Waiting for the Freeze!

badger

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Two days before November and its 21*C in our unheated home and 15*C in the garden, the longest 'Indian' summer I can ever remember. The trouble is that nobody really seems to know what will happen or when; we could be locked in to a serious freeze very quickly, or be gardening in shirt-sleeves like I was yesterday.

So I have been preparing for the worst winter possible and that's the only way to react, what with huge power costs and the probability of power cuts if any freeze should come. Two months ago I started to record our daily expenditure on electricity and the average cost-per-day was £4 until the price increase in October when the the bill increased to £6 per day. This has held steady right up to today, and some of the £2 rise in daily costs must be attributed to my EV which I have started to use more often.

We've reduced the size of our water hot-tank, reduced its working temperature and use a fast-boil kettle to raise water temperature for our baths. We've increased home insulation in our roof void and fitted secondary glazing to our (already) double glazed windows. Warmer clothing and chair-blankets are ready. Because I have Reynards condition (coldfingers even in August!) I have modern e-hand warmers because that's all I need on a cold morning.

We purchased a remote controlled mains plug system so that we can switch off every stand-by system in the home by pressing one transmit-button, and the tv signal booster, media-system, tv, humax, dvd player and recharging systems all shut down with a single signal. We now have two deep-cycle batteries with a 3kw inverter to power anything that we might need in any power cut, with a new charger and a solar charger for emergency charging.

My wife suffers from hot flushes all the time and even in winter she likes her office to be air conditioned so she's ok in cold rooms. Our little hounds are long haired and look like little bears on a cold morning, so they're ok.

So........ I now wonder what else we can do...... I'm not panicking because this kind of project is fun for me. But I would love to know about any steps that you are taking to reduce power bills, stay warm and cope with any power cuts. :)
 

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We've yet to have our first freeze either. Getting cooler day by day, but nothing like years past. I'm still in season change denial at this point. I've resorted to wearing long pants, but thus far, still barefoot in t-shirt. LOL

Winter will be here soon enough though, so I've tuned up our furnace and filled the heating fuel (diesel) tank. Last year a fill-up ran me about $600. Just paid nearly $1,000 for the same amount! Generally it takes 3 fill-ups to get us through a season. Hopefully we'll have a mild winter. Fingers crossed.

Other than that, we haven't done anything special. We do have a small gasoline generator, but power outages are rare in my area. It's been several years since the last one. At that time we just cooked outside on the grill and used the same grill to heat a concrete block that we brought into the house for heat. One makes do when one has to.
 

badger

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We've yet to have our first freeze either. Getting cooler day by day, but nothing like years past. I'm still in season change denial at this point. I've resorted to wearing long pants, but thus far, still barefoot in t-shirt. LOL

Winter will be here soon enough though, so I've tuned up our furnace and filled the heating fuel (diesel) tank. Last year a fill-up ran me about $600. Just paid nearly $1,000 for the same amount! Generally it takes 3 fill-ups to get us through a season. Hopefully we'll have a mild winter. Fingers crossed.

Other than that, we haven't done anything special. We do have a small gasoline generator, but power outages are rare in my area. It's been several years since the last one. At that time we just cooked outside on the grill and used the same grill to heat a concrete block that we brought into the house for heat. One makes do when one has to.
It sure is very strange. It's a dull rainy day here, with no sun, and yet it is warm enough to take a walk in a T-shirt (if you have an umbrella!)
So if you have a normal winter you might use $3000 of fuel for heating? We are all electric and if I can get through to next June for £2500 then I'll be relieved. We use an average of £6 per day at present but when winter kicks in it will be £12-14 per day, I'm guessing.

I've got in to the habit of wearing my dressing gown to watch tv or when at the computer......... when the days get cold I love driving my wife to work, the Jimny heater is so good! :)
 

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So if you have a normal winter you might use $3000 of fuel for heating?
If current prices hold, sure looks that way. Aside from our oil fired furnace, everything else is electric. Stove, AC, even the blower and igniter for the furnace. My neighbor has an electric heat pump rather than an oil fired furnace. Our houses are similar sized, roughly 2000 SF. Typically his power bill in winter runs $600 to $800 a month, while mine is usually less than $100. In years past, it cost us a lot less to heat out home than he, but now with rising fuel costs, the scales have tipped in the other direction.

