green car, green home?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by galaxee, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. galaxee

    galaxee mostly benevolent

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    so last night our big project was to go out and buy new lightbulbs. we got the curly ones that use 1/4 of the energy. $42.50 and a half hour later, we replaced 24 lightbulbs- converting each of them from 60w to 14w. they're guaranteed to last 9 years and will pay for themselves in less than a year. and that's not counting "excess expense" as in you could have gotten another lightbulb for cheaper. that's total cost.

    (for those of you who are thinking of doing this, it's a good time to do so. they're on sale at home depot)

    so i'm wondering how many of us also try to live green (or cheap, depending on your view of things) other ways than just driving a prius. we don't own our home, but we do a few basic things.

    -new lightbulbs yesterday
    -we bought efficient washer and dryer (haven't needed to buy other appliances yet)
    -wash clothes in cold water on short cycle
    -pre-wash stained clothes in warm water in sink
    -play 'dishes tetris' to avoid excessive dishwasher use
    -turn off lights when not in room
    -use ceiling fans and open windows at night for cooling

    anyone else trying to do things like this? what do you do to keep your energy bill low and help conserve? the more ideas we share, the better we can all do :)
     
  2. aaf709

    aaf709 Ravenpaw of ThunderClan

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    We do pretty much the same, except we don't have a dishwasher (other than us), A/C or dryer. The gas heater is completely off (ie no pilot light) most of the year. We use the flourencent bulbs wherever we can. We have cats to keep us warm at night. :)
     
  3. geologyrox

    geologyrox New Member

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    =) how do you like the light from the bulbs you bought? we use regular reveals, because my husband likes the light so much. We tried one of the curly bulbs, and he didn't like the light =(

    we re-insulated the attic and the garage door recently, and we are installing a solar hot water heater in the spring. We bought a digital thermostat that automatically efficiently goes to a set temp at different times of the day. we do a lot of your things - (I loved 'dishwasher tetris'!) but they are awfully subconsious.
     
  4. Spunky

    Spunky New Member

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    It's all about choices, isn't it?

    We use our fans year around, while heating, cooling or just with open windows. Does make a difference in comfort.

    Am shopping for a timer to place on our temp. controller, one that will allow us to turn the temp up or down automatically, based on day of week as well as time.

    We got a down comforter for the bed and Dan started wearing pajamas for sleeping.

    Use sweaters at home. Long underwear can be sexy.

    Our last appliance purchase was for front loading, energy efficient washer and dryer. Laundry is once a week to take advantage of warmed dryer.

    I cook just about all our meals and send my husband off to work each morning with leftovers. I don't know if that's more energy efficient but what I prepare at home is much more healthy than what he would otherwise eat.

    I purchase most of our fruits and vegetables at the local farmers' markets during the season. Tastier, less trucking of produce, more nutrients, supports local businesses. Also can find herbs, honey, baked goods, flowers, ice cream, meats, and cheeses at the markets. Prices are better and the goods last longer in the 'frig, too.

    A coworker of Dan's and her husband installed a heat exchange energy generation system and a solar panel in their new home. They use very little power from the gird.

    Keep drapes drawn during hot days, open while the winter sun shines (living room faces south - one of the reasons Dan chose to purchase this condo). A friend and his wife purchased their home 'way up on a hill, with a long black-topped driveway. The hillside faces south so the driveway stays clear after shoveling any snow.

    Grocery shopping down to once a week. We'll combine other errands and save them for the same day, too. We live within walking distance of the post office, doctors' and dentists', library, downtown shops, and marina. Movies are mailed to us via Netflicks. Sometimes my car (I work at home) doesn't leave the garage for days.

    We chose a hobby/passion that doesn't require much energy. We own a 28 foot sailboat, just big enough for two. We can vacation for up to a week on her, two or more if we include provisioning stops. We live on the Chesapeake and could cruise it for years before we'd visit all the little rivers and ports. Matter of fact, Dan's lived and sailed here for over 15 years now and there are still places he hasn't been to. He used to own a powerboat, replaced that with the sailboat and hasn't regretted it. She's getting a little small for us as we've aged so we've been researching another boat, maybe a 30-35 foot Tartan or C&C or ?

    And we bought Foxy. :D
     
  5. DaveinOlyWA

    DaveinOlyWA 3rd Time was Solariffic!!

