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Reduce energy use with this "cut back" thermometer.

For decades my wife Ronna and I conserved fuel (and money) by turning the heat low at night. It's real patriotism to reduce profligate human demands on the Earth's resources, and adding blankets makes winter nights cozier.

It's not cozy jumping out to turn up the heat in the morning, and the chill tempts us to avoid saving as much energy overnight as we should. Automatic "cutback" digital thermostats are available, but they're expensive, unnecessarily complicated, and require batteries. So I made our own.

If your home uses one of those plain thermostats you can do the same. It requires no electrical or heating skill, works on any type of fuel, and functions in any house with electricity.

Buy a wall switch or timer, extension cord, seven-watt lamp with the full size light bulb base, and one of those adapters that accepts a light bulb and includes prongs to fit any standard outlet, such as that at the far end of the extension cord. I used a nightlight, but the principle is the same.

Plug the bulb into the extension and mount it just below your thermostat. Then plug the extension into the wall timer, which is plugged into a wall receptacle. Set the timer to turn on in the evening when you want the heat to cut back. Set the timer to turn off in the morning about half an hour before you rise.

Now when the light bulb turns on, its heat will warm the thermostat so it thinks that your house is warmer than it really is. (The bulb also functions as a nightlight.) The closer the bulb is to the thermostat, the lower the overnight heat.

For example, my setup makes the thermostat read about 12 degrees higher than the real room temperature. So if the thermostat is set to 68 degrees, the overnight temperature will stabilize at 56 degrees. With the timer set, the bulb shuts off and the heat is on when I arise in the morning.

You may need to experiment with the distance between the light bulb and the thermostat, but the reduced fuel costs should be apparent very quickly. And it won't take long to pay back the investment in the timer and other components.

Sleep cozy this winter. Think of the savings ... and your contribution to using less energy.


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Author:Pesha, Ronald
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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