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DIY HVAC

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the PDQ dept.

Hardware 315

An anonymous reader writes "I found this very interesting project called DIY Zoning. It allows one to add air flow balancing, temperature control, zoning, home automation, and more to an existing or new HVAC system. After getting a $200 electric bill, this sounds like a good solution for those who are getting screwed with outrageously high electric bills due to their HVAC unit especially since organizations like TVA have raised the electric rates."

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(Godfather Voice) Don't forget about the family! (5, Informative)

(1337) God (653941) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425003)

DIY Zoning is just one in a family of projects.

Don't forget about Haywire [sourceforge.net] , Jukebox [sourceforge.net] , and ServoMaster [sourceforge.net] , all of which are hosted at SourceForge and directly tie-in to the temperature zoning system featured in this Slashdot posting.

[Oh, and FWIW, Professor Tkachenko's son is a cutie (an old college friend of mine knew him)!]

Re:(Godfather Voice) Don't forget about the family (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425184)

Kudos is deserved for a +5 first post.

Re:(Godfather Voice) Don't forget about the family (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425334)

Background: 28/M/Bi-Sexual; Owner of a Linux company; MBA Harvard 2002; B.S. Comp Sci Dartmouth 1999

shouldn't you be out burgling turds? Oh, wait, this is slashdoy. you fit right in.

post first (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425007)

What? (-1, Offtopic)

MrP- (45616) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425009)

Huh?

HVAC ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425011)

HVAC, I don't know. Is it good or is it whack?

What about water conservation?? (2, Funny)

troutfisher (686144) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425016)

Im just waiting for someone to recycle toilet water for showers. When is the madness going to stop.

Re:What about water conservation?? (5, Interesting)

dirkdidit (550955) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425040)

Would there be anything wrong with using your shower water as toilet water? I honestly can't see anything wrong with that and it'd certainly cut down on somebody's water bill from month to month.

Re:What about water conservation?? (-1, Redundant)

akeyes (720106) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425061)

Longer showers == more craps.

Re:What about water conservation?? (4, Interesting)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425102)

This is going to be the vaguest answer you ever got:

I saw a program on PBS or The Discovery Channel or HGTV or God knows what channel...

about a hotel in Arizona or Malaysia or Australia or god knows which country

which has a water recycling system installed. They have low flow toilets, and a filtration system, and the water is in a clear acryllic case. All the water for the all the systems is mostly recycled.

Re:What about water conservation?? (5, Interesting)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425138)

Or rain water. You could save rain water for several purposes, like toilet water and watering your lawn.

It's even mandatory these days to install a rain water reservoir for new houses (here at least).

Re:What about water conservation?? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425207)

There's a great deal that can be done to conserve water. Here's a few things:

  • Install stormwater tanks. Hook them up to your roof's stormwater system, with the excess (that the tanks can't store) going into the stormwater drains, as the whole lot used to do. Use this water to flush toilets, water gardens, and possibly wash clothes and shower in (depending on the quality of the rainwater you get).
  • Redirect water from your shower to gardens, toilets, etc. You may need to treat it to get rid of soap, shampoo, etc. residues.
  • Fix those leaking taps.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Install a water-saving shower head.
  • Stop hosing down the damn concrete driveway. Use a broom, or a blower if you're that damn lazy.
Here in Australia, stormwater tanks used to be illegal! That's changed, though, as the Powers That Be came to the realisation that our water resources are limited, they won't be expanding, and yet they have to support a growing population. The scary thing is, since my father installed stormwater tanks for our showers, toilets, and laundry, our water bills dropped by a third (or more).

As an aside, there's one place in Melbourne (Aus) that has no water bill. None. Zero. Zip. They were actually investigated pretty thoroughly when this happened, because authorities assumed they were stealing water from their neighbours. Not so, though; they were just very efficient with their water use and recycling, and were able to fill their needs from stormwater.

Re:What about water conservation?? (3, Funny)

FosterKanig (645454) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425249)

This is Slashdot. Most of your suggestions involve showers. And bathing.

There is no money to be saved, with those who don't bathe.

Re:What about water conservation?? (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425208)

I saw a thing a few years ago on a fix it show that had a fancy lid for a toilet that when you flushed it, first the water flowed through a fountain at the top before it went into the commode so that you could wash your hands without turning on the sink faucet.

Of course I've never seen one in person, so it obviously didn't catch on.

Re:What about water conservation?? (4, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425232)

Indeed, one of the problems we have, conservationally speaking, is that we use our drinking water for everything. There is no water shortage, overall. We have just as much water after you flush your toilet as before. It's just that that water is no longer suitable for drinking.

Would you buy bottled water to pour into your toilet? Probably not, and yet that is essentially what you're doing right now.

I like to use a good, old fashioned cistern, a big bucket to collect rain water, for many uses that don't involve ingestion. Why buy "bottled water" to spray across your lawn/plants? Hell, your plants even like it if it's a bit, ummmm, shitty.