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    "dishes tetris?"

    ummm ya... will have to get back with you on that. if it means washing them as they get dirty, ya i do that. dont have a dishwasher... didnt use the one i used to have either. (still not sure why i bought it other than at the time, i felt it necessary to have a good resale of the house i built maybe??)

    as far as the mini curlycue lights i do use them for most things, espcially ambient lighting. i dont have that option in the kitchen because of the type of fixture... tried the big round ones and for some reason went through two of them in just over a year. so ended up putting back in the bulb that came with the apartment until i get around to getting something else.

    for reading i have two of those magnifying lights with the 22 watt round flures in em. they work great for model building or reading. have one in bedroom and one at desk.

    *edit*

    was gonna make a separate post for this, but in the interest of conservation, i will not. if you really want to conserve energy, get rid of the dishwasher all together

    http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,128...w=wn_story_top5
     
  6. maggieddd

    maggieddd Senior Member

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    got the curly bulbs a while ago.
    really small aprtmt. Smaller living space, less energy wasted on electricity.
    Buy biodegradable soap, dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent etc. (doesn't save enregy but causes less pollution). Recycle.
     
  7. skruse

    skruse Senior Member

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    We put our "money where our mouth is" several years ago:
    1) retrofit windows to dual and triple pane glass w/ Roman insulated shades
    2) caulk everywhere; superinsulate water heaters
    3) R-100 ceiling insulation (house is very quiet)
    4) 60-year tile roof
    5) gut and superinsulate garage, including insulated roll-up door and roof
    6) "air locks" (double doors) at front & rear and sliding glass doors
    7) compact flourescent light bulbs all around
    8) retrofit inside of exterior walls to R-45
    9) drought tolerant native plants (genetically prostrate, no pruning, perennial flowers)
    10) french drains
    11) sun pipes (1500 watts of diffuse light at solar noon, no thermal leaks)
    12) large organic, french-intensive, organic garden on drip (harvest June-Feb each year) (30 • 30 meter square) with annual amendments of horse manure, autumn leaves and compost

    We have enjoyed a monthly utility bill of less than $30 for the past 10 years. Prius was the next obvious step in our comfortable, but frugal life style. We eat healthy and stay healthy.
     
  8. FredWB

    FredWB New Member

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    Wow and I thought we were pretty extreme. Good job. What did you do to retrofit the walls?

    I've done about the same as you have and have dropped my utility bills by 60%. After you do the refrig, lights, dble pane windows, caulk, washer/dryer the computers and tv's are big users, along with the furnace and ac if you use it. Unplugging every item you can that is using standby current is important too. Those cable modems, routers and cable box all use a surprising amt of power depending on the model. We're down to less than 150 kw-hr/month on our best months now and it wasn't the difficult.
     
  9. Jonnycat26

    Jonnycat26 New Member

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    We did roughly the same stuff.

    -The Curly lightbulbs.
    -A front load washer, which is supposed to use very little water compared to a conventional washer.
    -A high efficency refrigerator.
    -A high efficency water heater.
    -Double paned and gas sealed windows.

    I also use a rechargeable lawnmower rather than a gas mower because of the emissions issue.

    I just got a new roof, and I'm looking at getting a small solar system installed (1Kwh). It wouldn't be enough to cover *all* of the house's consumption, but it should cover a good 75% or so.
     
  10. Jonnycat26

    Jonnycat26 New Member

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    Not to mention the computers themselves. If you've got an Intel processor, you're wasting a lot more energy than you might think.

    If you have an AMD processor (horray for you for buying wisely) you should definitely enable the "Quiet'n'Cool" features on the processor. It will scale the processor speed down depending on CPU load (has no effect on performance) which will in turn reduce both energy consumption and heat output. And because there's less heat, the fans have to run less, and everything stays cooler. After having my HP with an A64/3400 in it running for a few hours, I can barely hear it. For comparison, my old shuttle with a PIV/3.4 could be heard from the next room and was like a little space heater.
     
  11. DocVijay

    DocVijay Active Member

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    Wow, that's very impressive. We just bought our house this year, so we haven't been able to start any of that stuff yet. Solar is the first one planned. Our monthly electricity bills are routinely $350 a month, but we live in Florida and A/C is not really optional (and we have two units at that). Hopefully the solar will make us about 80% self-sufficient.

    What roof insulation do you have? Ours is extra insulated, but is "only" R-60.
     
  12. skruse

    skruse Senior Member

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    I used rigid polystyrene foil-faced foam. Added studs to the inside, placed the foam, then sheet rocked and painted (R-45). Triple-pane windows (dual outer, single pane inner with maximum air space).

