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Update Learned a ton about heat pumps, and wondering about Solar. Does anyone in the northeast have solar roofs? (solar shingles)

I live in an all electric home (single family detached house) in New York City, and my electric bill give me nightmares, and daymares. It comes out to about $900 or $1000 in cold winter months, and $400 or $500 in the summer. Less in between.

All the appliances, hot water tank, room heaters are all electric.

How can I reduce these costs?

Ideally, I'd like to remain all electric, and perhaps even opt-into sustainable sources of power.

All ideas are welcome : )

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    What do you want us to tell you? Use electrical devices less (by insulating or by changing your habits), or replace them with more efficient alternatives (requires an up-front investment), or change to another heating technology (electric heat tends to be the most expensive choice in most of the US), or invest (again) in solar electric (may or may not be cost-effective depending on location and once gives and what kind of building you're talking about). Or a combination of these. – keshlam Feb 9 '17 at 22:55
  • Turning down the water heater temp and the furnace temp a few degrees will help. As @keshlam said insulation, programmable thermostats. Opting in may raise your bill quite a bit because nothing comes close to the low cost power of hydro electric & coal. – Ed Beal Feb 9 '17 at 23:03
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    "Home" is generic term, and NYC has the widest variety of housing found anywhere . You'll need to be much more specific as to the nature of your home's construction. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 9 '17 at 23:03
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    Is the heating just electric resistance heating? If so, you can probably make a big dent by replacing it with a heat pump system. – Mark Feb 9 '17 at 23:14
  • Thanks @Mark! I had looked into this. Any personal experience? What makes you say big dent? – Costa Feb 9 '17 at 23:18
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Without knowing more details, any advice is going to be very generic.

Preventing Energy Loss

  • Look into weather sealing, if you find windows or doors that are drafty
  • Add attic insulation if you don't already have it (or increase the amount if you are able)
  • Upgrade to double-pane windows with Low-E coatings to minimize heat loss in winter and heat gain in the summer
  • Fix leaky faucets
  • Turn off lights, power strips, appliances, etc. when not being used to minimize vampire-draw
  • Adjust refrigerator temperature to energy-optimal settings

In general, if you can minimize energy loss, you can decrease your costs. Energy that (literally) goes out the window is basically money that (figuratively) goes out the window.

Decrease Usage

  • Turn down water heater temperature
  • Turn down thermostat (and potentially use heated blankets or space heaters for comfort)

Consider using less energy in general. Most water heaters are set far higher than is really needed. While they are typically well insulated, it still leads to greater standby loss and somewhat greater distribution loss.

Increasing Efficiency

  • Upgrade your water heater to a heat pump model
  • Upgrade your heating/cooling systems to a ground-source heat pump
  • Upgrade your appliances to Energy Star appliances
  • Look into waste-heat recovery systems (such as Drain Water Heat Recovery)

The Energy Factor of an appliance is (essentially) a rating of its efficiency. Look for appliances with >.9EF, which typically means condensing water heaters/furnaces, heat pumps (see below), and better insulated refrigerators/ovens. If you pay for 100% of your electricity, it would be nice to utilize 100% of it (or more, see below).

A quick note about heat pumps, under most conditions they are able to provide greater thermal efficiency (denoted by the Coefficient of Performance) than pure electric resistance heating. This is because a resistance heater generates 1W of heat for every 1W of electric power provided. A heat pump, on the other hand, is able to deliver more than 1W for every 1W of electric power (often ~3) because it takes heat that already exists and simply moves it to where you need it.

The downside to some heat pumps is the minimum operating temperature may be higher than the low temps you experience in winter. In that case, you will need a secondary heat source (like an electric resistance heater or natural gas furnace).

Lowering Costs

  • Investigate alternative rate plans, such as time of use
  • Consider investing in solar panels

ETOU (as they are known here) plans change the electricity rate based on when you use the energy. Sticking to off-peak hours means you'll pay less and your utility likes you more for reducing peak demand.

Solar, while--potentially--a big investment, can potentially take you off-the-grid. Furthermore, you might even be able to sell electricity back to the utility for money, if you generate enough. Buying the panels, batteries, inverters, and related equipment is expensive, but many providers offer lease, loan, and PPA (where they act as your utility) options as well, which could mean no money up-front.

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I'm sorry, but I can't give generic conservation advice. For the kind of money you're spending, it's crazy to take blind shots and pray.

You need whole house power monitoring

This is a system that installs in your service panel and clamps onto the ammeters. It listens to the electrical noise and current flow from each device, and makes educated guesses about what each device is. Then it can show you exactly what appliances are using how much power when, and present that in a clear display on a PC or tablet.

Two popular brands are Ted or Curb.

Once you have that in place, it will show you exactly what you need to do.

Go renewable

For an all electric house, enough solar panels won't fit on your roof. i recommend putting them somewhere else where the panels will perform much better: Southern California. Seriously. Buy into a solar project there. Yes, it's rather inefficient to ship elecfricity 3000 miles, but you don't have to. You pnly have to ship it to L.A., sell it for peaker prices there, take the cash and buy local NYC power for a fraction. Money ships rather efficiently.

  • Hahaa, that's brilliant : ) – Costa Feb 10 '17 at 15:03

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