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Starting seeds indoors

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Starting seeds indoors

Post  littlesapphire on 8/4/2011, 9:36 am

So I don't know what it is, maybe knowing that the garden is going to be winding down soon, or because I need a project to work on, but for some reason I decided to start thinking about next year's garden already! And one of the things I'm really wondering is about starting seeds indoors.

I started tomatoes and peppers inside this year so I could get some more exotic plants than the usual beefsteak or California wonder that my local nursery sells. I had really good luck with them. Only one died in the process (but it was the extra one I had planted just in case one died, lol), and they are all growing very well outside except one that must have been stunted early in its life.

The reason I'm asking is because I'm not sure if it's worthwhile to start them inside. My electric bill skyrocketed! From the grow pad and the plant lights being on all day. I haven't sat down to calculate the difference between bills to see exactly how much it cost, though. For all I know, it may not have been that much.

Maybe I'll sit down tonight and calculate it out and let everyone know what I found out. I'm just wondering if anyone else has had this experience and what they think about starting seeds indoors.

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  jkahn2eb on 8/4/2011, 1:31 pm

What kind of lights did you purchase?

I bought a cheap hood to run two standard flourescent bulbs and start seedlings for my fall gardening. That was towards the beginning of July. Wasn't sure about starting seeds outside in the heat even though I have a sun shade. My plan was starting inside then transplanting and prayer.

If the first batch of transplants don't take, I'll have more to try a few weeks later.

My bulbs run 18 hrs and I have the fan on the in the room for about 12. Nervous to see my electric bill.

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/4/2011, 2:04 pm

@jkahn2eb wrote:What kind of lights did you purchase?

I bought a cheap hood to run two standard flourescent bulbs and start seedlings for my fall gardening. That was towards the beginning of July. Wasn't sure about starting seeds outside in the heat even though I have a sun shade. My plan was starting inside then transplanting and prayer.

If the first batch of transplants don't take, I'll have more to try a few weeks later.

My bulbs run 18 hrs and I have the fan on the in the room for about 12. Nervous to see my electric bill.



I would cut your lights down to 14-16 hours. All plants need a rest period of darkness. Two flourescent bulbs shouldn't affect electricity much if you live in a standard home. If you live in a tiny, studio apartment, maybe you notice more. Living in AZ, I bet your A/C bill will drown out those lights and fan.

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  littlesapphire on 8/4/2011, 5:43 pm

I have like 3' florescent lights with plant bulbs in them, and a special plant heating pad to put under a little hot house (actually, here's the specific hothouse and grow pad I bought). I left the lights on for 12 hours a day, and the grow pad 24/7.

Hubby and I calculated it out tonight. I grew 4 toms and 4 peppers, and the electric we used made each plant cost about $1.25 (that's conservative. It was actually probably a little more than that).

I have to think about it a little bit to decide if it's worth it or not to do it again. On the one hand, I could have gotten the plants cheaper at the local nursery. On the other hand, I wouldn't have found any exciting heirloom varieties like I grew this year.

And $1.25 isn't bad. That's about how much ONE tomato costs in the store! Or ONE pepper!

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  jkahn2eb on 8/4/2011, 6:12 pm

BBG - I'll cut the timer back... knew they liked dark but read somewhere recently 18 was good. Seemed long so we'll drop to 15 hrs. Thanks.

LilSaph - Thanks for sharing the calc$. Makes me feel better.

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  littlesapphire on 8/4/2011, 6:18 pm

Oh, I should probably mention that my calculations probably don't apply to everyone else. First of all, we live in the northeast where electricity is cheaper to begin with, and second, our electric company is owned by the city, so our electric prices are about half as much as other people in this area (I think we paid $30 last month for our electricity).

But I looked up the price of tomato plants for Burpee, and they're $13 for 3 plants, so I came out way ahead!

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  camprn on 8/4/2011, 6:30 pm

Jeeze, wish I had your rates, here in NH we have one of the highest electricity rates in the nation... Thus, I only run lights not heat mats.

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/4/2011, 7:29 pm

@camprn wrote:Jeeze, wish I had your rates, here in NH we have one of the highest electricity rates in the nation... Thus, I only run lights not heat mats.



Me, too! Not to hijack, but we paid $115. And, that was cheap! We used to pay over $200 in this heat for an 800 sq ft house (with an older a/c unit). I can't even imagine what they pay further south in the summers.

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  littlesapphire on 8/4/2011, 8:14 pm

Wow! Can't imagine paying that much for electric. On the other hand, we only used our small window AC unit for TWO DAYS this summer (so far). And we have a gas stove and dryer.

Now ask me about my gas bill! Last year (I swear I'm not making this up or exaggerating), we had to turn our heat on in the middle of September because cold weather hit very very early. And it stayed on until April, I'm pretty sure. Thankfully our gas bill averages out to about $90, which isn't too bad considering how much we use.

