How to help the fact that we need light!? Solution: arrange what functions you do in houses and buildings to take advantage of natural light. A window facing south will give you light 2.5 (x) the height of the window into the length into the room. Clerestory windows are best at the ceiling height because they bounce the light right off of your ceiling, illuminating your room. Or, install a solatube, which can tunnel light to where you need it if the only thing between you and the sun is your roof.
and at night…
Installing occupancy light sensors may be the best option in commercial settings, when no one person in in charge of turning off, say, the conference room lights when not in use. Wattstopper has a power strip that senses people and turns plugs on just like light sensors do. See the strip here and others from Smart Home USA. Light Occupancy Sensor Resources are listed in the book: Evecto GreenGate Levitron Lutron Sensor Switch , or take a look at WattStopper’s Energy Saving Calculator.
Sometimes the easiest way to understanding consumption of energy is to determine what you use. Like eating less when you count calories, a Kill a Watt may be plugged in an outlet like a power strip, and will display the power usage that anything you plug into it may be pulling.
“You can calculate your electrical expenses by the day, week, month, even an entire year. Also check the quality of your power by monitoring Voltage, Line Frequency, and Power Factor. Now you´ll know if it is time for a new refrigerator or if that old air conditioner is still saving you money.” From P3 International.
Begin by analyzing your home room by room. Look at your dryer and think of how often you use it. Most of us spend 10% of our energy bills on the dryer. It could be a good time to visit the Urban Clothesline site.
Look at the setting in your refrigerator, or just keep all of your cold items in a tupperware bin outside through the winter. (I’ve really wanted to do this!) You should set your temperature between 35-38 degrees, and keep the freezer at 0. Green $ense referred to: Absocold ConServ Equator MicroFridge Summit Compact Refrgerators, Sun Frost as models to reference.
Dishwashers: Ariston Asko Bosch Danby Miele
Oh, and lets not forget hot to get rid of old appliances… Energy Star Refrigerator Recycling program Recycle.. it’s the perfect ending.
I’ve recently gotten cash for my electronics through BoneYard.
Do you know that in Rhode Island several communities have adopted a Pay-As-You-Throw program to manage the excessive waste of trash? You have to pay for the bright orange trash bags for trash disposal. The program aims to reduce waste and increase recycling. It allows residents to gauge what comes in because of the price attached to what goes out.
Energy consumption in heating and cooling the places where we live and work is astronomical! Later, when a good building envelope is discussed, we can learn how to keep our inside air in places where it should be. But, as far as how to make a comfortable environment in the first place is another story.
During the summer, when most places are hot, our home attics are extremely warm. If your house isn’t a passive house which would direct that hot air through natural ventilation, you may consider a few natural ways to let the hot air out by letting it rise. The book discusses solar powered attic fans by Sunrise Solar and I’ve seen them by SolaStar as well. A whole house fan is another option, and Green $ense offered one by Jet Fan USA.
A programmable thermostat is a great idea to consider. In Ohio right now Columbia gas is offering in home Audits for $50. With that a programmable thermostat is offered in the package. This allows you to have heat when you need it most. Not when you aren’t at home, and not when you are under the covers. If you are thinking about building a new home, imagine your house broken into temperature zones. Places where you have a lot of southern light will be warmer, and tend to need different air conditions than do the shady Northern facing rooms. A good architect 😉 can make sure your temperature zones are ducted to properly. See more at the future House Warming post.
The book discussed a fireplace heat exchanger upgrade or and EPA certified insert which I looked up on E How to try to understand a bit better. The idea is that you can insert a new energy-efficient unit into your existing hearth and allow the heat generated by the fire to help generate heat into your home through a blower door.
Inserts for wood-burning fireplaces improve the safety and efficiency of the unit. An insert is a metal firebox, often with a glass door for visible flames, which fits within the fireplace opening, allowing the smoke to be vented through the existing fireplace chimney.-E How
The next idea after lowering consumption is to consider creating your own power using the sun, a local stream, or passing wind.
The hubbub about Solar Panels: Think of them as an appliance you can move with you. the DSIRE is a great website source that offers the most up to date incentives for renewable energies.
Micro-hydropower uses a water to be a generator of energy.
Micro-hydro power systems use an intake box to divert water from the stream and prevent debris from flowing into the system. The water moves through a pipe that is connected to a turbine. The pressure of the water rushing through the turbine causes it to move, which generates electricity. Excess energy is then stored in batteries or diverted to a dump load. –Acreage Anywhere
You must contact several authorities before doing this, such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (here), the Army Corps of Engineers, the local county engineers office, and the system may cost between $5,000-20,000. But, before dismissing this all together, think about cost holistically. The cost of what you are paying your electric or gas company, the cost of what they are possibly doing to the air where they make your power, what is lost in translation, etc. Gauging all factors makes things a different story.
I’ve recently been introduced to the Fujitsu Mini-Split heat pump by a friend who uses the system to create a warm room in his super-insulated home. It is a ductless system that runs coils through your walls to a wall or ceiling mounted unit that heats or cools your air for comfort.
How cool! or… warm?!
Come back Monday for the next series post!