    I put the rigid foam between the ceiling joists + two layers of "attic batt" fiberglass on top of that in the ceiling to reach R-100 level. We eliminated "phantom loads" where ever possible. All switch and outlet plates have foam gaskets. Drilled holes in walls and pumped in "foam in a can" to those places I couldn't otherwise get to.

    Electronics are hooked into power strips which get turned off when not in use. Only thing left on is the DSL-Airport router and refrigerator-freezer. On extended vacations we unplug clocks. We have two natural gas water heaters - I wrapped those 4 times, including all exposed pipes.
     
  13. DocVijay

    DocVijay Active Member

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    We have the same insulation (radiant barrier) and I imagine it helps quite a bit. I think them main difference is the gas water heaters and our constant A/C use. We also turn off most things on extended vacations.

    If you factor in the cost of the natural gas, how much do you end up paying monthly? Since my bill includes the water heater (as well as stove/oven if yours are gas) then that cost would have to be included to make an accurate comparison. Unfortunately gas was not an option for us (at least not easily).

    Here in Florida, if you don't use A/C, it gets very, very hot very quickly. I remember when I was a kid, the A/C broke in my parents house. Within 12 hours the upstairs was almost 90 degrees! Plus, with almost 100% humidity, it's simply not an option not to use A/C.

    EDIT: BTW, we still average around 100 kwh/day, even with extra insulation and all Energy Star appliances. The A/C's are a killer.
     
  14. Godiva

    Godiva AmeriKan Citizen

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    Yep.

    When I was buying a washing machine years ago I got a water recycling one. It sounds bad but it reuses the previous wash that's stored in the sink. Consumer reports ran tests and the recycled water washes the clothes just as clean. Go figure.

    I also have a gas dryer, water heater (set lower than standard) and gas oven.

    I've insulated the attic and the doors.

    I use the compact flourescents.

    I also have a timer for my thermostat and for the microsprinkler drip irrigation system I installed in the yard. No more grass. I put in a LOT of brick in the back yard for patios so I just have some plants in beds and each has it's own drip nozzle.

    I replaced the old air conditioner with a new highly efficient one. I set it a little high and run the ceiling fan. It only runs in the evening after peak hours to cool the room before I go to bed and then it's not that often. Mostly I open the windows and cool the room down except in the very hot Santa Anas.

    I'd like to go Solar but can't afford it yet.

    The next time I replace the water heater I will be putting in an "on demand" one, even though it's about four times the cost.

    And I recycle my paper, plastic, metal.

    The only thing I do not do is compost. There's no place for it and I don't generate that much.

    OH....the dog recycles most of the left-overs.

    Does the dog count?
     
  15. hv74656

    hv74656 Member

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    I've made it a point of making sure ALL of the bulbs in my house are CFL. If one of the bulbs breaks, that lamp doesn't get used until I can find another CFL. The bulbs also run cooler and that helps the AC, when you live in Florida you will do anything to keep your house below 85. I also try to get the Philips earthlight bulbs whenever they're on sale because they use less power and have almost no mercury in them. As far a my computer goes, I have it undervolted so it doesn't use much power. My parents think I'm nuts until they see that the power bill was only $100 in the middle of July. If you've been to Florida in July, you know that it is the month where birds, trees, and tourists spontaniously combust as soon as they go outside. As soon as it gets cool :rolleyes: the AC gets turned off and our power bill gets cut in half. I figure that if I save enough money by saving power, I'll have an easier time affording a Prius and saving gas. It's funny how everything seems to connect.
     
  16. DocVijay

    DocVijay Active Member

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    Nah, they don't spontaneously combust, too damn humid. They just sorta melt...



    Unfortunately our house only has single pane windows. We didn't get to specify, oh well. That is another project we plan on doing. We have a lot of windows though, quite a few of which are very large and/or arched, which means the price jumps way up! We also ahve one large window which has a mitred "seamless" corner, which will be tricky to do in a double paned without a huge bar running down the middle. For now we are going to have some solar/hurricane film applied. It's not as effective as replacing the windows, but it will help quite a bit.

    Other than that, our house is actually set up quite efficiently out of the box. Everything that came with the house is Energy Star, and it's very well insulated as it is. Of course, as with anything, it could probably be improved, but at least it can be moved to the bottom of the list.
     
  17. TidelandAZ

    TidelandAZ New Member

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    Well, let's see. I've lived in the Cold (New Jersey, Vermont, Michigan) and the warm (Los Angeles, Memphis, and now Arizona), and I try to be both economical and energy efficient.

