Bob Green Innes,


Hamiltonian by birth & occupation!  

.... seeking to restore values, traditions, institutions, laws and protections Canadians once enjoyed
      .....lost by apathy
          ..... but stolen nonetheless

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FCP, CAP, Election 2011

Bank of Canada (BOC)

Money - create, inflate, deflate, banks


LRT 1ST, Latest

Stadium, Ti-Cats, Pan-Am

student debt, OSAP

Light bulbs, ban



Jump down to Water Heater control
Jump down to Burned fuse story - failing water heater disconnect box
Jump to Fridge control, a maybe
Jump to Furnaces, Air Conditioners a cycle time issue
Jump to CFL's vs Incandescents a wrongheaded approach

Blog #5, Saving money with your Smart Meter

In part one of this series, I discussed how the smart meter discouraged my efforts to capture solar energy.

In a future part I will try to unravel my thoughts on the smart meter program.

Here I will blast the Ontario gummerment for it's proposed ban on incandescent bulbs and also try to outline some thoughts on saving money under the Smart Meter's time-of-use (TOU) strategy. The basic strategy is to shift consumption to the evening. As noted, I'm going to ignore the mid-peak rate since it makes my brain hurt and is not different enough from the peak to worry about (8.1 vs 9.9c) Brochures put out by the gummerment suggest such basic lifestyle changes as turning air conditioners down or off during the day, doing the laundry on weekends (no TOU), etc. Alright already, aren't these kinda obvious?

As noted in part 1, the heaviest use that can easily be subjected to control is our electric water heater. It is a relatively simple matter to insert a timer into the wire somewhere between the electrical panel and the heater as long as there is a little slack in the line. Most homeowners will have to purchase and install a properly sized timer. Since the weekend rates are constant at the night rate, one would optimally use a 7 day timer, but we will likely stick with a spare 24 hour timer. Phone your electrician or electrical supply outlet. Last I checked, these were running around 1-2 hundred dollars, plus or minus. In our case, to eliminate constant burning out of fuses in the cutoff switch we had already reduced the water heater to run on only one (of two) element, and using only 120volts instead of the normal 240v. There is a bit of a story to this, which I'll tack on at the end. This strategy cuts power consumption by a factor of 8. Of course recovery is much slower but is still adequate - for us anyway. (Do not confuse power (KW) with energy consumption (KWH) which is governed by your tap, not the heater.

The next item to think about is the fridge, which is one of the larger users of energy most houses. One can't just turn off the fridge all day without worrying about food thawing out or going bad, especially in the summer, especially if the Aircon is turned off by the utility or a power outage. And one can't turn off the fridge at all if one requires the internal light to see what is in the fridge! What to do? A single person, working long hours could consider turning off the fridge during the latter part of the day, using a simple timer. The idea is to shift a few hours of energy demand to the evening rate. Our utility charges less after 7pm so could the fridge be turned off at 5pm? My thinking is that singles are more likely to be able to get away with such a strategy than a family, especially one with kids. Families would have to get quite fancy with home control systems running on a PC to find some savings so let's not go there but we can proceed at least as a thought experiment.

First a caution: REFREEZING THAWED FOOD CAN BE HAZARDOUS. YOU MUST NOT REFREEZE THAWED FOOD! To ensure this vital rule is maintained, you must proceed cautiously in this venture. Yes you want to save a little but you don't want to kill yourself! You must therefore keep in mind that your strategy must be designed to work on the hottest day of the year and under the worst condition such as doors being open more than usual. Therefore the timer should be set to turn off the fridge only for an hour or two for a few weeks while you check your food to see that it is not adversely affected. Gradually you can increase the time as you gain experience and confidence - BUT DECREASE OFF TIME IN SUMMER, AND START RECHECKING FOOD DURING HEAT WAVES. You must of course, keep the various household users in mind. If someone is having a party or some other special occasion, use the timer override function to keep the fridge running normally.

CAUTION 2. Please be aware that restarting your fridge just after it has stopped may ruin the fridges compressor, which has to overcome a high backpressure that exists during operation. You must wait for 5 minutes or so as per manufacturer instructions.

The same logic goes for your furnace and the air conditioner. Many utilities have been handing out programmable thermostats which can make setting up your strategy easier. But beware that most thermostats are preset for short cycle times (good comfort but lousy efficiency and hard on furnaces which must start and stop all the time). You want to set the cycle time for the longest cycle you are comfortable with. The manual in our case allowed for 2 or 4 starts per hour. We were ok with 2 starts per hour. If you have an old mercury thermostat, you can usually change the cycle time by moving a small arm inside the cover to a new setting on the dial. You should see 'longer' / 'shorter' printed at one end or other of the small circular plate in front of the wound bimetal 'spring'.

