Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

Re: Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

PostBy: mdrelyea On: Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:04 pm

Horace wrote:Mike:

I haven't forgotten about you. I ordered and received a Raspberry PI for one of my daughters for Christmas and haven't been able to stop playing with it. This thing is like the Tickle-Me-Elmo of the tech world, although they are a little easier to get now. Fully-functioning Linux-based ARM computer for $35. Very cool.


Looks pretty cool and extremely flexible! Have you got a project in mind for her, or has she got something in mind?
My oldest daughter is only 7 but when I took her to work with me this past spring, I introduced her to the wonders of Excel. At the dinner table that night, she turned to my wife and said "Mommy, can I use Excel tonight before I go to bed?" My wife and I are both geeks and our hearts melted!

Horace wrote:I said previously that I would zero out my data before sending it to you, but on further thought, do you want me to do so? I can leave it all in there if you want so you can get an idea of how it works with data in it.

On even further thought, I can just as easily do both. I'll do that.


I'd just as soon have data in there as not. Much easier to dissect it when there is sample (or actual) data to manipulate.

Mike
mdrelyea
 
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Re: Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:29 am

I think what you guys are doing is great. I waited before posting this as to make sure everyone had talked about what they wanted before I slightly changed the topic. I say that because what you guys have come up in Excel is very similar to what I did, but I did it for a very different aspect of my life: farming.

I can see the value in tracking what you consume because for the last 4 years it is interesting to see what tracking averages do for my farm. For instance I track how much feed the sheep consume and from that can tell how much I have on hand, when they run out, how much I need to order, etc. I do this for all commodities consumed or produced so I get very accurate numbers on my farm. It really helped when I went for some farm loans and at a touch of my fingers I could tell them what I have done, for how much, and what it produced. The same thing when it comes tax-time; my accountant can get very accurate numbers very quickly and I know what I am doing and how well. Again, all very relevant information. Really it is all about averages and with a little data entry every day, I am getting some real world figures that other farmers dream about knowing, and the longer I do this, the more accurate they will be.

The hardest part I found was finding a common denominator and ultimately I went with sheep-days. That lets me calculate everything out per sheep so that in the future I can input flock numbers and get real-world ideas on costs and profits. For instance if I have a flock of 100 sheep, that is 100 sheep days because I have had 100 sheep on a given day, I adjust that number as I buy, sell and get lambs in my flock.

I looked for this kind of program, but no one made it so I started to learn excel and just built my own over the last few years. Its been quite the side product, but I am proud of it. I certainly hope you guys are proud of what you have done as well.
NoSmoke
 
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Re: Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

PostBy: mdrelyea On: Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:21 pm

One of the aspects of it that facinates me the most is the relationships between all of the inputs and all of the outputs. Some guys like sports, some guys like cars. I like data and relationships among the data and tweaking the inputs to change the outputs. The more accurate and precise the data the happier I get. Most people look at me like I'm nuts. I don't care.

So to your sheep example, what are your outputs? Pounds of wool? Pounds of mutton? Heads? What inputs can you control? Ingredients in the feed? What other inputs can you quantify (but not control) that have an effect on your output(s)? Temperature?

You've got my wheels turning...

Mike

Edit: Oh yeah, and the thought of electro-mechanical automation makes me happy too - especially when I can improve upon some circumstance. Computerized is even better! For example have you taken a look at Jim from Macungie's coal bin? I've already thought of two improvements I'd make to it. First is simple, angle the bottom of the inside of the bin so climbing in at the end of the season isn't necessary. Second is to automate the filling of the hopper even further by having the auger run automatically. Track the amount of coal coming out of the hopper so that when it reaches some threshold the auger turns on and fills it back up automatically. Then just have to figure out some way to get rid of those pesky ashes...
mdrelyea
 
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Re: Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:24 pm

Hey thanks for taking an interest; I thought you would think I was looney for doing it, but because farming is a business, it actually is important.

To answer your question; there are a lot of inputs, like feed rations which can be a blend of hay, corn silage, grass silage, grain and minerals. That is what a sheep farmer is really looking for; what is the least costly to put in and get the most out of in 30 days, 60 days, 120 days, etc. A few years ago I tried this and had the lambs on a high protein diet and was getting amazing weight gains, but then my most prolific lambs started dying...and I mean 40 of them in a short amount of time. I blamed the intensive mix but it was actually a bacteria in the soil that was keeping their livers from growing as fast as their bodies; toxins built up in the liver from lack of size and were killing them, but now that I vaccinate them for that, I could try that again with better results.

