139 thoughts on “Politics open thread, February 28 — March 6

  1. ““The people who didn’t lose their power, they’re much better off than the people who lost it,” Hogan said. “Even if they had to pay bills for it, then that’s going to have to be figured out.””

    No. They’re not better off if they wind up with an unexpected $16,000 bill. If they had known the price would be that high, they would not have chosen it. This guy is utterly disingenuous. I can, if I have to, afford that bill, but if I knew it was a choice between no electricity for several days or a $16K bill, I’d pick no electricity.

  2. He is really smug. Clearly he is not aware that many people are not at his level of cognitive ability.

    The goal of disconnecting from the national grid, as told to the people, was to keep rates low for residents of Texas. Aside from February 2021, were consumers paying, averages rates below what say, those in OK, LA, GA or NY pay?

  3. I agree, the guy sounds tone deaf. Overall,I think we consumers have too many choices at time, without the time or knowledge to correctly choose. My strategy is to avoid anything with variable rates if I possibly can, knowing that it may not always be the optimal strategy – but I need to simplify my choices somehow

  4. I can’t find it right now but saw an article last week, maybe in WSJ, showing an analysis that Texans have paid $28B more for electricity since deregulation than we would have. Injecting a layer of profit-seeking companies into essential services and providing minimal oversight rarely benefits consumers, and there’s little reason to think it would. I agree with RMS, almost anyone would have chose no power over a $16k bill.

  5. ““The people who didn’t lose their power, they’re much better off than the people who lost it,” Hogan said. “Even if they had to pay bills for it, then that’s going to have to be figured out.””

    IIRC power cutoffs were done at the substation level. How much you were paying didn’t have anything to do with it for residential customers.

  6. Con Ed rates

    2021
    NYC residential electric customer using 300 kilowatt hours would increase $3.40 to $79.83, an increase of 4.5%.

    Westchester residential electric customer using 450 kilowatt hours would increase $4.88 to $111.34, an increase of 4.6%.

    2022
    NYC residential electric customer using 300 kilowatt hours would increase $3.03 to $82.86, an increase of 3.8%.
    Westchester residential electric customer using 450 kilowatt hours would increase $4.34 to $115.68, an increase of 3.9%.

    This is my current bill, but it is higher than years ago since all 3 of us are home AND DH is using four screens on our desktop. He has multiple computers and other equipment plugged into our office.

    From Jan 19 to Feb 18:
    electricity use 788 kWh

    supply 788 @8.3921 $66.13
    merchant function charge $3.14

    Basic delivery charge $17.14
    Delivery 788 kWh@12.6003/kWh $99.29

    System benefit charge for clean energy $4.26
    taxes $10.76

    total delivery charges = $123.73

    My gas charge for 30 days was $360.16 so total Con ed bill was $520.57

    ConEd includes a bar chart that compares the 12 months and they compare the current month to one year ago. For this period last year, our average daily electricity use as 21 kWh as compared to this year when it was 27 kWh.

    In July, we used 33 kWh. That was the highest number for the year.

  7. One other issue that the article missed is that he thought they didn’t need to mandate winterization because producers would want to reap windfall profits during cold snaps. The problem is that median CEO tenure is less than 5 years. Is generic CEO A going to pay to winterize year after year and as a result report subpar earning and get a subpar bonus? Especially if he knows he’s going to retire in 3 years? History says no.

    I really like to have a good long talk with him and the agency problem.

  8. My electric bill for February – avg. daily temp was 10 degrees
    electric use: 1047 kWh
    Subtotal was $140.39 (which includes a credit of 5.09 for a fuel cost decrease)
    Total was $154.07

    My gas bill (Jan 15 – Feb 15) – avg. daily temp was 17 degrees
    Therms used: 224
    Total was $159.62 (which includes a credit of $8.72 for pipeline refund)

  9. There is BS (!!) charge on my Con Ed bill for gas.
    We used 218 therms at 54.2477 cents per therm, but they also charged me a “remaining 215 therms@96.7907 cents/therm for an additional $208.10. They claim that this is the charge for maintaining the system through which Con Ed delivers the gas. I got a 16 cents credit for recovery costs.

  10. For mid January – mid February, I paid
    ELECTRIC SERVICE – $113.45, kWh (Elec) – 788
    Gas $135.59 for 140.8 therms.

    Those are all in amounts including taxes and fees.

  11. Lauren – So are they saying that you used a total of 430 therms, and they have a tiered rate based on usage?

    For both electric and gas there are at so many different charges on my bill (delivery charge, decoupling adjustment, gas affordability PRG, Cost of gas, interim rate adjustment). They don’t make it easy for people to understand.

  12. NO! I have to talk to some of my neighbors and see if they are charged this other rate for maintaining the system. I really despise Con Ed. Most roads in my town are ripped up and they have a major street closed for over two weeks to put in new gas lines.

    They use sub contractors and their contractor cut my cable lines when I had a gas leak about five years ago. All of the towns around here are fighting with Con Ed to repave the roads because they do these patches and of course they didn’t hold in the recent weather. If this is a legit charge, it stinks because their service is terrible.

    Mooshi and Kim – if you have time to check your bills – please let me know if your gas charge is similar.

  13. electricity use 788 kWh
    electric use: 1047 kWh
    kWh (Elec) – 788

    Interesting that two of you had the same electricity use.

    What do you use electricity for? All of you mentioned gas bills as well, so would I be correct in guessing that you use gas for heat, water heating, clothes drying, and your cooktops?

    I’m wondering if use in that ballpark is normal for this time of year where you live. Is your usage up during the pandemic?

    I’m guessing that since this is recent use, that use didn’t include AC, which can use a lot of electricity.

