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Ways to reduce your electrical bill - Grow and live smarter

Icemud

Member of the Month: July 2012, July 2014 - Nug of the Month: July 2012
Hello Everyone. As most of you know growing indoors is an expensive hobby/necessity and one of the most expensive components of an indoor grow is electricity. I wanted to start a thread and share all the ways I have saved electricity and reduced the costs of my grow as well as my total household/apartment electrical usage.

I will be approaching this from the aspect of being a tenant in an apartment and not in control of things such as building structure, solar or anything that wouldn't be able to modify or change structurally but feel free to also add in any suggestions for homeowners as well. I believe the smarter we grow, the better we all will be whether you look at it financially, or overall as reducing our carbon footprint.

What inspired this thread: Well, needless to say, my high electrical bills. Here in California we are set up on a tier system and the more Kilowatt hours you use, you move up in tiers and each tier gets more expensive. (I'm on tier 5 paying over $0.34 cents per KWHr and my bills aren't cheap) The more changes to my apartment, grow, and lifestyle I have made, the more I have seen reduction in costs.


How to convert your electrical device wattage to cost...

To figure out how much a particular device is costing you, use this simple formula and you will be able to convert usage into dollars. By purchasing a Kill-a-watt device or similar, it is easy to know the exact draw of your appliances and convert it as well.

Lets use my 400w Ceramic metal halide light as an example. My ballast runs at 440w, 12 hours a day, 30 days a month. How much does this cost me monthly to run....

Take the total wattage 440w and convert it to kilowatts: 1000\440 or 440x.001 = .440 KW

Now take your Kilowatt amount and multiply it by how many hours you use it...

.440 KW x 12 hours =5.28 KWHr or Kilowatt Hours per day my light uses.

Now this light runs 5.28 KWHr for 30 days a month...

5.28 KWHr x 30 = 158.4 KWHr per month my light uses

Now take this number 158.4 KWHr and look at your electric bill, find out what your electric company charges you per KWHr. I pay roughly $0.34 per KWHr on average. So

158.4 x $0.34 = $53.85 this light costs me to run per month...



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How do I figure out how much electricity my device/light/fan uses
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1. Purchase a kill-a-watt meter, they sell for about $20 online. What it is is a digital meter that plugs into the wall and you can plug any 3 prong electrical device into it and find out many things such as how much watts, amps, volts, KWHr, and more that a particular device is using. I purchased one of these devices today and it really opened my eyes to how much actual power simple things draw. Did you know a regular cheap $15 box fan pulls 55w on low and abou 90w on high???!! I have 2 running on medium 24/7 to offer air exchange in my apartment... (right there is almost 26$ per month I had no clue I was using)

2. If you don't have a Kill-a-watt meter, read the product label, specs sheet or look at the manufacturer's website and find out what wattage your device draws. Then you can use the formula listed above to figure out how much each electrical device is costing you to run.

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Ways to reduce electricity with your grow
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1. Run the Gas Lamp Routine in Veg. When I was new to growing, most everything I read said to use either 18/6 or 24/0 lighting and so that is what I did. It wasn't until about a year later here on 420magazine that I found out about the Gas Lamp Routine, tried it, and never have looked back.. What is it you may ask? Instead of Vegging with 18 or 24 hours of light, you can get virtually the same growth (VEG) out of a plant using only 13 hours of electricity.

How do you do it??? You set your veg lighting schedule to this (digital timers are very helpful for this schedule)
Lights on 12 hours, Lights off 5.5 hours, Lights on 1 hour, Lights off 5.5 hours (repeat)


Why does this work??? copied from my 3rd journal

Cannabis is a SDP or short day plant. With short day plants, the flowering is not triggered by the amount of light, but by the amount of un-interrupted dark. With a short day plant, 12 hours or more of complete darkness is needed to cause flowering hormones to form. By breaking this cycle up, you inhibit these hormones from causing the plant to stay in veg... So as you can see, the amount of light over 12 hours really doesn't matter much, its the dark that is what control's flowering...

It breaks down into photo chrome PR (red) and photo chrome Pfr (far red). In the short day plants red light, 660nm begins the synthesis of PR and red light converts this to PFR. Now this conversion of PR to PFR in light is a very fast process but at night, the process reverses and is slow, changing the PFR back to PR... Unless there is more PR than PFR, the plant will remain in veg..

