Energy Prices and Winter

Colin_T

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@Colin_T 18 C / 65 F . I've heard and read those winter lows many times and everyone agrees that many fish will stand it so I'm going to retrain my brain away from the tropical mindset that has most people , myself among them , keeping their aquariums in the high 70 degree Fahrenheit range. I noticed last year that my Aplocheilus lineatus were spawning at 72 degrees and the eggs were hatching. ...
Most tropical fish eggs will not hatch if the water temperature is below 22C. That seems to be the cut off point for most tropical species. So if you are breeding fish, keep the temp at 22C or slightly above.

What about individual air pumps? I have eight totaling 24 watts. Would a single linear piston air pump running at 29 watts be more efficient and draw less power even at 5 more watts ? My lighting is minimal. 40 watts is all , running 8 hours.
I had 1 big air pump/ blower type pump running my fish room with 40 tanks. I had ample air for every tank and some spare. I think it was about 20 watts, which was cheaper than running a bunch of smaller twin outlet air pumps, and the big pump was much more reliable and didn't pop diaphragms or flutter valves in the air chambers. I also ported the big pump (like you port cylinder heads on a car) and doubled the outlet, but it also doubled the noise.

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General energy saving tips can be found online, these are from the EnergySavingTrust.org.uk :

Switch off standby
Draught-proof gaps
Turn off the lights
Wash at 30 degrees and only wash full loads
Avoid using the tumble dryer
Take a 4-minute shower
Swap one bath a week for a shower
Don't overfill the kettle
Reduce your dishwasher use
Insulate your hot water cylinder
If you work in customer service, or at a hospital, dental or medical center, you might want to continue washing clothes at 60C. The higher temperature will kill off bacteria, fungus, viruses and parasites like scabies and lice. If you wash at 30C, the diseases and parasites can survive. This is important now because of covid and it might be able to survive a 30C wash cycle but it won't survive a 60C wash cycle.

I don't know how anyone can take a 4 minute shower. I just have 2 a year for an hour and that reduces it to 1 minute a day :)

You can microwave a glass of water for 2 minutes and get it hot enough for a cuppa, and it might be cheaper than a kettle.
 

wasmewasntit

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Sorry I don't know why it rubbed me the wrong way but fair enough, let's park it.

Really sorry to hear you are having such a rough time but glad the fish perk you up, and hopefully our company does a bit to boost you :)
Not having a rough time at all (quite happy on my own tbh, not one to deal with irritating neighbours with barking dogs that will not shut up)

At least I have a solid roof over my head, something not everyone has.

I am frugal, I am a tight-thingy. Everything in my flat is mine, bought and paid for without using credit of any kind. There are many things I would love to have but two things in the way....one is that my flat has not got any more spare walls to use and I have the next best thing (a 3.5ft aquarium) and I am happy with that and not just cos it was an absolute bargain price, saved up for it and treated myself to it.

I am not materialistic, labels mean nothing to me....I went cruising on a budget cruise line, which as a solo is hard to do thanks to extornionate solo rates so did some major shopping around with the help of my travel agent....the longest cruise being 6 weeks from Singapore to Savona via India and Yemen plus a week pre-cruise in Singapore. Cost was £3350 which took me a year to save up for but I did it, I loved every moment of it (even got a free upgrade cabin). Another trip allowed me to honour some close friends who lost their lives in the Falklands War of 1982, I was able to visit the Falklands by cruise ship in 2005, something I could never have done any other way. Took me 4 years to save up enough to do it.

Life is what YOU make of it but it does help if you learn how to save properly and absolutely refrain from using credit cos it can bite you on your backside.
 

GaryE

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In many cases, houses are not made for winter. So let's go extreme - I grew up with a good knowledge of poverty techniques for living in a Canadian winter. Energy here is cheap, but early on, I lived on some very lean incomes.
Windows. You can buy kits here with 2 sided tape and plastic. The plastic stretches tight with a hair dryer. A Saturday's work will do a house with old windows and really add to the heat retention. I know, not pretty. But huge bills that are hard to pay are less pretty. With the heated and tightened plastic, you get sun and can see out.
You can make and attach fabric rolls for the bottoms of doors.
You can put thin styrofoam on the sides and backs of tanks. The aquarium can be away from the windows and front door.
You can use common sense. Discus? You'd better have disposable income. But your tank can be at 23c., if you aren't a fish breeder in the winter, and if you choose fish from a reasonable temperature range. My beautiful killies thrive at 19-22. It isn't always hot under a rainforest canopy, especially one with hills and mountains.
With very few exceptions, I see no reason to heat a tank over 24.
 

