Power out in Dallas

Severe storms ransacked Dallas and Tarrant counties last night. Some areas got pummelled by hail. My area was hit with heavy rain and wind.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the storm knocked power out to 350,000 houses. Around half had power restored by this morning. That did not include my house. I think we’re throwing out the contents of our refrigerator tonight. My whole neighborhood’s power has been out since 9:30 PM last night.

Are gas stoves or ovens more efficient?

Gas appliances supposedly save money. The theory is that it’s cheaper to make a given quantity of heat from gas than from electricity.

Is this really true?

Gas stoves and ovens throw off way more heat than an electric model.

For the stove, this is obvious: the heat from the flames goes across the bottom and then up and around the pan. Electric stoves have a much closer and more direct contact with the pan, so there is much less of this kind of heat loss.

I lived in a house with a 20 year old gas oven for two years. That oven kicked off a huge load of heat. I thought it happened because it was old. I was wrong. A friend’s new gas oven throws off as much heat. The 20 year old electric oven in my current house produces only a fraction of the external heat as those gas ovens.

So that brings us to issue #1: gas ovens and stoves waste much more heat than electrics.

In winter the heat loss is a wash. It is heat that the house’s heater does not need to produce, and it’s produced in an energy efficient manner. But I live in Dallas. We regularly run the heat only around 3 months of the year. The A/C runs regularly at least 6 months of the year. It costs a lot more to remove heat from a house (A/C) than it costs to add heat to the house (heater). Whatever you gain from efficient heating in the winter, you lose through inefficient heat removal in the warm months.

Issue #2: gas ovens and stoves increase the load on your A/C system, which is costly to run.

The big picture is that, per unit of heat consumed, gas ovens and stoves are less efficient than electric equivalents. They lose more heat, and they add to air conditioning costs. The cost of a BTU produced by gas has to be far cheaper than the cost of a BTU produced by electricity for gas appliances to pay off.

Call me a curmudgeon, but I think I’ll stick with electric ovens and stoves. At least that way I can simmer rice without burning it!

Gas dryers, gas central heat, and gas water heaters are a totally different issue. There is plenty of empirical evidence showing that these are more efficient than their electric brethren.

Installed dryer vent

I installed a dryer vent at my house on Sunday. It was surprisingly simple. I think the entire job took about 3 hours, but a lot of that time was because I was learning “on the job.”

I had to pull off wood paneling and cut through two layers of some kind of reddish fibrous junk (some kind of insulation?) to get to the bricks. The first layer of the insulation stuff has a water-stained, white outer surface. The second layer has a shiny gray outer surface.

In this picture I had already pulled off the paneling, cut through the two layers, and punched out two bricks.

The hole went to a wood pile (the two hackberry trees that I could actually cut down!). The dryer vent is sitting on top.

Oops! While reducing the size of the two bricks, I broke one in half. Good thing I had builder’s cement:

I later cleaned up the goop on the sides with a paper towel.

Mmmm, mortar:

Mmmm, two bricks back in place with a hole for the vent:

Back inside, dryer vent is pushed through and all mortared up:

Everything’s buttoned up:

Even though this job took 3 hours, I learned a lot and saved about $100 of handyman expenses. Now my garage will no longer be covered with dryer lint!