Now by interrupting the dark cycle with 1 hr of light, the PR is converted back quickly to PFR, so the plant stays in veg, because there again is more of an abundance of PFR than PR...typically this process as we know it for short day plants takes around 12+ hours of darkness to achieve a full reversion. So by breaking the cycle up, the plant will not flower.


2. If you have a extraction fan in your grow area like I do, purchase a speed controller (they run about $30). I have a 440CFM 6" fan that pulls 111w when on full but do I really need it running on full??? Not in my grow With the speed controller I can dial the speed of the fan down to a slow/medium which is perfect for my grow area which still keeps the temps and humidity right, but also brings the power draw down to around 45w. When this is running constantly 24/7 by setting it on low/medium it saves me around $16 a month. (pays for itself in 2 months)



3. Purchase digital/electronic dimmable ballasts. If you are vegging and flowering in the same tent, there are many parts of the grow that do not need your HID lights on full blast. Early clone/veg, and most of veg, less light is really needed to make your plants grow so by purchasing a dimmable ballast, you can reduce the wattage your light and ballast are drawing when the extra "oomph" is not needed.

Another note on digital ballasts: now this may not be true for all ballasts, but my old magnetic style 400w ballast runs around 439w after the bulb has fully fired up vs my digital ballast running at 400w which only pulls 419w. (not a major difference being only 20 watts, but if you run more than one ballast, the savings becomes much greater)



4. Go LED or Induction. Now I am not going to elaborate on this one because there are many different feelings when it comes to lighting and I don't want to start this into a LED vs HID debate so please don't comment on this one. Do LED's grow better than HID...some say yes, some say no, but this topic is about electrical usage and reduction, and with that being the topic, do they reduce electrical usage when compared to HID..YES.


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Non growing related ways to reduce your household electrical usage. (lifestyle changes)
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1. Be conscious about what is on and using electricity. I learned this one at a young age with my mother always telling me... "turn off the lights when you walk out of the room" Its pretty simple of a concept but so easy to forget when you don't make the conscious effort to remember. Just remember, if your not in the room, turn it off.

I used to be in the habit of leaving a tv on while doing chores and things around the house, but not really watching it. I never new that my 42" LCD tv runs about 175w-200w, when you add in the PS3 running at (180w-330w depending on model) and my surround system probably pulling another 200w, I was just wasting away 500+ watts just to have background noise)



2. Check your computer settings and make sure that your computer is set to power saving, or adjust the settings manually. Some of us leave our computers on all day and all night which is an easy way to waste electricity, especially when they are not being used. One easy way to help reduce your electrical usage is to make sure you have your monitor power off when not being used. This can be set in time intervals and I usually leave mine at 2 hours. I use a 32" monitor for my computer which runs at 145w. I don't have to go into detail on how by turning off my monitor, I am saving a huge amount of money.


3. Contact your electrical company and see if there are any rebate programs or discounts. I know that here in Southern California there are ways to earn money back by reducing your electrical usage during peak hours under certain programs you can register for. There are also discounts available for those that are financially hurt or just don't earn enough at work. When I was unemployed in the past I took advantage of one of the local programs and saved about 30% off my bill just by applying.



4. Don't sleep with your TV and lights on. As mentioned above, TV's run with a lot of Wattage and whats the point of spending money when you sleep??? Use a sleep timer setting if it helps you fall asleep or just turn it off and gain the extra shuteye by not staying awake due to visual stimulation.



5. Set household fans on timers. I know until I bought the kill-a-watt meter I never thought a simple box fan was costing me a lot of money. As mentioned previously, I run 2 box fans in my windows to help air circulation in my apartment as well as keep the air fresh. I didn't know until I plug in my kill-a-watt meter that running these 2 fans 24/7 was costing me nearly $26 a month!! Fans don't need to be constantly running, set them on 15 minute to 1/2 hour intervals.



6. Purchase CFL or LED household bulbs and replace all of your old "edison" style/incandescent bulbs in your house or apartment. A 26w CFL bulb will put out just about as much light as a 60w incandescent bulb and you would be saving about 34w per bulb you replace...This includes bathroom lights, kitchen lights, even outdoor lights if you pay for them. I know this one is kind of a no brainer, but still a worthy mention. LED technology now has emerged on a large scale for household lighting and even though these bulbs are much more expensive than even CFL bulbs, they also run on even less wattage than CFL bulbs.

