Other Heating Costs
Energy requirements for nonheating purposes are an important addition factor to be considered when estimating total fuel costs for a house or building. This nonheating energy is used to operate oil and gas burners, automatic washers and dryers, water heaters, stoves, refrigerators, and the variety of other appliances and work- saving devices deemed so necessary for modern living.
This nonheating energy is commonly electricity or gas. Electricity is used to operate thermostats and other automatic controls found in heating and cooling equipment, burners, water heaters, home laundry equipment, refrigerators, and blowers for air conditioners, to mention only a few. Much of this equipment (e. g., water heaters and home laundry equipment) is also designed to be operated in conjunction with gas. Each of these appliances consumes energy that will account for a certain percentage of the homeowner’s utility bill. This must be accounted for when estimating the total fuel requirement and heating cost.
The most common method of determining which appliance is the most suitable one for a particular set of circumstances is by making a comparison of their energy use. For example, the estimated usage for home laundry equipment (either a washer or a dryer) is 1 hour per week per occupant. In other words, a dryer would be operated
5 hours per week on the average in a household containing five people. For purposes of comparison, an electric clothes dryer draws 5.0 kWh and a gas clothes dryer uses approximately 3.5 therms of gas per month. Although these figures appear insignificant, they gain importance when the total nonheating energy use for all the appliances is added together. The cost per fuel unit will depend upon the local utility rates (see the following section). Some appliances, such as water heaters, will have to be compared on a basis that includes a number of different energy requirements met under a variety of environmental conditions (see Tables 4-14 and 4-15).
The problem for the homeowner is to determine which type of appliance burns which type of fuel most efficiently and at the lowest cost. Probably the poorest sources of information are the distributor of the particular appliance and the rate correspondent of the utility. They will, of course, be biased in favor of their own products. This is as it should be, because this is the reason they are in business. If they made a habit of recommending the products of their competitors, they would soon be out of business.
Quite often, consumer magazines give the energy use rates of different appliances and are quite frank in their comparison. This source is probably the most objective one to be found. However, knowing the rate at which an appliance consumes energy is only half the solution. It is also necessary to determine the utility rates.