    My most recent bill showed usage of 390 kwh (total use, regardless of source). Over the last couple year, our monthly use has mostly been in the mid 300s to low 500s of kwh, with a couple over 600. According to HECO, typical household use here is about 500 kwh/month. I’ve heard of families using double that; typically, those families use AC a lot.

    We don’t have gas, so pretty much all our energy use is either electric or direct solar (water heating and clothes drying). We have a few rooms with AC; I try to limit AC use, but DD doesn’t often cooperate. And of course our use also includes charging a car, although the amount of driving we do is way down due to the pandemic.

  14. We average $7.68 nzd per day for gas ($160 usd per month). That is for 500-700 kWh. Everything in our house is electric except the cooktop – we literally have a gas hose that goes through the walk and into the giant propane bottles in the driveway. It’s summer, but we don’t have AC. In winter we will heat with wood. We bought $150 of wood that we have stacked for the coming winter, I think it should last the whole season.

  15. The propane tanks cost us $70 per fill, and $3 rental per month. We have 2. Six months of regular cooking has not emptied the first. I think they are about 15 gallon?

  16. “We average $7.68 nzd per day for gas ($160 usd per month). That is for 500-700 kWh.”

    Did you meant for electricity?

  17. Ooops. Yes. $160/month for electricity, probably $20/month for gas over the course of a year, and $15 for wood.

    We do almost all of our drying outside. So we are saving dozens of dollars per year. Perhaps even 1-2 hundred of savings.

  18. Ada, I’m used to seeing propane sold by weight.

    About how big are your tanks?

    I have a 20# tank for my grill. It’s about a foot in diameter and maybe 16″ high? I own that tank, and for about $20 or $25 can exchange it for a full tank of the same size.

    OK, a quick google shows those tanks hold 4.6 gallons of propane. So assuming your $70 per fill is USD, per 15 gallon tank, we pay about the same amount for the actual propane, but I don’t pay the tank rental.

    IOW, potentially a huge savings of $3/month.

  19. The issue is that I don’t want to be stuck with no propane on a weekend or over a holiday. If one tank runs dry, I can switch and then get it replaced (for “free”). If I only have one tank, it could be several days before I could use my stove top. The insurance is worth the extra $3 per month.

  20. Ada, no reason you can’t have 2 tanks.

    My sister used to use 20# tanks for their dryer, and they just had two of them. When one would empty, they’d switch tanks, and pay the $20 or so an exchange the empty tank for a full one.

    They’d also use the same tanks when they went camping.

  21. “ All of you mentioned gas bills as well, so would I be correct in guessing that you use gas for heat, water heating, clothes drying, and your cooktops”

    Yes that’s right. And no A/C usage!

    Electric is lights, internet, three computers & accessories in use 10+ hours/day, Sonos system on most of the day, TV in the evening, various electronics charging, PS4/TV on a decent amount, garage door opener, fridge, dishwasher (run twice/day), chest freezer, hair dryer, etc. We are all home 24/7 pretty much.

  22. Ivy, thanks.

    Other than your nights being longer than ours, your usage seems similar to ours. Nothing there to explain why your use is more than ours.

  23. Electricity is powering the gas furnace. I know when I looked at our bill this month is was higher than last month….which makes sense because this month was much colder. Tomorrow I’ll take a deeper dive I to our usages over the past year.

  24. Lemon, thanks. That makes sense in one way, since your usage was the highest of the three.

    But I’m wondering about electricity powering a gas furnace. Is it like what Houston mentioned before, with electric blowers to move air heated by gas?

  25. Furnace comment reminds me of the discussion we recently had in which I mentioned wall furnaces.

    I was recently watching an episode of Mixed-ish, and I noticed that same kind of furnace in their house.

  26. Lauren, our total ConEd bill is almost twice yours. Our house is not that big, but 2/3 of it was built in 1925 with minimal added insulation. Plus we’re very extravagant in running both the furnace and AC. For example, in the winter my H opens our bedroom windows at nigh while keeping the thermostat in the 60s to keep our bedroom icy cold but the other rooms on the second floor moderately heated. In the warmer weather he puts on the AC at the drop of a hat instead of opening windows. I often wear a sweater indoors in the summer while he’s in short sleeves and shorts.

    Our total gas delivery charge was $373 last month. That’s on top of gas supply charge of $200.65.

  27. L’Abbey has you all beat by a mile! Our gas bill (heat, stove) for January was $1,062. Electric $451 (for that one we get an auto pay discount so only have to pay $409).

  28. Kim, wow….I feel for you because that is a lot of $. Hopefully, your bills are lower in the cusp months in the spring and fall.

  29. I’ll play. In Denver, last month’s bill was $93.20 for electricity (796 kWh), and $106.02 for natural gas (170 therms). In Santa Cruz, where a friend of a friend lives in the house most of the time that we’re not there, $76.05 for electricity (246 kWh at Tier 1, 103 kWh at Tier 2) and $119.76 for gas (33.12 therms at Tier 1, 16.48 therms at Tier 2). PG&E sent us a cheery letter saying they’re jacking up our rates, yay.

  30. It’s the water that kills us in California. It’s never below $150, even when we’re not watering the yard at all in the winter. A couple of Augusts we’ve miscalculated the watering and it hits $900.

    It’s almost never over $50 in Denver, even in the summer when we’re watering.

  31. We don’t have a sprinkler system. Our water bill is usually around $60 per month. Our gas/electric combined is usually $250-$300. We keep our indoor temp at 72 degrees in winter and 77 degrees in summer. I shop annually for our energy provider, but try not to worry about the bills otherwise.

    Our house is on the small side, and like Kim’s, is old with minimal insulation and shoddy windows.

  32. Our last monthly bills end the week before the weather disaster here, and our electric bill was $133 for 1,364 Kwh. Our gas bill was around $35, which is what I have the autopay set at. We typically have a credit balance on there coming into winter. I don’t like the forced air heat so I only turn it on if it gets pretty cold or will stay cold for more than a day or two.

