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Reducing Large Electric Bills

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  • In April of 2011, I was invited to a dinner party at a swank Pacific Heights home where California’s Lt. Governor, Gavin Newsom, was speaking.

    Newsom is a larger than life character. I had never met him before, but like Bill Clinton, he dominates a room when he enters it. Like Clinton, he demonstrates a tremendous grasp of the facts. And, like Clinton, his personal life has had very public problems. I should probably stop there.

    At dinner I was seated next to Peter Darbee, then CEO of PG&E. He seemed distracted. At one point in the conversation, as we discussed energy efficiency, he said to me, “How much have you reduced your PG&E bill?”

    Thereafter, our conversation floundered. Perhaps I should have said, “Peter, how much have you reduced your bill?” The following week he resigned–a casualty of PG&E’s San Bruno gas explosion.

    But his question stayed with me. Was I one of those advice-givers unable to succeed in the real world? So, when the cities of Atherton and Portola Valley asked me to come speak about energy efficiency in large homes, I decided it was time to audit my home again.

    Thanks to Peter Darbee’s unsettling question, here are the results of the latest audit of the Sherwin Household’s conservation measures:
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  • 1. Reducing Large Electric Bills Elton B. Sherwin for Portola Valley’s Tuesday Harvest Speaker Series
  • 2. December2006 $506 Electric Bill
  • 3. Made Some Changes Electric Bill Went DownDecember Feb 2006 $506 to $172 2012
  • 4. Dream Home 2001 CA building code  Basement  Pool and hot tub  Three  TVs & DVD players  4365 square feet  Furnaces Two :  Four  Stories  PCs  Refrigerators  Cellphones  Pool pumps  Clock radios  Girls  Innumerable  Dogs  Cordless phones  TiVos  Light bulbs  Electric towel bars  Motion detectors  Rechargeable flashlights  Central air conditioners
  • 5. Built the house with Indoors 12 Timers 45 Motion  Pool lights Detectors  Fireplaces  More than half  Bathroom of the light fans switches  Whole house fan  Recirculation pump Motion detector on right is from WattStopper www.WattStopper.com
  • 6. 12 Outdoor Motion Detectors
  • 7. Still over $500 even with timers and motion detectors Powder roomFront porch Gas Fireplace The Bill Would Have Been Higher Without the Timers and Motion Detectors
  • 8. PG&E BillingRates changeda bit 2006-2011Structure wasconstant
  • 9. Who Uses 300% of Baseline? $.36 $.33 $.22 Over $81 Month $.11 Under $36 month
  • 10. San Mateo County The Big 41. Atherton2. Woodside3. Hillsborough4. Portola ValleyRest of County
  • 11. Sherwin’s 2006
  • 12. Where Was the $506 mo. Going? Hard to tell: There were few tools in 2006 Consumption was consistently high Average Monthly Kwh 2,000 1,500 1,000 500 0 2005 average 2006 average
  • 13. Real-time Monitor Black & Decker Power Monitor (Also sold as the Blue Line Power Cost Monitor) Costs $40  Short Range Read all the reviews on Amazon to make sure it is compatible with your meter
  • 14. Day After InstallationAt 10:10 AM.“It says I am using$1,000 a month.”“And nothing is on.I turned off all the lights.Nothing is on”
  • 15. Except the Pool Pump We were spendingX over $1,000 a year moving water around
  • 16. Impact of Sherwin Pool Pump on Global Climate
  • 17. We bought an IntelliFlo pump Spent $2,500 Saves 75% Saved $100/mo. Variable flow performs best www.pentairpool.com
  • 18. $505 – pool pump = $400/mo.Where Was the Other $400/mo. going?
  • 19. Lots of lights
  • 20. Removed 55 Bulbs
