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Old 12-29-2010, 02:12 PM   #1
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Calculating Electrical Heating Cost

I will soon be moving into my AS fulltime and am worried about heating cost. My PO took out the furnace, I have an electrical plug in heater to use on shore power and have to pay for electricity at my RV park. Is there a way to figure out in advance how much approximately it will cost per hour to run? I am on a budget and don't want to be surprised at the end of the month with a gigantic electric bill. I know there must be a formula I can use.

Thanks,
Carol
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Old 12-29-2010, 02:27 PM   #2
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Decide on heater size, find label showing electrical usage, call power co and find out rate if it isn't supplied by park, if it is park electric they can tell you cost per kilowatt.
small heaters would use about 1 kw/hour, large could be 3, but your wiring might not handle it.
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Old 12-29-2010, 02:30 PM   #3
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Cost formula for household appliances

Here is link to formulas for figuring costs.

Resistance heating, such as the plug in electrical heater, is the most expensive heat there is because of the amount of electricity consumed.

Electric Usage In Your Home

Hopefully living in California you would have to use it only minimally because heating an entire trailer with an electric heater may be a budget buster.
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Old 12-29-2010, 03:10 PM   #4
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I am going over to the trailer later today, if I look at the back or bottom of the heater, it should tell me volts and amps used, right? I called the Electric Co and they said Tier 1 is 0.095 cents/kwh for the first 315 hours used. It then goes up incrementally with additional hours used. I want to figure out how much it will cost me to run it about 6-8 hours a day.
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Old 12-29-2010, 03:14 PM   #5
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Thanks for the link above. I also have two catalytic heaters but only two small propane tanks which I need for cooking and the park doesn't allow big tanks. Therefore the need for the electric heater.
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Old 12-29-2010, 03:34 PM   #6
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The only factor you don't know for sure is the amount of time that heater will need to run to keep you comfortable. Wind, sunshine, air leakage, all will affect how much that heater has to run. You haven't said what type of temperatures you will be in. Obviously if you have an AC unit on your trailer, and it has a heat strip, that can be one source of heat. If you are dealing with freezing temperatures, you may have to use heat tape to protect exposed or unprotected water lines. Of course that also uses power.

You might want to take a run over to the park and see if you can talk to any other year round residents. They may be able to give you some ideas on their costs.

I consider my trailer to be a 3 season unit. I remember going out one late October sitting in a campground in 35 degree temps, fully exposed to a strong wind. I almost used a 30 lb cylinder of propane that weekend. The furnace didn't seem to shut down for more than 3-4 minutes before it would cycle right back on. Staying through a winter might require you to do some extra measures to better insulate your trailer.

Jack
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Old 12-29-2010, 03:38 PM   #7
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Formula missing the time factor. -- amps times volts gives you watts - and watts is usually listed on the labels for most electrical appliances directly. - watts times hours gives you watt hours. - watt hours divided by 1000 gives you kilowatt hours - kilowatt hours times price per kilowatt hour gives you cost.

A typical 110v electric space heater runs about 1000 watts or 1 kw. That means it costs about ten cents an hour to run at your quoted electrical price. At, say, 8 hours per day and a 30 day month, you've got about 250 hours of operation. At ten cents each, that'd be $25. That's getting close to the 315 KwH tier level. (assuming the number cited was really that as 'hours' doesn't make sense)

A typical 120v 15 amp circuit on full time would be 1.8 kw for 720 hours or 1296 Kwh. That gets up into more expensive cost tiers.

Do be careful with units. Very careful. Power, the rate of using energy, is watts. Energy, what you purchase, is watt hours. There are some very confusing errors in unit usage in this thread already and I am only looking at 4 posts.

Note that, according to the government, typical household electrical energy use is about 30 kWh per day.

Jack has some very good advice for the practical matters
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Old 12-29-2010, 03:47 PM   #8
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Thank you for your responses, as you can tell I am electrically challenged.

Perhaps they meant 315 kwh?
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Old 12-29-2010, 07:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
A typical 120v 15 amp circuit on full time would be 1.8 kw for 720 hours or 1296 Kwh. That gets up into more expensive cost tiers.