    Our water bills are much higher than Houston’s because of our MUD system and the additional consumption-based charges for building the infrastructure to pump surface water all way across the county. People in the neighborhood complain about bills in the hundreds of dollars in the summer, but we installed a wireless device on the sprinkler system that looks at weather forecasts and the amount of rain we’ve gotten to set when the sprinklers run so our bills stayed below $100 all summer.

  33. Our last monthly bills end the week before the weather disaster here, and our electric bill was $133 for 1,364 Kwh. Our gas bill was around $35, which is what I have the autopay set at. We typically have a credit balance on there coming into winter. I don’t like the forced air heat so I only turn it on if it gets pretty cold or will stay cold for more than a day or two.

    Our water bills are much higher than Houston’s because of our MUD system and the additional consumption-based charges for building the infrastructure to pump surface water all way across the county. People in the neighborhood complain about bills in the hundreds of dollars in the summer, but we installed a wireless device on the sprinkler system that looks at weather forecasts and the amount of rain we’ve gotten to set when the sprinklers run so our bills stayed below $100 all summer.

  34. That smart wireless device for the sprinkler system sounds awesome. We don’t have a sprinkler system, but if I did I would be all about that.

    Our water bills are roughly $200 every three months. It includes recycling and organics recycling. It will be higher this upcoming year, as they set our rates based on Jan-Mar usage.

  35. Before we put in a solar array, five or six years ago, the house bills ranged from $300-400 in the winter to around $1000+ in the summer. We have a well. I don’t recall the gas bill. We switched to an over built solar array and the house bills are generally sub $100.

    The ranch, on the other hand, yearly bills are in the low six figures, with a four percent raise and PG&E changed the peak times, but not putting that info on their website. Had an hour long convo with a phone rep try8ng to figure out off peak days…they differ depending on rate structure for commercial accounts.

    In January, I do a rate analysis of all the pumps, can generally squeeze some savings. I’ve also been trying to get a couple solar arrays built for the last year. PG&E is throwing up delaying tactics about getting the systems hooked up to the grid. The aren’t even big systems.

  36. My 2100 sq ft end townhome needs new windows, and DH likes it hot in the winter. We are 100 percent electric. Stove, heat A/c pump, hot water, dryer, supplemental heaters and fans, electric mattress pad. I never look at the consumption and surcharge data, just the bottom line on an annual basis. Last 12 mos were approx 3200. Pretty consistent annually xcept for the winters DD lived in the basement so 24 7 supplemental winter heat plus many hot showers. Lowest mos are May/June and Sept/Oct baseline of 175 with minimal HVAC. Water and sewer bill 50 per month.

    DS in the exurban 4000 sq fthouse has solar panels, splits, efficient fireplaces, and a back up/original oil burning furnace. No gas. His net energy bills are modest. Also house temps are set low. Well and septic.

  37. We have one of those wireless water control devices too, now. We learned.

    Also our gardener was very free with the water because she lives in Boulder Creek and has a well. I put the kibosh on that.

  38. Okay, looking at past year bills. A year ago the electric bill was $45 cheaper. The average temp in Feb 2020 was also 11 degrees warmer than 2021. In August 2020 are bill was $167.27. We run the AC all summer, especially in 2020 because we had house construction next door (like 10 feet from our house). In 2019 are cheapest months are spring & fall, but all of 2020 was over $100 each month. It’s pretty consistent.

    For the gas bill, September 2020 was the cheapest – $31.25. In summer/early fall the Therms drop to the 30s, and peak in Jan/Feb at over 200.

  39. @Finn – I assume we have electric blowers for the furnace as well, but I’m not an expert on that. The furnace is in the basement, and there are vents all the way up to the attic nook which is technically 4 levels above the furnace. That might make a difference. Our gas usage is actually much lower than our old house that was half the size for similar weather – I am guessing that is because the new house is much better insulated with better windows. I have LED’s in for the majority of the light bulbs in the house.

  40. If you refuse to get vaccinated should your health insurer (private, Medicare, etc.) be able to refuse to pay for your treatment? Should hospitals be able to refuse to treat you unless you can pay out of pocket?

  41. Have you been paying the premiums? Then yes.

    Then an anti-vax premium surcharge would be appropriate?

  42. If you refuse to get vaccinated should your health insurer (private, Medicare, etc.) be able to refuse to pay for your treatment

    No. People make all kinds of other decisions that may lead to poor health outcomes. Riding motorcycles, drinking too much, smoking. Even getting pregnant!

  43. Interesting question Rhett. In the past insurers aren’t penalizing anti-vaxers. People who never got the MMR vax but get measles are still covered. I can’t see how insurers could call out the COVID-19 vax but not the others. Not to mention those who use religious reasons to avoid vaccines.

    Based on what I’m seeing about profits, health insurance companies did very well with having COVID-19 raging out of control. Treatment for COVID patients is cheaper than normal elective surgeries, dr. visits, etc. Now, Life & Disability insurance companies…that is a different story.

  44. A really common thing ER doctors have to do is pull foreign objects out of people’s asses. People are always shoving foreign objects up their asses.

    You can’t start covering medical care only for the sensible. It wouldn’t work.

    I can see that you’re feeling punitive towards people who don’t want to get vaccinated, but it just doesn’t work that way. The human race is pretty stupid.

  45. Agree with what has been said – insurance is there even if you have made bad decisions.

    Interestingly – it is impossible to get travel insurance right now that covers care for COVID related illness. Hopefully, they will start to cover people if they are vaccinated.