Temperature would have a huge affect upon sheep because sheep are really furnaces themselves; the colder the weather they more they have to eat, but like a coal stove, there is no bottom to them; it is impossible to get a sheep too cold as long as it has feed in front of it to keep its belly warm, they are content. (Their ideal temperature is 20 degrees just as ours is 70 degrees.)

Other inputs are time, which means a lot to me. Anything I can do to save me dealing with sheep has huge savings when I compare what my labor rate would be. Like this year, I have put in about 10k worth of time based on a labor rate of $12.50 per hour (the MDOT rate for semi-skilled laborers). Now I can compare that with how much food I am producing for myself, and how much profit the farm operation is generating to decide if it is worth it.

One surprising area is the wood lot. It actually is a very bad performer. There are low imputs, but because a tree averages 40 years to grow before harvest, and property taxes are high, it is far better to clear the land and raise sheep on a given acre then grow forest products. It is one of the reasons why I am continuing to clear land; there is a lot more money in raising sheep than growing trees. A simple return on investment shows that.

This could actually play out into real world money elsewhere. There is something called SARE Grants which enable farmers like myself to do research for the benefit of other farmers. As I mentioned, sheep are hardy and actually do not need a barn, that is...barns are for the comfort of the farmer and not the sheep. I was thinking about how adding some thoughtfully arranged hedges that could keep the sheep out of the weather without significant cost. With half the flock under "green" living barns, and the other half out in the weather as a control, with the aid of weather measuring instruments like wind chill, wind speed, temperature, precipitation, etc, you could calculate out how much better off the sheep in the green living barns were compared to the sheep outside. Obviously the more comfortable they are, without significant cost, the sheep will go through less feed and save the farmer money while still retaining profitability with significant weight gain. You get a grant to help pay for the weather instruments and then carefully come to a deduction on different methods of farming.

Others may laugh, but I know some dairy farmers who do this sort of stuff, and keep amazing spreadsheets on their cows and it adds up to very profitable farming. It is pretty simple; if you do not track it, you are just guessing, and money can be saved with information whether it be cows, coal or sheep!
NoSmoke
 
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Re: Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

PostBy: Northern Maine On: Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:44 pm

NoSmoke wrote:Hey thanks for taking an interest; I thought you would think I was looney for doing it, but because farming is a business, it actually is important.

To answer your question; there are a lot of inputs, like feed rations which can be a blend of hay, corn silage, grass silage, grain and minerals. That is what a sheep farmer is really looking for; what is the least costly to put in and get the most out of in 30 days, 60 days, 120 days, etc. A few years ago I tried this and had the lambs on a high protein diet and was getting amazing weight gains, but then my most prolific lambs started dying...and I mean 40 of them in a short amount of time. I blamed the intensive mix but it was actually a bacteria in the soil that was keeping their livers from growing as fast as their bodies; toxins built up in the liver from lack of size and were killing them, but now that I vaccinate them for that, I could try that again with better results.

Temperature would have a huge affect upon sheep because sheep are really furnaces themselves; the colder the weather they more they have to eat, but like a coal stove, there is no bottom to them; it is impossible to get a sheep too cold as long as it has feed in front of it to keep its belly warm, they are content. (Their ideal temperature is 20 degrees just as ours is 70 degrees.)

Other inputs are time, which means a lot to me. Anything I can do to save me dealing with sheep has huge savings when I compare what my labor rate would be. Like this year, I have put in about 10k worth of time based on a labor rate of $12.50 per hour (the MDOT rate for semi-skilled laborers). Now I can compare that with how much food I am producing for myself, and how much profit the farm operation is generating to decide if it is worth it.

One surprising area is the wood lot. It actually is a very bad performer. There are low imputs, but because a tree averages 40 years to grow before harvest, and property taxes are high, it is far better to clear the land and raise sheep on a given acre then grow forest products. It is one of the reasons why I am continuing to clear land; there is a lot more money in raising sheep than growing trees. A simple return on investment shows that.