  • 21. Home Depot’s Better BulbTested 11 BrandsBest Performance: Home Depot EcoSmartIn green package
  • 22. Many SituationsIndistinguishable
  • 23. Nice Color
  • 24. Home Depot EcoSmart  Instant on  No flicker  Starts at 60% brightness  105% brightness of incandescent  Color similar to incandescent soft white  Elton’s score: A-
  • 25. Fit Inside Most Harps
  • 26. Wall Sconces
  • 27. Small Amount of Accent Lighting 14 watts vs. 65 watts The animals seem happy
  • 28. Even Fit Some Clip-ons
  • 29. Who put in all these ceiling cans?Nowonderwe had a$506electric bill
  • 30. But What Happened to the PG&E Bill?
  • 31. Pool Pump and Lights PG&E Billing 2007$600 $507$500 $439$400 $306$300$200$100 $0 December January February
  • 32. $506 – pool pump – incandescent bulbs = $306/mo.Where Was the Other $300/mo. Going?
  • 33. Transformers? Sherwin Home Cordless phones 8 Cellular phones 3 TV surround sound 2 Laptop computers 2 PC speakers 2 Scanner and printer 2 Wii and PlayStation 2 Alarm system 2 2-way radios 2 Router and hub 2 Network modem… 1 Total 43
  • 34. Started Measuring ThingsMake sure it says EZ.If it is not an EZ model,it is not EZ to use. Available at Amazon.com. Links to many of the products in this presentation are posted at www.EltonSherwin.com
  • 35. Word AboutTransformersProblem Big Old Warm all the timeUsually OK New Small Cold most of time
  • 36. Standby Power 17 Watts 24 hours a day for 12 years • Used them for maybe 10 hours For more information see www.EltonSherwin.com
  • 37. Smart Power Strips TV or PC DVR Phone Speakers DVD player Monitor TV cabinets VCR  Not on DVRs Stereo All desktop/tower PCs  Not helpful for notebooks
  • 38. Found a Rogue 20-year old Rechargeable Flashlight
  • 39. Dad Started Turning Off the Lights
  • 40. $506 – pool pump – incandescent bulbs = $306/mo. $306 + smart power strips - rechargeable flashlight + turning off lights = $225/mo.
  • 41. Then We Got Serious
  • 42. Family project: Audited Every Circuit  Turn off everything in house  Turn off every circuit breaker  Turn breakers on, one at a time Repeat with everything in house turned on
  • 43. Circuit Breaker #11 170 Watts Electric Toothbrush ? No
  • 44. Circuit Breaker #11 170 Watts Electric Towel bar
  • 45. Installed a Timer
  • 46. Towel Bar Timer  On in the morning  30 minutes of every two hours  To dry the towels
  • 47. Shortened the Setting for Recirculation PumpFrom 60 minutes to 20 minutes Kitchen and Master Bath
  • 48. Installed Five LED Bulbs Home Depot EcoSmart Brand
  • 49. Upgraded Kitchen Switches
  • 50. Third Wave Action Plan Continuous Commissioning Timer on Towel bar Five LEDs Upgraded kitchen motion sensors Shortened timer on recirculation pump Electric Bill Fell to $175
  • 51. Full Year Electric Bills Results: 2006 vs. 2011From $5,172 to $2,109
  • 52. Analysis: 2006 vs. 2011 Total Year In Dollars 2006 2006  Four electric bills over $500  $506, $513, $540, $533 2011 2011  Highest electric bill $205  Average was: $176 Full year comparison (electric)  53% decline usage  59% decline billing 22¢ to 24¢ average cost per kWh 33¢ to 39¢ marginal cost per kWh
  • 53. 2006 vs. 2011 Saved $3,063 Electricity In one yearEvery year for next 20 years For just one home
  • 54. Summary $500 to $300  Pool pump  CFLs $300 to $225  Measuring  Turning off lights  Smart power strips $225 to $175  Shortened times and added a timer  Replaced 5 incandescent with LEDs
  • 55. Sounds Like Too Much Work?
  • 56. Most of Savings: Big Three Pool pump Lights  CFLs  Turn off Smart Power Strips
