Friday, August 31, 2012
I keep the information tracking system in my Volkswagen TDI set to average MPG. When I get a little heavy on the accelerator (which happens from time to time), my mileage reflects my driving. When it drops below 40 MPG, I change my behavior because that threshold (for some reason) is important to me.
We recently started the install of our energy monitoring system for our office building at 502 Rigsbee. As of today, we can track the total energy generated by the PV system and the building’s total energy use. Our plan is to have full circuit-by-circuit monitoring in place in the coming weeks. The energy geek in all of us can check it out at:
I’ve been on a rampage about how and when we use energy ever since we started to see this information. Why is our building using so much power at night when we have moderate and comfortable evenings with outside temperatures lower than the settings on our thermostats? What else is using power besides our HVAC system? Look at that spike in energy use during our grand opening party! A few hundred people really heat up the place. Why is that computer monitor on when not in use? Are our motion sensors working correctly and shutting off our lights when we forget to turn them off? How much power does our UV rainwater filter use? Yes, I can drive myself a little crazy with this stuff, but the information allows us to take care of three major items. One, we can assure the systems we have installed are functioning properly as designed and installed. Two, we can address those items and see direct results. Three, we can modify behavior to assure we are using the facility to assure the greatest efficiency.
When you have data, all these things come to the forefront. When our building is using more energy at night than I think it should, I use the information and investigate. If you know where the waste is, you can change the right things. Without the information, energy guzzlers just keep quietly guzzling often with little real benefit.
Although we are not yet showing the power generated by the wind turbines and we are not yet seeing individual circuit use, we have enough information to start changing behavior and tweaking systems. With the monitoring system fully functional, we can continue to tune our habits and systems for maximum benefit and minimal energy use.
Information changes behavior for the better.
|New stackable VRT washer and dryer|
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Making our Home a Home Sweet Home - Part 10: Why pay to heat and cool your home when you’re not even there?
Sometimes I wish I would have made all of the improvements I’ve mentioned in this series in sequence with enough space in between the phases to see what kind of impact each one had on savings, but in this case my impatience outweighed my need for science. Once you learn something about building science, the things in your own home begin to glare at you. I just want to make those things go away.
While I don’t have clear numbers for you on what the programmable thermostat saved us at my home, the EPA publishes some industry averages. They say folks save an average of $180 a year by replacing a conventional thermostat with a programmable one. It is certainly part of the story that resulted in our receiving a letter from PSNC that our equal pay gas bill would be $13 per month instead of $43. Some of that is attributed to better insulation and air-sealing, but the thermostat ensures that our HVAC system can relax during times we are either not in the house, or when we are asleep. Those are the largest proportions of time in the life of a house, and big opportunities for savings.
There is a range of programmable thermostats, from ones that have standard times and periods of day predetermined without customizability, to ones that can link up with your wifi network so you can control them with your smart phone when you’re out of town, across the street. The one you see here cost me about $70. But, as you can see from the EPA information above, it pays for itself, on average, in less than half a year. That’s both smart and puts money back in your pocket.
What are you waiting for? I was proud of my accomplishment. You will be, too!
|Remove old thermostat|
|Wire and mount new thermostat|
|Program and Save!!!|