In Bermuda's humid environment, closet heaters are considered a 'must-have', but have you ever wondered how much it costs to use them?

They don't appear in the Belco efficiency guide, or in any of the Government Department of Energy's energy efficiency fact sheets, so they must be energy efficient — right?

Wrong!

Closet heaters could be costing you $1,000s every year.

closet-heaterA single closet heater can cost more than $200 to power each year.

Let me share my story.

I live by the water — where things are even more inclined to get damp — as a result, I have one or more rod-style heaters (aka storage dehumidifiers) in most of the closets in our home. I was surprised to find that we have 13 closet heaters. 13! How many do you have? You might be surprised too.

Using a Belkin Conserve Insight energy use monitor ($28.84, Amazon.com), it took me less than half an hour to measure how energy hungry my closet heaters truly were. The energy monitor reported that the energy consumption varied massively depending on the size, style and age of each heater.

The energy usage ranged from 16 to 59 watts. My Belco bills show that we pay around $0.44 per Kilowatt Hour (KwH) of electricity. Armed with this information, I punched the numbers into a spreadsheet; added some simple formulae (e.g. watts x KwH rate ÷ 1000 = cost to run a closet heater for one hour) and voilà.

It works out that the 13 closet heaters cost a total of $0.225 per hour to operate, which really isn't much.... until you multiply by 24 (for the cost per day), and then by 365 (for the cost per year). When I was done, I was shocked; my closet heaters cost a whopping $1,971 in electricity each year when switched on 24x7. Surely my math was off!?

Not quite convinced of my own findings, and reluctant to give up on my beloved closet heaters entirely, I added a basic plug-in timer ($10, Gorhams) to each of them. I set each timer to switch a closet heater on for either 3 or 6 hours per day, depending on what was stored in that particular closet. If my math was right, this would generate savings of over $100 per month on my Belco bill. As a bonus, I could feel good about doing my bit for the environment.

I then waited for my next Belco bill to arrive. This was the only hard part of the exercise.  I’m not a patient person.

Eureka!

The next Belco bill delivered on the promised savings. Our April bill was down $100 on our March bill, and also over $100 less than our bills from April 2013, 2012 and 2011.

I mix with a fairly eco-conscious bunch, so why had no-one ever told me that closet heaters were such energy hogs? It seems that this is one of Bermuda's best kept secrets... but with your help, it doesn't need to be. Let's let the cat out of the bag...or at least the Watts out of the closet.

My next questions are why we, as a family, store so much 'stuff' and how much of it we actually use or need? But I'll leave that introspection for another day. One step at a time...

***

Greenrock, www.greenrock.org, is a non-profit organisation established to engage the community to share solutions for a sustainable Bermuda.

If you have energy conservation tips you'd like to share, please email them to Greenrock at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



This article appears in our regular 'Greenrock Says...'  column in the Royal Gazette Green Pages, published on the first Thursday of each month.

About Greenrock

According to The Footprint Network, which measures the ability of the planet to produce resources and absorb waste, our resource use and waste production is 60% more than the earth can produce or absorb annually.

This overshoot is the result of decisions that we each make every day. We seek to generate debate and to influence people to change their behaviour.We strive to be catalysts: Success for us is when we can Change the Mindset so that sustainable use of resources is included in decision-making for individuals, government or businesses. ... read more


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