Sanityassassin

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You can try reducing your energy all you want by putting all the usual energy saving practices in place. But you can only go so far before the glaringly obvious elephant in the room starts to bite you right on the a**e! Aquariums cost money to run!

And when you're running close to a 1000g of water, as I am, spread over a few tanks, and all the heaters, powerheads, pumps and filters that go with it, not to mention gas usage spikes too at weekend during water change refill, then it all starts getting silly.

I've just stripped two tanks down and careful monitoring of my smart meter tells me they were costing around £750 per year to run.

My big 360g tank is possibly costing the same again. I have some hard decisions to make over the coming volatile months. It's no joke at the moment.
 

GaryE

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There is a point at which you have to question your tech, and adapt. I like having multiple tanks. I like small, brightly coloured fish. I like reading. Put it all together and I have 2 heated tanks, one air pump and a couple of powered filters only for 50 plus tanks. I heat my tetra tank, and will heat any tanks I use to raise fry from them, at the low end of their natural range. I heat the room the fish are in, to 22 degrees celsius.
I breed my rainbows in summer when it's warm. The livebearers adapt. The killies are smack in their ideal range. The Corys are chosen carefully.

Without new technologies, I don't see energy prices coming down. Living in the north, it is essential to manage energy consumption, and that does push a person to adapt. I moved from a Province with cheap hydro-electricity to one where costs are much higher, for my retirement, and luckily. I had gotten into a position where I could prepare a space for fishkeeping, with insulation and such. And luckily I haven't had to face what English fishkeepers see, with the rapidly escalating prices.

I am very glad I never got a reef tank going.

With freshwater, you can adapt. There are lots of sub tropical water fish out there, and many are stunning. Shops won't carry them unless demand spikes. Right now, production of fish for the aquarium trade happens in very hot countries. They can't mass produce the fish we may end up keeping in the future, if the hobby even has a future.
 

werlyb23

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You aren't alone with high electrical rates. There should not be any political angle to this because it's just the utilities increasing rates. That's been going on forever regardless of governmental policies . Right here in little far flung backwater Billings Montana USA I was watching the local news last night and Northwestern Energy has applied to the Montana Public Service Commision for a 25% residential rate increase. That's a big jump ! I am casting the hairy eyeball on my fish room and looking for ways to economize . The prices will go up and there isn't one thing that little me can do about it except make cuts in my usage. The big target in my sights ? The television.
No political angle?? Are you joking….
Has ZERO to do with the companies raising prices. You know exactly what it’s about
 

werlyb23

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The energy crisis isn't just in the UK. It is mainly caused by Russia invading the Ukraine and the lack of gas and oil coming out of those countries. Grain is another issue and has gone up significantly because of the war.

In most parts of Australia there is also an energy crisis caused by the war. This is because state governments let private companies control power, water and gas, and they put all the gas and oil on the world market for overseas companies. They didn't bother to keep anything in reserve for their own states. This means they now have to buy oil, coal and gas back in from the open market and the price of it has skyrocketed due to the war. Most places over east have seen their power and gas bills triple since the pandemic started and it's expected to go higher and not be fixed for about 5-7 years.

Currently over east they have rolling blackouts (it's winter here and there is snow in some areas) and people literally can't afford to buy food, fuel or pay bills because many were laid off due to the pandemic, and because pay packets haven't increased in 9 years thanks to the previous federal government. The problem has been made worse by the oil and gas companies refusing to buy in oil and gas from the world market saying it's not profitable for them. So now the state governments are in talks to try and get gas and oil brought back into the country.

In Western Australia, our state governments put some gas and oil on the world market but kept a reserve specifically for the state. So whilst other states have screwed themselves by letting greedy private companies take control of power, water and gas supplies, the WA government kept control of it and only sold what it could spare and the rest remains in the state.

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Plants don't grow or take up nutrients when there is no light. So if you have a blackout, the plants won't be using any ammonia and won't be producing oxygen unless you can provide them with a sufficient light source.

"Wardley's Ammogon" or Zeolite (same stuff) will remove ammonia from water and can be recharged in salt water. If you have lots of power failures, then maybe get some and keep it handy in a box filter. Then put it in the aquarium during power failures and run the box filter from a battery operated air pump. Use rechargeable batteries that can be charged during off peak times when you have power.

Feeding the fish less will reduce ammonia production in the aquarium and if you know there will be a power failure on a particular day, don't feed the fish the day before. Or feed them in the morning on the day before the power failure so the filter has time to remove any ammonia produced over the next 12 hours.