    Au Pairs in the US are required to have insurance, but it is not required to meet ACA standards. It is kind of a catastrophic/emergency policy, with no preventive or preexisting coverage. It also excludes “preventable” accidents. So, no coverage if you drink and fall down. Very specifically, an acquaitance had a few drinks, tripped on the sidewalk, went to the ED, had a head CT (and an alcohol test), and a few stiches. Her $4k bill was refused by Au Pair insurance

  46. I wish the feds would hold back vaccines from the states that are saying “no mask”. I know that some people think the mask is a waste of time, but it clearly works because it prevented so many other diseases in addition to Covid. Our pediatrician said she is seeing very few cases of strep, norovirus etc. There is practically no flu in the US so it is impossible to catch the flu, but most pediatricians around here are saying that kids are not coming in with the usual stuff. The kids in NY burbs go to school and they went to day camp too. I’ve posted about our friend that has a son with aggressive lymphoma and he just had a transplant in December. His sisters are allowed to go to school because their ped said that she has never seen a period in history when there are so few germs out there for everything. She said they still treat sick kids, but she said this winter was like no other winter in her experience – very few cases of anything related to flu, cold etc.

  47. I wish the feds would hold back vaccines from the states that are saying “no mask”

    I can’t understand the eagerness for declaring early victory*. I could totally understand if there was no relief in site. But if everyone who wants a shot can get a shot is a few weeks away, what’s the rush? I assume Abbott just wants to move the news cycle past his electricity debacle.

  48. But if everyone who wants a shot can get a shot is a few weeks away, what’s the rush?

    A friend of mine compared it to flying to Asia, which he has to do regularly. While he’s in the air, he can zone out, doze, read, watch movies, whatever. He gets his head in the right space. But when the plane lands, he wants to kill everyone in the aisle who’s being slow, and throttle the staff who aren’t bringing the bridge to the gate fast enough. We’re finally here, SO MOVE YOUR ASS!

  49. everyone in the aisle who’s being slow…staff who aren’t bringing the bridge to the gate fast enough

    Sigh, I miss that. The quick blast of outside air tinged with the intoxication scent of kerosene as you exit. The gentle bounce of the floor and the click click of the roller bag wheels.

  50. “People make all kinds of other decisions that may lead to poor health outcomes. Riding motorcycles, drinking too much, smoking.”

    I was going to make a similar point, but using the example of not using seat betls.

    I think it’s more feasible for the insurers to go the other way, and not just fully cover vaccinations and associated costs, but give discounts or other benefits for being vaccinated.

  51. “Before we put in a solar array, five or six years ago”

    How’s that been working for you? I’m guessing before you got it, you ran some numbers and projected a payback period; how has actual performance compared to projected?

    “I’ve also been trying to get a couple solar arrays built for the last year. PG&E is throwing up delaying tactics about getting the systems hooked up to the grid. The aren’t even big systems.”

    Could you install them and run them off-grid until PG&E approved connecting? The federal tax credits go away after this year (at least the credits that I know about), so you probably want them installed this year.

    For our last 3 installations, we’ve not been allowed to feed any energy into the grid. Everything our panels produce either gets used by us, or goes unused. Perhaps you can do a similar installation, and convert it when PG&E gives the OK.

    So far, our recent installations have been paying back near what I projected, which is not as optimistic as what our contractor projected.

  52. “Last month’s electric bill was $236.61 for 2,292 kwh.”

    Wow.

    First wow is because that seems really cheap per kwh, but I guess that’s in line with continental prices.

    But that is a lot more than anyone else has posted. Do you use electricity to heat your house?

  53. ““Our last monthly bills end the week before the weather disaster here, and our electric bill was $133 for 1,364 Kwh.”

    Becky, do you use electricity to heat your house?

  54. Thanks to all for posting your energy use information.

    It seems pretty clear that typical electricity use is lower here than most of the rest of the country. That makes sense when you consider that our rates are 3 to 4 times higher. But I’m not seeing any use patterns, other than perhaps widespread use of solar water heaters here, to explain what uses account for the higher consumption on the continent.

    Electric heating and AC use seem to explain much of the differences between continental users, but don’t seem to account for differences between here and the continent.

  55. “My 2100 sq ft end townhome needs new windows”

    I’m curious, why does it need new windows? Is it because the existing windows aren’t good at preventing heat loss during winter?

    More broadly, a lot of people have posted about needing to replace windows. Why do/did they need replacement? Was it heat loss, or was it something else, e.g., leaking, not operating well, sill or casing damage?

    I’ve heard/read multiple times that if you’re losing a lot of heat through your windows, installing storm windows is often a much less expensive solution than replacing the windows that can more effectively reduce heat loss.

    I’m curious if anyone has considered that option, and if so, why you decided for/against it. I don’t recall anyone here posting about installing storm windows.

    Around here, it’s pretty common for windows to last the life of houses. Heat loss is not typically a reason for replacement. I think the most common reason for window replacement is security.

  56. “But that is a lot more than anyone else has posted”

    AHEM! ;)

    Rhett, that was the point at which my stomach would often give up the ghost if it were feeling at all bad. Once I was *in the aisle* walking off the plane and had to duck into a 1st class seat because I couldn’t make it all the way.

  57. “More sunlight?”

    So more use of electricity for lighting on the continent?

    On an annual basis, I don’t know that we have more sunlight, especially relative to someplace like Denver. We don’t get the really long summer days like you do.

    “More time spent outside in general?”

    That’s probably true, at least during winter. I’ve noticed that when I look at our PV monitoring graphs, I can tell when everyone went for an early evening walk.

    But I’m skeptical that explains the entire difference. Comparing summer use might shed some light.

  58. Sorry, L. I know you use a lot, but I don’t know your cost per kwh.

    If I assume it’s on the order of 11 cents, then yeah, you’re about double of Lark, who’s about double of Becky.

