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Tractor Talk Discussion Forum

Re: High electric bills

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VaTom

06-11-2014 09:30:23
70.32.219.33



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Hugh, we're southern coop also. Recent contract with the generating company expired and everybody's bill went up. Last month we used almost $50 worth of electricity, plus the high cost ($50) of having a meter.

Probably one large difference is that I built a house that needs no air conditioning. Everybody in a humid climate needs to dehumidify, you (and all my neighbors) use ac for that. I use a cheap used dehumidifier, which costs $30/mo to run.

Obviously house size varies a lot. We have 20,000 cu ft of house. Same as a 2500 sq ft house with 8' ceilings.

Our annual electric bill for our total electric house and well pump isn't half yours unless I do a great deal of welding.

One way you could improve is to add a heat pump water heater if your electric tank heater is in a convenient location. We use ours seasonally, heats water 2-3 times more efficiently than electric resistance. Beyond that, a major benefit is the free by-product: cool dry air. Sound like your ac? Ours provides half our needed dehumidification. More, if we used more hot water.

Return on investment (ROI) was less than 2 season's use. Unfortunately, I'm about to replace ours after 13 year's use. Fortunately, I have a spare that I picked up cheap awhile back. I haven't priced a new one lately, but ROI should be less than 5 seasons.

A general rule is that most spend one month's income on space heating/cooling. Higher income = larger house = larger bills. Didn't make much sense to me, so I built a place that costs me closer to one day's income.

A nearby friend cuts 4 1/2 cords of hardwood here for his winter use in a house same size as mine. I keep telling him to sell that dog to someone else and go build a better house. If I don't feel like lighting the stove, I put on a sweater evenings. We go through maybe 2/3 cord because we enjoy the stove. The house generally runs 65 winters, without me doing anything.

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ShadetreeRet

06-11-2014 10:24:15
184.4.13.135



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 Re: High electric bills in reply to VaTom, 06-11-2014 09:30:23  
VaTom, your comment makes me curious, sounds almost like you have an underground home or semi-underground. If not just how is it built? I am not doubting your word at all, just intrigued by your numbers, and I know that it can be done, just takes careful planning.



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VaTom

06-11-2014 11:04:01
70.32.193.64



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 Re: High electric bills in reply to ShadetreeRet, 06-11-2014 10:24:15  
Good guess. There's 2' of dirt on the roof with the rear wall totally buried. But beyond earth contact, I followed Passive Annual Heat Storage (PAHS) advice. The book was published in 1983.

The primary difference he came up with was putting an insulating umbrella over the entire structure that extends 20' beyond the perimeter. This keeps the mass (and inside air) temperature hovering near 70 all year. It also solves the major problem underground structures frequently had: leaks.

PAHS is a heating/cooling system, independent of architecture or building material though they both need attention to be certain annual heat storage will actually occur. Summers, the house dumps excess heat into the dirt mass, warming it while cooling the house. The mass is highest temperature just when the house starts to cool down in late fall. By early spring, the mass is coolest, just in time for summer cooling.

Takes a lot of mass, but it's stupid simple. No maintenance, no pumps or moving parts, no repairs, no energy to buy. We don't even bother with window coverings (no neighbors).

Cost, if the commercial materials I chose are used, is usually considerably below traditional stick-built. I built one for a client down the road. He needed a mortgage, the appraisal came in 50% higher than it cost to build: instant equity! Which was a direct comparison to stick-built here.

Which is why he's putting up with an unbelievable 80 mile each way commute. He says the job isn't forever, the house is. His previous house was a lovely post&beam SIPs place that he would never again settle for. Current owners think it's great.

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ShadetreeRet

06-11-2014 19:12:03
184.4.13.135



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 Re: High electric bills in reply to VaTom, 06-11-2014 11:04:01  
Thanks for the information. I have long been interested in underground or earth berm type housing, and should I ever find myself able, I intend to find out what it's like personally.



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VaTom

06-11-2014 19:39:12
70.32.193.64



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 Re: High electric bills in reply to ShadetreeRet, 06-11-2014 19:12:03  
Thanks for the interest. You could do a lot worse. Not that this is the only way to get a good house, but it's a very inexpensive one.

This evening we had a tornado watch. Some mid-westerners are interested in a house that won't blow away, as much as being so easy to heat and cool. In the west, it's fire danger that makes some interested in a house that won't burn.

Dirt: good stuff, and cheap. I grow veggies on my roof.

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Tx Jim

06-11-2014 10:12:19
69.35.160.188



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 Re: High electric bills in reply to VaTom, 06-11-2014 09:30:23  
My current electric bill is $75.97 or .11122 cents per KWH



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