Energy Conservation isn’t always sexy but VERY COST EFFECTIVE!
Total Energy Load: Deep Energy Retrofits aim to reduce the total energy load by more than 50% (our project shoots for 75% savings). To figure your total energy usage add all your utility and energy bills including oil, gas, wood, electric, etc. in dollars and cents. Seriously, take a few minutes and add it all up. Pretty impressive, eh? Most people have no idea how much of their income is spent on energy.
Now, think of how good it would be to cut those costs in half or more! Throughout the Deep Energy Retrofitting process we’ll be looking for ways to reduce the use of all energy consumption including lighting, hot water, and appliances.
First and Foremost:
Reduce total home energy load by increasing R-values, reducing infiltration, and minimizing electrical use. This is the #1 take home message. Maybe it seems obvious, but all too often the first question we hear is — What’s the cheapest fuel? How much solar can I put on my roof? Can I use a geothermal heating system?
THE BUCKET ANALOGY: To put this into perspective, let’s use the bucket analogy. Say your home now uses a 3 buckets worth of energy. If you continue to fill the same 3 buckets, it might save you 5% of the buckets if you spend $8-12,000 on a new heating system, or a solar hot water (Myth buster #3), or new windows (Myth buster #1). But, you still have to fill 3 buckets.
Now, let’s say you spend the same $8-12,000 on a Deep Energy Retrofit and reduce the number of the buckets (total energy load) by 65% to 1 bucket by improving your home’s thermal envelope (R-value of walls, attic, basement), reducing air leaks, and reducing electrical use.
Suddenly it’s a lot easier to fill and pay for that 1 bucket regardless of whether the energy comes from wood, solar, gas, etc. PLUS, your home is now more confortable and evenly heated from top to bottom.
Now if you want to add a solar hot water system, a new boiler, or new windows it might save you 20-30% because the single bucket is so much easier to fill and yielding a faster pay back on your investment. Plus, when you need to replace that old heating system, it can be smaller in size, complexity, and cost because the heating load is less.
Conserving energy (smaller bucket) is 5-10 times more cost-effective than generating energy or changing fuels to fill same old big bucket. Spend your money on conservation first. Then other improvements can be phased in as time and budgets allow. A long-term master plan for your home is very good idea to avoid unanticipated problems.