uncertainty in the markets. Unemployment continues to be somewhere between nine and fourteen percent depending on who you believe. Add that to rising food costs, a deadlocked government and the increasing prospect of a caliphate in the Middle East and you get a sense of the times.

Power Use

On a happy note, my electrical use dropped 26% when compared to the last couple of January’s. I attribute the decrease to some of the simple things I did to prepare the house for winter (see previous blogs) and to the fact that the month was pretty much normal temperature wise.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

When nature goes on a rampage, be prepared!

Of all the forms of weather we see here in southwest Missouri, I think it’s the potential for ice storms that instill the most anxiety and fear. While tornadoes can cause more damage, they tend to come and go in moments. Icing events can occur over large periods of time, trapping all who are caught wherever they happened to be at the time. If the icing gets bad enough, the trees will begin to lose branches which fall onto power lines. (I’ve been through a storm like that and it’s no fun). Pretty soon there is no power and sometimes the outages can last for days or even weeks. (Many people who live in Springfield can attest to what it’s like to not have power for more than a week)! On January the 13th 2007, a storm left a broad swath of ice over an area that included the city of Springfield.  It left over 200,000 southwest Missourians without power and a landscape that resembled a war zone. That scenario may well play itself out yet again for towns south of that city if the worst case occurs. I live in a location that is just south of the city and which is smack in the middle of the area that may see problems.
So, I thought it might be a good idea for me to take stock and to have a plan if the power goes out and stays out sometime over the next few days. In all likely hood, nothing is going to happen. The storm may just dump some sleet or snow or perhaps nothing but a rain shower or two. You just never know, but I can tell you from long experience, it’s those times when you don’t plan that catch you napping.

This year, I have a small generator that is just big enough to run a small heater, a lamp and a deep freezer. Since I have a finished basement, I would move down to it in the event of a power outage where I can easily heat an area that is always at about 65F. I also a small deep freeze down there, and so would have a way to keep some of my food from rotting. Rounding out my survival gear are a couple of Coleman stoves, sleeping bags and other assorted stuff I normally have for camping out during the summer. I also have a large stash of candles for emergency light. The storm is supposed to hit us on Tuesday, so on Monday I plan to visit a grocery store, fill up on gas, buy food that’s easy to prepare and stock up on batteries for portable radios and flashlights. Since I know that the weather is forecast to warm up to forty degrees two days after this event, I also have an idea of how long I would have to hold out even if we get four or more inches of ice.

By having a plan and working it, anyone can get through bad times. A plan that will work for not only ice storms, but also for other kinds of disaster where the services we all count on can be interrupted.

Now, that I’m ready for bear, I can bet you all that absolutely nothing will happen and that's just fine by me!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 2011 Mid Month Weather Summary

[Forsyth Mo.] – January in southwest Missouri is normally moderately cold with a mean average temperature of 31.4F (West Plains 30 year data). We also normally about 1.31 inches of precipitation. (Data for West Plains)

So far this month, through the 15th, the Forsyth area was colder than normal with a mean temperature of 28.4 F (3 degrees below normal) and just two tenths tenth of an inch of precipitation. Unlike both coasts which have been hammered by the elements, it has been an uneventful winter here so far. You don’t have to go very far back in time, however, to know that ice storms can be our Achilles heel. We still have a lot of winter to go yet.

So, while we are just a month, figuratively, into the winter season, it’s been a pretty good ride. I only hope we get some more water before the end of the month.

My heat pump seems to quit at 30F!

As long as the outside temperature is above 30F my heat pump works pretty well. But, once a real cold spell sets in, I’ve noticed my heating costs have soared. The unit runs continuously and then at some point, gives up and kicks in the auxiliary heat which actually does warm the house. Auxiliary heat is also known as emergency heat and involves the activation of heating strips in the furnace itself. This is a rather inefficient process and one that uses up a lot of electricity. I think even baseboard heating would be better during really cold spells.

Overnight on January the 12th, the outside temperature got down to the low teens (see graph). This was combined with a cold day to bring the average temperature down to 13.4F. As a result the heat pump was on continuously and was able to maintain an indoor reading of 70F only by cycling the auxiliary heating coils on and off. In the graph the line just below the 70 degree mark was the actual core temperature of my house. The ‘load’ figure is derived from subtracting the ‘core’ temperature from the average outside temperature. Even a small increase in load factors above 40 degrees results in an exponential jump in kilowatts burned.