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The best way to save money on heating aquariums is to have all the aquariums in the same room and have the room insulated with the door shut. Have electronic devices like televisions, computers, fridges, in the room and they also help to warm it up. This is the opposite to trying to keep a fish room cool so don't get them confused.

Insulating each aquarium with 1-2 inch thick polystyrene foam sheets can help reduce heat loss. You can use thicker foam if you like (say 2-4 inch thick). You should insulate the base of the tank, along with the back and 2 sides. Have a coverglass on the tank to trap heat inside. Thicker coverglass (4, 5 or 6mm thick) work better than thin glass (2 or 3mm thick). If there is going to be a long power failure, put another piece of foam on the front of the tank and a blanket or foam on top. Basically make the aquarium an esky (cooler for the US people).

have aquariums near inside walls and not next to outside/ external walls. The external walls of buildings can radiate cold into a room and make the aquarium cool down faster. Having aquariums next to internal walls (walls that divide rooms) means the walls won't be radiating cold air onto the back of the tank.

Normal aquarium heaters are fine to use if you only have a few tanks. If you have a lot of tanks, heating an insulated room is often cheaper.

Most tropical fish can live in water that is 18C or above. Many can even live in 14-16C water for a few months. However, these are usually the bottom end of the temperature ranges and it's preferable if the water temperature drops slowly over months, not overnight. But having said that, a lot of people (including myself) have had heaters malfunction (usually after a water change) and woken up to a cold tank. When we warm the water up, most of the fish survive. So if the water temperature does drop to 18-22C, don't panic. The fish will usually be fine.

In the UK and northern USA, most houses are well insulated and the aquarium's water temperature shouldn't drop any faster than the house temperature. In fact it should drop slower because water holds temperature better than air does. So as long as the house temp is above 18C, the tank's water temp should be the same.

Bigger tanks will hold temperature better than smaller tanks so whilst it might seem more expensive to run a bigger tank, it might be safer for the fish in the larger water mass if you have lots of power failures. Whilst people might be downgrading their tanks, a well insulated big tank with lights over the middle, might not cost anymore to run than a smaller uninsulated tank with the same light covering the entire tank. And the temperature of the bigger tank will not drop as quickly as the smaller tank due to the mass.

I used to have my aquarium heaters set on 18C in winter and turned them off when the water went above 20C. The fish were fine and lived in 30C+ during summer and 18C over winter. This winter temperature is fine for most fish but discus won't like it.
Zero to do with Russia invading Ukraine
But nice try lol
 

Beastije

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Yeah I am also interested in this topic. I already removed the heater from two of my three tanks, turned one into a shrimp one that won't require heating and the second one i will be rebuilding in the autumn to white cloud minnows and maybe sewellias or garras that will stand the 20°C. I am looking into insulating the windows cause i already use the blankets on the windows trick and still have a draft. I was thinking about some super smart switches that will turn off tv and laptops if i forget to disconnect the plug overnight. We used to heat to 20-21°C last winter and still had a bill, will try to go19-20C this winter and i am already training for colder showers so the water heater, that is already on 55° is not needing to be heated more.
The last tank i have on 26-27°C and have old lights with glo-t lights that are horrible for electricity consumption and the filter won't help either. But i guess it is the hobby and we will pay for it, since we chose it, right?
 

wasmewasntit

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I am fortunate in regard to the structure of my flat.

It is one of 4 in a purpose built block. It dates back to 1967 and has always been owned by the local authority. It has full cavity wall insulation, the ceilings have 4" thick soundproofing/insulation (wooden floorboards to the upstairs flat, building regulations in the UK mean that anything over 3 floors must have concrete floors, mine being just one flat above allows floorboards) and double glazing.

Back in 2010 when there was proper snow...ie...5ft deep powder that lasted around 8 weeks (I live on one of the highest points in the suburbs)...I did not use the central heating at all and the interior temperature remained at around 16 degrees throughout the winter. On the odd occasion the temperature did drop lower due to my old front door being useless and draughty, I just put another layer of clothing on. I had a new front door fitted by the local authority 4 years ago and am now draught free.

Night time I used to spend about 20-30 quid on a duvet and they rarely stayed plump for long. I invested in a Tercel duvet, 18 tog rated a little over 5 years ago, cost £120. It is still as puffed up as the day I bought it, still incredibly warm and cosy in winter even with the windows open.

