reply to post by JohnPhoenix
For heat (and it is a good logic for cooling also), I try to conserve heat by only heating the key areas of use. We have propane for heat, and my
goal was originally to use less than my normal 2 tanks of propane per year, but I've gone way beyond that now, and I can get by with less than a
single tank per year! I use our fireplace in the main living area, and I've taken out the big blower and instead installed two small Radio Shack
computer fans and the natural convection of the rising heat. Those little fans make zero noise and use very little electric. (I had to get a
transformer to step down the 120 VAC.) It doesn't push out as much volume, but I just shut all the doors and heat the main area we are using. If it
gets too hot, I turn on the Central A/C fan to circulate the warm air from that room to all the other rooms.
At night, when we go to bed, I have a small space heater in my room, and the kids room. I dampen the fireplace as much as possible to let it create
some heat all night, and I turn our Central Heat thermostat to about 62-65.
In the morning, the bedrooms are warm, but the living area and kitchen have fallen to whatever the thermostat was set at, but its simple enough to
turn it up to run the heater for an hour while we all get ready for school and work. We turn it back down to 60 for the daytime, the heater doesn't
need to run, and then I build a fire when I get home again.
The wood here is fairly expensive, so this would not be economical if I were buying wood, but I have an old truck, and you can get a $5 permit to cut
wood in the National Forest, and I enjoy splitting wood for exercise. So, I cut a truckload 3 or 4 times per year, costs less than $20, gets me and
the kids out into the forest, and I save about $400 on propane compared to 3 years ago.
I still have an electric hot water heater. If I had a gas "on demand" type of hot water heater, it would require more propane, but theoretically it
be more cost effective compared to the electric, and it would probably drop my electric consumption down to my goal. My water heater is
so new, that I hate to replace it. Instead, I've turned the thermostat on it about as low as it will go. I can stand to wash my hands or dishes
under the full hot water without having to turn on the cold. This saves me heating the water up more than it needs, so I might just leave it at that.
I don't use any gas during the summer whatsoever, I really only use propane during December and January.
I plan to also run a propane line to my grill, or make a DIY refill for my smaller tanks off my big tank, so I can refill my own grill tanks. Having
hot water, and a way to cook during power outtages is a pretty nice amenity, but once I'm on full solar, that will be less important.