If I see a prolonged cold spell coming, I might just elect to shut down the house, turn the thermostat to 56F and go stay in a cheap hotel room for the duration. I think it would almost be cheaper that way.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It’s a Cold Blogger Blogging

Typically, about this time of year (January) in southwest Missouri, I begin to internally grouse about how cold it’s been. It’s 21 degrees Fahrenheit this morning and my body is now set on low shiver. (While trying to save a little energy, I’ve set my thermostat down to 69F in early December and that’s pretty much where it’s been at ever since). Let’s see air temp is 69F, body temp is 98F. What’s wrong with that picture? To keep warm, I have a couple of strategically placed space heaters that have already seen quite a bit of use. I generally have one close to my feet, which are cold most of the time even with socks on.

When I get to feeling really blue, like I am today, I go on the internet to see how cities to my north are faring. They say misery loves company, especially if that someone is more miserable than you are! So, I look at a map and right away I feel much better. [Silent cackling] Minneapolis is in the negative digits at just a few degrees below zero. My Gawd, Fargo, North Dakota is at fourteen below. Wow, I’m feeling so much better now.

Cold, I will assume, is more or less a state of mind. That is, until hypothermia sets in, and then you have some real problems. My current state of mind is somewhere between ickythermia and happythermia. It's leaning more to the former as the weather lady on TV just informed me that things are going to get even more dicey early this coming week (January 11th and 12th) with forecast highs in only the upper twenties and lows hovering close to or below zero. Bout time I looked for that old pair of thermal underwear, I guess. I haven’t even bothered to see what’s going to happen to the folks in Fargo. What do you call a frozen man in that city...a Fargosickle of course!

On a brighter note, this will be an excellent opportunity to see how well my winterized house holds up against some truly cold conditions. My heat pump will just have to content itself with running almost entirely in ‘auxillary mode’ which is double-speak for ‘this is an f’ing emergency mode’. Were I of the mind, I would take that opportunity to watch the little metal disk on the electric meter go nuts. I won’t, but I do intend to call my local power cooperative to see if they might need some more Champagne! I guess it’s the best of both worlds when you can crank the heat up to your hearts content and get paid for it all at the same time.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Blocking windows with a blanket! Was it worth it?

While think tanking back in November over a few bottle of beer, I came up with the idea of covering my sliding glass doors with large bedspreads to aid in keeping out the cold (see A Blanket Experiment). I am now prepared to report on my preliminary findings for the month of December 2010.

My findings were….inconclusive. While the covers did add a bit of panache to the over all theme of my home (my neighbors like to stand outside pointing), it is questionable as to how effective they were at hold in the heat or in keeping out the cold. In order to better quantify the results, I’ve elected to take the blanket off my bedroom sliding glass door for the month of January 2011. Hopefully, after taking temperature reading for an entire month I’ll be able to see if there were any savings or not.

I have also applied for a government grant by submitting a paper entitled “Scientific study of thermal gradients using polyester as a barrier device.” I asked for $500k to fund both the study and my beer chest.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

December 2010 Weather Recap for Forsyth Missouri

"Yes I'm stuck in the middle with you,
And I'm wondering what it is I should do,
It's so hard to keep this smile from my face,
Losing control, yeah, I'm all over the place,
Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you."

When I think about December 2010 here in southwest Missouri, I’m reminded of that old song called ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’. While December saw numerous winter storms rage on both sides of the nation, most of us in the middle states were left a bit cold and dry.


Were it not for a shot of warmth in the waning days of the month, we’d have seen temperatures that averaged a bit above normal (.7F). That was due to the phenomenal late rise in the temperatures in just the last few days of the month. The graph above depicts the mean temperatures fro 2010 compared to 2009. The data points were obtained locally.


While some areas recorded over an inch of rain for December, my gauge only showed .30 of an inch. In a month that would normally see three inches, that pitiful amount just didn’t cut it. We seem to be trending in the direction of a drought. I sure hope 2011 proves me wrong on that score.

Power usage

The average mean temperature for the month was 35Fis pretty much what we have been getting for the last thirty years. As a result, my energy use was also typical at about 63 KWh per day. This represents about a 13% improvement in energy savings over the previous two years, all things considered.