Another issue is lights. Most folks wanting to save energy have switched to the compact fluorescents (CFLs), some entirely. I'd like to point out that these do not always save as much energy as advertised. The reason is that they should not be switched off and on frequently, or the light will burn out far sooner than the advertised life of 10,000 hours or so. In fact, if we don't tape the switch for the bathroom light 'ON' during a party or kid's sleepover, the light will probably be dead in the morning. These bulbs require extra energy and more hazardous materials to make, thus they cost more, so being conscientious about turning unused lights off can defeat the whole purpose. The same happens for incandescent bulbs but they are much cheaper and require less energy to manufacture.

[UPDATE: Excellent confirmatory comment by seancb on Jason Allen's helpful RTH article about electricity rates. Here is another source that confirms the high manufacture energy and the negative effect on lifespan of frequent switching. He says (p8) that industry calculations show that if average run time drops below 45 minutes, CFLs are more costly than incandescents. Not something we are told in the sales pitch!]

Lets assume CFLs save 75% over incandescents (ie 60 watts replaced by 15watt bulb). Instead of being diligent about turning off lights when leaving the room, we usually leave lights burning all evening long in the upstairs rooms. Assuming we visit the rooms 4 times for 5 minutes a visit, we are burning the light for say 4 to 6 hours instead of 20 minutes. Therefore the energy saving is likely to be negative. Consumers may prefer CFLs for non conservation reasons - added convenience, kids not wanting to enter dark rooms, and not having to hassle forgetful kids for not turning off lights. My purpose is to show that all the hype in getting folks to adopt CFLs may have just been a ruse by manufacturers to sell a lot of expensive lights. Maybe good habits like turning off lights when we leave the room is just good for us anyway.

Green groups are trying to force governments to outlaw incandescent bulbs. I hope you will raise your voice in protest at the prospect. Your rights are being trammelled for much less benefit than advertised. Most people, when they make their decisions, will do the right thing for each particular bulb. There is no way to outlaw stupidity and removing a sensible low cost bulb from the market is not the right answer. We use incandescents in the basement where our infrequent visits are brief and the risk of releasing noxious gas from a broken bulb far outweighs any minimal savings that could be gained. In our laundry room, we put an incandescent bulb that turns itself off after 20 minutes. It has lasted a long time owing to a slow start feature but I haven't seen anyone selling them for many years.

Here is a link that suggests some sanity is returning to political heads, at least south of the border.



Stay tuned.

B Green Innes

PS. I recently heard that the proposed ban was still on so in February, when I noticed Canadian Tire had their cheap 60w bulbs on sale, I bought what I hope to be a lifetime supply - about 100 packs. The cashiers were not amused - it was near closing time. I'm now debating whether or not that quantity will suffice. Ya never know. I do wonder if the ban will be scrapped as folks wake up to the McGuilty stupidity. Didn't the gummerment just back off another dumb idea - bandwidth caps??

Smart Meter Manufacturer Taps Into Ontario Market Sun May 01 2011 21:35:44 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time). This story caught my eye after I'd been re-sensitised during my representing Canadian Action Party about how Canada is being left behind by globalisation. The article states: -

Spokane, Washington-based Itron Inc. dominates the automated meter reading market -- so called “smart meters” that eliminate the need for manual recording and allow for two-way communication between utilities and customers, which can help conserve electricity, gas and water.... Itron has captured about 80% of the “smart meter” market

.... that hasn’t stopped a handful of smaller Canadian companies from carving out their own part of the market, including Vancouver-based Tantalus Systems Corporation, which has obtained financing from a $550-million green technologies venture capital fund called Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).

The water heater fuse story - in case it helps folks experiencing the same problem. My sister's water heater was experiencing a problem - one fuse kept burning out and eventually the whole fuse assembly had to be replaced - they bought a new disconnect/ fuse unit. Same thing happened within a few days. They bribed yours truly with a sandwich so I went over to have a look. I was anxious to see what this mystery was all about as something similar happened to me. We discussed various possibilities like elements scaling up, element resistance changing with age but in the end, I decided to check the wires back to source and discovered a burned wire/terminal where the hot wire was attached directly to the main disconnect. This seems to be quite a common arrangement. Evidently, the sparking made for intermittent current which sent surges through the fuse assembly which caused it to overheat, losen and eventually fail. Quite dramatic looking with melted insulation, blackened terminals / wire, etc. It could have been a lot worse if the wire had made contact with the box. Having seen this twice now, I'll bet other folks are experiencing the same thing so - check where the hot wires are connected and make sure all lugs are tightened down! On second thought, this is a scary part of your electrical system so you should call an electrician. The incoming wire has the unfused power of Niagara behind it and 240 volts is much more dangerous than 120.