You can learn a lot about water managment by reading books on sailing. When blue water cruising, management of drinking water while still getting other things done requiring the use of water can mean the difference between life and death, not merely a larger water bill. Salt, rain, grey and fresh drinking water all have their various ideal uses.

KFG

Re:What about water conservation?? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425294)

The run-off from showers / sinks is called 'grey water' (as distinguished from toilets, 'black water'). Just Google for 'grey water recycling'.

Re:What about water conservation?? (1)

gomoX (618462) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425341)

They are already doing it in Japan. My aunt lived there a while. It seems that they like to take a bath after their showers. The water from this bath is later used to do laundry.

The Passion : a review (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425018)

I walked out of The Passion not two hours ago. It was worse than many made for tv movies. For example, the never ending close ups of Mary's one tear. If the mother-son relationship was too complex to take in through 10 teary closeups, exactly the same, Mel offers a flashback of a child Jesus falling down and Mary running to him, juxtaposed with Jesus bearing the cross, falling down, with Mary running to him. See the connection?

Then there's the blood splattering everywhere, all the time, with never ending slo-mo. When the cat-o-nine tails rips Jesus' flesh and exposes ribs, now that's human torment that can really drive a religious experience.

Crucifiction was a spectacle of Death, abolished for that reason.

Luckily, we have Mel to thank for bringing the spectacle back 2000 years later.

the role of Danny Glover (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425039)



I especially enjoyed the role of Danny Glover as an aging cop who, through a number of cirsumstances beyond his control, is never allowed to retire.

Jesus is not his real name! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425075)

Yahushua is the true name of the Messiah

Note that Joshua = Yoshua or Yahushua because there is no "J" sound in Hebrew. The letter "J" is only about 500 years old and isn't even found in the original 1611 King James version.
The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that the Messiah's name never was "Jesus" and that the name "Jesus" is actually an invention of man.

HVAC Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning (5, Informative)

maliabu (665176) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425023)

for non-eXtreme geeks like myself, HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning.

Re:HVAC Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioni (5, Funny)

Totto (188328) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425370)

> for non-eXtreme geeks like myself, HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning.

And for the rest of us, it stands for High Voltage AC. Though that's usually fairly darwinistic as a DIY-project.

Re:HVAC Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioni (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425378)

High Voltage Alternating Current

That project doesn't conform to the industry specs (4, Informative)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425026)

Not that it would matter to you if you are working on it by yourself, but without support for the technologies that the spec requires going forward, you face the unenviable position of being stuck with some out of date specs.

Easier way to lower the electricity bill (5, Interesting)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425028)

Put the real thermostat somewhere hidden and place a dummy one in the hall for the wife and kids.

Putting a circuit in to turn off the AC when someone opens a window helps too.

Re:Easier way to lower the electricity bill (3, Interesting)

NotAnotherReboot (262125) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425128)

Yes, that works until said spouse calls the repairman because the furnace/AC isn't working and discovers you have been less than forthcoming about what you think about cost cutting measures.

A better idea: talk with the husband/wife and determine what you can afford to set the thermostat to. Make it clear to the kids that it is not their place to adjust the thermostat.

Seems easier than coming up with an elaborate decoy system.

Re:Easier way to lower the electricity bill (5, Funny)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425197)

Even cheaper, don't get married and don't get kids.

Re:Easier way to lower the electricity bill (2, Funny)

eriksarcade (715857) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425329)

ahhh, the slashdot way!

Re:Easier way to lower the electricity bill (3, Informative)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425206)

Don't leave your VCR, radio and all other electric devices on standby all the time. They use up a significant amount of power each year.

Re:Easier way to lower the electricity bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425277)

While you're at it, unplug your clock radio if you don't need the alarm function. The glowing LEDs use up a whole 5 cents of electricity (probably $5 in Europe) each year.

Re:Easier way to lower the electricity bill (5, Informative)

shepd (155729) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425361)

I do believe that is false economy. The wear on the receptacle and plug itself will likely cause premature replacement of either. Meaning...

You will pay more for parts than for the electricity [energy.gov] ($1.25 for the entire lifetime of the device, or, about 30 cents yearly).

Re:Easier way to lower the electricity bill (4, Funny)

Daniel Quinlan (153105) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425299)

Put the real thermostat somewhere hidden and place a dummy one in the hall for the wife and kids.

Yeah, because divorce is always cheaper than paying higher electrical bills, right?

HVAC? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425038)

I thought HVAC was the intense gravatational field inflicted on mankind by CowboyNeals ass?

HVAC (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425042)

WTF is HVAC? If the poster weren't an jackass, he'd have at least expanded the acro

This king of thing... (4, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425043)

Is going on a lot here where I live. Berea College [berea.edu] has completely rebuilt many of their buildings to make them more environmentally friendly, and to cut down on their "outrageous energy costs". Not to mention that Berea College owns all the utilities here anyways.

