The purpose of this web site is to EDUCATE homeowners, contractors, real estate agents, and other interested parties and to promote the renovation of existing homes to very high energy efficiency standards or what is called “Deep Energy Retrofit.” The website’s goal is to be 90% education and 10% self-promotion. Let us know what you think. We like feedback.
A Deep Energy Retrofit aims to cut total energy use (electric, oil, gas, wood, etc) by at least 50%. And much more is possible. Hats off to anyone making the effort to make their home more energy efficient but, frankly speaking (which is always our goal!), 5%, 10% or 20% energy improvement is not going to do your wallet (let alone national security and climate change!) much good when (not if!) energy prices skyrocket again.
The emphasis will always be to demonstrate safe, affordable and effective, techniques and technologies using available materials that can help to transform your home from a high-cost energy waster into a low-cost energy superstar. You don’t have to wait (nor should you!) for some new product or technology. You can cut the energy use of your home now by 50%, 75%, even 90% using available products and smart building science.
We use the “whole house” approach so that all systems of the home, i.e., insulation, air tightness, ventilation, appliances, lighting, heating, etc, are considered and modified based on what is most efficient and cost effective.
Q: Will it be quick and easy?
A: Probably not! But the effort will save you thousands of dollars and make your home much more comfortable, healthy, and valuable. It will also cushion your financial stability and make you feel very smart the next time energy spikes. The time to get ahead of the curve is now.
ColdClimateHome.com does not sell or promote any specific products. We do offer consulting services and our opinions and recommendations are unbiased by any brand or product loyalty. We also provide information on where to find efficiency products, information, and contractors who share our sense of purpose. We do not endorse any specific products or services and “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) should always be applied. Multiple estimates, word-of-mouth recommendations, and common sense (which is not so common) are always recommended.
There are many ways to make your home more efficient. We will try to show you the alternatives, advantages, and disadvantages so you can make informed decisions. We claim no corner on the market of knowledge and hope to link you with other sources of information. In the end, you should explore and educate yourself and/or hire someone you trust to help make informed decisions specific to your unique home.
This web site will show you how to radically change the energy use of your home which represents a large part of our state’s and country’s energy pie. Home energy usage is 21% of the US carbon foot print as opposed to only 11% for private cars—something each of us can change.
If you are already driving an efficient car, great! Now is the time to put your home into the same category. Are you ready? Our goal is to inspire and motivate you— the homeowner, contractor, or landlord— to make those changes.
A Little History
In 2005, when oil was $1.50/gal, I built my first Super-Efficient home from scratch. People said I was “crazy” spending the extra time and money (5-10%) making it super tight, super-insulated (walls R-40, roof R-80, basement R-20). Three years later, when oil hit $5/gal and all forms of energy were streaking upward, I was “ahead of my time” and the phone was ringing.
Since the recession energy prices have moderated. Most people have gone back to the well-tested approach of sticking their heads in the sand and pretending it will get better on its own. It won’t! Whether it’s suicide bombers, Egypt, North Korea, Libya or our 7 billion fellow humans beings reaching for their piece of the economic/energy pie, energy prices are going up! We all know it’s coming but no one can say when or by how much.
What can you do to protect yourself, your family, your state, as well as your country and your environment? Use less energy. Period, end of story! Well… yes, it helps to use cleaner and more local energy sources, but first and foremost, you have to use less.
Q: Can you use less energy and still have the “good life?”
A: Absolutely, yes! And we will show you that by Deep Energy Retrofitting your home you will not only have a “better life,” but also a more comfortable, safer, and valuable home.
Warning: “Experts are often mistaken, but never in doubt!”
The field of home energy efficiency and building science is based on exactly that: science. But, science can be misleading and sometimes mistaken if not taken with a healthy grain of salt, skepticism, and experience. We are in a time of rapid growth, change, and, frankly, experimentation. There are hucksters out there selling snake oil solutions (the Amish Fireplace Heater comes to mind), and well-intentioned folks whose ideas may be proven wrong in time (not ours, of course!). This web site will always try to provide a “fair and balanced” approached based on knowledge and experience.
But, really, why should you care about energy?
Use less energy and you will save money and lots of it. Use less energy and, the next time prices skyrocket, you will save even more. No matter where you live, unless you’re rich or have a gas well in the back yard, you had better pay attention.
Reason #2: National Security = Energy Security.
Hello ??? How many energy crises, wars, and political calamity will it take till we finally remember this painful lesson and change our ways? The only path to energy security is to use less and produce a majority of what we need close to home.
NEWSFLASH! The world energy markets have no mercy, especially for those most dependent on oil. Without reducing energy consumption, we can drill our coastlines and wilderness ’til they are dry and we will still be 90% dependent on energy from other countries (Newsflash #2: many of them don’t have our best interest at heart).
Like it or not, believe it or not, our world is rapidly warming. Period. End of story. Of this there is virtually unanimous agreement (and some very angry penguins). However, there is still disagreement as to the cause of that warming. Is it a natural cycle, or is human activity the culprit? For me, it’s hard to believe that 7 billion people (10 billion by 2050) fighting to stay atop an economic and energy consumption pyramid are not, at least partially, at fault. “Nuff” said!
Using less energy means you save money, help stabilize your local economy, improve national security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and preserve limited fossil fuel resources. WOW! WIN! WIN! WIN!
Maine: the way life should be?
During the summer of 2008, the price of home heating oil hovered near $5/gal. Maine’s former Governor Angus King wondered how much longer any of us would be able to afford to live in Maine and New England.
Maine ranks 42nd out the 50 states in average earned income (lowest in New England). We spend the highest percentage of the household earned income on energy. We have the oldest and least energy efficient housing stock of all 50 states. So… we are the most dependent on oil prices and least able to afford it. The average Maine home spends about $4200 a year (based on $3/gal oil) on the household energy use.
Average Maine Household Energy Expenses
|Oil (avg 1000/gal/yr), gas, or wood||$3000|
|Total cost per year||$4200|
See Myth Buster #8 about burning wood.
Our state, region, and country stand at an important cross roads: change our energy habits or give up our future security to the whims of world energy markets. So, when we promote saving money, saving energy and saving the planet, that is a great win/win solution for you, your bank account, and your children/grandchildren to inherit.
Q: Wouldn’t it be better to build a new energy efficient home?
A: No, but it would be easier. Both high efficiency new construction and Deep Energy Retrofit have their own special challenges. From the design perspective, new construction is easier but more expensive because it’s starts from scratch. Renovation is more technically challenging but less expensive (per square foot) because the enclosed space already exists, yet now you have to figure out how to make it much more efficient.