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SKye's Blog

a day in the life... [homepage: http://sites.google.com/site/dskyehodges/Home/|http://skyehodges.netfirms.com]
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Efficiency upgrades, and saving money/ROI

There are a number of things that I have done slowly over the past 5 years or so to lower my electric bill (presently, on average, my household 2k sq ft, main level and basement; uses between 24 and 25 kilowatt hours/day). First off, about 13 years ago, I slowly converted every light to CFL, but in the past 3 years, have been in the process of converting every light to LED, the LED light in my childrens' bedroom uses about 5 watts, the lights in my Frontroom use, in total, about 10-14 watts (and produce enough light that I don't feel that it is dim, I do have supplemental reading lights that use 2.5 watts that can be positioned optimally for reading, or other tasks where a larger amount of light is required). The majority of my lights are "cool", meaning run between 4200(pinkish) Kelvin and 6500(bluish) Kelvin (versus 2700[yellow]-4200[pink] that "normal incandescent and CFL run at) Color accuracy varies between lights (being anywhere from 80%-95% accurate), in the bathrooms I mix the 2700 (yellowish) and 5500 (white-blue) lights for better color accuracy. Next, I was running a swamp cooler for years, because I was afraid that central air would be a huge cost increase. A swamp cooler cost me about $20/month to run in the summer, my central air costs around $30/month to run. My central air is an 18.5 SEER unit, and very efficient, my theory is, if the ROI is within the warranty period, then it makes sense to spend a little more money up front. Switching out CRT monitors and televisions with flat-screens, focusing on efficiency and ROI over minimal initial cost. Putting things on powerstrips, and turning off the powerstrips when not in use (cable box, VCR, etc, at one location in my home consuming 30 watts of power when NOT in use, 90 watts when in use), oh, so getting a "Kill-A-Watt" device that measures power consumption, that was useful.
Cleaning the coils on the refrigerator(s)/freezer(s). Insulating the attic (helps with Summer electricity bill, and winter natural gas bill; I also have a Tankless water heater [supposed to be 94% efficient, but now I end up using more hot water because it doesn't run out after 20 minutes so that is a wash], and a 96% Efficient furnace, which made a 15% decrease in our winter gas usage) And the big one (should be complete in the next 2-3 weeks): Getting Solar Panels (4.5 KWh system installed by Sun Solar). After 10 years (that is the ROI), they will be like they were free! (I had to apply for a rebate from Rocky Mountain Power, they have a limited number of KWh that they will rebate each year, so that is $4,500 of the cost, the Fed Gov't about $7,000 tax credit, and Utah State Tax credit is $2,000 [capped at $2k, or 25% of the cost, whatever is lesser). Total cost to me, around $8,000 (but I had to qualify for financing of $21,000, then I pay that back with the rebates and whatnot), with an $85/month power bill (so mathematically, the ROI is 7.84 to 8.88 years, but I won't generate 100% of my electrical needs, only between 85%-95%, and I don't know what my new bill will be, but I assume that adding another 15% will put me around 10 years).
Anyway, I hope that this is somewhat informative, if you have any questions, let me know, I'm sure that I will be tracking the efficiency of my solar panels for a year or so.

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