Most people are looking for ways to cut back and not waste money. While some people may be aware of a strategy for cutting your electric bill, I stumbled into this one during Christmas.
We put our heat tape on our house (keeps the ice dams from building up on the north side of our roof) on the same timer we used for Christmas lights. So, it ran for about 5 hour a days (5-10PM), instead of the 24 hours a day it usually runs.
What was the difference in performance? Almost nothing. No ice dams formed and the snow melted off. However, if we calculate the energy difference it is huge. Before, our heat tape was running about 2800 hours a season (December through March, 24 hours a day) and now given the timer it will run about 600 hours. I have about 100 feet of tape running and this webpage estimates the cost. It likely costs about $65 per month to run it 24 hours a day. My five hours a day costs about $20.
Further research shows there is a more effective strategy than running the heat tape at night. It appears running heat tape during the day is actually more efficient. Our own Summit County Power Works has a page on using heat tape effectively. Park City and Summit County have dropped into 6th place for the Georgetown Energy Prize. Adding a timer to your own heat tape setup may be an easy way to contribute to the effort and try to push us back to the top.
Of course, any time your are dealing with electricity (especially when it’s used to heat up a wire that you are attaching to your house), you should use caution. You would want to choose an appropriate outdoor timer for your heat tape and ask a professional (or perhaps the Summit County Power Works) for advice.
That said, it’s a solution I stumbled into, and looks to be an easy way to curb energy use during the winter months in Park City and Summit County.