Water Stoves

So you like the idea of heating with wood because you have endless supply of it or you just don’t want to pay the power company or the gas company any more than you have to. You know that your home heating system can be the number one consumer of electricity during the winter months and that you are tired of seeing your electric meter spin so fast you think it is coming of its bearings. You want to lower your power bill and have the most energy efficient home but still be comfortable. If this is you continue reading. A water stove can do all of these things for you, and if you are not afraid to do a little work you can lower your power bill and slow down that pesky electric meter.

Water stoves are a wonderful alternative to heating with a fireplace or using a wood stove. They can provide heat more evenly than any space heater or baseboard heater and they can do it all while burning practically anything. Are they the perfect heating source? Maybe, maybe not depending on your perspective. What can they do for you?

Water stoves can be installed alongside existing central heating and air systems. They use a heating coil that can be placed in the air handler and you and your guests are none the wiser. The heat coming from the water stove is dispersed just like your central heating and air is. It is controlled by a thermostat just like your normal heat is.
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Another thing that water stoves can do is supply all of your hot water. They can totally replace your conventional hot water system or be used in conjunction with it with your conventional system being used as a backup. Many users have reported that they have seemingly endless hot water. This means that gone are the days when company comes over and you let them all take showers first because you know that there will be no hot water left and you end up taking a cold shower. No more! And let’s remember that the water is being heated by wood. Remember also that your water heater is typically number two on the electricity consumption list behind your heat.

A water stove is installed away from your house so that you do not have to smell the smoke created by it. Here lies the biggest con. The biggest con is that the water stove is away from the house. This means that if it is raining or if it is snowing you will need to go out in the weather to load wood into the water stove to keep it running. However, there are models that can use oil and gas as a backup and if you get one of these models you will not need to go out in the weather.

Also to be noted is the fact that you can use solar water heater panels to heat the water. This means that as long as you have good direct sun that you will not even need to build a fire! Many users of water stoves say that this is the way to go if you get a water stove. Many people do not even build fires everyday in the summertime because the heat from the solar water heater panels do all of the work for them! So, is a water stove right for you? Let me tell you the story of a friend of mine.

A friend of mine grew up heating with a wood stove. He grew up in a very small house and always knew that he wanted a bigger one. He also know what it was like to wake up cold because the fire in the wood stove had burned out overnight. But, he still wanted to heat with wood because he lives on a property with an abundance of free wood. Cutting, splitting and stacking wood has been a part of his life since he was a small boy. So, he builds his house on the same property as his family. His house was close to 5,000 square feet! That’s right 5,000! So, after the first couple of months of the winter I asked him how his water stove was working out and what he was using it for. He said that it was working great and that he was heating his entire house and heating his water with it. So the next question was, how much is your power bill? He told me that it was about $40. I could not believe it even though I know how all of the systems work and what causes your power bill to be high or low. But to me, that is the proof that I needed to know that one day I will install a water stove.

If you are thinking about getting a water stove, rest assured that they can lower your power bill. Make sure that you have it installed by a licensed professional.

Wood Stoves

Wood stoves were once a very popular way to heat your home. One of the advantages that a wood stove offers over a fireplace is that it uses less wood. This means that if you are buying wood that you will be buying less. Or, if you are cutting and splitting your own wood you will be cutting and splitting less and saving yourself time as well. Wood stoves can be an excellent alternative to electric and gas furnaces if you are willing to do the work. Here I will list some advantages and disadvantages of wood stoves.


As aforementioned wood stoves are a good alternative to heating with a fireplace because they use less wood. This is because you can regulate the flow of oxygen better with a wood stove using the dampers. If you remember from Heating With a Fireplace, fireplaces need oxygen to keep the fire going. Wood stoves do as well but are able to use less. One of the things that makes wood stoves great is the fact that they are made out of cast iron. This holds much of the heat. And since the wood stove is in the house instead of in the wall we do not lose as much of the heat from the wood stove out the chimney like with a fireplace. Wood stoves can also be purchased with fans that help disperse the heat throughout the house.

