The heat pads vary with the type of beer Im doing. The overall freezer temp sits at about 40. The heat pads are plastic and sit directly under the carboy, with the insulation in there the heat pads are actually operating about 5 minutes every 2 hours on average( a little more if im fermenting in the high 60s low 70s. The insulation does a great job of keeping the cold air out of the small fermentation side, and with the one temp controller controlling the freezer being placed as far away from the insulated side as possible, it runs pretty efficiently(kicks on every couple hours with a 3 degree differential). I've taken every precaution I can to assure that it runs efficiently as possible! Also the pads dont suck much energy. Space is one of my biggest considerations. I have room for the one freezer and thats about it, and dont have much anywhere else in the house to maintain consistent temps.
I am going to try the carboy with water and put it on the very bottom and see where were at at the bottom as opposed to the fermometer in the middle of the carboy.
Hopefully a new house is coming soon with a garage and a bit more space!