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Recent Blogs

Re - recent bid for trustee

Coming Up

    MyStoneyCreek asks pertinent questions - i'd better explain myself - if that is possible!

    Solar energy vs the last of the PIIGS vs local efforts

    Banking, money risks, a modest proposal

    Reflections on a Greek phrase

    Forcing my mind to grapple further with that pesky smart meter thing. I'd hate to be a party pooper when it comes to the good intent of the smart meter - BUT.........

    So much to mention - GMO foods, fluoridation, dogcast listening, Puppy - maybe I'll put up a sort of note space for miscellaneous

    Ongoing economic meltdown - two threads: Hamilton's unique problems and the more general economic melting down of the US. Four Horsemen.

    Global warming questions and myths. I'll borrow this for now.

    Eventually, thoughts on the deeper questions that vex our world.

Favs & Locals

Bob's BlogLog

    This website is finally getting to be something organized. Alas, just as it's getting into full swing, it's getting full! I'll be keeping this site alive for various purposes, but I'll be more or less migrating to my page at, probably with a trailer here.

    In case you had some difficulty with broken links, please be patient. I'm just changing files over to php so if something doesn't work, try changing the extension from .html to .php. PHP cuts the storage requirements and facilitates the updating of anciliary sections like this one. Master files are used that are pulled into every page (links, header, footer, favs, breviations, etc). For anyone interested, the clever command that is used for this is 'include', the syntax for which can be found on the net. Very cool, no?

    Most blogs are based on simple table layouts - two or three column using a markup language. The professional sites have sophisticated coding in many languages to provide many features such as automatic archiving, variable text size and the like. We shall see what the future brings but for now I'm just enjoying using HTML and a smidgeon of others such as PHP, javascript. CSS looked interesting too but with the above php setup, looks to be unneeded. Debugging is not my strong suit but this page is nothing like the old basic programs that once drove me nuts.
    Next: I'll also be starting to group blogs on the same page - why not - saves storage space too. New table for miscellaneous??? (For now, I'll just stick odd stuff below.) Eventually I may get code to improve the comment section but in the meantime, i found an online forum site which makes things easy and fast. First though is to bring some order to the numbering system which right now is conflicted between normal chronological postings, logical pointing system, and page groupings in reverse chronological.

    Also need to ensure font is not too small on newer hi res screens. Please use your browsers zoom feature as needed - or complain!

    As you can see, Netfirms is hosting this site. My frugal buddy Johnny suggested it as the most economical site for a modest blogger. The two domains and the two sites cost about a case of beer per year which i guess is justified. There is limited storage and limited bandwidth but that's ok for now. They offer pagemaking services but being a control freak, I prefer to stick to my own understandable system. Hope you enjoy.

Bob's 'Breviations

  • LRT - Light Rapid Transit
  • MSM - Main Stream Media
  • k, Mn, Bn, Tn - thousand, Million, Billion, Trillion Dollars
  • GMO - Genetically Modified Organism Foods
  • PIIGS - Portugal, Iceland, Ireland, (Italy?) Greece, Spain,
  • OSAP - Ontario Student Assistance Program.
  • RAP - Repayment Assistance Plan
  • CSLP - Cdn Student Loan Program
  • Cdn, US, Aus, GB, Fr, Ont, PQ - Places abbreviated
  • F - fluorine or, because I'm lazy, fluoride, fluoridated water

Pet Peeves

      * gummerment overspending
      * what we're doing to our political and educational systems -

      * banksterism.

      * political correctness (equity policies) along with

      * MSM - mainstream media, especially the Spectator, our local rag

      * human rights commissions and their guilty-until-proven-innocent destruction of our ancient rights. Soon to get worse.

      * Overmedication in our society - this link relates to kids ADD, ADHD

      * Rigid thinking, dismissiveness, judgementalism, The Spectator

      * legal liability issues - playgrounds, bake sales gone. This is stupid (corporatism).

      * senior (upper levels of ) gummerment funding - distorts and deflects responsibility

      * Public sector unions

      * credentialism

      * a little rant on mailboxes!

      * spelling in the English language. The real culprit is Johnson and his dictionary that picked words before they ripened!

      * apathetic people. Plato said 'Your silence gives your consent'

      * aphids, Torx screwdrivers, proprietary parts, the great Eyeglass ripoff

    * retired Professional Engineer, married, father of 2 including one still in the system.

    * pursuing many interests - partial list below

    * small-c conservative (but not a Harper PC - that's the party of big business!)

    * investigating causes of economic problems, finding troubling trends and possibilities

    * Former candidate, Hamilton East Stoney Creek, FCP, Public System Trustee, Ward 4

Links to other Interests.


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