Wood stoves can also be used to cook with. In fact, there are models that can be purchased specifically with this in mind. A normal wood stove can be used to cook with in the event that the power goes out and there is no other alternative. Wood stoves are great for putting in a workshop or garage because they are great at heating up large spaces. What makes them great about putting them in a workshop or garage is that these are places that sometimes are not used frequently and the expense of putting in a gas or electric furnace would not be worth the cost.


Some of the disadvantages of wood stoves are that they can be dangerous, you will need to put a hole in the side of your house, you have to collect wood, it can be difficult to regulate the temperature and they can dry out the house. Let’s be honest, any time you are putting a live fire inside your home there is danger involved. The danger of smoke inhalation, the fact that the wood stove itself is very hot and does burn people every year is something that definitely needs to be considered especially if you have small children before you decide that your main source of heat will be a wood stove.
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In order to have a wood stove you will need to have somewhere for the smoke to exit the house. This will need to be a hole in the side of your house and will need to be installed properly by a competent person other wise you could burn down you home. Wood stoves need wood. Big surprise but this means that you will need to have a good source of wood if you are trying to use your wood stove as your main source of heat. The wood will also need to be dry as dry wood burns hotter and longer.

Ask anyone who grew up with a wood stove and they will tell you that the heat is wonderful heat but they will certainly have a story or two about going to bed sweating and waking up freezing cold because the fire went out. This is because it is difficult to make the fire burn all night. So, what most people do is pack the wood stove before they go to bed. This makes it even hotter in the room but by the time that morning comes and the fire goes out it is freezing in the house. This can be remedied by someone getting up in the night to check the fire and put more wood in the stove if necessary. It can be difficult to regulate the temperature in your home with a wood stove. Your choice is either put more wood in if it is cold or let some burn off and open a window if it is too hot.

Wood stoves can also cause the air in your home to be dry. This is because they tend to suck the humidity out of the house. Some people fix this by putting a pot of water of top of the stove and letting it boil to create steam to put some humidity back in the house. If you choose to do this make sure that you use extreme caution because boiling water and steam can be extremely dangerous.


If you are dead set on using wood to heat with there is a better alternative and it is called a water stove. Stay tuned as I will cover water stoves in the next post. If you are looking for a wood stove pick one from the selection below.

Heating with a Fireplace

There is nothing quite like sitting next to a warm crackling fire in the fireplace, drinking hot chocolate and reading a book or watching a relaxing television show while the cold wind outside beats against the side of the house. But, is a wood-burning fireplace a feasible and cost effective way to heat your home during those long winter months? The short answer is no! To find out why, keep reading.

As mentioned before, sitting beside a wood-burning fireplace can be one of the most enjoyable experiences in the winter. And if this is all it is too be used for then you can expect that your power bill will not suffer much because of it. If you light a fire a couple of times a week or only on the weekend to enjoy the smells and the sounds of the wood-burning fire you will not have to worry about your power bill very much.

If you are planning on heating an entire home with one centrally located fireplace, or one that is in only one room such as the living room, then I hope you are prepared to turn off you electric or gas furnace completely and prepare to sleep in the cold. Think about your typical wood-burning fireplace for a moment. There is the fireplace itself which also includes this huge hole to the outside called the chimney. What is the purpose of the chimney? The purpose of the chimney is to evacuate all of the smoke from the fire so that your house does not fill up with the smoke. Another purpose of the chimney is airflow. Let’s remember from elementary school that a fire needs three things to burn and continue burning. A fire needs, fuel, in this case wood, heat, started usually with matches or a lighter and sustained by the burning wood, and oxygen or air.728x90

We know where the wood comes from, we put it in the fireplace to burn. We know where the heat comes from, we used matches or a lighter initially for the heat source and once it caught we used the wood to sustain it. But, where does the air come from? The air comes from all of the air in your home and when there is not enough, it is pulled in through all of the cracks around the windows and doors. We are talking about the cold blistering air that is outside your house being pulled into your house. But no worries right? We are heating that air with our fireplace and it puts off enough heat to counter-act that cold air. Wrong! It is a good train of thought but the problem is that most of the heat that is generated by the wood-burning fireplace is expelled up the chimney. Remember that heat rises. As the heat rises in the chimney and cold air is pulled in through the cracks, all of the other rooms in the house are not as warm as the room where the fireplace is.

