Monday, June 10, 2013

home efficiency

one of the things that has always attracted me to the idea of sustainability is that for the most part, it's is a cost savings.  if your car gets more MPG, you spend less on gas to go the same distance. if you replace traditional incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs at home, you spend WAY less on electricity and typically save what the new bulbs cost in the first year. if you install solar panels on your roof, in 5-11 years (depending on if you go the DIY route or have someone engineer and install your system), it pays out and you are rocking on clean, free energy.

In that sense, sustainability resonates with a lot of who I am and how I operate...not to mention the environmental benefits of burning less gas in your car, using less electricity to light your home or generating clean, free energy from the sun vs coal, natural gas, nuclear or other not-so-pleasant means of producing electricity.

When we moved in to our new home, upgrading bulbs, reducing lawn watering times and installing more insulation were just a few of the things I did as we were still unpacking.  It just made sense to me.  As such, our 1760 sq ft house started off with a monthly electric bill of $60/ California where we pay $.12/kwh off peak and $.14 peak power rates...much higher than much of the rest of the country.  So here, it just makes sense to make our homes as efficient as possible, then offset whatever we do use with solar panels. It blows my mind how many folks out there pay upwards of $150/month on power bills.  I really dont know where the power goes but it seems that most people have just adapted to spending tons of money on power.

Maybe this is my niche...I'm passionate about improving the efficiency of homes.  After a few months of working through the house on my own, I looked up and found a company that performs home energy assessments and spent $300 for two guys to come into my house for a few hours and check the efficiency of seals, look for opportunities to better insulate my house, upgrade windows, etc.  They were basically a front end for a construction company who saw efficiency as a means of entry for their construction business.  Good idea...but they didnt turn up a lot that wasnt pretty obvious on the surface.  Be sure that your doors and windows seal (which they didnt do a good job of identifying), seal your attic from your living space including all upper floor outlets (which can leak air to/from the attic vertically) etc etc...

I suppose what keeps me from wanting to move forward with this in a business sense is that the reason I want to do it is to educate people and to help them understand how easy it is to make huge improvements in their home energy utilization...taking home efficiency to the next level.  Home energy usage makes up ~22% of total energy consumption per the EIA ( with the average home using over 11kwh/year so that's a pretty significant chunk of the power we generate each year.  Reducing usage is a great first step at making our way of life sustainable and that all starts with education :)

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