Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter temperature log

Yesterday (12/28) it was 36F outside and 35F inside at 6:37am.  This is when I turned on the heater.  It heated up rather quickly to 42F inside by 6:44am, but then thermal mass kicked in and started slowing the rate down.  After that, it increased about half a degree every minute till 6:57 it was at 49.3F.  This was with the thermometer approximately 5' from the heater.  At the end, I turned off the heater's fan and moved the thermostat to within a foot of the heater for a minute.  From 6:58 to 6:59, the thermometer went from 49.3F to 52.2F.   I then turned the heater off and after 10 minutes, it dropped to 51.5F.

Today it was somewhat colder out.  At 6:29am, it was 29.5F outside, 28.5F inside.  The van seems to drop slightly colder inside than outside during the night.  I didn't run the heater near as long today.  The rate of increase was rather slow. The biggest jump was between 6:29 and 6:31 - from 29.5 to 32.2.  Then: 6:33 was 33.1 and 6:34 saw 33.5.   By 6:44, it was 38F inside.

So while being directly in front of the heater was warm enough to get changed and such, if the temperatures drop much below 30F, I may have to try running both heaters, or add the van's heater into the mix.  However, once I'm changed and under the sleeping bag, it really doesn't matter too much about the temperature of the van.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Financial updates

12/7/2009 Day 31

Financial Updates

Let me preface this by saying that I didn't really start tracking daily expenses till 9/23.  You should also read my equipment post to see what I am investing in equipment.  Current running total is $2,853.

Since 9/23/2009 (2 months, 14 days) I have put 2,403 miles on the van, using 144.827 gallons of fuel costing me $399.92.  This averages out to 16.59mpg or $0.17/miles. With insurance, comprehensive w/ a $300 deductible is $20.17/month (say $50.43).  $450.35   For the untracked period from 8/17 to 9/23, we'll estimate $200 ($20+), giving us an estimated total of $630.49 -- we'll come back to that number.

I had intended to track the generator usage as well, but have little to go on right now.  The last time I filled it up was 9/28.  I put in 2.2 gallons, costing me $5.68.  I have used it a couple times since then, but still have most of the fuel.  I am pretty sure I won't be using it much at all during the winter.  When Spring comes around, I will give it an oil change start tracking it more.  $456.03

During this time, I also spent $15 for an inspection sticker.  I am behind on an oil change, so that needs to be done soon. While the correct method is to divide that by 12 and come up with $1.25/month, we'll pretend the van won't make it to next inspection and assume the full $15 cost now.  $471.03

Using our estimate for August through September, we'll assume I spent $671.03 on operating costs, along with equipment costs of $2853 (total $3,524).  This gives us an average operating cost of $223.67/month and a total average cost of $1,174.67.

If I had an apartment, it would cost me $500 + utilities.  I would have spent $2000 in rent plus my share of utilities, which used to run me at least $100/month.  At this point, I would have paid out $2400 in rent and utilities.  Assuming these numbers hold up, I save $376.33 each month vs an apartment.  Taking my current total cost of $3,524 and subtracting the $2400 I would have paid, I am left with $1,124 more than the cost of an apartment.   It will take three more months (March) to break even or 8 months since purchasing to fully break even and start truly saving over the cost of an apartment.

However, that's missing a very crucial element.  My operating costs include the cost of transportation.  Based on the first paragraph, I spend approx $180/month on fuel at 16mpg.  My Kia gets 24mpg, which is 33% more efficient.  If I drove the Kia, I would still be spending $120/month on gas on top of the apartment.  So my $376.33 savings each month is actually $496.33.   Four months of apartment + utils + fuel = $2,880.
Remove that from the total van cost of $3,524 and you are left with $644.  At this rate, I should be breaking even by the middle of February and well ahead by March. 

There is a change coming that will make this even more desirable.  Starting this week, I will be parking the van at work and driving the Kia down to it.  Doing so will eliminate most of the fuel costs from the equation, saving  an additional $180/month.  My primary costs at that point will be insurance and propane.  I do plan to start up and move the van somewhat each week to ensure that it is operating properly, so that will eat up some of the fuel in the vehicle.  Plus I plan on doing any other regular maintenance the van needs (like the oil change) -- It needs to remain in fully functional working order.