Alternatives to stock tank heaters

Q: I have a small farm and I must use stock tank heaters in the winter to prevent the livestocks water from freezing. Is there a way of knowing how much of my electric bill is for these heaters? If its a lot, Id like to know if there are energy-efficient or non-electric heaters. A: If you run 1,500-watt stock tank heaters for two hours a day for five months, youre paying about $57 a year per heater. Unfortunately, alternatives are in short supply. Using a bubbler in this climate would not guarantee an ice-free tank and the cost of buying and installing solar-powered heating equipment outweighs the savings on your electric bills. But there is good news. Your answer is not in your heater but in the tank. You can keep the tank water above freezing longer by using an insulated tank with an insulated cover that leaves only part of the surface exposed for watering. You also can partially bury the tank in the ground and insulate the ground around the tank. These approaches will lower your electricity costs by reducing the amount of time your heater runs. A stock tank heater set up this way will be more energy-efficient. Q: My 10-year-old daughter has become an expert on CFLs. She keeps finding places around the house where lights arent CFLs. When its a standard old incandescent, I replace it. But weve got other kinds of lights and Im wondering if efficient versions exist. Specifically: Dimmables, recessed lights, 3-way bulbs, globes and outdoor floods. Id also like to know if I can use CFLs in our outside porch fixtures. Which of these can I find? A: All of them! Energy-efficient lighting these days includes more than the familiar creemee shaped spiral-top light bulb. The various sizes of efficient bulbs that fit in recessed cans, for example, are reflector bulbs that look like small flood lights. Just tell your retailer the kinds of fixtures you have (recessed, 3-way, etc) and what amount of wattage your current bulbs use and youll be able to find the right bulb for the right place. As for using efficient lights outdoors, just look for CFLs that are rated for outdoor use on Vermonts coldest days. If you prefer flood lights on the porch, you can use CFL floods designed specifically for outdoor use. No matter what their shape or size, energy-efficient lighting provides good light, uses less energy and lasts longer than traditional lighting. You and your daughter can find what youre looking for at stores throughout Vermont. Visit efficiencyvermont.com to find retailers near you.

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