Friday, October 15, 2010

Expecting the unexpected

Well, faithful readers, there is no easy way to put this, so here it is: the time has come for Energy Efficiency Man to depart from Efficiency Manor, his home for the last 14 years. In life one must always expect the unexpected, and in this case, the unexpected has arrived in the form of major life changes.

I will do my best to perform the final yearly analysis on the house, given that the major cooling season is now over, and the remaining few months' electric usage can be estimated pretty well from the previous year.

My overall experience with the house that awakened my interest in Energy Efficiency (lo these 5 years ago) was a positive one. From the start, the house was surprisingly well air-sealed (too well, perhaps, for maximum air quality without a fresh-air ventilation system), but left a lot of low hanging fruit in terms of attic improvements (attic venting, radiant barrier, and insulation). I also learned the pros and cons of the various lighting options (LED, CFL) and paid for some fine improvements in the duct sealing as well. The upshot of all those improvements was a far more comfortable house that saved a lot of money (over 50%) each month.

One regret is that the south-facing section of roof, which due to lack of shading would work quite well for solar panels, is left unadorned with my departure. It is possible that I had completed enough efficiency work for the installation of either a solar water heater or a solar PV system to make sense as the next step in the low-hanging fruit gathering. Longtime readers will already know that a kilowatt-hour saved is the same as a kilowatt-hour generated; they are two sides of the same coin. The least expensive way forward for me was to stop wasting so much energy, but once that was done, solar energy could have made sense. Perhaps the next owners will see it that way.

Another regret is that the windows, while double-paned, are nowhere near as good as modern high-end windows, but replacing double-paned windows is rarely worth it moneywise, as research seemed to consistently suggest.

One thing that I do NOT regret, but will also NOT miss, is the large number of hours spent in the attic, measuring and stapling radiant barrier, digging through insulation trying to remove soffit-blocking batts, or just looking around, planning and scheming. This type of work, while not exactly fun, was incredibly rewarding once the results of the efforts were clear.

This will not be the end of the blog; EEMan has to live somewhere, and that somewhere will use energy, and likely could use his attention. More on that in future posts.

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