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BobT

Saving 5% isn't significant?

42 posts in this topic

We sure do like to make up excuses. In another thread about CFL lights it was commented that switching to CFL lighting could reduce our electric energy demand by 5%. Someone eluded that switching wasn’t significant enough to bother. I got to wondering about this and did a little digging.

Despite the fact that a significant amount of our electricity (approx. 30%) is generated using non-fossil sources like wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear (not necessarily environmentally clean) power and in addition the end-user appliances are the more efficient energy users, generation of electricity is still one of the highest contributors of CO2 in our atmosphere for home users. Probably second only to coal, which is partially because coal is the major fuel used for generating electricity. For example, here’s how a few energy sources compare.

Natural gas @ 85% efficient emits approximately 14 pounds of CO2 per 100,000 BTU.

LP gas @ 85% - 16.5#

Fuel oil @ 80% - 17.5#

Electricity @ 95% efficient emits approximately 43 pounds of CO2 per 100K BTU

What would happen if every household in Minnesota reduced electric consumption by a mere 5% without supplementing with other means?

Currently our population is approximately 5.25 million with an average 2.4 persons per household. That’s approximately 2,175,000 households. Using my electric bill as a reference, the average household consumption might be about 1,000 kwh per month. Total MN consumption then would be about 2.175 billion kwh per month. A 5% savings would be about 108,750,000 kwh per month. Is that significant?

So what does that mean in terms of CO2 emissions?

108,750,000 kwh = 3.7 x 10^11 BTU. That’s approximately 370 billion BTU. At 43#/100K, if we divide 370B by 100K we end up with 3.7 million x 43 pounds for a total CO2 emissions savings of approximately 79,550 tons per month in MN alone. Is that significant?

It’s not hard to save 5%. Using fluorescent lighting is a start but being energy-wise can go way beyond lighting and have much higher returns. Not only could we all save money but we could reduce our electric consumption by much more than a mere 5%. Here are a couple examples.

My desktop PC and monitor consume approximately 280w while running even with a screen saver however while in sleep mode it only uses about as much power as a typical nightlight (approx. 4w). That’s about a 98.5% power savings! I have reconfigured my power options to put it to sleep mode in 10 minutes of non-activity. Sleep mode puts my monitor in standby, turns off my hard disk, and puts my PC into a low power mode. I can wake it up by simply moving my mouse and in less than 5 seconds I’m back up and running. While in sleep mode the processor can still manage certain things like checking for updates and running other maintenance programs. Even if I leave my PC turned on 24 hours a day, in sleep mode it will use less power in three days than it would in one hour with the screen saver running. That’s huge!!!

How often do we find our televisions, radios, or stereo systems turned on with nobody around?

How often do we leave lights or fans turned on with nobody in the room or all night while we sleep? I still haven’t got my wife to understand that a fan does not cool a room…it only cools your body. We haven’t used AC for the past two summers. We…well I…take a few minutes to open windows and draperies at night to cool the house and close them for the day. The house remains relatively cool all day. So far this year it has yet to exceed 74 degrees inside. Last year the warmest it got was maybe about 77 degrees and last year was a much warmer year. Sure it might be a little chilly some mornings but it only lasts a couple hours and it is appreciated later in the day when outside temps are in the upper 80s. Without a doubt, I know that if we had central air my family would have it turned on in June and maybe turned off in September. It’s a lot more convenient to just set the dial than take 60 seconds to close or open windows. Me? I’d rather do the latter not just because of the cost savings but also because I would much rather have fresh air than conditioned air and besides, why use energy that isn’t needed?

We use dual-fuel electric heat and during peak energy demand periods the electric heat will be turned off. This is typically about a two to three hour period beginning around 6:00pm. Our backup heating system is set at about 62 degrees. For a lousy two hours my family can’t handle throwing on a blanket to fight the chill and so they're turning up the backup furnace. Sheesh! By the time the temperature stabilizes the electric heat is back on again. As a society we are super spoiled and unable or unwilling to accept a little discomfort once in a while. Our grandparents survived just fine and they didn’t have such niceties. Imagine living in a house with a fireplace where the inside temperature maybe held a balmy 45 to 50 degrees.

5% may not seem significant but a little here and a little there can go a lot farther than we have come to realize in our spoiled, soft lifestyles.

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I agree with you on the basic reasoning for this, but not for the environmental aspect, but for the keep-the-dollars-in-my-pocket aspect. And that fact isn't going to make me purchase CFLs to replace my perfectly working incandecents all in one swipe. I have swapped out a few in fixtures that I want more lumen output without overloading a fixture, or for the fact that I don't want to have to swap a bulb out repeatedly due to it's inconvenience, but not for the "carbon reduction."

If you really want to reduce your bill (or your "carbon footprint" if that's your flavor), don't let your wife blow dry her hair (1500+ watt draw), don't make a pot of coffee and let it sit on the warming pad all morning (1200+ watt draw), don't use a clothes dryer (1800+ watts for an elec dryer), don't use a dishwasher (1500+ watts), and turn down the temp on your elec. watter heater to 120 deg F. Another big saver: don't have a kitchen fridge, a basement fridge, a garage fridge, and a deepfreeze that's only 1/3 full (the closer to full it is the more efficient it is). And as you said turn off the lights and everything else when you aren't in a room!!!!!