I really don't get why this kind of project is really worthy of doing anyways. May save some money, but most people's houses dont use more than 1500 kWa of electricity a month... ~140$ of electricty around here (considering we pay the "Berea College Utilities" tax). Now a worthy project would be covering your house with solar panels and breaking even on your utility bills ;).

Re:This king of thing... (3, Insightful)

canavan (14778) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425129)

Photovoltaic panels are NOT (yet?) environmentally friendly, as their production is a very messy and energy consuming process.

Your argument about Berea owning the utilities seems flawed, unless of course they are operating their own oil wells or hydroelectric plants or whatever, in which case they could still sell the excess energy they are not wasting due to the rebuild.

Re:This king of thing... (1)

Cameroon (16395) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425200)

Well, the panels would still be worthwhile so long as using them prevents more mess than creating them causes.

I have no idea if that's the case, but I imagine someone around here knows...

Re:This king of thing... (0)

Synonymous Yellowbel (720524) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425358)

IIRC (though imprecisely) the energy break-even on a solar panel with average domestic usage is many years, somewhere around 10 - 15. May be as low as 7 though.

Re:This king of thing... (1)

canavan (14778) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425448)

This depends a lot on where you live. In sunny parts of california, outside the smog of LA, on may be luchy and reach break-even in 10 years, in Canada or Norway, it will probably never happen.

HVAC? (0, Redundant)

halo8 (445515) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425044)

WTF is an HVAC [google.ca] ???

Re:HVAC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425183)

Heating, Ventillation, Air Conditioning.

Re:HVAC? (1)

T-Kir (597145) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425364)

Ummmm, Hoover VAcuum Cleaner! Yes, that's it! Not that I'm advertising them or anything (although I use Dyson myself).

;-)

Bills? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425048)

This is why I only use solar energy!

Ack, gotta go, a cloud's coming!

Solar thermal systems work in cloudy conditions (1)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425365)

They have to in the UK. The vacuum tubes used in domestic installations these days are around 80% efficient at collecting solar energy and converting it into heat, about 1kW/m^2 here, more as you get closer to the equator and less through winter.

You simply size the system to provide the amount of heat you want at the time of year you want, the heat is stored in a water tank until required. Solar thermal systems are quite a bit cheaper to implement than photovoltaic.

Necessary Slashdot Reform Proposal (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425053)

Call for more accurate rating system

Currently the "troll" characteristic is applied without care to its genuine meaning; this is the motivation for the proposal of the following categories with similar -1 point attributes as "troll" and "off topic": 1. Radical 2. Off topic - Ideology/Religion 3. Spite. These three categories would do much to clarify the mass that is currently grouped under only troll and off topic.

By implementation of these reforms of similar, the decrease of a point leads to categorization rather than censorship. Otherwise, the moderation system is only distributed censorhip among the elite with point modification ability. Alternatives are to abolish the point system, or to make it completely public. No other way is valid.

Re:Necessary Slashdot Reform Proposal (-1, Troll)

Bi()hazard (323405) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425381)

Some informative links:

HVAC Portal for HVAC Professionals [hvacportal.com] has a lot of good info you DIY'ers might be interested in. HVAC Mall [hvacmall.com] lists a lot of supplies, and HVAC City will help you avoid getting ripped off. And there's always [hvac-city.com] HVAC talk if you like goofy pictures. [hvac-talk.com]

And don't miss HVAC Zoning Controls [hometoys.com] .

Zoning and automatic time-based management are critical if you want to keep your bills down. Running heating and cooling in one region of the house for half the night, or starting up 30 minutes before you get back from work, will save you a lot over a manually controlled system that you have to leave on whenever you're not around and awake.

----------
Now that I've made a sacrifice to the gods of moderation, let's get on with it: (read the parent post if you have a high threshold and I'm not in -1 oblivion yet, it's an interesting discussion on the nature of moderation)

I agree with your idea, but not with the categories you propose. It is true that the negative mods are used simply to smack down posts, and only the "flamebait" category carries any shred of meaning anymore. The positive mods have the same situation-three interchangeable mods starting with I simply cause confusion. Any Informative or Insightful post is also Interesting, so removing Interesting would help clarify the categories.

"Radical" shouldn't be -1 in the first place, I'd rather have +1 Controversial, with no karma bonus (like "Funny"). Your offtopic-I/R fits within Offtopic well enough, since I/R arguments aren't really common enough to warrant a special mod. It only helps if you're a fan of those and you want to find them. Spite is close enough to flamebait-the point of spite would be to piss people off.