    Now in AZ, my worst electric bill (and *everything* in this home is electric) has been about $270, and our "dry heat" is still hot by general standards. I have installed

    1. A programmable thermostat
    2. Ceiling fans in every room
    3. An oscillating stand fan near the treadmill (Do you really think a New Englander can run outside in this heat?)
    4. I pre-wash or wash just about every dish, so the dishwasher might run once a week max.
    5. Lights definately go off when you leave a room. (Mom trained us well.)
    6. External light fixutres are on photo-sensitive cells to turn on/off as needed.
    7. Living room light is on timer.
     
  18. FredWB

    FredWB New Member

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    We invested in all CFL lighting long ago when they just started with the improved electronic ballasts and the cost of a 100 watt equivalent was about $9.00! Boy did that conversion cost me. The refrig is rated at 440 kw-hr per year, pretty good for a 22+ cu foot size. I bought one of those "watts up" watts meter and measured everything in sight. I found over 125 watts of phantom loads that I disconnected

    We recently went shopping for a new washer. The dryer we have is a kenmore elite with all the newer temp sensors. Our laundry room is way too small for most of the frt loaders but we found the fisher-paykel top loader, made in Australia a perfect fit. It spins at 1000 rpm, variable speed direct drive motor, and saves about 10,000 gallons of water a year. It's not the most efficient but the best at the 25" depth and had a $175 rebate from the local utilities. The cost before the rebate at Lowe's was only $629. Now my wife says the dryer is always finished before the washer....she used to have to wait for the soggy clothes to dry before.

    My computer is an Intel, but a Centrino laptop that uses only 20 watts max. I have a wireless keyboard and mouse to use with my 17" lcd display if I have to do any CAD work. The Centrino is everybit as fast as my p4 was that used 5-8 times as much energy.

    I waiting for the furnace to quit so I can get a much smaller dual stage, variable speed 90+ AUE model. I've done all the heat load calc that says I no longer need the larger furnace we have (only 80% efficiency). Once I finish up a few more projects I think we can probably do without an AC here in San Diego. Every now and then it gets hot and muggy and that's the only time it's needed. Sometimes not for years though. Now if I had an r100 attic and r45 walls I would barely need the heater. But then the house would be too small with the inside addition of that extra wall.

    So I wonder what the record is for most water heater blankets. I've only got 3 on mine because it's only got r6.6 of it's own insulation. That's what I get for not researching and buying at sears I guess.
     
  19. hdrygas

    hdrygas New Member

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    I have done similar things around my house. I had solar hot water for a few years but it never worked right in the winter. It was great in the summer we have never had so much hot water. The turning point was when the pipes froze on Christmas several years ago and flooded the garage. That was fun. It was a good system for California but not so good for a place that had freezing temperatures in the winter even from time to time. They replaced it three times under warranty. When the actual panels burst and water was running over the roof it was turned off for good. The ice cycles on the roof were neat. I have not seen the like since I lived in Ohio. Needless to say I have not yet replaced the solar hot water.
     
  20. tunabreath

    tunabreath New Member

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    I'm just trying to make small, gradual changes. I cancelled my newspaper subscription and now read the paper online. The appliances I bought when I moved into my house 5 years ago were energy-star rated, and as the other appliances break down, I replace them with more efficient ones. (So far, my only regret is not spending the time when my a/c condensor broke to research all the options and get one of the most efficient ones).

    I got a wake-up call recently -- the fan in my furnace broke (it turns out the whole furnace needs to be replaced), and I've been without a/c ever since. There have been several days since then when the high temperature was in the high 90s. I invested in some wireless thermometers, and by making some simple changes (like buying some inexpensive new window coverings and being very careful about when I opened/closed the widows/blinds), I was able to reduce the high temperature inside the house by about 15 degrees. So of course I plan to keep most of my newfound good habits even after my furnace is replaced (which should happen Friday).

    I also have a list of things to do:
    • Evaluate and probably improve the insulation in the ceiling.
    • Replace my (mostly 80-year-old) windows with new better-insulated ones.
    • Replace my water heater with a tankless one. With my patterns of hot water use, I'm sure this will use much less energy than a system with a tank.
    • When it's time to replace the roof, use light-colored tiles that will reflect some of the heat, rather than the cheap black stuff that's up there now.
    I might also put up some kind of awning on the one side of the house that gets no shade at all, depending on what results I get from the new windows.
     
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