7. (Applies if you have a gas range stove/oven)
Cook on your stove instead of using microwaves and foreman grills, rice cookers and every electronic kitchen gadget known to mankind. Pretty much explains itself, by cooking on a gas stove instead of firing up the foreman grill, you are cutting down on your electric bills.


There are many many more ways that one can save electricity and I would love to make this a great thread with all of your input !!! Lets all grow smarter and reduce our carbon footprint, keep our money in our pocketbooks and not have semi-heart attacks each time an electric bill comes in the mail. I would love to hear all of your ideas!!!
 

Icemud

Member of the Month: July 2012, July 2014 - Nug of the Month: July 2012
Re: Ways to reduce your electrical bill.... Grow and live smarter.

Mods, I didn't know where to post this so if there is a better place, please feel free to move it :)
 

Icemud

Member of the Month: July 2012, July 2014 - Nug of the Month: July 2012
Re: Ways to reduce your electrical bill.... Grow and live smarter.

I made a quick video highlighting some of the above mentioned ideas and the used of the kill-a-watt meter. Check it out!

 

Cannafan

Member of the Month: Jan 2014, May 2016, Feb 2017
Re: Ways to reduce your electrical bill.... Grow and live smarter.

Great Information Icemud!
At the beginning of my grow I did a walk through on electric consumption and posted what I did. I'll copy here for those who are interested too. :)
I decided to do some maintenance with my electric consumption to prepare for the spike in the bill. It is absolutely amazing when you start going through your home/property how many things are plugged into your power that you never gave a second thought.
Here's the steps I took:

Removed the grids from the bottom of the refrigerator and the extra freezer and vacuumed up all the dirt and dust from the coils. I have a cat. Holy smokes was there some cat hair around there! This will make my fridge and freezer not have to work so hard now.

I replaced both furnace filters and vacuumed in and around the furnace to remove dust/hair

I turned the freezer down a few degrees. I found that I don't really need things frozen to the point of bricks. LOL

I unplugged a compact refrigerator that was used for storing farm eggs and other extra things. I found plenty of room in my regular refrigerator to store the stuff and was able to unplug the compact one.

I turned my water heater down to about 120 degrees. It was up much higher than that!

Throughout the house I went through and turned off any unused power strips, mostly electronics things like receivers and computers, I also unplugged small appliances that are not used daily.

In the garage and barn I unplugged anything that was not being used daily. I had 4 cordless drill chargers plugged in and charging batteries! I only use one battery at a time. LOL

I had 3 cordless phone units plugged, I only use one phone at a time...and It's usually my cell phone. I eliminated two of them.

I reduced the amount of time that the underground sprinklers are on.

I replaced all 60w bulbs in the house to 13w CFL's (that will save a bunch!)

I will continue to look at things and unplug or adjust as necessary. I believe even the smallest thing, like a dvd player/blu-ray player, should be completely unplugged when not in use or the power strip turned off. Just because the item is turned off does not mean it isn't still drawing power. If you walk through your house at night with the lights off, but can still make your way around because of all the LED lights on your electronics shining a light for you like a christmas tree...well it's wasted energy.

Happy growing!
 

VictorVonDoom

New Member
Re: Ways to reduce your electrical bill.... Grow and live smarter.

Spot on

I'm currently running 18 / 6 and want to put into action this gas lamp theory.

So, when do you think would be best for me to start them on this new cycle?
Would i set it so that tonight i would get it to sleep for 5 hours, or start it in the morning on 12 hours of light?

Or would I have to wait till my next grow for that shedual?
 

Icemud

Member of the Month: July 2012, July 2014 - Nug of the Month: July 2012
Re: Ways to reduce your electrical bill.... Grow and live smarter.

Spot on

I'm currently running 18 / 6 and want to put into action this gas lamp theory.

So, when do you think would be best for me to start them on this new cycle?
Would i set it so that tonight i would get it to sleep for 5 hours, or start it in the morning on 12 hours of light?

Or would I have to wait till my next grow for that shedual?

As far as I know you can switch over to Gas Lamp Routine anytime in veg. If you already are far on your veg and near flowering I would probably just wait until next grow/veg to switch over to Gas Lamp Routine. I've cloned under it, I've vegged under it and I have switched from 18/6 to GLR around week 4 veg with success.
 