In addition to Controversial, I'd add the much needed -1 Crapflood. Most of the -1 Troll/Offtopic stuff would be better classified under here. I'd also put in -1 Inaccurate for well-intentioned posts that are factually untrue. These two categories would deal with the vast majority of garbage that is unfairy lumped into Troll and Offtopic. Also, I'd remove the karma hit from Offtopic, because offtopic discussions can be the most interesting parts of articles sometimes.

Finally, I'd add +1 Sexy just to spice things up.

So we'd have:
+1 Informative, Insightful, Sexy (add karma)
+1 Funny, Controversial (no karma)
-1 Offtopic (no karma)
-1 Incorrect, Crapflood, Troll, Flamebait (lose karma)

Do it yourself (3, Interesting)

capz loc (752940) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425054)

A friend of mine is doing this himself using parts from a website (the name escapes me) and drivers that he is writing himself. I also ran into this [faqs.org] a while back. It looks like a lot of work, but considering how much a system like this would cost, its probably a pretty fair bet for experienced hackers with some spare time.

Don't complain about TVA (5, Informative)

frostgiant (243045) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425056)

Complaining about TVA rates? Haha... You are getting some of the cheapest, subsidized electricity in the country.

Read this:
http://www.nemw.org/tvareport.htm

wow that freaked me out for a second (4, Interesting)

re-Verse (121709) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425062)

Does anyone remember way back in the BBS days of the early 90s (when the net was new or undiscovered for so many) when HVAC meant "hacking, virii, anarchy, cracking"?

What a weird yet fitting title to see on /.

Re:wow that freaked me out for a second (3, Informative)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425104)

I thought that was HPAVC.

Re:wow that freaked me out for a second (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425142)

Actually you used any of those letters
depending on what you actually had on your board.

You didnt HAVE to be HPAVC or HVAC.

God those were the days.. I ran Renegade
for 6 years.

Re:wow that freaked me out for a second (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425273)

It was. The P was for Phreaking (phone mischief)

Re:wow that freaked me out for a second (1)

jorlando (145683) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425324)

Thanks for remind me that I'm old as a dinossaur... I knew that the acronym reminded me of something. Better I start thinking about modding wheel-chairs and how to get high using alzheilmer's medicine...

Re:wow that freaked me out for a second (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425495)

Heh - I'd moderate you funny over my own comment if i had the karma :)

Zoning rocks (5, Informative)

MajorDick (735308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425079)

As an ex plumber-pipefitter, zoning is a must for any eficient system.

Take this house for example, 2000 sq ft 2 story farmhouse, 1950's anderson windows, still nice but not real tight, no in wall insulation, attic is aesbestos (but now sealed)

The house is set up into 3 zones, on an old , circa 1950 American Standard electro-mechanical zone system, it is hot water heat, about half baseboard, the other half cast radiators, the heat throught the hose is awesome, never too cold anywhere. Now, the fun part, we dont have gas, and electric was way too ineffecient to heat this house soooo, my grandfather a pipefitter as well installed the system back in the 50's ,it is looks like a full blown commercial install, When I was out of town once the boiler went out (flooded expansion tank) so my wife called the company I worked for, my friend glen cam out and said , "uhhh youre gonna have to call in a commercial outfit were all residential and Ive never seen a system like this before Chris (me usually handles all our commercial stuff"

The wind up of all this , my heating bill for the entire year ? Under $600 Thats 350 gallons of oil, I only took 310 or so after 13 months last time I topped off. And I live near Cleveland Ohio (Akron), not exactly warm winters here ya know

Re:Zoning rocks (1)

PepperGrunties (526095) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425416)

So what do you recommend for a one story 1960's Florida house with mostly awning windows and a 300 sq. ft in-law suite on the other side of the garage from the 1600 sq. ft. main part of the house. Should I pay to add it to the main AC system? It's currently some kind of geothermal setup where there is no outdoor evaporator.

I fear mold and mildew issues in that part of the house in the summer.

Thanks!

Here's some solutions to help lower the bill: (4, Insightful)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425081)

It's quite simple, really.

Learn to do without.

I know it sounds contrite, but hear me out.

Do you really need both of those monitors? If not, chuck one, or turn it off. Monitors draw quite a bit of power. Also, make sure you turn off your monitors when you're not using them, or make sure their power saving modes are on. Alternatively, you could go LCD to help reduce the costs, but I've always looked at that with some suspicion in that the prohibitive costs related to 19" and higher LCD's offset the potential savings.

How many computers are you running? If the answer is more than one, ask yourself if you really *need* to be running the others. Sure it's nice that you've gotten that old P233 up and running as your firewall, but frankly, a Linksys dedicated router/firewall is going to draw much less power, with fewer moving parts.

