(Energy Usage Comparison) question...gas...

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  #1  
Old 01-30-06, 10:06 PM
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Question question from gas dummy

I live in about a 5000 sq. ft house and my son lives in about a 2500. We heat 3 floors and keep it on about 64 to 66 and my son keeps his about 60. His gas bill was about $50 more than mine and he lives alone. If there was a leak would we definitely be able to smell it. We can't figure why his bill is always so much higher than our 3 people versus 1 who isnt there much and freezes to save money. Could there be another problem? His water heater is about on 120.
 
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Old 01-31-06, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by bballmom
I live in about a 5000 sq. ft house and my son lives in about a 2500. We heat 3 floors and keep it on about 64 to 66 and my son keeps his about 60. His gas bill was about $50 more than mine and he lives alone. If there was a leak would we definitely be able to smell it. We can't figure why his bill is always so much higher than our 3 people versus 1 who isnt there much and freezes to save money. Could there be another problem? His water heater is about on 120.

first off are you paying the same rate for your gas? Not just per therm but all the other garbage they throw on the bill. Divide your bottom line by your therms and then compare.
Second could be a million different things..your sons house have the proper insulation in the attic are all the air gaps closed? etc etc.
One other thing is...does your sons house use nat gas for cooking etc and just plain ole use more nat gas than you?

COuld be a million differnet things but thats a start anyhow...

good luck
 
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Old 01-31-06, 09:51 AM
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This is actually a common problem because of misconception. Especially when people go on vacation, lower their thermostat, only to come home and find their energy bills did not lower that much and in some cases are even higher.

Whille most of us understand heat loss, few people relate to heat gain during the heating season. There are several factors when it comes to our heating costs. An example of heat gain inside our home during the winter is friction. Merely walking across the floor causes friction. Another example of heat gain is appliance use. A light bulb that is on for several minutes gets very hot. TV's and other household appliances also give off heat when in use. So the amount of heat gain caused by friction and appliances use for a family of 3 is usually 3 times greater than a family of 1. This by itself does not explain the differences between your energy bills and your son's.

While we understand heating systems and its distribution, most of us overlook the medium in which heat is transferred from one object to another inside the home, which is air. Regardless of the type of heating system, forced hot air, steam or hot water, once the heat reaches the interior of the house, it transfers the heat to the air inside the house. For example, the hot water inside the baseboards actually heat the air that is contact with the baseboards. The natural bouyancy of warm air cause the air in contact with the baseboards to rise and this warm air gets distributed throughout the house transferring the heat it got from the baseboards to other objects inside the house. This is how the heat inside the water in the baseboards transfers heat to the couch in the middle of the room. Air is a good medium because it has a very low thermal mass. In other words, air absorbs and expels heat quickly. On the other hand wood coffee table in the middle of the room has a very high thermal mass compared to air. The wood will absorb and retain the heat far longer than the air inside the house. So there are two major factors here. The volume of air inside the house and the amount of thermal mass.

A family of 3 will usually have considerably more belongings than a family of 1. This is not exact but to illustrate the importance here is to take a 6 oz. glass of water filled to the brim. If you drop a marble into the glass, the amount of water that flows over the rim will be equal to the volume of the marble. If you drop enough marbles into the glass to equal 50% of the water inside the glass, when you removed the marbles, there would only be 3 oz. of water inisde the glass. If we apply this to a home, our belongings such as pictures, curtains, furnishings, appliances and even knick-knacks, all displace the amount of air we have in our homes. Because of the bouyancy of warm air, we have to virtually heat all the air in our homes to transfer heat from the air to the couch in the middle of the room. The displacement of air inside our homes reduces the amount of air inside them. This in turn reduces the time it takes to transfer the heat from the air to the couch. and the quicker it does that, the less it costs you to do it. What compounds this is that our belongings are far better in retaining heat than air. And this retention reduces our heat loss.

Yes it is true that we can neither create nor destroy energy, we can only transform it. So how does energy in the form of heat increase or decrease our heat loss based on the amount of belongings we have in our homes? The answer is thermal mass. For example, the couch in the middle of the room does not produce heat. The most it can do is retain heat or give it off if the ambient temperature of the air in the room is lower than the couch's temperature. The vast majority of heat loss occurs on your exterior walls and the ceiling below your attic. The couch in the middle of the room only contact with those portions of the house is through the air inside the house. However the ability of the couch to retain heat reduces the demand for heat. Or if you prefer, decreases the frequency the heat has to come on to maintain desired room temperature. Whenever you heat air it expands and when it cools it contracts. This results in air exchange.

I can go on and on with the possible causes for the discrepancy between your energy bills and your son's. For example the average person gives off 2 pounds of humidity a day and the role humidity plays concerning how much it costs to heat your home. However, based on the fairly vague description you gave, the aforementioned is my educated guess.
 
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