    What drives your use? You mentioned gas for heat, and it was for January, so I’m guessing no AC use. I know your L’Abbey is big, but other than heat and AC, what energy uses tend to be directly tied to house size? I would think most other uses would be also tied to occupancy.

  59. L, has your family been cooking a lot?

    It’s easy to see on our PV graphs when we use the stove or oven. I think one reason our use is on the low side by local standards is we don’t cook often. When we do cook, we like to cook large quantities (remember, we do most of our grocery shopping at Costco, Sam’s, and a restaurant supply store), and then eat leftovers for many days afterwards.

    But I’d be very surprised if mainland households cook that much more often than households here.

  60. Finn,

    Another reason is for various reasons the seals fail in double or triple pane windows and you get moisture between the panes.

    I would guess the primary causes of seal failure would be UV damage and the freeze thaw cycle. But I’m not sure.

  61. Also when the seal fails the argon escapes and the argon provides up to 25% of the window’s R value.

  62. “seals fail in double or triple pane windows and you get moisture between the panes.”

    That happened to a lot of windows in our SV house. They were under warranty, so the manufacturer sent someone to repair them. Only the failing parts were replaced, rather than the entire windows.

    If sash windows failed for that reason, the sashes could, at least in theory, be replaced, rather than replacing the entire windows.

    I could see entire windows needing to be replaced, e.g., if replacement sashes aren’t available.

    But the amount of labor to replace a sash is so much less than to replace an entire window.

  63. “Also when the seal fails the argon escapes and the argon provides up to 25% of the window’s R value.”

    But a storm window could replace that lost R value.

  64. Do you use electricity to heat your house?

    Yes. Our gas use is extremely minimal. We have a gas cooktop (but electric oven). We also have one gas fireplace and a gas starter for the wood burning fireplace. So, if we have a lot of fires we see a bump in gas use, but otherwise our gas bill is around $25/month.

  65. A lot of people don’t like the way storm windows look. Also, if you live someplace like Denver where the weather changes dramatically over a few days, it makes it more difficult to open the window when it’s 60 and close it up again when it’s 20.

    The beauty of the newer windows is that you don’t have to have storm windows.

  66. But a storm window could replace that lost R value.

    Many people think they are unsightly. They are also a pain in the ass to put up and put down. They also sell these:

    A friend who grew up in VT had some window issues and I said, “Why not get those plastic sheets that you seal with a hair dryer.” And he said, “Absolutely not!” Apparently up there using those to quote Adam Smith, “Would be supposed to denote that disgraceful degree of poverty which, it is presumed, nobody can well fall into without extreme bad conduct.”

    There may be a degree of that for storm windows as well.

  67. “Comparing summer use might shed some light.”

    I have a feeling we use a lot more A/C than you do.

    Storm windows – what a pain. It’s like RMS said – switching them out multiple times per year is not practical. There are multiple months during the year when it is likely that we would use both the A/C and the furnace. Sometimes in the same day. (Those months would be: April, May, June, September, October, November)

  68. Windows also deafen sound (helpful if you live near the freeway or airport). The seals will break due to poor window construction/quality as well as years of freeze/thaw cycles. Before we replaced our windows in the winter you could feel the cold air basically blowing in through the window. Even now, we have insulating blinds to help keep the cold air out and heat in.

    So even though we deal with extreme cold issues, I’m still happy to have the cold temps kill all giant spiders and insects.

  69. Milo, I’ve never heard that phrase but it totally fits. And of course that would apply to storm windows as well.

  70. Yeah, perhaps revealing my limited exposure geographically and socioeconomically, I think of storm Windows in the same category as aluminum awnings.

    https://images.app.goo.gl/NAcyRihfVVELShC8A

    Finn – sometimes I really wonder what makes you so inquisitive about minutiae at the expense of what’s blatantly obvious. The vast majority of residential energy consumption in the United States is a direct function of the absolute difference between the setpoint on the thermostat and the ambient temperature immediately outside. Your state probably has the most mild, temperate climate of the 50 states, and it maintains that year-round. And you’re 🤔🤔🤔 about whether cooking Costco food in bulk is the reason you require less residential energy, and you act surprised that Massachusetts gets cold, and Georgia gets hot.

    It’s like … dude…come on!


  71. I don’t think of storm windows as being for po’ folk. More like Little House on the Prairie, back-to-our-forefathers types.”

    I just finished “Nomadland.” I think the author would say that, for most of them, the only difference between the two is that the latter group blogs about it.

  72. You can tell the age of the homeowners based on if they have storm windows or not. My parents…original single pane windows w/storm windows in winter. My dad refuses to believe that spending money on “modern” windows is worth it. “These windows are perfectly fine.” He also heats the house as high as he wants and cools it as low as he wants. Money spent on heating/cooling is unlimited. It’s not logical thinking. The house down the street from me, the lady is in her early 80s. If she gets cold, she throws on a sweater. She doesn’t care what her house looks like, because in her mind, it will never compare to the new house nextdoor.

  73. I just realized. You know what you don’t see anymore? Storm doors. I assume it has to do with the decline of screen doors*. With AC you’re not relying on the breeze for cooling.

    * For Finn, in the spring storm Windows and doors would have the window parts swapper for screens.

  74. Milo,

    Back to haul over inlet. The median age for the $800k boats seems to be about 35. Is it dad – the owner of south Florida’s largest sheet metal fabricator’s boat and these are the sons. Or?

  75. Rhett – I agree, although my parents have something like this

    https://images.app.goo.gl/vyszfsF7vgCKGvKL8

    On both houses. It’s nice, because you can get a serious cross breeze off the water. But off the top of my head, I can’t think of anyone else I know who ever opens the windows for fresh air. Ever.

  76. I have a storm door! It’s an interesting style. It has insulated glass panels that you can take out in the summer and replace with screens. So you have a screen door in the summer and a storm door in the winter.