Air Conditioning: Learn to live a bit warmer. Learn to open windows instead of reaching for the thermostat. You'll find that your body can and will adjust to warmer temperatures if you let it. I live in the South with oppressive humidity and heat during the summer and my dad tells me stories of him growing up when they didn't have A/C. It can be done. And, if you follow the first 2 items above, you'll find your house isn't as hot. Computers + Monitors == lots of heat. Now, in my apartment, I don't have central A/C, only a couple window units, unfortunately. A trick I've learned is to shut the door to my bedroom, which happens to be decently sized, and only run the A/C in that room. It gets downright cold pretty fast. Now, it does make me somewhat of a prisoner in that room, only venturing out to use the can or to cook something in the kitchen, but I've learned to cope. Besides, I can grab my laptop and browse the web wirelessly from anywhere in my house. Also, at least here, the hottest part of the summers is only one or 2 months that you have to "suffer" through. Actually, if you work a lot, here's an excuse to work some OT. :)

My bill dropped from $150/month to less than $50/month once I adopted these measures.

If you're married with kids, feel free to ignore because I'm assuming most of the /. readership are bachelor males. Of course, a fantasy alternative would be to get a girlfriend with her own place and just crash over there.

Re:Here's some solutions to help lower the bill: (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425144)

I agree, the entire approach to the DIY problem as advocated in the SourceForge project is overkill. For those of us who simply can't stand the heat, there are very reasonable do-it-yourself solutions which consume very little energy, provide wireless and RS-232 interfaces for monitoring, and free one's time up for more meaningful projects (I've provided links elsewhere). This project seems to be a solution in search of a problem...

Re:Here's some solutions to help lower the bill: (5, Funny)

dattaway (3088) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425213)

Do you really need both of those monitors?

My monitors *are* my zoned heating system. A small quartz heater take up what else the distributed computing doesn't make. I can keep my living area around 80 degrees (I like it hot) with a total monthly utility bill less than $100.

The hotter months, I move my hobbies down to the basement in the furnished bomb shelter. Underground, its much cooler. My LCD displays with the backlight on soft only consumes a few watts, so they are good. Summer utility bills are less than $60 and I get to leave florescent lights on.

Re:Here's some solutions to help lower the bill: (3, Interesting)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425230)

That's all fine and good. In fact, it's excellent.

But a good HVAC system will save you electricity AND fuel, being better able to meet the heating/cooling demands better. That translates to lower costs all around - AND more comfort!

A good HVAC system doesn't even need to be all that complicated, either. Chances are it's already possible to have your home re-evaluated and do a minor tweak to save a few bucks.

If you've got baseboard heat (hot water), and ever had or will soon have your boiler replaced, it's worth doing a detailed heat load calculation. Chances are the guy installing the new boiler will probably size it up to handle what the radiation is designed to put out - and typically it's quite a bit more than you actually need to keep the house comfy warm!

This results in the boiler cranking out more hot water than is actually required, and with a single-zone system you'll end up with some rooms too hot and others too cool. The boiler will also short-cycle more often, resulting in poor efficiency.

There's several solutions you could use. Putting the right sized boiler is obviously the best way to go if you don't want to redo the whole house, but if you've got plenty of radiation (and a newer, non-cast-iron boiler!), why not run your system at a lower water temperature? The boiler won't have to work as hard to get up to temperature, and it'll stay off longer (feeding off the latent heat to keep the water warm). A simple tweak of the boiler's temperature shutoff and a 3-way mixing valve is usually all it takes.

While you're at it, clean that fintube. Maybe throw some insulation on those pipes in the basement. Little things like that are easy to do and certaintly can't hurt.
=Smidge=

Re:Here's some solutions to help lower the bill: (1, Offtopic)

themusicgod1 (241799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425313)

the computational potency of the earth is not infinite. do not turn of your computers, and make sure they are doing something at all time so long as it is reasonable to do so. i have 3 computers on right now, although one is being used to look at porn and browse slashdot(two relatively useless activities). contriubte to folding@home, or even seti@home if you must... help distributed computing projects with your cycles if you have nothing better to do with them. only leave your cycles empty when you are using your computer actively, and when you 'might need them' (ie, my main system(p-166 with 32mb ram) thrashes when i'm using either 100% of my ram+swap or 100% of my cpu... and this wastes human-time.) instead of looking for YOUR best interest as a capitalist, look for the SPECIES best interest by helping us increase the computational fortitude of the whole.
thedark.moonside.org total Mhz: 351

don't like the cost? then join us in the revolution - there's no reason for electricity to cost anything beyond simple greed, and the initial costs.

Re:Here's some solutions to help lower the bill: (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425321)

yeah I _need_ to have 3 pc's running.

how the hell you except me to keep warm you know? the central heating isn't the best around here and it's usually only hot for 1 month per year.

Looking in all the wrong places (5, Informative)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425088)

The project was born out of a total and absolute frustration which in turn was a result of a fruitless search of information about existing temperature zoning solutions. The only information available on the zoning system manufacturer web sites was usually "call us for an estimate". The estimates were usually being performed by salespeople. Technical people were difficult to get. Read the complete story for details.