Let me rephrase that last statement. The room where the wood-burning fireplace is will be warm and all of the other rooms in the house will be cooler because cold air is being pulled into them. Now, earlier I said that if you are planning on trying to heat your house with just a wood-burning fireplace I hope that you turn off your electric or gas furnace. That is because it does not matter where the thermostat is the house will not be heated evenly. If the thermostat is near the fireplace it will think it is warmer than it is and it will cause the heat not to run. This will make the other rooms in the house cooler. If the thermostat is not near the fireplace and is in a cool place it will cause the heat to come on and run longer because of all the cold air that is being pulled into the house.

Another thing to consider when heating with a wood-burning fireplace is your wood supply. Do you or will you have access to free or cheap firewood? If so, it may be worth your while but it is a lot of work and you will most likely get cold at night and want an extra blanket or two.

If you decide that you just like your wood-burning fireplace and the cost and the comfort do not matter there are a few things that you can do to help keep some of that heat in. One being that you should try to seal as many air gaps as possible. Also, in the room where the fireplace is you can crack a window just barely that way the air is drawn from there and not other parts of the house. You should also see if it is possible to use glass doors with your fireplace. You will want to consult a professional when dealing with these glass doors because they use a special glass that is made to withstand the high temperatures of a wood-burning fireplace. Insulation is also key in keeping in the heat that is generated by the fireplace. Make sure that your attic is well insulated so you can keep that heat in the house.

Heating a house with a wood-burning fireplace is not the best way to heat your home. It may end up cheaper if you have access to free or very cheap wood but you will sacrifice some of your comfort and need extra blankets at night. Seal those air gaps and most of all if you are trying to heat with a wood-burning fireplace BE CAREFUL! Be careful because houses do burn down and people are killed every year using their wood-burning fireplaces.

Amish Heaters


So there has recently been a lot of press about Amish heaters and about how they claim that they can drastically lower your power bill. There was even a commercial on television with a guy stating that his gas bill had dropped so low after he started using his new Amish heater that the gas company sent someone out to check his gas meter because they thought that something was wrong with it. In the commercial the guy says that the gas company just could not believe that his gas bill was that low. And then the guy gives a little chuckle as if to signify that he has beat the gas company!

Is the Amish heater everything and a slice of bread? Will the Amish heater lower you gas bill? Will the Amish heater lower your power bill? These are a few of the questions that many people have about the Amish heaters. Here I will try to dispel some of the myths.

Amish heaters claim to be using some brand new technology brought here all the way from the China coast. The claim is that they only use about the same amount of power as a coffee maker. Is this true? Yes and no. This is true because the Amish heater uses about 1500 watts when it is running, about the same as a coffee maker. However, the Amish heater will be running much longer to heat your house than your coffee maker will be running to make your morning cup of joe. As I have discussed before 1500 watts is equal to 1.5 kw and over an hour is 1.5 kwh. This means that if the Amish heater runs for one hour it will use 1.5 kwh. We are billed on kwh and an easy price to do the calculation is $0.10 per hour. At 1.5 kwh and $0.10 per kwh the heater costs us about $0.15 per hour. Which leads us to our next question.

Will the Amish heater lower your gas bill? The answer to that is it depends. It depends on many things. Will you be using the Amish heater to heat your entire home? If so, then the assumption is that you will be turning off your gas furnace to use the Amish heater and in this case, yes the Amish heater will lower your gas bill. If you are leaving your furnace on to heat the rest of your house and are only trying to heat one room in your house then there is the possibility that your gas bill will be lower because of this. But are you just transferring the cost of your gas bill to your electric bill with an Amish heater? Our next question answers that.

