Thursday, April 7, 2011

Grow Lights, Energy Usage, and Starting My Garden Transplants

This time of year opening my electric bill can be scary. It seems every few days I am plugging in another set of lights to expand my light set-up to keep all my plant babies happy.

Most of the time I am a very low electric energy user. Even buying an electric lawn mower last summer didn't seem to boost my usage any noticeable amount. Several years ago, my son and I just decided we were going to kill the "energy vampire". This was couple years before the term was coined. Whole zones of our house are on power strips. We unplug the microwave.

After my son and I went systematically through the house unplugging and changing the way we use energy. our electric bill decreased to 45% of what it was the month before.

The electric company has done multiple reads of my meter, and replaced the meter three times in last five years. They have even called me to have me read the number for them a couple times. They just don't get it. We just don't use that much of their product.

But it is not just our electricity usage. We recharge our batteries. We have a gas hot water heater. And I have my hot water heater turned down to about 90 to 100 degrees.

Yes. You read that right, about 90 degrees. We don't turn on the cold when we take showers. There are just the two of us. Why heat hot water we don't use?

When my electric company send out their tips for energy conservation, I check them out to see if I've missed something. Obviously, there are other people picking up on turning their hot water heaters down lower than 120 degrees. This month, a big warning not to turn your hot water heater below 120 degrees because of "bacteria".

Bacteria? Okay. If I lived in New York and was worried about bed bug infestations, I would not be turning down that hot water heater or using the warm/cool setting on my clothes washer. But bacteria? Obviously the people at my public utility are not on the same page as scientists, including scientists like the ones at NASA.

Thermophile bacteria actually like it hotter than the water in my hot water heater. They prefer water at 112 to 176 degrees Fahrenheit. Actually Penn State and researcher Christopher House want you to help with his study of bacteria in your hot water heater (which he says are harmless, by the way).

These hot water heater bacteria my electric company is attempting to "warn" me about are the same type as are found in hot springs. They like it hot (like 120 degrees or higher), not cool.

So is the electric company concerned about my health, or more likely, the health of their bottom line?

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