The author obviously didn't look in the right places. Here are a few links to get started:

SmartHome [smarthome.com]
HomeTech Solutions [hometech.com]
Bass Burglar Alarms [bassburglaralarms.com]

I've done business with all three, and have retrofitted my home with a two-zone system powered by an RCS zone controller and electronic dampers. All three have been extremely helpful in providing technical advice.

One thing to remember: The HVAC business (as well as the burglar alarm business) are very protective of their turf. You stand little chance of finding an HVAC contractor willing to work with you on designing a custom HVAC system.

Programmable Thermostat? (2, Insightful)

Tablespork (564764) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425091)

So this is essentially a programmable thermostat for your PC with some more advancded features like zones, right? Or am I missing something?

Open sourcing everything (3, Insightful)

nmoog (701216) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425112)

The HVAC community is definitely different from Open Source community, and whenever they get close, it gets quite hot [sourceforge.net]

Doesn't seem that hot - fun reading I'd say! The idea is great though (not new, but great) - As open source branches in to more and more area, the people involved with open source software are more likely to adapt OSS principles to non-software aspects of their work.

"An open-source future is one in which we realize that reality itself is open source [fusionanomaly.net] " to quote an unknown guy on the internet. Hope it happens this year!

Open Source Energy Initiatives (3, Insightful)

Snoobs (43421) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425113)

I think the idea of open source energy solutions is a great idea. Right now, we have NO choice of who we buy our electricity from. The situation with electricity and fuel is 20X worse than Microsoft's control of the computer industry. What happens when petroleum gets too expensive and runs out?

Its time to do something about it.

Re:Open Source Energy Initiatives (3, Interesting)

toast0 (63707) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425145)

On a similar note, we have no choice of who we buy our water from, and who we give our sewage to.

Re:Open Source Energy Initiatives (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425323)

Depends on where you live.

If you live in a "wet" climate, I'm sure there's little stopping you from collecting your own rainwater, which wold be suitable for just about everything short of drinking. (A distiller or neutralizer/filter might be adequate for potble water, though... I wouldn't trust it for drinking myself without some kind of treatment!)

And around where I live, we don't give out sewage to anyone - the whole area is private cesspools. Not necessarily better or worse than municipal sewers, though. Just a different way to handle it.
=Smidge=

Yes you do (2, Insightful)

nuggz (69912) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425177)

Actually I think you do have choice.

Here you can buy from the government regulated electrical power grid. Or you can generate your own electricity. Solar cells, gas generators, waterfalls or whatever you want.
But there is a reason most people don't do this, the utility price is easy, cost competative and reliable.

I think rates aren't all that high, most people waste huge amounts of electricity. I read somewhere the average household in my area uses 750kWh/month, I just just over 300 kWh.

Re:Open Source Energy Initiatives (1)

Bagels (676159) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425237)

...Actually, I'm not sure how it works elsewhere, but here in Maine we can choose who to buy power from on an open market... of course, the same company, Central Maine Power, still "delivers" the power via its powerlines.

Re:Open Source Energy Initiatives (1)

slash-tard (689130) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425387)

How exactly do you "open source" an energy provider?

Do you have all of the supporters eat taco bell and donate the excess methane at the nearest methane collection center?

I guess the electricity could come from static buildup from all the hairy slashdot readers.

Alternate providers is hardly open source, and having alternate providers of a single commodity isnt going to help when its depleted.

Use less power? Nah, use more... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425116)

What is the fate of a few third-world countries compared to the convenience of a heated driveway [about.com] .

Throw that snow shovel away!

Here are some more ideas (with graphs) (4, Informative)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425126)

This site [ucf.edu] includes a number of ideas for reducing that energy bill, including zoned heating/cooling. There are several interesting real-time graphs of current energy use.

I found the site while searching for information on heat pump water heaters. One example graph they give shows the heat pump water heater using less than half the energy as resistive heating.

If installed properly, a heat pump water heater will also help air-condition your house. A good place to put ducts is in the kitchen, where the waste heat from cooking can be removed and used to heat water. Ideally, the returned cooled air can be directed at your refrigerator's condenser coils for increased efficiency.

It's not the heat, it is the humidity (honest) (4, Interesting)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425300)

The air conditioning load is made up of 1) sensible heat (the kind you measure with a thermometer) and 2) latent heat (the kind that makes you feel hot and sticky and mutter "it's not the heat, it's the humidity." The latent heat is the difference in enthalpy (internal energy at constant pressure) between water in the vapor and liquid states (listed in steam tables). When you cool air, you condense water, and the latent heat given off has to be carried away by the air conditioner coils.

The sensible heat load is the outside temperature seeping through the walls, but it is also the sum beating down on the roof and walls and pouring through windows. The latent heat load is largely the result of air infiltration with some contribution from showers and cooking: running a dryer contributes to latent heat because it pulls 150 CFM of inside air through the dryer vent that gets made up by air seeping in.