This part of of the equation is throwing me, could you explain what it means please?
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Old 12-29-2010, 07:59 PM   #10
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Amps=Watts/Volts
Volts=Watts/Amps
Watts=Amps*Volts

You need 2 of the values to get the third value.

I was reading up on this today and the explanation that stuck with me was the water pipe analogy.
Volts are water pressure.
Amps is the size of the pipe.
Multiply the two and you get watts.. the total throughput.

So 120v * 15 amps = 120*15=1800w=1.8kw
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Old 12-29-2010, 08:47 PM   #11
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I apologize for seeming thick as a plank, but here goes:

Quote: A typical 110v electric space heater runs about 1000 watts or 1 kw. That means it costs about ten cents an hour to run at your quoted electrical price. At, say, 8 hours per day and a 30 day month, you've got about 250 hours of operation. At ten cents each, that'd be $25. That's getting close to the 315 KwH tier level.

OK, $25 doesn't sound so bad

Quote: A typical 120v 15 amp circuit on full time would be 1.8 kw for 720 hours or 1296 Kwh. That gets up into more expensive cost tiers.

What would I be running to cause this to happen?
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:14 PM   #12
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Carol,

Asking other residents will help, but there's nothing like doing it because there are so many variables—personal comfort, window coverings, any other insulation you can add, weather variations, etc. For some people 60˚ is plenty warm, others may want it well up in 70's. I know an ex-cop who keeps his house at 80˚ and can't understand how everyone else keeps the thermostat in the 60's.

Every degree you raise the temp costs money, so dressing warmly and giving your body time to adjust to cooler temps makes a big difference. Each degree over the outside temp costs more than the last one. I make a conscious effort to adjust to cold each fall by wearing lighter clothing than others and I get used to it. So, while others are complaining about the cold, I feel ok. It's supposed to be -14˚ Saturday morning, so I'll have a chance to see if I can go outside naked and roll in the snow (I may sleep late instead).

I understand how you want predictability—doesn't everyone? It's hard to make more than an estimate. Since you have your own meter, you can look at it everyday around the same time and chart how much you are using each day and make adjustments. You can compare this to degree days and get numbers for cost/degree day. Then find out the normal degree days per month where you are (check weather stats for there available from what we used to call the "weather bureau" and other weather websites) and predict the future so long as the weather is "normal".

Degree days: Heating degree day - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Google the term and you'll get lots more info.

Gene
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Old 12-30-2010, 12:01 AM   #13
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My trailer is a 29ft narrow body.

I have used it during the winter in Texas & Florida.

We use two Pelonas heaters(ceramic disc) that are 1200 or 1500 watt while operating.

I assume you are not in the trailer during the day.

A heater in the front of the trailer from 5:00pm- 11:00pm will use (6x1500watts) per day and one in the back from 10:00pm-11:00pm at 1500 watts plus 50% operation from 11:00pm - 7:00am at 12000x50%= 6000 watts plus the front heater in the am for an hour before you leave will be another 1500 watts. Totals would be approx. 18000watts/day/1000watts per kilowatt hour = 18kwh x $.12 = $2.16 per day.

I doubt your park will give you the best rate so I upped the $.10 as this is a really good rate nearly anywhere in the country.

One 1500 watt heater will heat the front or back of the trailer but, not both ends during winter weather in Florida or Texas. I would think Cali is quite similar.
I do not cover windows with insulation or do anything special.

We came home from Florida early last winter because if I am going to be cold in a trailer, I would rather be home with my dual fuel heatpump/gas furnace.

Just my $.02
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Old 12-30-2010, 02:14 AM   #14
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We camped near Tombstone a few years ago, and they had electric meters at every site. It was near freezing the night we stayed there, so we ran the resistance heater in the air conditioner all night (it doesn't cycle off and heats continuously). The electric charge for overnight was 11-cents.

If your total electric usage allows you to use a regular 15 amp plug, you can buy a device called the "Kill A Watt EZ, Electricity Usage Monitor" and measure your actual usage while the heaters are turned on. I think you can also input the cost per kilowatt-hour and it will calculate the total cost per hour, day, week, or year. We bought this at Costco, but we have also seen them at Home Depot and other places.
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