Equipped with this data, I can now see an opportunity to save more energy, and I am excited to have a direction. I have been looking at heat-pump water heaters, waste heat recovery from the HVAC condensers, and other technologies to reduce the water heating costs (did I mention that I have a teenager?). I would love to do solar thermal, but our house is surrounded by tall trees and the shading is troublesome.
I’m considering the possibility of shutting off one water heater (or putting it on a timer). We may do this and/or install a heat-pump water heater in the basement, which would basically take heat from the large sealed basement crawl space and as a bonus, de-humidify it (which would reduce the potential for mold). I think there is enough surface contact area with the ground that this will function like a ground source heat pump, because the cold-dry air will absorb heat from the ground and this heat will eventually flow into the water tank. If I do the heat-pump water heater, which costs about $1,000, I can get a rebate of $300 from the utility and a 30% tax credit because the heat pump will move more energy than it uses (just like your air conditioner heat pump). I estimate my savings at $30 per month, so with incentives, this project will pay back in a little over one year.
There are many possibilities, but none would be clear to me without the data. Additionally, the ability to quickly determine the results of our efforts would be impossible without it. My advice for you is to obtain data – you may be surprised where it takes you. In commercial buildings, the savings (and costs of not having the data) are much higher.
Data can be obtained via meters, loggers, and other devices. Become an energy detective and consider the possibilities. Let me know what you find: firstname.lastname@example.org.