This could actually play out into real world money elsewhere. There is something called SARE Grants which enable farmers like myself to do research for the benefit of other farmers. As I mentioned, sheep are hardy and actually do not need a barn, that is...barns are for the comfort of the farmer and not the sheep. I was thinking about how adding some thoughtfully arranged hedges that could keep the sheep out of the weather without significant cost. With half the flock under "green" living barns, and the other half out in the weather as a control, with the aid of weather measuring instruments like wind chill, wind speed, temperature, precipitation, etc, you could calculate out how much better off the sheep in the green living barns were compared to the sheep outside. Obviously the more comfortable they are, without significant cost, the sheep will go through less feed and save the farmer money while still retaining profitability with significant weight gain. You get a grant to help pay for the weather instruments and then carefully come to a deduction on different methods of farming.

Others may laugh, but I know some dairy farmers who do this sort of stuff, and keep amazing spreadsheets on their cows and it adds up to very profitable farming. It is pretty simple; if you do not track it, you are just guessing, and money can be saved with information whether it be cows, coal or sheep!


WOW...that was a good read and very informative! Thanks! ;)
Northern Maine
 
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Re: Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

PostBy: mdrelyea On: Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:01 pm

NoSmoke wrote:Hey thanks for taking an interest; I thought you would think I was looney for doing it, but because farming is a business, it actually is important.

No problem! Like I said, that kind of stuff is interesting to me.

NoSmoke wrote:One surprising area is the wood lot. It actually is a very bad performer. There are low imputs, but because a tree averages 40 years to grow before harvest, and property taxes are high, it is far better to clear the land and raise sheep on a given acre then grow forest products. It is one of the reasons why I am continuing to clear land; there is a lot more money in raising sheep than growing trees. A simple return on investment shows that.

I'm not surprised. I have a degree in Forestry that I'm not using and haven't used for 10-15 years but I remember doing the calculations on the ROI. Maintenance (such as taxes) was very important to profitability. Local laws and zoning can impact that a great deal. Is your woodlot zoned any different than the rest of the property?

NoSmoke wrote:Others may laugh, but I know some dairy farmers who do this sort of stuff, and keep amazing spreadsheets on their cows and it adds up to very profitable farming. It is pretty simple; if you do not track it, you are just guessing, and money can be saved with information whether it be cows, coal or sheep!

One of the coolest things I have ever seen was a dairy farm operation locally. The milking was fully automated. The cows walked in to a milking stall and a laser guided milker attached itself to each teat after cleaning. Each cow had an RFID tag in it's ear and so was uniquely identified. They tracked gallons, temperature of milk, frequency of milking and a whole mess of other factors that I can't remember. If the milk wasn't the right temperature it wasn't put in with the rest of the milk because the cow might have an infection. That also happened automatically. They could then chart the milk output of each cow over it's life. I'd love to work on a system like that!
mdrelyea
 
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Re: Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

PostBy: Lightning On: Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:09 am

Did I do this right? To find out pounds of coal burned per heating degree, this is what I did.

I found heating degrees per day by subtracting outside mean temp (for that day) from inside temp of 72 degrees.
Example - Nov 1st, outside mean 39 - inside temp 72 = 33 degrees of heating

I added together heating degrees for the whole month of November to be 1066 degrees.
My total coal consumed for November was 1169 pounds.
1169 pounds divided by 1066 degrees of heating = 1.0966 pounds of coal per degree heated

Is this a good ratio??

At $200 a ton I burned $116.90 worth of coal but saved $50.00 easy (on electric) with the hot water coil, netting me $66.90 for added energy cost for November. :lol: That bill woulda been $350.00 for propane..
Don't even get me started with the propane thing :rambo2:

I LOVE coal :love:
Lightning
 
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Re: Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

PostBy: lsayre On: Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:36 pm

Looks right, and looks like an excellent ratio!

Official HDD's are base 65, but you are free to base at 72 degrees.

UPDATE: Correction, there are only 30 days in November, so it is not correct
Last edited by lsayre on Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

PostBy: SMITTY On: Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:49 pm

If I were to do this, I'd have to calculate my own heating degree days. The one-size-fits-all default wouldn't accurately fit my area. Even just a mile down the road, temps can vary here by 5° or more. I wish my weatherstation would calculate that. I suppose I could do it myself, as the unit goes back in records 25 years (only owned the unit since '08) ... but I'm not a big numbers guy, and I'm pretty busy around here. One of these days that would make a nice winter project for me. ;)
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Re: Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

PostBy: mdrelyea On: Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:02 pm

Lightning wrote:Did I do this right? To find out pounds of coal burned per heating degree, this is what I did.

