I am in the process of upgrading my own home to make it more energy efficient. I do this mainly as an exercise of faith and science, since my electric and gas bills are not currently all that expensive. But I just can’t countenance burning 10 times more electricity than I need to, even if I can afford it. It’s also an exercise in geekiness, since today’s lighting alternatives and appliances have an undeniable techno-cool factor about them.
Over the next few months, I will be reporting on my experience with the latest in LED light bulbs, switches, power meters, and appliances. This is a continuing exercise, so don’t expect a resolution anytime soon. But I think that my experience will help you decide where to upgrade, and where to hold off.
A Level Set
My home is a large American-style brick/stucco suburban single-family home in Northeast Ohio. It was built in 1996 by a local builder with reasonable but not exceptional insulation and energy efficiency in mind. It’s about 3,000 square feet and features four bedrooms on two levels, plus a finished basement which adds another 1,500 square feet or so.
The home has its original gas furnace with forced air for heat and A/C. I was forced to add electric in-wall heaters in the basement since the forced air just wasn’t cutting it down there and diverting heat from the main floor made the second-floor bedrooms unreasonably hot. It originally had two gas hot water heaters, but I removed one when it failed. We’ll have to replace both the furnace and remaining water heater in the next few years since they’re getting quite worn out.
I’m not at all satisfied with the wiring in the house. It appears to have been done by someone who didn’t know much about electricity (perhaps even an Amish craftsman) and the connections are poorly finished and oddly chosen. I’ve re-wired some of the house already, in addition to adding Cat-6 Ethernet cabling to many of the rooms.
There’s no use trying to take a baseline energy reading at this point, since we’ve lived here for 4 years and I’ve made continual improvements since the day I moved in. I will try to compare efficiency as I replace major items, however.
Increasing energy efficiency is a first world problem, but we all have responsibility to take it on. Anyone geeky enough to read my blog will probably appreciate the cool factor of LED lamps and hybrid water heaters, and these will save money in the long run as well. Watch this space as I dive into the subject.
Here are the articles in this series: