Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hitting a 35:2 electrical ratio in December! What?

Let me explain, right off the bat, that the 35 to2 thing is the ratio of the average temperature to the amount of heating (electricity) that has to be expended in kilowatt hours per hour. A power use rate of two kilowatt hours per hour for one day would equate to 48 kWh’s! In terms of money spent, that would be about $5 a day or $150 per average month! (Not a bad heating bill in the mist of winter down here in southwest Missouri)! Let me did a bit deeper.

The month of December, where I live, typically will see daytime highs at around 46°F with overnight lows at about 24°F. (This reflects the 30 year average for West Plains, Missouri which is near where I live)! The average, then, comes out to about {46+24}/2 = 35°F. (Last year, my average was 34.3°F, and so it was pretty close). Back in December 2013, I used 1850 kWh’s of electrical power in my home. That averages out to 1,850/31 = 59.7 kWh per day or 2.5 kWh per hour. Close, but no cigar! So, the challenge this year, will be to knock off that .5 of a kilowatt hour over the course of the 31 days that constitute the month of December. Hope this all makes some sort of sense.

This year (2014), December has been rather warm. As of the 15th of the month the average temperature was 42°F with just 566 kWh used versus a last year mid month total of 1047! Wow! That’s pretty warm! So, this year, I was thinking that perhaps I could do even better than a 2 kWh per hr rate! That’s assuming that we don’t go into the deep freeze for the balance of the month. But, what it that does happen? What’s my plan to conserve energy?

My Five Step Plan
In order to insure that I get through December in the best style I can, I’ve come up with five steps to reduce my heating costs as much as possible. (Note that I’m a bachelor living alone).
    1. Cut back on whole house thermostat settings while heating just one room with space heaters.
      One of the best ways to save on heating costs is to reduce the envelope of space that you have to heat! The rest of the rooms can be kept at 66°F (or lower) while energy efficient space heaters supply just enough heat to keep the room you are living in at 73°F!
    2. Use a humidifier to insure a humidity level of about 35%.
      During the dry and cold months of the year, the energy you expend on a humidifier to keep the moisture levels at a livable range are well worth every penny. Moist air retains heat much better than dry air!
    3. Keep all windows covered with blinds to conserve heat.
      With the exception of those days when bright sunlight streams directly into a room, it's best to keep them covered. I've found that there is a significantly large deviation in temperature reading between a cold window and the surface of a blind or window cover.
    4. Leave those computers on 24/7.
      I have a couple of computers in my heated room that use only a bit of electricity, but which deliver a surprising amount of heat!
    5. Use a ceiling fan to evenly circulate the heat.
      This last is pretty much a no brainer – fans even out the hot and cold spots while also insuring that water vapor from the humidifier is properly distributed.
      So, that’s the plan for this December. If the month continues on a warmer than normal trend, hurray for everyone. On the other hand, if things go into the dumpster, and energy savings I accrue will be appreciated! I’ll update this post at the end of the month to let anyone with an interest know how I did!

      Saturday, December 6, 2014

      The GoodNight LED bulb!

      Want a better night’s sleep? Did you know the light bulb that’s been in your bedroom lamp since…well…forever just might be getting in the way of your body making melatonin – the hormone that helps you fall asleep? Many people spend $200 a year on sleeping pills, or up to $1200 on sleep therapy. It’s time for a better solution. The Good Night ™ LED light bulb originally developed for NASA astronauts on the International Space Station, lets melatonin do its thing. So when you’re ready to sleep, your body is too.

      Review: "A frequent insomniac, I discovered this light engineered by/for NASA. Having also discovered Amazon.com sells it less expensively, I was pleased to receive it with Amazaon's usual good service and delivery. Although a review I read gave the impression insomnia would be gone the first night, I haven't found that so for me. That's an individual thing. I am, however, sleeping better combined with an hour before bed of resting my eyes from TV, and iPhone use. Learning the science behind this light helped me understand my contribution to the insomnia. I gravitated to this product, regardless of the expense, because I've experienced the benefits of light therapy before--reducing the effects of clinical depression. To me if I can get better and more sleep at night, it's priceless."

      While not cheap at about $55 (available at Amazon), this bulb uses only about $1.45 of energy per year while supplying 60 watts of light!