We stopped using the boiler in our furnace to heat our domestic hot water in 2012. First, in July we converted the new bathroom over to on demand hot water use, and in November we converted the entire house to the on demand system since the electrical cost had not gone crazy, and our oil consumption was heading down.
On December 28, 2007 we received our last oil delivery for that year for a grand total of 1273 gallons for the year. This was our first full year in our home. The oil was not only used for heat in the heating season, but for domestic hot water needs year round. That's a lot of oil.
Now, keep in mind that the house is over 150 years old, and although there have been improvements over the years, it still is an old house. An old, uninsulated house. The only insulation we have found is a some old rock wool insulation in the attic flooring, a bit of blown in insulation in one exterior wall, and none in any of the other walls. Essentially there is plaster and lathe, air space, and the exterior wall. Not a good combination for New England winters.
At the end of 2007, on December 14, we had 19 windows replaced with Harvey insulated windows. The house insulation would have to wait a bit. The following year we used 264 less gallons, and at an average cost of $3.36 per gallon that year we saved $887.04.
Not bad, but I expected more. The following year, 2009, we saved an additional 399 gallons of oil. How? I think we were just a lot more vigilant, and the set back thermostat we had installed the previous year was making a difference.
In 2010 our oil usage went up to 972 gallons. That winter must have been a cold one, but still, I expected to save oil, and here I was using more. Still, no insulation in the walls, just the new windows.
So, at the end of 2011 we saved 29 more gallons from the previous year at 943, but it was not as low as it had been in 2009. It was time to think about the insulation, or make some other changes.
We planned to renovate the second floor bathroom in 2012, so the insulation took a back seat again, however, if the renovation was done right, we could still save oil.
After talking to our heating oil man, and getting a whole bunch of ideas about different hot water systems we opted to go with an on demand electric system. I had always thought it made little sense to heat water in anticipation of using it, instead of as needed. Heating in anticipation was a hold over from when plumbing was moved indoors, and an option was given to heat the bath water on the stove, or have it on hand in the boiler for when you needed it. Very modern and convenient at the time, but not very thrifty today.
At the end of 2012, after converting our hot water heating needs to an on demand system, our oil consumption has gone from the high in 2007 of 1273 gallons to only 709.6 gallons in 2012!
That is a 44% saving in oil with only the new windows, and a new hot water system. Imagine what the savings would be like if we had put insulation in the walls!
So what about the electric usage? Did it go up with the on demand hot water system, and eat up all those oil savings?
We started up the on demand hot water system in late July of 2012. Our kilowatt hours for July of 2011 was 868, and in 2012 went to 988.
September 626 kWh September 533 kWh
October 561 kWh October 519 kWh
November 420 kWh November 833 kWh
December 723 kWh December 603 kwh
January 570 kWh January 889 kWh whoops.
What the heck happened in November of this past year is beyond me. Too early for Christmas lights, but I think someone discovered the new bathroom ceiling electric heater. It was also the month that the whole house went on the on demand system, but that happened late in the month, and the following month was much lower.
At the end of 2012 we not only saved oil, we had saved more electricity in the final month of the year than the previous year by 120 kWh!
I was waiting to see what the last 30 days had wrought, and today I found out. (Insert frowny face here) Our electricity (kilowatt) usage went way up compared to last year, and last month. Since our electrical usage is not dependent upon the winter weather, and our kWh usage was very good last month, the things that would actually increase the amount of kWh used would be things that we have complete control over. There is a portable electric heater on the sun porch that we use to occasionally bump up the room temperature. Apparently, we have been using it far more than would be wise. We hardly used it at all in December. The bathroom ceiling heater is used, as it should be, but I think we need to be a bit more judicious before we flip the switch.
ADDENDUM: December 2012 National Grid bill was for 603 kWh over only 25 days for 24.12 kWh per day, and January 2013 kWh was 866 over 35 days equaling 24.7 kWh per day. So the electrical use did not increase substantially compared to December, or November. January 2012 had 603 kWh over 25 days for 19.89 kWh/ day. Comparing the two months of January, a year apart, shows there was an increase in kWh usage by 19%, and an oil savings of 25%.
(sigh) The Human System is the hardest to regulate.
Seems that all the systems are all functioning as they should, and intended to work, but it the human system that actually needs tweaking. Which leads me to a few additional changes that need to be done.
The first is a behavior change. Of course, if staying warm in the bathroom when bathing, or showering is important, and we can tolerate the increased electricity bill every month, then so be it. Within reason, of course, and if our carbon foot print increases to a size 12 EEE, and harmony is maintained, well then, so be it. It will become the comfort vs. planet argument, and that is one that is fought in every household.
In addition to what I've already mentioned above, decreasing our oil consumption is a goal we work on everyday, and are both on board with. We also don't blast the heat all day. We'll turn it up if the house gets around 61.5 F during the day, or if it gets a bit chilly in the evening. At night, it sets itself back to 58 F. We don't have it go much above 64-65 f. Iron radiators have a way of letting the heat linger longer than forced hot air. Mary will also throw my sweatshirt at me, if I complain about being too cold at other times. She's got a good aim, and she usually hits my hand as it's reaching for the thermostat.
Effective human system at work there.
Insulation is something I will look more into this coming year. If you know of anyone, locally, that blows insulation into older homes, drop me a line. We always prefer to go with a reputable, local company.
In the meantime, the next purchase is to buy a Nest thermostat for the house. Not familiar with the Nest thermostat? It was developed by the man responsible for designing the iPod, and iPhone. Many of those that helped with the development were former Apple people. To learn more about just how this team re-invented the thermostat read this article, and how it can reduce your heating bill beyond what a traditional setback thermostat can, view the video below.
In the meantime, check out this video. The thermostat is available at Lowe's.
We can save both money and energy by a spending a little, or a lot to do it. Whether it be new windows, new hot water system, new thermostat, or new behaviors, they all will work.
Good luck, and let me know how you've done, and I'll let you know where the kilowatts fall next month.