Will an Amish heater lower your power bill? The short answer is probably not. Most likely your power bill will go up if you are trying to heat your entire home with an Amish heater. With natural gas prices where they are now it is cheaper to heat with gas than it is with electricity. So if you are trying to save on gas by purchasing an Amish heater thinking that you will be spending less overall, think again. Even if you have an electric furnace or a heat pump you will most likely not lower your power bills with an Amish heater. The reason is that it is basically a space heater with an electric fireplace attached.

How can you save on your power bill with an Amish heater? It can be done but you must be careful and note how long it runs each day. You will need to heat only the room that you are in and close the door in that room while you are in there. You will need to make sure that you use the thermostat on the unit to keep the room at a constant temperature.

If you are still interested in buying and Amish heater because you just like they way they look then please use the link below to find one that best suits your style!


Space Heaters


Electric space heaters are a very popular option when it comes to heating a small room, an edition or a bathroom. People even try to use electric space heaters to heat their homes in extreme circumstances such as when the central HVAC goes out, the furnace goes out or even when they do not want to pay to get the gas turned back on because the deposit is so high. People also may employ electric space heaters when they are renting because they cannot afford to have the gas turned on in their name because the deposit is so high. The question is, are electric space heaters a good source of heat? To answer that question we need to weigh the pros vs. cons of electric space heaters. Then we need to look at any precautions to take when using electric space heaters.

Electric Space Heater Pros

One of the biggest pros to using electric space heaters for heat is the cheap initial cost. Electric space heaters can be had for as cheap as $15 in some instances. Use the link below if you are interested in purchasing an electric space heater. The cheap initial cost make them ideal when an emergency happens, such as the furnace going out.

Another pro of electric space heaters is the fact that they are portable. This means that you can not only take it from room to room with you but you can also take it to your cabin in the mountains over the weekend as well. Being portable also means that there is no expensive duct work to install. You just put the electric space heater on the floor in the room that you want to heat, plug it in and away you go.

They put out good heat. That is right, electric space heaters do an excellent job of putting out heat. Many come with a fan built in to help circulate the air in the room as well.

Electric Space Heater Cons

In my opinion, one of the biggest cons to using an electric space heater to heat your home is the cost. Electric space heaters can use anywhere between 1200 watts and 2000 watts depending on the model. This means that if they run for 1 hour they could use anywhere between 1.2 kwh and 2 kwh respectively. This translates into about $0.12 per hour to about $0.20 per hour. One space heater can easily cost $30 per month to run. So, if you have a three bedroom house with one in each bedroom and one in the kitchen, living room and bathroom they could easily cost $180 per month to run.

Another con with electric space heater usage is the safety. Now many of them now come with sensors on the bottom that automatically shut them off if they are tipped over, some of the older models do not. This creates a fire hazard. Also, they need to be kept away from paper, clothes, towels, pretty much anything that can catch on fire because electric space heaters can and do cause fires every year.

Another thing to consider when using electric space heaters is where you plug them in. Since they do have the potential to draw so much power you will want to make sure that they are plugged into an outlet that is not overload already full. You want to make sure that you plug them into outlets that are still tight and do not have any play. It is not unusual to feel the cord on an electric space heater and it be warm to the touch. To minimize fire risk make sure it is plugged into a good outlet.

Electric Space Heater Precautions

As stated above you want to make sure that nothing is placed on, in front of, or around an electric space heater that can ignite. Examples are paper, clothes, towels, blankets. Make sure that they are plugged into good firm outlets. Make sure that if you are buying a new electric space heater that it has an automatic shut-off feature in case it is tipped over. Also, children should not be left alone with electric space heaters. You should also make sure that you turn off you electric space heater when you are not home.