One of the points made was that in fall in Florida, the air conditioner runs less so the indoor humidity climbs to the sticky range. They are recommending a variable speed air handler so that a low flow setting, the air gets chilled more so more of the AC goes into humidity removal. Heat pipes have been recommended as well -- to pre-chill the air handler input and pre-warm the output to trade less cooling for more condensing.

Other approaches include not running your fan in continuous mode because that just evaporates the moisture film on the coils every time the AC cycles off to better draining cooling coil pans.

But a fundamental problem is that the latent heat load is pretty much constant across the day while the sensible load varies with the sun and contributes to the big electrical peak. One idea is to paint the roof with titanium white to cut down on the sensible heat load.

The idea I have is to try to smooth out the electrical peak load by letting the AC run more at night and run a little less during the day, and to let the sensible-heat temperature cycle up and down during the day, but to have some combined measure of heat and humidity remain constant. Instead of maintaining a constant temperature to try to maintain a constant indoor dewpoint.

This system would 1) have it cooler at night to make sleeping easier -- I can stand it warmer during the day, 2) smooth out electrical peak demand, 3) more efficiently remove humidity averaged on a 24 hour basis because humidity removal efficiency goes down if the AC duty cycle goes up during the day and you are pulling the indoor humidity below 50 percent.

Carrier makes a rather expensive ($200 plus) Humidistat product that controls the AC to both temperature and humidity targets. A cheaper solution for me is to use a setback thermometer which lets the temps go down at night and go up during the day, and to only start lowering temps at sleep time. A typical setback unit has night, wake, day, and return times -- I may go for 75 night, 74 wake, 77 day, and 78 return (the thermal pulse from the sun shining all day makes it through the house by evening, and at 78 the AC will be cycling to lower the humidity anyway). I also use an electronic humidity gauge and dial all those temps up or down a degree or two to get about 50 percent RH).

Topic for discussion (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425130)

My cock up your ass.

Discuss.

Two concerns: Resale and housing code (4, Insightful)

swb (14022) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425135)

While there's no good reason I can think of that retrofitted zoning would be a zoning problem, sometimes what's permissable and what's not isn't always self-evident.

It would royally suck to need something inspected later on, such as when selling a house, only to be told it wasn't code and had to come out or be expensively upgraded to meet code. I've done a ton of electrical work (some in conjunction with remodeling which was heavily inspected) and nobody said boo, but it was all code-compliant.

And speaking of resale, even though a zoned hvac system would be nice, one that's more complicated than your grandma can operate will actually lower your resale value to most people since it will be seen as a maintenance liability. I put in a Honeywell 7 day programmable thermostat and my wife hated me for a couple of months until she figured out how to work it. I can only imagine what she would do with something that made one room cold and another warm without being totally obvious (like a 15" LCD touch screen with a floor plan of the house and car-type heat controls).

Re:Two concerns: Resale and housing code (2, Informative)

Junta (36770) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425281)

From looking at their site, I would say if it subtracts value or decreases resale value, you can likely undo all your hardware changes in a couple of hours at no cost (servos on the actual vents, wiring in the duct system, no extra cutting, drilling, or equipment in inconvenient places.) While the solution is suboptimal (as they say, vent-placed equipment is not perfect), it is cheap and easily reversible in case you worry about that.

Now as to the usability, it appears there is a current problem there with respect to the common user. However, once invested in the hardware and if you have a decent head for development, the system seems that it has a great potential for being amazingly simple (I have not looked at the code myself) to tack on a custom designed GUI with your touchscreen in mind. Of course, embedding a significant flat panel in the wall is not so reversible as the cheap approach ;)

Well.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425151)

At least we shouldn't be able to slashdot sourceforge....

Probably.....

*sigh*

History lesson (1, Funny)

Crusty Oldman (249835) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425159)

Most history books will tell you that the inventor of air conditioning was Willis Haviland Carrier. This is not true, as I can prove beyond all doubt.

The air conditioner was actually invented by three Jewish gentlemen. Just look at the front of any air conditioner and read their names: Norm, Hi, and Max.

Re:History lesson (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425174)

Good thing Hitler invented the oven so he could throw those unfunny bastards away

MOD PARENT DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425260)

Fucking Nazi piece of shit.

MOD GRANDPARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425383)

Deutschland Uber Alles!

Re:History lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425269)

Right now, this is rated Score 0, Troll.

Proof that Slashdot modders Just Don't Get It.

Re:History lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425498)

Maybe because there's no moderation for -1, Unfunny

No HVAC here, sorry. (3, Interesting)

small_dick (127697) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425162)

But my swamp cooler keeps the house cool and saves me a lot of money over my A/C cooled neighbors.

Evaporative coolers use electricity only to spin the fan vs. compressing freon or whatnot, which takes a lot more energy.