  77. Lol. I think 35 is too young. I think it’s 50. I’ll have to pay closer attention.

    The question is are all they all successful sheet metal fabricators, like the power boaters on the Chesapeake Bay are, or do the accounting firm partners also buy those boats when they live in Miami? Ask Mafalda? PTM?

    Maybe the distinction is in the width of their girlfriends’ thongs.

  78. I did open the window for a bit this afternoon to let in some fresh air. It is 48 degrees out, so it was time to let the house breathe.

  79. “The vast majority of residential energy consumption in the United States is a direct function of the absolute difference between the setpoint on the thermostat and the ambient temperature immediately outside.”

    I was asking and commenting about electricity consumption, not overall energy consumption, and trying to separate out heating and AC use.

    “Your state probably has the most mild, temperate climate of the 50 states, and it maintains that year-round.”

    I don’t think so. In elementary school, we were taught that we’re not in the temperate zone, we’re in the tropics, and thus our climate is not temperate, it’s tropical.

    “And you’re about whether cooking Costco food in bulk is the reason you require less residential energy”

    IDK what you mean my those emojis.

    “you act surprised that Massachusetts gets cold”

    No, I’ve been there in February.

  80. “I assume it has to do with the decline of screen doors*. With AC you’re not relying on the breeze for cooling.”

    We’ve walked around our neighborhood a lot over the past year, and I’ve noticed that a lot of homes have screen doors.

  81. Interesting on storm windows. Our house is a bungalow built in 1925. We had new replacement windows installed (paid for by metropolitan airport commission as we live under a flight path) with storm windows that have the screens included so we don’t have to swap the screens and glass out each season. I think the older houses in my neighborhood that don’t have storms look off, the windows look naked. We also have a screen door with a screen panel and a glass panel that we swap out.

  82. “I did open the window for a bit this afternoon to let in some fresh air. It is 48 degrees out, so it was time to let the house breathe.”

    It was 53 here, so I seriously considered it, but I did not.

    We have a storm door/screen door, and I love it. One of my joys in life is open windows. One of the reasons I really don’t want to go back to the office.

  83. “We have a storm door/screen door, and I love it.”

    But you find storm windows to be a pain?

    I’m feeling a cognitive dissonance. Why love the door but hate the window?

  84. Back to an actual political issue, of a sort: When both the NY Times commenters and the WSJ commenters are complaining about the withdrawal from publication of the six Dr. Seuss books, you have to wonder if the Foundation made the right decision.

    It’s 100% their decision to make. The government was not involved. There is no First Amendment issue.

    Several months ago I got McElligot’s Pool, one of the withdrawn titles, for the grandbaby. [Facepalm].

  85. My mom always preferred those early Dr. Seuss books because they weren’t as preachy and moralistic as his later stuff. So naturally that’s what’s on my own dusty shelves.

  86. We have two storm doors. DH changes the glass for screens in the door in October and he will do the reverse in April. I don’t think it is a big deal, but he doesn’t like doing it. We used to have windows that required us to do the same, but now our new windows are built for extreme weather in the summer and winter so we no longer have to make any changes.The manufacturer uses better materials and they build in polarized windows to keep the house cooler in the summer. Our electricity and heating bills have declined due to new doors, windows and HVAC. We made these changes over time, but I bet our new water heater is going to be more efficient than the ten year old model that it replaced last week. This is the first winter with our new garage door and there is definitely a difference in our basement.

  87. I have a storm door with a top half screen that swaps with the storm glass. My windows are open, at least in the midday warmth or night cool, 6 to 7 months a year.

    I have 16 windows and a slider. The 30 pkus yr old double pane windows in tgeir wood frames have lost argon and are not well sealed around the outside. Modern windows will make a big difference in insulating both winter and midsummer. Windows are an integral aspect of insulation. Modern ones are best.

    Finn I am familiar with and have experienced first hand external storm windows and line drying and life without AC and heating by wood stove. I am also cognizant of swamp coolers and wringer washers and many other traditional energy savers.

    If I had gas for heat, hot water, cooking, dryer, I might be able to figure out electricity versus “energy” consumption, although electric blankets and fans and humidifiers and dehumidifiers and air conditioning systems seem to eat up a lot of electricity in the HVAC/energy sphere.

  88. I’ve never liked Dr. Suess so I’m not the least bit aware of those books. I did find it interesting that my FB feed of Trump fans went ballastic over it.

    I don’t think books should be banned, and my understanding is that these aren’t banned, but rather not being published at this time. I believe the release of the Muppets catalog includes a warning.

  89. I just realized. You know what you don’t see anymore? Storm doors. I assume it has to do with the decline of screen doors*. With AC you’re not relying on the breeze for cooling.

    We have storm doors and the front and back doors. I swap out the upper panes for screens in the summer so we can get the cooler air in the evenings and the on the cooler days. Putting the storm panes in for the winter makes a noticeable difference in reducing the drafts around the doors.

  90. One of my FB friends compared the Seuss thing to book burning in Nazi Germany. Seriously people, get a freaking grip. Publishers stop publishing books all. the. time. for all kinds of reasons, usually because they don’t think they will sell well enough to make money.

    I certainly understand the argument for not erasing racist or offensive images or words so that people can learn about the historical context, like leaving N–ger Jim in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. But this is not censorship in any way, shape, or form.

  91. Finn, there are windows with integral storms that swap with a screen like Lemon describes. Just like my storm door. Nothing has to be stored in the basement during the summer. When the term Storm windows is used on the mainland, it brings to mind a separate pane of glass in a frame that covers the entire window and is attached via screws or nails or fasteners to the exterior of the house. They are stored in the garage or shed or basement in the summer. Ladders used to be required to put them on.