The room where the aquariums live is 5m x 3m, it is my lounge. There is also a fridge/freezer and a freezer in there...as well as the pooter, TV etc. The room is always warm. Summer it sticks at around 30 degrees day and night, winter it sticks around 20-23 degrees day and night. Aquarium heaters stay off from mid March to late October. They are set to 26 but rarely get used to hold or keep the 26 due to the room keeping warm.
 

GaryE

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The original thread is British, and conditions there have to be taken into account.

I present a bit of an extreme as while I am currently learning a new environment and a seaside climate, that stretches back less than a year. I am used to an average of 82.5 inches/209 cm of snow per year, and temperatures that can reach -20 or lower for several weeks. The one time I lost power in January (for 3 days, the 3 hours of heat followed by 5 days cold), the tanks were at 1 degree celsius after 5 days, while the outside was winter-warm at around freezing. If it had been normal temps for the time of year, freezing would have been fast.

So whatever happens with climate change, the tricks we use here are useful in warmer places like England. We aren't the extreme to work back from (for that, you go north - I once spoke with a killie guy in Labrador in a cabin heated with a wood stove).
 

Sanityassassin

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On a plus side, extra to my sobering post earlier, we had a wood burner fitted very early on in the year and it will be interesting as the colder weather draws in just how much of a saving that makes us.

It heats the whole house and the wood we burn on it is free of charge! I get it from work. So this winter myself and the missus are looking forward to having a red hot house at a cost of nothing! The central heating will never be on, so that will be our gas usage slashed.

Add that to the electricity saving we are making through getting rid of two of my tanks, plus other measures too, and our combined energy bills should come down greatly.

With the current situation i'm finding I probably watch my smart meter more than I watch tele, lol. It's a good thing though, it really tunes you in to what you are using.
 
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Wills

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I've bought a Tonne of logs for £80 and we have a log burner in our lounge so thats a big part of our plan this winter. Typically one log would last most of the evening in it so should be good - plus its always good fun :)

Its interesting as this threads developed, some good ideas in here not just for fishkeeping but generally house hold ideas too. And as the fishkeeping side has limited options saving money elsewhere to help our aquatic buddies seems like a good idea :)
 

Sanityassassin

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I've bought a Tonne of logs for £80 and we have a log burner in our lounge so thats a big part of our plan this winter. Typically one log would last most of the evening in it so should be good - plus its always good fun :)

Its interesting as this threads developed, some good ideas in here not just for fishkeeping but generally house hold ideas too. And as the fishkeeping side has limited options saving money elsewhere to help our aquatic buddies seems like a good idea :)

You can't beat a real fire, though the thought of paying for wood, to burn, actually makes me feel sick!! Can you not source wood from a local factory, broken pallets and such?

Granted, pallet wood burns quite quickly compared to kiln dried logs but if you can get broken pallets for nothing who cares?
 

StevenF

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Zero to do with Russia invading Ukraine
But nice try lol
For those commenters that live in north america. UK natural gas prices have increased by a factor of 3 since russia invaded Ukraine. And the price is still increasing. Natural gas could cost 4 to 5 times more by next year.Since most of the electricity in the UK comes from natural gas electricity prices are also going up. Right now russia is still delivering some gas to wester europe. However if they close off the gas completely the situation could get dramatically worse.

In the US we don't import any natural gas from russia. So natural gas prices haven't changed. Only Gasoline prices have increased in the US. So please have sympathy for the European members of this forum.


winter. Energy here is cheap, but early on, I lived on some very lean incomes.
Windows. You can buy kits here with 2 sided tape and plastic. The plastic stretches tight with a hair dryer. A Saturday's work will do a house with old windows and really add to the heat retention. I know, not pretty. But huge bills that are hard to pay are less pretty.

Currently the biggest heat lose in any building is through air leaks in the walls and windows. Shrink wrapping the window helps out a lot. Even new windows can leak a lot of air and if there is a wide outside it can easily get through window seals. Doors are another area were air leaks are common. Also gaps around water pipes coming out of the wall should be sealed with a can of liquid foam sealant. Light fixtures on the walls is another area that should be checked.

Basically if you fell a draft you have a air leak that should be sealed. When I first moved into my current home the heater was on for 30 to 40 minutes, off for 15 and then it would turn on again. I had air getting through numbers leaks in the walls doors and windows. Today in the winter my heater comes on for 30 minutes and then it turns off for hours. A big savings and I didn't add any insulation to the walls. Just caulk and sealants. And the crazy thing about this I that I live in central california. were the winters are quit mild.
 
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