Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Energy Bill Update, gutter guards necessary, ERV

Well, it has been 8 months since we moved in and I figured it was time to let folks know how our energy bills are going.  We have not paid more than $110 for a month of electricity.  That was during the hottest month of the year when the AC ran a bit more than it normally does.  We keep the house at 77 degrees during the day and drop it to 73 at night during the summer.  During the winter months we're keeping it at 70 during the day and setting it to 66 at night.  The temp in the house has not dropped below 69 degrees yet even though we have had nights in the 20's and low 30's.

We have decided that investing in gutter guards is going to be a necessity.  They're not very inexpensive for the gutter profile we've installed which is the 6" half-round gutter.  The fact that the leaves slide down the metal roof easily means the gutters fill up quickly with leaves and pine needles. The interesting thing about that is the nearest trees are about 40 feet from the house but they do tower over the roof so the wind easily deposits them on the roof.

The rainwater collection system continues to work well.  Collecting off about 1/6th of the roof easily keeps the two 275-gallon IBCs full.  Even in the hottest and driest periods we did not get below about 1/2 on both tanks.  I am also using the water from the 3 60-gallon pickle barrels to water the veggie garden and those plants that need water.  I have contemplated adding a 3rd and maybe a 4th IBC to the system for those times when we are getting lower rainfall.  The one thing I need to work on is how to keep the pollen from collecting in the barrels - There are systems that allow the first flush of the system to bybass the collection system so all that flotsam and jetsam doesn't pollute the barrels.  Last year we found that the pollen was prolific and actually started to smell pretty bad as it decomposed in the barrels.  I spent an afternoon powerwashing all the barrels and would like to avoid making that a regular habit if possible.

Recently the ERV started making a bit more noise than normal and it turned out one of the motors was the culprit.  I contacted UltimateAir and they were very quick to respond by sending a new unit out as soon as possible.  It arrived about 4 days later and I installed it while shipping the original unit back to them at their expense.  Frankly this has been a great company to deal with since they've been very responsive to our problems.  I do think one thing we are going to pursue is to install occupancy sensors in the bathrooms so they ERV boosts the speed for those periods when there is additional humidity (and odor) in the air.  Fortunately I have access to overhead spaces in the upstairs bathrooms and the side wall in the downstairs bath so installing the sensors should not be a huge deal.

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