Now, the cost of electric is on the rise here too. We used 100kwh of electric less this billing cycle than last, yet because of the latest rate hike, the dollar amount of our bill was actually more! So, the scales may tip in our favor yet again.
 

badger

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If current prices hold, sure looks that way. Aside from our oil fired furnace, everything else is electric. Stove, AC, even the blower and igniter for the furnace. My neighbor has an electric heat pump rather than an oil fired furnace. Our houses are similar sized, roughly 2000 SF. Typically his power bill in winter runs $600 to $800 a month, while mine is usually less than $100. In years past, it cost us a lot less to heat out home than he, but now with rising fuel costs, the scales have tipped in the other direction.

Now, the cost of electric is on the rise here too. We used 100kwh of electric less this billing cycle than last, yet because of the latest rate hike, the dollar amount of our bill was actually more! So, the scales may tip in our favor yet again.
Our little home is a third of the area of yours but being in the UK I expect that our heating costs are significantly higher per SF than yours. On the other hand smaller rooms heat more quickly and cheaply. Ah, yes, electric furnace igniters! Everybody around here who uses gas does rely upon electricity provision for their systems to work; we had a 36 hour power cut last winter after a supply pole came down in a blow and nobody could use their heating. But since you do have a petrol generator I expect that you can link it directly in to your domestic grid...I hope so anyway.

One of our emergency heating appliances is a camping heater which uses small gas canisters. The price of these canisters has become stupidly expense now but since we have a stock of about thirty in an outside safe, together with the kerosene etc, we can use those if we have to.

Last year I bought a very small wood burning stove, cleaned out the chimney (five sacks of birds nests, ugh!) and it's installed and ready to use, but we would only ever light it in emergency..... I've fitted a fire simulator inside its glass door and it looks great on a winter's evening just as a design piece. I fitted a chimney balloon to stop draughts, but this little fire could be burning spare timber within an hour if necessary.
 

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But since you do have a petrol generator I expect that you can link it directly in to your domestic grid...I hope so anyway.
No, our gen is rather small. Wouldn't even run our stove or water heater. Those are both 220V and the rest of the house is 110V. It can support the refrigerator, a light or 2 and the TV, but that's about it. I got it when the power went out several years ago, but we've had no outages since and I've never used it! I intended to install a wood burning stove, but never got around to it. Our place has no chimney as such, just a stack for the furnace to vent. So, a bit of plumbing involved to set one up. Got plenty of wood to use though.

I understand some of the EV's coming out can double has a backup power source in the event of an outage. I guess you'd have to charge up at a power station or something to keep it going and leave enough reserve charge to get there and back.
 

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So........ I now wonder what else we can do...... I'm not panicking because this kind of project is fun for me. But I would love to know about any steps that you are taking to reduce power bills, stay warm and cope with any power cuts. :)
Well, you're way ahead of me!

We've taken to turning off all items not in use, a light blanket when sitting on the sofa, the heating hasn't gone on yet, although we do have grandchildren and we might have to make exceptions when they're here.

The One Big Thing we could do is insulate. We have a 3-storey terrace, mostly double glazed, but a couple at the back to be done. We don't close doors. We have bare boards on the ground floor, and a half-cellar underneath. Roof's been done, of course.

I used to laugh at similar houses in the street that have been turned into flats. Coming home from work and you'd see all the steamed-up windows, except ours, where airflow is not a problem!

Sadly, the 'insulate now' campaigners have a good point and are making it totally the wrong way (imho), so if anything they're having a negative effect.
 

badger

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No, our gen is rather small. Wouldn't even run our stove or water heater. Those are both 220V and the rest of the house is 110V. It can support the refrigerator, a light or 2 and the TV, but that's about it. I got it when the power went out several years ago, but we've had no outages since and I've never used it! I intended to install a wood burning stove, but never got around to it. Our place has no chimney as such, just a stack for the furnace to vent. So, a bit of plumbing involved to set one up. Got plenty of wood to use though.