Final Thoughts

Electric space heaters can work well as long as you take heed to the precautions mentioned above and are aware that they can be expensive to operate. They are not a long-term solution to heating however and should be used on a short-term or emergency basis. They should not be left on when you are not home. Children should also not be left alone with electric space heaters. If you are in the market for a space heater use the link below.



Baseboard Heaters


Electric baseboard heaters can provide an excellent way to keep you warm during those freezing cold months when you are longing for spring. They also offer many advantages to homeowners as well as investment property owners. However, be advised that along with the advantages that electric baseboard heaters provide there are also some disadvantages that you should be aware of as well. First, what are electric baseboard heaters and how do they work?

Electric baseboard heaters are one type of electric resistance heater that is installed on the wall along the floor. They have metal fins inside that heat the air as the air moves past the metal fins. As the cool air falls and goes through the metal fins, the cool air is heated and rises and this is how the room is heated. Electric baseboard heaters are normally installed beneath window both to take advantage of any falling cool air from the window and because windows are located on outside walls where heat may be lost due to low or no insulation.

Electric baseboard heaters can be cheap to install because they do not require any ducts to be used like in a central HVAC system. This keeps costs to a minimum when building an edition that would be difficult to heat or when remodeling an investment property. Electric baseboard heaters can also be a good option if you live in a climate that does not see very many cold days. They can be a good option versus installing a heat pump.

Electric baseboard heaters allow you to heat different areas of your home or office independently of one another. This can be advantageous for those who live in families or work in offices where one person is cold all of the time and the other person is always freezing. This can also be advantageous if you live in a large home and only want or need to heat your bedroom at night and do not want to pay to heat the entire home. For example, you could set your main thermostat on 65 degrees and in your bedroom have a baseboard heater set to 70 degrees. This way you can be warm in your bedroom at night.

For all of the advantages that electric baseboard heaters provide there are also disadvantages as well. The main disadvantage being electricity usage. Many people ask how much electricity electric baseboard heaters use. Typically electric baseboard heaters consume about 250 watts per foot. This means that if you have a 6 foot electric baseboard heater installed in your bedroom that it would consume about 1500 watts (250 watts per foot x 6 feet). Many people will tell you that baseboard heaters are efficient. And in regard to the amount of electricity that is turned into heat they would be correct. Because they are resistance type heaters they convert nearly 100% of the electricity into heat. However, do not be fooled. Heat pumps are more effective at keeping your power bill low than electric baseboard heaters are.

Let’s do an example of how much a small home with only electric baseboard heaters could cost. For the example let’s say that the house if 1,000 square feet with 3 rooms and one bathroom. Each room has one 6 foot baseboard heater, the bathroom has a 2 foot heater and the living has two 6 foot heaters. So we have 5, 6 foot heaters and one 2 foot heater for a total of 32 feet of baseboard heaters. Remember from before that the average watts per foot is 250 watts. So 32 x 250 = 8,000 watts. So for every hour that the baseboard heater is on you will use 8,000 watts of power. Now let’s say that they run for 8 hours per day for 30 days. 8 hours x 8,000 watts x 30 days = 1,920,000 watthours. If we divide that by 1,000 we get the kilowatt hours which is what you are billed on and that equals 1,920 kilowatt hours. Now if we multiply that times say $0.10 we get $192.00 just to run your baseboard heaters to heat your home.

So, the biggest disadvantage is the usage of the electric baseboard heaters. Do they put off good heat? Yes. Are the cheap and easy to install? Yes. Are they expensive to run? Yes. There is one alternative and it is the electric hydronic baseboard heater. They use a liquid inside that is heated and radiates the heat in the room longer than the metal fins do. This means that they may run less often than regular electric baseboard heaters. But be aware that they also use the same wattage when they are running.



The Meter Technician Profession


So you are thinking about getting into a career in the electric utility industry and you are not really sure what you want to do. There are several career paths that you could choose such as power lineman, or engineer, or even maintenance mechanic. What I want to persuade you to do is to think about becoming an electric meter technician.