Icemud

Member of the Month: July 2012, July 2014 - Nug of the Month: July 2012
Re: Ways to reduce your electrical bill.... Grow and live smarter.

Great Information Icemud!
At the beginning of my grow I did a walk through on electric consumption and posted what I did. I'll copy here for those who are interested too. :)
I decided to do some maintenance with my electric consumption to prepare for the spike in the bill. It is absolutely amazing when you start going through your home/property how many things are plugged into your power that you never gave a second thought.
Here's the steps I took:

Removed the grids from the bottom of the refrigerator and the extra freezer and vacuumed up all the dirt and dust from the coils. I have a cat. Holy smokes was there some cat hair around there! This will make my fridge and freezer not have to work so hard now.

I replaced both furnace filters and vacuumed in and around the furnace to remove dust/hair

I turned the freezer down a few degrees. I found that I don't really need things frozen to the point of bricks. LOL

I unplugged a compact refrigerator that was used for storing farm eggs and other extra things. I found plenty of room in my regular refrigerator to store the stuff and was able to unplug the compact one.

I turned my water heater down to about 120 degrees. It was up much higher than that!

Throughout the house I went through and turned off any unused power strips, mostly electronics things like receivers and computers, I also unplugged small appliances that are not used daily.

In the garage and barn I unplugged anything that was not being used daily. I had 4 cordless drill chargers plugged in and charging batteries! I only use one battery at a time. LOL

I had 3 cordless phone units plugged, I only use one phone at a time...and It's usually my cell phone. I eliminated two of them.

I reduced the amount of time that the underground sprinklers are on.

I replaced all 60w bulbs in the house to 13w CFL's (that will save a bunch!)

I will continue to look at things and unplug or adjust as necessary. I believe even the smallest thing, like a dvd player/blu-ray player, should be completely unplugged when not in use or the power strip turned off. Just because the item is turned off does not mean it isn't still drawing power. If you walk through your house at night with the lights off, but can still make your way around because of all the LED lights on your electronics shining a light for you like a christmas tree...well it's wasted energy.

Happy growing!
Great writeup and excellent addition to the thread topic Cannafan!!!! I too found it amazing when I actually became "concious" of what was running what I found plugged in and wasting electricity. Things I kind of just forgot about or never considered using electricity are now unplugged and turned off, or set on timers. I am expecting this next months bill to be very much lower than previous ones.

Lets keep the ideas coming everyone!!
 

Cannafan

Member of the Month: Jan 2014, May 2016, Feb 2017
Re: Ways to reduce your electrical bill.... Grow and live smarter.

Thanks Icemud! I literally cut my electric bill more than half after I did all of the things I mentioned. :) I was watching my meter and recording daily usage before/after the walk through. The new smart meters are great for this, it's a digital read out now. :)
I will be grabbing up a kill-a-watt meter very soon, so thanks for that idea!
:thumb:
 

Icemud

Member of the Month: July 2012, July 2014 - Nug of the Month: July 2012
Re: Ways to reduce your electrical bill.... Grow and live smarter.

Whats the track at the end of this vid?

Real nice :thumb:
The track/instrumental at the end is an old JDilla beat that I had in my old recording files from my old studio.
 

TanR

New Member
Great thread Icemud! Good ideas for all of us from all that have contributed.

I was just marveling the other day that even though I think I'm doing to good job of turning off lights and electronic equipment, my electricity usage seems to continually creep upwards. Our electric bill comes with information on our usage the same month one year ago, and I'm consistently higher in the current month.

I have to add that I'm blown away by your electric cost per KWH. I just looked at our electric bill to be sure and my cost is just a hair over 5 cents per KWH. After you figure in all the taxes and bs administrative add ons, our cost is still only 5.9 cents/KWH. My bill would be over $500. this month at your rates instead of the $80.00 it actually is at my rates.

I would still like to reduce our energy consumption though. I'll look into getting a kill-a-watt meter in the immediate future as I'm sure I can find a ton of waste!
 

cherryhaze

New Member
The 13 hr veg cycle is very interesting and I will try that next time, I think it will make a considerable difference. I pretty much do the rest, it's expensive here and despite the grow tent, try and be as green as possible. Thanks for this, we are dreading the first bill!
 

mussh

New Member
what a fantastic post. reps to you, sir.
I have just switched my veg closet to your GLR.

thank you thank you thank you.

