A recent contest from Good and Nest has DIY-ers using regular household items to help optimize efficiency and reduce waste in your home. The Home Planet Challenge yielded some pretty amazing results, including a method to potentially save you thousands on your electric bill.
Paul Wheaton moved to Montana alone in 2010 where he only had access to electric heat. Instead of heating this entire house, he began focusing on heating just himself to stay warm. At first, he turned his thermostat down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit and began using a personal electric heater. While that did save him money on his electric bill, it left parts of him hot while others remained cold.
Instead, Wheaton used regular household items to serve as micro heaters. Eventually, he was able to bring his electricity use down to 82.5 watts. The micro heaters he experimented with included a dog bed warmer, a heated keyboard, a heated mouse and a standard 40 watt incandescent light bulb which can be used on something like a swinging arm lamp. He also turned his desk into a type of kotatsu, which is a Japanese table frame covered by a futon or blanket with the table on top -- there is also often a heat source underneath.
He conducted a similar experiment in his bedroom, where he used mattress heating pads and stocked up on blankets to stay warm at night.
These "heat bubbles" can be set up in different places around the house, depending on where people spend most of their time. Wheaton was able to decrease his electric heat bill by 87%. It is important to note that he was able to do this because he's just one person. Households with families may be able to save up to 50% to 60%, but probably not has much as Wheaton was able to save.
Check out the video below to see someone trying out the heat bubble for the first time.