The electric meter technician is possibly a job that you have never even heard of, let alone given any thought to becoming one. So what does and electric meter technician do?

Well, contrary to popular belief, we do more than just read watthour meters. We are not just “meter maids” as some lineman would have you think. The job of the electric meter technician do read electric watthour meters, but we also do much more than that.

To be an electric meter technician one should have, or be able to develop, a strong electrical background. You will want to have graduated high school and if possible taken some college courses in electrical theory. It would be even better if you could get an associate’s degree in electrical technology. This education will be helpful in understanding how watthour meters work and in understanding how the entire electric utility works as a whole.

Electric meter technicians test watthour electric meters either in the shop with test equipment or in the field with watthour meter test equipment. They also check residential, commercial and industrial metering installations for proper wiring and metering accuracy. Some meter techs also specialize in some of these areas. Some meter technicians only deal with residential metering installations and customers. Some deal only with commercial and industrial customers. While others may only stay in the shop and test watthour meters.

The ideal electric meter technician will be able to work outside all day and do things such as change out electric meters, check on high bill complaints, low consumption or stopped meter orders as well as installing new metering equipment on instrument rated metering applications. The electric meter technician will also be called upon to explain billing to customers.

Many times customers do not understand their bill and the meter technician is usually the last person the customer will talk to. They have normally already called in and talked to someone and were not satisfied over the phone and want to talk with someone. The meter technician is that someone and because of this the meter tech will need to have strong interpersonal skills to be able to answer the customer’s questions. Because of this they will also need to be as professional as possible. You do not want to go out a customer’s residence or business dressed like a slob. That ruins your credibility right away.

Electric meter technicians will also need to be able to perform above basic tasks on the computer. Part of the job requires the meter tech to be able to program watthour meters, download information from the meters, create new programs for the meters as well as run reports our of the billing system to find out if there are any errors. You will need to have an eye for detail. You will many times be looking for something that stands out as unusual and be able to determine from that information if there is a problem that needs to be checked and repaired.

An ability to do algebra also comes in handy as well. Electric meter technicians use many formulas to complete their work. If current transformers and potential transformers need to be installed you will need to know how to calculate the multiplier. Also, you will need to know how to size the current transformers to the service to be metered. Another thing that you will need to be able to do is calculate and electric bill with demand. Many times customers will not understand demand and so it will be up to you to explain it to them in a way they can understand. There will be times that you will need to explain the math to the customer so that they understand what is going on.

Being a meter technician is a highly rewarding career. Notice that I said career and not job. The electric meter technician is a specialized field and most who are in the field work until retirement. Which also means that there are not a ton of jobs available. So when you get one, keep it! It will typically take between 5-7 years to become fully proficient as a meter tech. But even then you will constantly be learning new technology.

So, with that I hope that you give the electric meter technician career a chance.

Meter Multipliers

Watthour meter multipliers are used whenever current transformers and/or voltage transformers are used in a metering circuit. The most often question that I am asked about watthour meter multipliers is how to calculate the watthour meter multiplier. It really is a simple thing to do and this article will explain.

CT’s and PT’s are used to step down current and voltage in a metering circuit to a safe and measurable level. But this leaves us with a little bit of math to do to accurately calculate the number of KWH or kilowatt hours the customer has used.

To calculate the meter multiplier we need to know what the CT ratio and PT ratio are. The best way to explain this is with an example.

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Let’s say for instance that you have a 120/208 three phase 4 wire wye service that is using 400/5 CTs. How would you determine the watthour meter multiplier? You would simply do the math. 400/5 means 400 divided by 5 and if we do this math we come up with an answer of 80, this is our watthour meter multiplier. What if we had 600/5 CTs? 600 divided by 5 is 120, so our watthour meter multiplier is 120.

