There are a number of ways that you can invest in your home's electrical system that will allow you to make other changes to increase efficiency, cut costs, and make your home more comfortable. Most of these changes involve making the electrical system more flexible.
Heating and Cooling
The advent of electric water heaters marked the start of higher-voltage electrical consumption in the residential setting. In the intervening years, we have only increased our home appetites for electricity with electric clothes dryers, dishwashers, and electric ranges. The shift to central heating in the 1930s and then to central air conditioning in the 1950s resulted in even higher power requirements, since this added another system that would be using 220 or 240 volts.
The industry is learning, however, that decentralization, which adds to flexibility in heating and cooling, can be more efficient. For instance, baseboard heaters can be used to raise the temperatures in occupied rooms to a comfortable level, while the central system is set to a lower temperature. These baseboard heaters (and auxiliary cooling units) often require expansion of electrical service by installation of subpanels.
The efficiency is gained by only heating (or cooling) the zones that require it. The more efficient temperature settings in the rest of the house can save big money. Even a one degree temperature change on the thermostat can save 1% over an 8-hour setback period. By expanding electrical service, the more flexible system can deliver the higher energy needed to the right places, without wasting it where unneeded.
Conventional water heaters work by heating water as it enters into a tank, and the tank water is then also held at the set temperature, to be ready when needed. Conventional water heaters continuously use electricity or natural gas to maintain water temperature.
On the other hand, tankless heaters only heat the water when sensing flow as a hot water tap is opened. The trade off is that when a tankless heater is in use, it can require 30 kW (kilowatts) or more of electricity, a larger instantaneous use than conventional water heaters.
If you are thinking about installing a tankless or on demand electrical hot water heater, you should have a frank discussion with your electrician as part of the planning process. Your electrician will need to make calculations to determine if you need to increase your service panel capacity to accommodate the intense energy consumption of an on-demand water heater.
As you consult with a licensed electrician and other resources, like your local energy cooperative, you can find ways to invest in your home's electrical system to save you money in the long run.
Contact a service like D & D Electric Enterprises, Inc. for more help.