I understand some of the EV's coming out can double has a backup power source in the event of an outage. I guess you'd have to charge up at a power station or something to keep it going and leave enough reserve charge to get there and back.
It may be very useful one day, your little generator, but you know that. :)
I've wondered about using EV batteries for domestic use in power cuts...... My two EV batteries are 60volts @ 20AH @ 1200 KwHrs. I must look in to 60v - 240volt pure-sinewave inverters.
 

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Well, you're way ahead of me!

We've taken to turning off all items not in use, a light blanket when sitting on the sofa, the heating hasn't gone on yet, although we do have grandchildren and we might have to make exceptions when they're here.

The One Big Thing we could do is insulate. We have a 3-storey terrace, mostly double glazed, but a couple at the back to be done. We don't close doors. We have bare boards on the ground floor, and a half-cellar underneath. Roof's been done, of course.

I used to laugh at similar houses in the street that have been turned into flats. Coming home from work and you'd see all the steamed-up windows, except ours, where airflow is not a problem!

Sadly, the 'insulate now' campaigners have a good point and are making it totally the wrong way (imho), so if anything they're having a negative effect.
That sounds like a very interestin home you have. Three storey home with a half-cellar....... the things I would want to do with a half-cellar.... :)
Oh....there was one other 'thing' we've done to reduce costs and increase warmth. Although all our windows and doors are fitted with sealed units, we have just fitted secondary glazing film over any windows that are fixed lights. The 2nd Glazing film costs £12 in Homebase and you get a roll of double sided tape and a large area of clear film; you run the tape around the window, cut and stick the film to it and then warm it with a hair dryer so that it shrinks to a drum-stiff film. I'm amazed at how well this reduces cool air falling off the glazed surfaces.

And rugs..... we lay rugs down on our varnished floors during winter time, and they all go back in the roof during hot summers.
 

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... the things I would want to do with a half-cellar.... :)
Oooh, steady! ;)

It's the width of the hall above. There's an outside coal-hole, and the 'cellar' runs back from that, and then the cellar stairs come up under the staircase to the 1st floor.

The coal-person used to deliver, but then they stopped. The habit of dumping the sack of coal on the ground by the hole meant the lip of the coal-hole collapsed! Grrr! We've still got open fireplaces.

So we could make the cellar a utility space. Or, as a neighbour has done, dig out under the front room, tank it, etc. etc.

Sadly, I do not possess the home improv gene. We haven't finished the bathroom (25+ years later)

2nd glazing seems interesting, tho
 

badger

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Oooh, steady! ;)

It's the width of the hall above. There's an outside coal-hole, and the 'cellar' runs back from that, and then the cellar stairs come up under the staircase to the 1st floor.

The coal-person used to deliver, but then they stopped. The habit of dumping the sack of coal on the ground by the hole meant the lip of the coal-hole collapsed! Grrr! We've still got open fireplaces.

So we could make the cellar a utility space. Or, as a neighbour has done, dig out under the front room, tank it, etc. etc.

Sadly, I do not possess the home improv gene. We haven't finished the bathroom (25+ years later)

2nd glazing seems interesting, tho
OK....... I get the idea now. I am guessing that your hall is up to 5' wide, possibly? In which case that fairly long cellar would make a brilliant DIY area with long work/craft bench/table on one side, shelves above with storage below, and a 3 foot walkway all the way along. If I have guessed the width well then that's a valuable space.

I've photographed the 2nd glazing packet which I bought from B&Q for about £9. The Homebase product does seem better at £12. So easy to apply, and not too much trouble to take down in spring.
P1020903.JPG
 

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Trainset, mate ... definitely a model railway.
 

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Our little home is a third of the area of yours but being in the UK I expect that our heating costs are significantly higher per SF than yours. On the other hand smaller rooms heat more quickly and cheaply.
The place we had before this one was only about 600 sf. Oddly it cost a little more to heat that house than it does the tri-level we live in now. It also used oil heat, but had very high ceilings and a less efficient furnace.
I've wondered about using EV batteries for domestic use in power cuts......
The lights in our mandir are powered by a single 5500mAh camcorder battery. Holds a charge for 12 hours and can be recharged from the DC outlet in the car.
 