Now what if the service that we are metering is a 480v service and we are using PTs? For this example let’s assume we are metering a 480v three phase 4 wire wye service by using 400/5 CTs and 2.4/1 PTs. How do we come up with the watthour meter multiplier in this example? We would use the same method as before to find the CT ratio and do the math of 400 divided by 5 which equals 80 but we are not finished because in this example we also have PTs. Before we do the math let’s remember Ohms’s law which says that Watts = volts x amps. Let’s also remember what we are trying to figure out. We are trying to find the multiplier for the WATThour meter. So to find watts we need to multiply volts x amps. We already know the amps part of the equation equals 80 so what is the volts part? It is 2.4 because 2.4 divided by 1 is 2.4. So, we now multiply 80 x 2.4 and we come up with 192 which is our watthour meter multipler.

Another example with PTs and CTs. Say you have a 480v three phase three wire service with 200/5 CTs and 4/1 PTs. What is the watthour meter multiplier? 200 divided by 5 equals 40. 4 divided by 1 equals 4. So, 40 x 4 = 160. The watthour meter multiplier would be 160.

When you divide out the CT ratio and PT ratio and multiply them together this is also known as the transformer factor.

So, there you have it. To calculate the watthour meter multiplier first you need to determine whether there are CTs and PTs or only CTs in the circuit. Next, divide out the ratios. And lastly, multiply the ratios to determine the watthour meter multiplier.

5 tips to saving energy when on vacation

So you are ready to go on a long vacation and you are worried about your electric bill being high when you get back and you want to know if there is anything you can do to keep you bill low when you get back. Well, there are a few things that you can do to ensure that your electric bill is not through the roof. Most of these tips even work well if you are only going out of town for the weekend as well.

1. Turn off the water heater.

That’s right. An electric water heater is one of the largest consumers of electricity in your home next to the A/C. For a normal family, a water heater can account for as much as 25% of the electricity that is consumed in your home. To put it another way, they can easily uses 300 kwh per month which can equal $30 or more. Let’s understand why we would want to turn off our water heaters while we are out of town. The water heater has a thermostat inside just like the A/C does. What that means is the water heater will be keeping the water at that temperature regardless of whether you are in your home or you are one vacation. One argument that I always hear from people is that they want to be able to take a shower as soon as they get home from vacation and they do not want to be waiting on the water to get hot. Well, let me put your mind at ease. Most water heaters have about a 30 minute recovery. This means that it takes the water heater about 30 minutes to be full of hot water again. So, walk in from you vacation, turn the water heater back on and then unload your car and get ready to take your shower. By this time the water should be nice and hot for you to take a shower. The next question is, “how do I turn it off?” The most convenient way is in the breaker box. Find the breaker labeled as water heater and turn it off. Alternatively, there should be a disconnect at the water heater. You can pull this disconnect and this will turn off the water heater as well. I would only use the second method if you are comfortable dealing with electricity because it could be dangerous.

I want to note that I would not turn the water heater off if you live in a climate that freezes and it is the winter time when you will be gone. This is only recommended during the times when temperatures are above freezing.

2. Turn off the A/C

The A/C is the largest consumer of electricity in the home and because of this, you do not want to overlook it when you leave for vacation. Now, if you are hardcore, depending on the time of year, you will just turn off the A/C when you leave for vacation and turn it back on when you come home. But, if it is in the middle of summer you may want to ensure that the house is not an oven when you get back. My recommendation is to turn the thermostat up to at the very least 80 degrees in the summer time when you leave, higher if you think you can stand it. If you are going onĀ  vacation in the winter time you will want to turn the thermostat down to at least 60 degrees. This will ensure that your A/C or heat are not running constantly while you are gone trying to keep your couch comfortable.

3. Unplug, unplug, unplug!

In this day in age when you turn your lights off at night you can just about still see everything because of all the lights from your devices that are still on. The lights may be from computers, television, gaming systems, microwaves, etc. Whatever the lights are coming from, they are drawing electricity to be kept on. Unplugging things that are not necessary to be on while you are gone, such as your wireless router (if you have networked security cameras you may need to leave that on). All of these little things do not use very much on their own but collectively they do add to your bill. Remember that nothing is free!