  • 57. What is Missing?Products Not Available: 1. Comcast DVRs with low power mode 2. Genius smart meter  Itemized bill: Usage by room 3. Thermostat in every room  Motion detector  Often need to heat only 1-2 rooms 4. Smart windows  Let winter heat in but block summer sun
  • 58. Someday All This Will Be StandardProducts Not Available: 1. Comcast DVRs with low power mode 2. Genius smart meter  Itemized bill: Usage by room 3. Thermostat in every room  Motion detector  Often need to heat only 1-2 rooms 4. Smart windows  Let winter heat in but block summer sun
  • 59. Online Checklists What Ails America’s Buildings? Designing Extraordinary Buildings What Can Cities and Counties Do? What are Your Home’s Top Energy Wasters? What are Your Company’s Top EnergyWasters?Available: www.EltonSherwin.com http://www.slideshare.net/EltonSherwin iTunes bookstore Amazon.com
  • 60. DetailsLighting
  • 61. Tough Problems Dimmers Clear fixtures Ceiling Cans
  • 62. Dimmers
  • 63. Dimmers Remove them, or EcoSmart  Dimmable CFLs  LEDs Look for the orange dot that says DIMMABLE
  • 64. Clear fixtures
  • 65. EcoSmart 40 in Green package Instant on No flicker Starts at 40% brightness After 1 min 105% Color similar to incandescent soft white Elton’s score: B-
  • 66. Dimmer for first 30 seconds Incandescent Compact Fluorescent I left two incandescent bulbs in place so the bathroom would brighten quickly
  • 67. After 1 minuteCFL is slightly brighter
  • 68. Two CFLs and One LED I left one incandescent bulb in place so the kitchen island would brighten quickly (now one is LED, 2 are CFLs)
  • 69. EcoSmart LED Mix with CFLs
  • 70. Back to Our NemesisCeiling Can The Halogen Spot
  • 71. Best Available for Indoor Halogen Replacements Instant on - No flicker Starts at 35% brightness After 1 min 100% Slightly more yellow than Halogen Larger bulb, less focused Elton’s score: B- Home Depot
  • 72. Halogen Spot Replacement Need a CFL Spot w/ CLEAR Glass Front50 W or 75 W 23 W
  • 73. Also Use EcoSmart LED One to two second delay when turn on Dimmable (some hum)
  • 74. Adjust Ceiling Cans Up
  • 75. Halogen Spot Replacement 23 W50 W or 75 W
  • 76. Two are 23 W CFLsOne is 50 W Halogen
  • 77. I left one halogen bulb in place so the kitchen counter would brighten quickly (It is now an ecosmart LED)
  • 78. On the Leeding EdgeStill frustrating: Most dimmable CFLs MR-16 style – “flashlight” bulb w/ 2 pins Spotlights – narrow beams Many LEDs sold in retail  Wait a bit longer for residential applications  If you want to try LEDs, start with the ecosmart band (Home Depot)
  • 79. Removed 20 Spots
  • 80. Removed an Additional 25 Bulbs
  • 81. CFLs by the NumbersCost $463Subsidy (PG&E)) $145Consumer $318Monthly Savings:KWH 359Bill - $.32 KWH $111Break even months 3Annual CO2 lbs reduction 4,304Cost per 1,000 lbs/year $108
  • 82. CFLs 60x Cost Efficient vs. Solar Reducing CO2 CFL SolarCost $463 $29,822Subsidy $145 $9,206Consumer $318 $20,616Monthly Savings:KWH 359 400Bill - $.31KWH $111 $124Break even months 3 166Annual CO2 lbs reduction 4,304 4,800Cost per 1,000 lbs/year $108 $6,213
  • 83. Hybrid Car is up to10x Cost Efficient vs. Solar Reducing CO2 Hybrid CFL Solar CarCost $463 $29,822 $2,500Subsidy $145 $9,206 0Consumer $318 $20,616 $2,500Monthly Savings: GasKWH or Gallons of Gas 359 400 17Bill - $.31KWH, $2.50 gal $111 $124 $42Break even months 3 166 60Annual CO2 lbs reduction 4,304 4,800 4000Cost per 1,000 lbs/year $108 $6,213 $625
  • 84. Useful Tools Smart Power Strips For more information see www.EltonSherwin.com
  • 85. A word about Mercury Berkeley Electric Cooperative
  • 86. Incandescent Bulbs are Responsible for More MercuryWorldwide ,there are 270coal-firedpower plantsrunning topowerincandescentbulbs(Earth PolicyInstitute) Chart: Berkeley Electric Cooperative