- musshy
 

PatBezz

New Member
Great post contributors power to ya ('scus the pun). I think electrical equiptment on standby mode is a real big contributor over time which many don't consider. I'll be looking at ways to reduce myself especially this GLM. Cheers Pat.
 

GeorgeFoster

New Member
Will put a few of these ideas into use...power co has sent usage info last 2 bills comparing me to my neighbors....I'm using 75% more than my neighbors.

We average use about $300 every 2 months 12 months a yr, but I can apply a few of the ideas and get it lower for sure.

good write up and suggestions, thanks
 

FrankFoster

New Member
If you own a lot of lights and gear, you can setup lighting that is lower intensity for 6-8 hours of the 12 on part of the flowering cycle.

Say you have 6 plants under a 6 bulb t-5 on 12/12. You can use the HPS 400W like this.

T-5 on for 4.5 hours... at hour 4 the HPS comes on for 3.5 then the T-5 comes back on at the seventh hour until it all goes dark.
you run the T-5 9.5 hours not 12 and you get really intense light for the peak mid-range of the grow day. HPS is on for 3.5 hours per day only.

Running the HPS 400W for 3.5 hours a day saves huge...

There was no difference in this bud compared to the bud done exclusively on the HPS 400 w and the cost was equal to saving 5.5 hours per day on electricity from the HPS.

I had one friend that had a low light grow consisting of 4 CFL lights. Every day for 2.5 hours in the middle of the day cycle of 12 his 1000W HPS popped on. This stuff took 15 days extra but was a savings or 3/4 of his costs in electricity from a previous grow. The reason... His CFL's maintained the hormone dark to light shifts and the plants were able to metabolize well with only 2.5 hours of bright light every day. The light to dark pattern was preserved well, even though the intensity was only good for a few hours of the day.... I presumed he would have some monkey bud- shlarf but the buds packed tight and he was stoked on the savings,especially at $800/mo.
 

PatBezz

New Member
If you own a lot of lights and gear, you can setup lighting that is lower intensity for 6-8 hours of the 12 on part of the flowering cycle.

Say you have 6 plants under a 6 bulb t-5 on 12/12. You can use the HPS 400W like this.

T-5 on for 4.5 hours... at hour 4 the HPS comes on for 3.5 then the T-5 comes back on at the seventh hour until it all goes dark.
you run the T-5 9.5 hours not 12 and you get really intense light for the peak mid-range of the grow day. HPS is on for 3.5 hours per day only.

Running the HPS 400W for 3.5 hours a day saves huge...

There was no difference in this bud compared to the bud done exclusively on the HPS 400 w and the cost was equal to saving 5.5 hours per day on electricity from the HPS.

I had one friend that had a low light grow consisting of 4 CFL lights. Every day for 2.5 hours in the middle of the day cycle of 12 his 1000W HPS popped on. This stuff took 15 days extra but was a savings or 3/4 of his costs in electricity from a previous grow. The reason... His CFL's maintained the hormone dark to light shifts and the plants were able to metabolize well with only 2.5 hours of bright light every day. The light to dark pattern was preserved well, even though the intensity was only good for a few hours of the day.... I presumed he would have some monkey bud- shlarf but the buds packed tight and he was stoked on the savings,especially at $800/mo.
This sounds like a great idea but how do you position the lights for max benefit ? Ideally you'd want the T-5's to be as close as practicable to the tops of the plants but when the HPS comes in where is it going to be ? The only way I can see this being applied is if the T-5's are used as side lighting and the HPS overhead. Can you see the dilemma ? I would like to do a similar thing to chill out the partner. I have a 400w HPS on a light rail moving over about a 5 ft area with 11 plants below. I eventually will reduce the amount in there to say 6 and move the others out to an outdoor plot to grow out and flower in Autumn. I'm considering adding two 130w CFL for extra light for flowering later. I have another 400wt HPS and a 600w HPS and toyed with the idea of running both 400's together or just the 600 but temp. issues are a problem even with my good exhaust. I'm reaching up 34 C on some hot days even though I run my day cycle 6pm to 10 am to avoid the hottest part of the day so extra HPS will max out the temp too much. The room measures 2m x 1.2m x 2.4m ceiling height and my intake comes from within the house where day temps get up to 30 C in summer. Any suggestions anyone ? Cheers Pat.
 
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