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4. Turn off lights

This sounds like a no-brainer but many people forget to turn their lights off when they leave. Often times they will get home from vacation only to discover that they light in their bedroom or bathroom had been left on. Do a once over before you walk out the door and make sure that the lights are off. If you are going to leave a light on for security reasons, look at getting a timer so that it does not run all the time. Or, put in an LED bulb in that particular light fixture.

5. Turn off the water

I know this does not appear to have anything to do with electricity but if something happens while you are gone, such as a busted water line or a leaking toilet, you will be in for a big water bill. If the water line breaks and it is a hot water line and you have forgotten to turn off the water heater, it will constantly run trying to heat the water. This, again, is only recommended during warmer temperatures.

6. Bonus!

If you are hardcore like me and you do not care if you have to reset your clocks when you get back then this tip is for you. When I go out of town on vacation, as long as it is not a time where we are having freezing temperatures, I just go and turn off my main breaker. If your main breaker is off, your electric meter will not turn while you are gone. This is how my power bills during the summer when I have been on vacation have been as low as $40 when the base charge takes up $20 of that $40.

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Five ways to Cool your house without A/C

During the summer time many people struggle with high power bills because their A/C runs constantly. Here I want to offer five ways to cool your house without using your A/C.

1. Use blinds

One of the most effective ways we can cool our homes without using A/C is by not letting any sunlight into our home to begin with. Heat is transferred three ways. It is transferred by conduction, which is when you touch something, convection, which is when heat is transferred by air (think convection oven), and by radiation. So, think about when you are cold and your go out and stand in the sun to warm up. This is radiation and this is what we are trying to stop by closing our blinds. If we can stop the sunlight from entering our homes then we do not have to cool them back down. Try to use blinds that do not allow any sunlight to come into your home when they are closed. This is the first way that we can combat the heat and keep our homes cool without using A/C.

2. Use curtains

This is basically the same as number one above except that curtains, when used in conjunction with blinds can make a huge difference in blocking the sunlight that enters your home. And, the thicker they are the better. Think about taking a blanket outside and blocking sunlight versus a sheet. The blanket will not let any light through while the sheet will allow some light to pass through. When the light passes through the heat is passing through as well. This is the second way that you can keep your house cool without using the A/C.

3. Use fans

By using fans we move the air around us. We can perceive a three degree difference in temperature just because the air is moving. Think about a cool spring day. As long as you are out in the sun and the wind is not blowing you are warm. But, once the wind starts blowing you need to go and get your jacket. Using fans has the same effect. Ceiling fans do a good job of mixing the air. However, to move hot air out of your house you will want to use a box fan. If you open the windows on one side of the house and place a box fan in a window on the other side of the house you will be surprised at how well this cools off the house. Even better is to use two box fans. One pushing the hot air out of the house and the other pulling the cool air into the house. Do this and your house will be cool in no time. A note that I would like to make about using the box fans is this, do it at night. If you try to do this during the day you will be pulling hot air into your house. Make sure that you wait to do this until the air outside is cooler than the air inside the house.

4. Open the windows

This may sound simple and not effective, but this can be very effective especially during spring. Opening the windows allows the air to flow naturally in and out of your house. This natural movement of air moving past your body can actually make you feel like it is cooler than it is. This is because sometimes there is more moisture in the air outside the house than inside. When our bodies are in this moist air we often feel like the air around us is cooler than it actually is. So, go ahead and open those windows! And again, this works best when the temperature outside the house is cooler than the temperature inside the house.

5. Open the doors

Opening the doors is something that we typically forget that we can do. We often think that if we just leave the door open some random person will just walk in our house. But, if we utilize this huge opening and allow it to be used just like a window we will be able to reap the rewards of using the opening just like the window!

If you put these tips to use, you will be well on your way to keeping your house cool without using the A/C! If your like this article be sure to visit our Facebook page and like it to keep up to date with all of our articles!

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