Re:No HVAC here, sorry. (3, Informative)

Big Bob the Finder (714285) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425264)

When I lived in New Mexico, I set my swamp cooler on a timer to come on about half an hour before I got home. After working in the field some days in 90-100F heat, it was sure good to come home to a place that was just the right temperature. MUCH less expensive than refrigerated air, and the increase in humidity was welcome.

In a somewhat related note, a little trick for those of you with swamp coolers. When you start them up for the first time in the spring, after you flush the system and scrape out the scale and dust, fill it with water and add half a cup of fabric softener to the reservoir. Makes the whole house smell clean. This may not sound like much to people who don't know swamp coolers, but for those that do- you know how bad they can stink after a winter of disuse!

$30 solution (2, Redundant)

Squeezer (132342) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425166)

go to home depot, buy a $30 digital thermostat. install it yourself (its 3 wires for the heat/AC and a AA battery for the thermostat). program it so in the summer your AC is at 78 when you are home, 85 when you are at work, and in the winter, 68 when you are asleep and 72 when you are home). the digital thermostat will easily pay for itself in 1 month in the summer.

Before you do *any* of this stuff. (5, Informative)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425189)

Insulate your house. Insulate your attic, insulate the walls, insulate the pipes and add secondary glazing. It's the cheapest and most effective thing you can do.

Re:Before you do *any* of this stuff. (3, Informative)

ender81b (520454) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425279)

Like most people you miss the single greatest point of heat loss for any house -- the windows. Get some decents windows people!

Now, if you are me, you live in a apartment located partway underground and you love mother earth. Thanks to being mostly underground my heating/cooling bills are 1/3 of my upstairs friends. Viva La Basments!

No dampers here (4, Informative)

certsoft (442059) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425201)

But I did split the house into three "psuedo zones". There are temperature sensors in three areas, only one of which is used to control the central heating/cooling at any one time. This keeps the occupied area pretty close in temperature, while the un-occupied areas have less control.

Not as good as using dampers, but much simpler. I put a copy of the webpage for this system on my website:
System_Hvac [certsoft.com]

Throw that shit away. (-1, Flamebait)

James A. G. Joyce (755532) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425202)

I have some better ideas on saving lots of $$$ on your home. Don't bother with air conditioning, or "home automation" or "zoning". For fuck's sake. You don't need air conditioning: open a couple of fucking windows. Home automation: what the fuck? Seriously, if you really feel a pressing need for "home automation", you need to be shot. You don't need windows, doors and other shit that opens and closes by itself, you lazy fucker. Oh, and when the house gets too cold, how about this: put on a fucking sweater. And insulate your goddamn loft. That'll save you money in the long run and it's more environmentally friendly, you gel-haired puss.

Re:Throw that shit away. (0)

U.I.D 754625 (754625) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425316)

You are right, humans have existed for thousands of years and we've only had home AC for less than 100 years now, right? The only reason I'm using heat this winter in New England is to keep the water running, so a 40 degree thermostat setting is fine. AC in the summer? Hahaha. Right. The parent isn't flamebait, it's just a damn good solution.

My fundamental problem with HVAC... (1)

Biff Stu (654099) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425210)

If it doesn't suck, it blows.

RHVAC (3, Informative)

rholliday (754515) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425219)

My father owns an HVAC company, and he uses a program called RHVAC [elitesoft.com] to run loads of new and replacement installs, and gives the full report to the customer before they purchase. So not all companies are that bad. :)

yeah, but a kernel panic would be a bitch.... (3, Insightful)

chrisopherpace (756918) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425220)

Sounds like a pretty cool idea, and cheap. From reading the site, its definetely cheap. Somewhere around $20/room for tempature controls/etc. I just don't like the idea of it being computer-controlled, in areas like where I live, it would suck if the controller crashed, and it was -40 out. Frozen pipes/kitty cats.

heating and cooling costs? (4, Funny)

MakoStorm (699968) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425252)

Just do what I do. Gorge and eat as much as you can in the summer, turn the thermostat to 60 in the winter and sleep for 6 months.

Works for bears, works for me.

Only 200? (2, Interesting)

red floyd (220712) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425288)

And that's for a business? Now you understand what the whole ruckus was about in CA, back in 2001.

My home electric bill is roughly $200 (The water is also about $200). And that's LA DWP, which was a damn sight better than the poor fools who got 10x rate increases during the crunch.

what about the enviroment??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425307)

who gives a toss about the $200 bill... think of what your doing to the enviroment!!!

Dupe... (1)

Crash Gordon (233006) | more than 10 years ago | (#8425331)

If it was on Slashdot 2 years ago [slashdot.org] , does it still count as a dupe?

minus 5$, Troll) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8425377)

towels 0n the floor of reality. KKep me if you'd like, Usenet posts. by clicking here You join today! 'superior' machine. writing is on the a previously
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