Going through a deep energy retrofit is a challenge by itself. It takes time. It takes money. It certainly takes great effort and extensive planning to pick strategies from a checklist. The chosen strategies are then implemented for total energy reduction.
The ideal goal of your energy retrofitting strategy is to reduce your heating use by 75%. It appears to be an incredible feat to accomplish, but others have done it. And so can you.
Don’t believe me? Go to: http://www.thousandhomechallenge.com/ and find out.
Some would say that it is actually easy to reduce the current energy use by 50%. If you did that, think of the savings you would be generating. That money can go to a college fund for your kids. It can go into paying your mortgage. Or it can be used to pay taxes, or perhaps even help you buy groceries.
So how do you do it?
You’d be surprised to know that all it takes is to have one strategy in mind.
By just super-insulating your home, you can cut the heating load in half.
This strategy is used for houses in the Northeast. Cutting your heating bill in half is quite a substantial claim to make there. If you live in Florida, you wouldn’t make that kind of claim and be proud of it.
So getting to 75% doesn’t look so difficult once you’re half way to 100. But, in today’s article I want to discuss going all the way. What else do you have to do to get close to 100% energy reduction?
Is it even remotely possible? And can you do it?
To go all the way and get really deep energy reductions is by changing the way you live in your home. You can change your house physically, but you have to change your behavior and mindset first to make a dramatic difference in your quality of life.
You need to look at how you live in your home.
You have to change YOU.
Are you up for that challenge?
We just quickly talked about physically changing our homes to provide a minimum energy use reduction of 50% or greater. The comprehensive home renovation or remodeling strategy we’ve been talking about is called a Deep Energy Retrofit.
In some cases, doing a DER only takes you half way. You are the other half. You have to get into the mindset of saving before reducing your energy. This will lead you to be totally free from energy wasting at home.
If you don’t change the way you live, you won’t get very far. That’s the bottom line when it comes to life in general. And it’s certainly the case when it comes to how you use energy.
You can’t have plenty of energy without balancing your life.
By changing how you live at home, you can reduce the cost of energy so you don’t have to worry about paying your bills anymore.
Here’s a quick list of things in your home that may be taking more energy than you’d like.
- Dozens of energy vampires
- Incandescent lamps
- Old refrigerators and appliances
- Lights and electronics such as the TV on all the time
- Cable modems and routers constantly on
- Windows and doors opened without turning off the HVAC system
You may think that this list is not very surprising. But, are you really doing anything about these energy wasters? You’ve probably switched over to compact fluorescent lamps and LEDs. And you threw away your old fridge and appliances. Have you done anything else?
How we live matters a lot.
Do you have devices in your home that operate on standby power? Here is a list of them:
- Home office equipment
- Chargers for cell phones
- iPods and iPads
- Power tools
- Electronics equipment
These devices are turned off but are still plugged to a wall outlet. They are slowly sucking energy from your home while not turned on. They suck energy while not serving your needs. Hence, we call these devices energy vampires. Simply put, they are just wasting energy.
According to the U.S. Energy Department, the average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices while they are off (or in standby mode). On a national basis, standby power accounts for more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of annual U.S. electricity consumption and more than $10 billion in annual energy costs.
Here are some tips to deal with energy vampires in your home.
Unplug cell phone chargers, camera chargers, battery chargers, power adapters, etc. These devices are always drawing some amount of energy even when not connected to the cell phone or other end-use product.
Enable power save mode setting on your computer and monitor.
Turn off the TV. Many TVs and other entertainment equipment continue to use power even when turned off. Put it on a power strip and get in the habit of switching that off when the equipment is not being used.
When buying a new TV, consider both standby and operating power consumption. Note that digital recording devices, such s TiVo, tend to draw significant power (25-35 watts) when not recording.
Buy ENERGY STAR products. They are among the lowest power consuming in their category in standby mode.
Cable modems and wireless routers are large energy users in your home, along with other internet connection equipment. They often are used more than TVs nowadays. If using this equipment will not interrupt essential phone service (I use Vonage phone service which requires an internet connection for instance), then plug these devices into power strips and switch them off at night and when you leave your home.
Above all these, I encourage you to alter your lifestyle in ways to reduce energy use.
Turn the temperature down when you leave the house and raise it back to a more comfortable level when you return home. Get comfortable with your setback thermostat. Start and stop your heating and cooling system based on your behavior.
Close your windows when operating your air-conditioner or heating systems.
Turn off lights when you’re not in the room. Use task lighting more often.
Limit water use.
The bottom line is we have to change our behavior.
Growing up in my household, my mom taught me to use the hair dryer every time I finished washing my hair. It wasn’t until I was a grown man that I realized I didn’t need to do that anymore. When I stopped using the hair dryer, I reprogrammed my behavior and saved on electricity while doing it.
You might think this is pennies in savings, but it’s the mindset that can turn those pennies into gold someday.
My point is: we can only achieve so much by changing our homes. We can achieve greater things by changing ourselves. It’s up to you to do this now or later when energy prices go up.
If carbon emissions don’t get us, peak oil probably will.
You can start now by reducing electricity usage through conservation and efficiency measures. This method involves not using energy in the first place. And the method is called “Negawatt-hours” – it is the watt-hours you save by conserving energy.
Why is this method so important?
It’s important to recognize that conservation measures can reduce your energy use by 50% alone.
Reducing use will make your PV system smaller in size AND cost when you are ready to have solar panels installed. Your PV system can then focus on offsetting the energy usage left over.
Changing yourself matters most.
And what matters most is that you can reduce your carbon footprint without spending a dime first.