As far as the ceiling fan running and the fact that it doesn't cool the room but cools your body; isn't that the point? I have a fridge to keep things cool, but I can't very well sleep in there!!! wink

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far as the ceiling fan running and the fact that it doesn't cool the room but cools your body; isn't that the point? I have a fridge to keep things cool, but I can't very well sleep in there!!!

Yes. Some people think that by turning a fan on in a room will cool the room. I'll pick on my wife, since she's not here to defend herself. She's uncomfortably warm and so she'll turn on the ceiling fans throughout the house even though she obviously can't occupy all those rooms simultaneously. Basically, she's moving the air around but nobody is there to feel the effect. It's only when that moving air comes into contact with your body that an effect takes place. The air increases the rate of evaporation off your skin causing a wind-chill effect and thereby cooling your body. The air is still the same temperature with or without the fan running. This is different of course if the fan is drawing air from a cooler supply but that's a different thing altogether.

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Thanks for the #'s BobT. Every little bit we do is going to help save money, reliance on fuels, and the environment.

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The numbers don't lie, the saving are significant, however I'm not in the camp that believes that carbon emissions are bad wink

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Neither are carbon monoxide emissions until they become concentrated enough.

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I don't disagree with you Bob, however my point in the other thread is that I'm not the kind of person that changes something just for the sake of change, or because a special interest group tells me I should.

I like to analyze the pros/cons and the financial impact, then decide if it's a good decision or not. In a lot of cases these light bulbs are a no brainer to switch too, and in other cases maybe not so much.

Moderation is the key. If you are able to moderate healthy in various aspects of life, you will be that much happier.

I'm currently struggling with my fishing moderation. laugh

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Great thread Bob, and 5% does really add up. I get after my wife every day. She comes home and the first thing she does is turn on the TV downstairs. She does this this while passing the TV on her way upstairs to check her email. She'll then spend up to an hour on her email, while the TV is on entertaining absolutely nobody. It drives me nuts. Oh, and she also turns on at least one light downstairs, before she heads up the steps. mad

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My favorite is the person that will circle the parking lot at a fitness club looking for a better place to park. crazy

Could be saving gas, money, and getting a head start with that walk.

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I don't buy into the CO2 footprint stuff, but I'm always on the lookout for ways to save a few nickels and I was thinking of McGurk's comments about the various appliances. I usually leave the coffeemaker on all day. I don't think it uses 1200 watts with just the warmer on, but even if it uses 200, it would add up. So, one of the items on my list for future purchases will be a coffeemaker with an insulated carafe. Thank you, McGurk... smile

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That's what I'm talking about. I'm not saying not to use a hair dryer, dish washer, coffee maker or any other of the many niceties we have today. What I am saying is that we use them without forethought about even a little conservation in mind. Pour the coffee from the coffee carafe into a thermos to keep it hot so you can turn off the hotplate. Excellent idea! This idea gives a double advantage because the coffee won't get burned while it sits, over-cooks, and dehydrates.

Even if you don't give in to the CO2 footprint thing, I find it hard to believe anyone could deny that it is in our best interest as a species to use energy wisely. I picked the CO2 footprint because that was the first example I found. CO2 is among a myriad of gases, soot, and other particulates that are emitted into our atmosphere by the use of fossil fuels. These are all things that pollute the air we breathe. If we use a little common sense conservation practices we can have some positive impact. Will we reverse the trend? Probably not unless we stop using fossil fuels completely. Will we stop the progression? Again, probably not. We live therefore we create certain negative impact but there's no reason to live willy-nilly without some level of self preservation.

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My favorite is the person that will circle the parking lot at a fitness club looking for a better place to park. crazy

Could be saving gas, money, and getting a head start with that walk.

That's anyone who keeps circling the lot looking for a closer parking spot, not just at fitness clubs. Just park the goshdarn car and walk into the store! So you take 14 extra footsteps than you would if you kept circling and found a closer spot. Sheesh, for some people it's like getting a close parking spot is winning a competition. crazycrazy

Oh, and most importantly, great post, Bob! I don't turn on a light in a room unless I need the light. If I'm watching TV (rarely) I don't turn on a light, because the screen is enough light. If I'm working on my computer (VERY often), I also don't turn on a light in the room. I shower in the daytime so the illumination coming from natural light through two windows in the bathroom is enough. I actually turn off the water when all I'm doing is soaping my hair or body while showering, turning it back on to rinse. I shut off the vehicle instead of letting it idle when I sit in it waiting for my wife to finish running into and out of a store. And yes, for many, many lighting applications we use CFL bulbs. Just one piece of that big ole puzzle. The list of ways to save energy (it's never bad to save energy, regardless of your mindset or political views) is nearly endless. In fact, one of the greatest services this thread could do for all of us is to detail ways to save energy.