  92. “When the term Storm windows is used on the mainland, it brings to mind a separate pane of glass in a frame that covers the entire window and is attached via screws or nails or fasteners to the exterior of the house. They are stored in the garage or shed or basement in the summer.”

    My perception is a bit different, probably because they’re newer to me, and my exposure has largely been recently seeing people on TV install them. This means that what I’ve seen are newer models, not necessarily the same storm windows many lifetime mainlanders grew up with.

    E.g., some of those I’ve seen recently are triple track, which are kinda like sash windows, and like sash windows can be half opened from inside. If installed over sash windows, they offer just as much ventilation without having to remove them.

    But overall what I’m reading here is that there are aesthetic and convenience reasons why high quality windows are preferred over storms, and that totebaggers are generally able and willing to pay the premium it takes for those benefits.

  93. “I bet our new water heater is going to be more efficient than the ten year old model that it replaced last week.”

    Is it electric?

    If so, it is likely much more efficient than the model it replaced. Most electric water heaters now are required to use heat pump technology, which is much more energy efficient than direct conversion of electrical energy to heat.

    It it’s gas, then the difference will probably be much less pronounced. I don’t think gas can be burned much more efficiently, so the main changes WRT efficiency would probably be better insulation and possibly no pilot light.

  94. “Society has been designed to favor early risers.”

    I find this to be a fascinating comment.

  95. One of the reasons I’m so interested in the storm windows is that they might’ve been a good solution for my first house in SV, although I didn’t know it at the time. That house had single pane windows, some of which would frost most mornings in the winter, and were obvious heat loss locations. It’s a one-story house, so I wouldn’t have needed a ladder taller than 4 feet.

    That house was poorly insulated. There was no ceiling insulation, so I added fiberglass batts. If I stayed longer, the next insulation project would’ve been batts under the floor.

  96. Finn, we have gas heat with electric blowers because it uses the same ductwork as the A/C. But we still run the A/C a lot of days in the winter, which probably drives most of our usage. Both kids are at home right now, and DH and I are both still working from home, so there is more electricity usage than there would typically be in a random February.

  97. When we renovated I made the executive decision to omit a storm door in the front entrance of our home for esthetic reasons. This meant that we must paint the front door more often since it’s directly subject to wear and tear from the elements. We have storm doors on our back kitchen and side study doors. They’re nice because I can slide down the screen part and create cross ventilation. However, since my H prefers running the AC most of the time I actually don’t use that feature very often. (He says AC helps his allergies.) However, the storm door we used to have at the front entrance was all glass anyway with no option for a screen.

    As far as storm windows, I agree that I think of them as having a separate pane that must be put on and off every year, and stored somewhere during the off season. A real PITA and newer windows are more efficient anyway.

  98. I guess I’m not even really sure what a storm window is. We have windows with screens on them. When it’s nice out, we open the windows and the screens are already there. We have the windows open a lot.

  99. Here we have the concept of Hurricane shutters versus upgrading your windows and doors to be hurricane resistant. It’s incredibly expensive, but so much better aesthetically and also convenient. We do hurricane prep for many hurricanes that don’t actually hit, and not having to put up shutters and sit in the dark is a major upgrade.

  100. I guess I’m not even really sure what a storm window is.

    You’d have a pile of these:

    and then in fall you’d go around and pop them into place:

  101. How did the Politics thread devolve into an intense discussion of storm windows?

  102. Our electricity is cheap, between 7 and 8.5 cents. We used 2,778 kWh in January. Note we had the Xmas lights still up for probably 60% of the month. If I look at average daily use for the last year, the lowest average is May (42). The highest is August (182).

    For gas we used 700 therms in January.

  103. Perhaps late to the utility cost discussion. I typically get a monthly bill, but the last one I got was date 12/31 because I had an almost $400 credit due to paying on the “budget” plan and an abnormally warm fall. For that December bill:

    Electric
    790 kwh (not 788 like above, but close)
    Delivery $62.87 = $0.08/kwh
    Commodity $32.71 = $0.04/kwh

    Natural Gas
    121 Therms
    Delivery $51.11 = $0.42/therm
    Commodity $34.18 = $0.28/therm

    Total Energy Cost $183.19

    Finn – we are replacing our 30yo windows due to heat loss and also because there are leaks in the seals of the panes so that in cold weather there is condensation between the panes on most of the windows. The condensation thing is an indicator the windows are shot and need to be replaced.

  104. Fred, just curious, are the R-values of the new windows you’ve been looking at a lot higher than the original R-values of your existing windows (i.e., R-values if the seals were still intact)?

  105. The r-values are a lot better than the ones I have now. That’d be true for pretty much any brand of low-e double-pane windows I’ve come across.

  106. Last year when Cuomo ordered nursing home residents back into nursing homes from the hospital, I had said that it was a bad idea. Setting aside Covid, in any infectious disease there is a longer length of time that quarantine is required to make sure people are no longer infectious. He should have sacked all his health advisers.
    Now of course, the whole thing has blown up after months, with the undercounting of reported deaths.

  107. I am against banning or not publishing something deemed offensive at a much later date. The home country is very fond of banning, burning etc. It causes more people to rush out to buy and actually read the book. Most of those people yelling the loudest don’t actually read books in general but they force themselves to read the offender.

  108. Well, one of my favorite picture books as a preschooler was Little Black Sambo, version with African child not Indian. The child is the hero, but the illustrations…, I dont mind that it is out of circulation. However, when I found a copy of my illustrated Just So Stories to share with the grandkids, the pictures were fine, but I couldn’t read them aloud easily because of the pidgin dialogue. One of my favorite things was a giant golden book and the accompanying records of Uncle Remus telling the stories of Brer Rabbit et al. (Disney Song of the South). I still love all those stories, but understand the issues with the dialect in which they are written. Times change.