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/4/2011, 9:03 pm

$90? I still win! Sad

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  jkahn2eb on 8/4/2011, 11:47 pm

Only $193 this past month for a two-story desert home

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  littlejo on 8/11/2011, 7:48 pm

Even tho I didn't start mine in the house this yr, I will next. Even if the power was $4.00 per plant, with 5 bell pepper plants, $20. I have harvested about 50 bells, and they are .89 cents each at the store. Thats 44.50 minus the 20. A savings of 24.50. (not that I would pay the .89 for bells) I'd just be doing without. For that little bit of extra electric, we are eating so much better!Very Happy

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Starting seeds indoors

Post  sherryeo on 8/11/2011, 8:03 pm

Our July electric bill, here on the MS coast, was $268.27. It's down just a bit for this month's bill. It has been as high as $300+ in the past. Brutal, but not as brutal as sweltering in the heat!!! I'll cut back on a lot of things before I set my thermostat above 79 degrees, which is where we usually keep it. Ceiling fans help, too.

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/11/2011, 11:00 pm

@littlejo wrote:Even tho I didn't start mine in the house this yr, I will next. Even if the power was $4.00 per plant, with 5 bell pepper plants, $20. I have harvested about 50 bells, and they are .89 cents each at the store. Thats 44.50 minus the 20. A savings of 24.50. (not that I would pay the .89 for bells) I'd just be doing without. For that little bit of extra electric, we are eating so much better!Very Happy



This is the neat part. Thanks for breaking that down for everyone! I would love to put a bunch of numbers like these in PowerPoint and drop the bomb on a seminar slide. I would love to see the eyeballs pop when people thought they were just coming to learn a bit more about gardening and realize they simply MUST convert to SFG. Once they see that they can save money, eat healthier, and possibly connect with their neighborhood community again......all for less water, less space, and less work.....seems it would be obvious at that point.

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  westie42 on 8/11/2011, 11:25 pm

I think my old side by side refrig needs to be replaced something sure eats electricity and that about has to be the culprit. It will be free stuff at the curb just as soon as I get moved and down to just one house. Have been spending these hot days studying on alternative solutions for utilities, all of them. Even the water portion of the water bill is less than 1/3 of it. I swear they could give the water away for free and still make a good profit. Am wanting to move a few rain barrels into the basement and catch as catch can in the winter months using it for house plants and toilet ran thru an on demand pump to fill it with a possibility of diverting some gray water like washer and tub to barrels for a second use in toilets. Considering fresnel lenses for water pre heat as well as solar for the same. Heat supplementation in general thru solar pop can heaters probably some biomass also. On the wild side putting in an anaerobic crap digester to get methane for some gas lights and the cook stove. Am just so darn sick of the games played in energy that I don’t trust the future of it. The wife may not be able to return home from her current hospital stay so my life long dream of being a complete hermit mite soon be realized. Her condition has been creeping up for several years so all but her are prepared for it. No amount or kind of medicine has brought her back to this planet and shock treatments about twice a year is all that semi restores mental competency. So I have that off my chest but kind people please don’t make a big deal of it, all will be ok. Now that things are at a lull in gardening it should be time to spark future interest in self sufficiency beyond just the gardening as I expressed in my opening comments. I for one hope a few threads like that will become an ongoing topic of interest.


Last edited by westie42 on 8/11/2011, 11:36 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  sherryeo on 8/11/2011, 11:35 pm

westie42 said:

please don’t make a big deal of it

Ok, but just know my thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.

I admire your determination to find alternative plans for utilities/energy consumption. You have some fascinating ideas there and I hope you'll share any efforts and results with us. I doubt I would have the know-how or ability to tackle some of those more complex projects, but perhaps all of us can pick up something that we, in turn, can also use.

Take care.

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  jersh on 8/12/2011, 9:19 am

Not trying to hijack the thread, but since others have spoken about their electric costs I thought I'd chime in as well... We live in a new 2-story 2350 s.f home that was built with pretty good energy efficiency standards... Since we're in FL our AC runs A LOT this time of year... We program our thermostat to 76F during the day while we're at work, and then it goes down to 73F in the evenings and overnight. So we keep it pretty cool in here, and last month (during probably the hottest month of the year) our bill was $165. We have an all-electric house, and I have an older fridge out on the garage that runs almost constantly, as well as an older chest freezer that runs a lot as well.... So all-in-all, not too shabby for us.

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  littlesapphire on 8/12/2011, 10:21 am

Hey BBG, funny you mention breaking down how much money each plant will make/save you. I just made a huge chart for that last night and was planning on putting it into a spreadsheet and posting it here for everyone to enjoy! I'll be sure to post it once I'm done.

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  westie42 on 8/12/2011, 10:48 am

Jersh for Tampa thats really good are you on averaged or actual billing.

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

Post  AprilakaCCIL on 8/12/2011, 11:09 am

I'm in GA, live in a old farm house. Our electric bill for the summer ranges $340.00 - $460.00 a month. 2300 sf home with high ceilings.
I would love to have any of the electric bills posted above.

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Re: Starting seeds indoors

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