Whether you think in doing so that you're saving the world or saving your own pocketbook, isn't either one worth doing?

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I actually turn off the water when all I'm doing is soaping my hair or body while showering, turning it back on to rinse.

This doesn't work. I've tried it twice. 1st time-burned my face. 2nd time-froze my giblets. grin

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I won't be giving up my hot showers any time soon.

There are plenty of ways to save on energy bills without really sacrificing anything. I'd like to see a list of these sort of ideas. Some of the things like turning off lights and appliances when not being used are obvious, but probably not practiced religiously by a good share of the people. Insulation and making sure all your windows and doors are weathertight are relatively inexpensive moneymakers. One thing I've done is to insulate with spray foam around all the electrical boxes in the outside walls of my house, and it does make a difference. I have also started using insulated curtains on the larger windows at night in the wintertime to cut down on heat loss through the glass.

On my shortlist: I plan to add more glass to the south side of my house to take better advantage of the sun in the winter months.

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How many trees do you have around your home?

Energy saving tips. I have no problem sliding this thread in that direction. Kind of what I was after anyway.

I've mentioned these before but I'll post them here again.

Maintain the humidity in your home during the winter. Dry air is a poor conductor. As a result your home heating system's efficiency can be improved dramatically just by bringing up the humidity. Just be careful not to bring it up too high so you get a lot of condensation on your windows. A slight layer of frost or condensation along the bottom edge is all you should see. In our case, installing a whole house humidifier has allowed me to lower our temperature by about 6 degrees without added discomfort. In fact, nobody even realized I did it.

Use ceiling fans set on low speed to draw air up an move it across the ceiling and down the walls. This helps balance the air inside the room, warm the walls to reduce draftiness, and increase the heating system efficiency. The cost of operating the fan is more than offset by the heating savings.

Plant trees if you don't have them. They help interrupt the wind during the winter improving the efficiency of your heating system and provide shade during the summer improving the efficiency of your cooling system. Unfortunately this one can take a few years to realize the benefits.

Don't idle your car any more than necessary. This really cuts into your average mpg and it doesn't take long.

Take it easy on the throttle when your vehicle is cold {engine, transmission, final drive(s)}. Your engine's computer is injecting extra fuel while your engine and drive gear is warming up and a heavy throttle will really use it.

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How many trees do you have around your home?

My house is built into a south-facing slope and I'm in the woods - trees on all sides. I am already taking advantage of this situation, but could be even more if I added more glass on the south.

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My favorite is the person that will circle the parking lot at a fitness club looking for a better place to park.

There was a photo circulating on the internet a while back showing a person standing on an escalator on the way to the fitness club...looked sort of comical.. smile

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How many trees do you have around your home?

Energy saving tips. I have no problem sliding this thread in that direction. Kind of what I was after anyway.

I've mentioned these before but I'll post them here again.

Maintain the humidity in your home during the winter. Dry air is a poor conductor. As a result your home heating system's efficiency can be improved dramatically just by bringing up the humidity. Just be careful not to bring it up too high so you get a lot of condensation on your windows. A slight layer of frost or condensation along the bottom edge is all you should see. In our case, installing a whole house humidifier has allowed me to lower our temperature by about 6 degrees without added discomfort. In fact, nobody even realized I did it.

Use ceiling fans set on low speed to draw air up an move it across the ceiling and down the walls. This helps balance the air inside the room, warm the walls to reduce draftiness, and increase the heating system efficiency. The cost of operating the fan is more than offset by the heating savings.

Plant trees if you don't have them. They help interrupt the wind during the winter improving the efficiency of your heating system and provide shade during the summer improving the efficiency of your cooling system. Unfortunately this one can take a few years to realize the benefits.

Don't idle your car any more than necessary. This really cuts into your average mpg and it doesn't take long.

Take it easy on the throttle when your vehicle is cold {engine, transmission, final drive(s)}. Your engine's computer is injecting extra fuel while your engine and drive gear is warming up and a heavy throttle will really use it.

I like the ones that jackrabbit from a stoplight to get tothe next light a block away that you can see is still red and you will have to stop at it also. Go lightly on that peddle, you are not going to save any time.

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My favorite is the person that will circle the parking lot at a fitness club looking for a better place to park.

There was a photo circulating on the internet a while back showing a person standing on an escalator on the way to the fitness club...looked sort of comical.. smile

Imagine an extra-terrestrial visitor monitoring our behavior. They could easily write a satire using some our idiosyncrasies as it base topic.

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Or the ones that pass you, and then you have to slow down because they are making a turn two blocks ahead...

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Government mandated windows are made to have minimal heat gain, at least if you want your tax credit. Makes no sense in Minnesota, but there you go.

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Or the ones that pass you, and then you have to slow down because they are making a turn two blocks ahead...

We were on the way home last night and someone passed 4 of us doing just the speed limit on the hwy only to turn into the parking lot of a local restaurant within a 1/4 mile. We had a good chuckle on his behalf. Probably saved himself 1 second in his trip crazy

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