I found heating degrees per day by subtracting outside mean temp (for that day) from inside temp of 72 degrees.
Example - Nov 1st, outside mean 39 - inside temp 72 = 33 degrees of heating

I added together heating degrees for the whole month of November to be 1066 degrees.
My total coal consumed for November was 1169 pounds.
1169 pounds divided by 1066 degrees of heating = 1.0966 pounds of coal per degree heated


Like lsayre said, looks right. Be careful comparing that ratio to other HDD ratios though. HDDs are usually base 65. Your ratio at that base would be:
1169/(1066 - ((72-65)*30))=1.3656 pounds of coal per HDD
mdrelyea
 
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Re: Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

PostBy: Lightning On: Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:22 pm

mdrelyea wrote:Like lsayre said, looks right. Be careful comparing that ratio to other HDD ratios though. HDDs are usually base 65. Your ratio at that base would be:
1169/(1066 - ((72-65)*30))=1.3656 pounds of coal per HDD


lsayre wrote:Looks right, and looks like an excellent ratio!

Official HDD's are base 65, but you are free to base at 72 degrees.


Thanks!!

That cuts 210 heated degrees off my total. Makes the ratio look worse :o
Shouldn't everyone use a base temp that they heat up to? Why cheat degrees heated?
We want actual degrees heated right? :lol:
Lightning
 
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Re: Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

PostBy: Lightning On: Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:43 pm

SMITTY wrote:If I were to do this, I'd have to calculate my own heating degree days. The one-size-fits-all default wouldn't accurately fit my area. Even just a mile down the road, temps can vary here by 5° or more. I wish my weatherstation would calculate that. I suppose I could do it myself, as the unit goes back in records 25 years (only owned the unit since '08) ... but I'm not a big numbers guy, and I'm pretty busy around here. One of these days that would make a nice winter project for me. ;)



I know what you mean, I used numbers from down town and its always 2 or 3 maybe even up to 5 degrees colder, 8 miles out in the woods up on the hill a little bit where I am.. So overall, my ratio may even be closer to 1 pound per 1 degree heated for November. I expect the ratio would improve as the temp outside averages lower since my coal consumption won't increase at the same rate.
Lightning
 
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Re: Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

PostBy: mdrelyea On: Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:26 pm

mdrelyea wrote:1169/(1066 - ((72-65)*30))=1.3656 pounds of coal per HDD


I got that backwards. Your ratio would be:
1169/(1066 + ((72-65)*30))=0.9161 pounds of coal per HDD. It won't take as much coal if there isn't as big a temperature difference.

Either way, my point was to be careful comparing the ratios. It changes depending on your HDD base.
mdrelyea
 
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Re: Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

PostBy: Lightning On: Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:29 pm

mdrelyea wrote:I got that backwards. Your ratio would be:
1169/(1066 + ((72-65)*30))=0.9161 pounds of coal per HDD. It won't take as much coal if there isn't as big a temperature difference.

Either way, my point was to be careful comparing the ratios. It changes depending on your HDD base.


Actually, I think you had it right the first time. Wouldn't lowering the base temp from 72 to 65 close the gap on the heated degrees? So if it was 30 outside a base of 72 would be 42 heated degrees, a base of 65 would mean only 35 heated degrees. This would result in fewer heated degrees for the month, making my ratio worse. Right? or am I confused :?

Anyways, it makes sense to keep the same base for comparison purposes. I do get that part :D
Lightning
 
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Re: Anticipated coal consumption vs. Temp. & Degree Days

PostBy: lsayre On: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:36 pm

Yes, the ratio is worse for base 65, but it's all relative to the base, so choose a base and be happy. You must use the daily mean temperature. Subtract the daily mean temp from 72 each day for base 72 HDD's on a per day basis.

For your example of 39 mean degrees for the month and for base 65 I get:

(65-39)*30 = 780 HDD's (base 65) for the month of November

1169/780 = 1.5 lbs. coal per base 65 HDD (which is the same as my burn rate for base 65)

And for base 72 I get:

(72-39)*30 = 990 HDD's (base 72)

1169/990 = 1.18 lbs. coal per HDD (base 72)
lsayre
 
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