Tone Bristow-Stagg

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Two days before November and its 21*C in our unheated home and 15*C in the garden, the longest 'Indian' summer I can ever remember. The trouble is that nobody really seems to know what will happen or when; we could be locked in to a serious freeze very quickly, or be gardening in shirt-sleeves like I was yesterday.

So I have been preparing for the worst winter possible and that's the only way to react, what with huge power costs and the probability of power cuts if any freeze should come. Two months ago I started to record our daily expenditure on electricity and the average cost-per-day was £4 until the price increase in October when the the bill increased to £6 per day. This has held steady right up to today, and some of the £2 rise in daily costs must be attributed to my EV which I have started to use more often.

We've reduced the size of our water hot-tank, reduced its working temperature and use a fast-boil kettle to raise water temperature for our baths. We've increased home insulation in our roof void and fitted secondary glazing to our (already) double glazed windows. Warmer clothing and chair-blankets are ready. Because I have Reynards condition (coldfingers even in August!) I have modern e-hand warmers because that's all I need on a cold morning.

We purchased a remote controlled mains plug system so that we can switch off every stand-by system in the home by pressing one transmit-button, and the tv signal booster, media-system, tv, humax, dvd player and recharging systems all shut down with a single signal. We now have two deep-cycle batteries with a 3kw inverter to power anything that we might need in any power cut, with a new charger and a solar charger for emergency charging.

My wife suffers from hot flushes all the time and even in winter she likes her office to be air conditioned so she's ok in cold rooms. Our little hounds are long haired and look like little bears on a cold morning, so they're ok.

So........ I now wonder what else we can do...... I'm not panicking because this kind of project is fun for me. But I would love to know about any steps that you are taking to reduce power bills, stay warm and cope with any power cuts. :)
Your big freeze is our big heat. We are suffering 42 deg days and now rarely gets under 30 at night. So Air conditioning is our friend.

We have a 5.5kw solar system, but it is backed up by Mains, no Batteries for night use. Still very expensive for batteries, out of my reach so far.

I love the cold. ;) :D😃 so go figure! Must admit though, never been in a full on snow winter!

Regards Tony
 

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The January before covid kicked in, I was on an island off the west coast of Scotland. I was sitting in the living room one day with a blazing log fire when I noticed there was steam on my breath. It makes you appreciate the comforts of modern living.
 

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The place we had before this one was only about 600 sf. Oddly it cost a little more to heat that house than it does the tri-level we live in now. It also used oil heat, but had very high ceilings and a less efficient furnace.
Ah.... tall ceilings do make cold rooms. I purchased two sets of long-johns this autumn; I tried one on and presented myself to the Missus who nearly fell over laughing. Wives can be.....so unkind! :D
The lights in our mandir are powered by a single 5500mAh camcorder battery. Holds a charge for 12 hours and can be recharged from the DC outlet in the car.
Excellent! Isn't it amazing, what can be achieved with a little imagination.
 

badger

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Your big freeze is our big heat. We are suffering 42 deg days and now rarely gets under 30 at night. So Air conditioning is our friend.

We have a 5.5kw solar system, but it is backed up by Mains, no Batteries for night use. Still very expensive for batteries, out of my reach so far.

I love the cold. ;) :D😃 so go figure! Must admit though, never been in a full on snow winter!

Regards Tony
Air-con systems can drain a 40amp 60v battery in a very short time, and such extreme drainage isn't good for them. My neighbour has a full solar system, about 20 3'x6' roof panels with two 60volt 40am batteries and a massive regulator system, and the installation team advised her that in a power-cut any hot showers, electric fires and/or air-con use really drains the batteries fiercely.

The heat....... We had one afternoon when the temperature reached about 40C, so I though it would be nice to go out on my EV Vespa for a cooling ride. Not to be; the air was so hot that there was no cooling effect at all. I hate heat like that. But folks who come from hot countries can suffer very badly on our winter days. I used to hold courses which attracted a lot of Nigerian trainees and they suffered badly even on autumn days.
 

badger

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The January before covid kicked in, I was on an island off the west coast of Scotland. I was sitting in the living room one day with a blazing log fire when I noticed there was steam on my breath. It makes you appreciate the comforts of modern living.
West Coast of Scotland in January makes me feel cold, just thinking about it!
 
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