    As for Dr Seuss, I did not have those books as a child, and disliked them when I had to read them to my kids (their pop grew up with them). They are now inextricably linked to memories of my late daughter, and I cant bear the sight of Sneetches in particular.

  109. My kids grew up with the popular Dr. Seuss books. They were the recommended early reader books. Their school also had dress up as your favorite Dr. Seuss character. I have a picture of DD as A Cat in the Hat. I didn’t grow up with them so had no particular attachment myself. Looking back it was such pressure to get your kids to read. Now, I find that there is no library period in elementary anymore and the library has morphed into sort of a research center with books. So, in a short span of a few years times changed.

    The other thing about changing times is what’s appropriate to say in the workplace. When does mentor ship cross boundaries and become unwelcome, creepy or harassing behavior ? How does in a person on the lowest rungs of a career ladder handle this ? Very important discussions for young people and also those in powerful positions.

  110. I think there is a huge difference between a company deciding to stop printing books, which happens all the time, and banning books. Here’s where it gets tricky – I’m not for banning books, per se, but I don’t think elementary schools should be using Little Black Sambo in lessons either & I’m fine with them retiring that book from the school library. (@Meme – my MIL loved that book too) So I don’t know what the line is, but things change over decades, and it’s okay that kids aren’t going to be reading the same books as their grandparents did.

    As for Dr Seuss – he wrote so many books, and the ones that they are going to stop printing were not the most popular anyway. I find it hard to care at all about it. Of the six, we only had Mulberry Street & If I Ran the Zoo which were left on the shelf 99% of the time. They were probably only read once each.

  111. Yeah, my mom complained in the 80s that Little Black Sambo was a smart kid, outwitted the tiger, fed the family, etc. But things change.

    I read through my copy of McElligot’s Pool and I think the illustrations are only very mildly offensive. The ones in If I Ran the Zoo are much worse. Well, well, the world is full of books. I just loathe preachy children’s books. You don’t ALWAYS need a moral, people. Sometimes it’s fine for books to just be entertaining.

  112. I hate Dr. Seuss books. So long. So boring. The rhyming is never quite right. When my kids were younger, I always stuck Dr. Seuss books in the back of the cabinet so I didn’t have to read them.

    I also don’t quite understand why the response is what it is. The foundation decided to stop printing some books. And people got mad so they are buying up the remaining books from the foundation. That will really show em!

  113. My best memory of Dr. Seuss was going to a grad school party after reading Green Eggs and Ham to my two year old nephew all.day.long. One of the first person I saw at the party was named Sam. I greeted him, “Hello Sam-I-Am” The party was at the stage where everyone thinks they are hilarious. After my greeting, all the grad students who grew up in the U.S. went off on “Would you like it in a box? with a fox? etc…..

    The international students were kind of befuddled….e.g…what are those people drinking? Then we had to explain that this was a classic children’s book that helped us all learn to read. Then they were REALLY befuddled….how in the world is the U.S. a powerful country if THAT is how we learned to read.

  114. I greeted him, “Hello Sam-I-Am”

    My last name leaves me ripe for this kind of joke, and there’s another Dr. Seuss book that has my name in the title. I got that A LOT. I didn’t really care as long as it’s not insulting.

  115. Dr. Seuss is big in my house. I have since developed the (unproven) theory that Dr. Seuss inspired at least two major tech company names (hop on pop—“Help. Yelp. They Yelp for help.” Wocket in my pocket-“the Zillow on my pillow always helps me fall asleep”)

  116. @minca – there is also a “nook” book. I’ve always thought that’s where the ill-fated e-reader name came from.

  117. Minca – that’s very interesting.

    Like Cass mentioned, the Dr. Seuss books are going to be a generational thing, I grew up on Enid Blyton but apparently there was controversy there too. I loved the books. My relatives knew I liked books, so like contraband they obtained the books from various sources for my birthdays.

    “Blyton’s work became increasingly controversial among literary critics, teachers and parents from the 1950s onwards, because of the alleged unchallenging nature of her writing and the themes of her books, particularly the Noddy series. Some libraries and schools banned her works, which the BBC had refused to broadcast from the 1930s until the 1950s, because they were perceived to lack literary merit. Her books have been criticised as being elitist, sexist, racist, xenophobic and at odds with the more progressive environment emerging in post-Second World War Britain, but they have continued to be best-sellers since her death in 1968.”

  118. There is a very crunchy town near my community. It really should be named Brooklyn North or specifically, Park Slope north because most of their community tends to have a similar philosophy about many things. One of their middle school teachers resigned last week because the school removed a book in December, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian” by Sherman Alexie. The community has been fighting about this book removal for months, and it is sad to see because friends and neighbors are fighting with each other. Their Superintendent has been called a racist multiple times during school board meetings and she is African American.

    I am not a fan of banning books from libraries or school. I think it is important to share and to educate kids about how/why things happened in the past.

  119. Every library has to develop selection criteria and weeding criteria. There are lots of academic books that Denver Public Library doesn’t have, because their focus is the general public. Academic libraries typically don’t have shelves of mystery novels. It’s always a balance — does this fit the criteria? Does it have literary value? That famous Hustler cover of a naked woman going through the meat grinder — that’s not going to be available in the children’s section of the library. There are lots of obvious cases like that one, and then there are all the problem cases that people fight over. Does Huckleberry Finn have enough literary value to make up for the racism? Most librarians think so. But it’s all pretty tricky. You can’t just say libraries should carry everything; no library carries everything.

  120. We had a joke when the boys were little and we would read Dr. Seuss at bedtime. They had memorized the books so when DH would start saying different words, they would cry “DADDY! that’s not RIGHT!” and he would make them show him which words were not right. I swear they learned how to sound out the letters when they were very small just to prove their dad wrong. Dr. Seuss has great rhyming rhythmic aloud cadence and memorable illustrations so the kids loved those books.

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