1/2 -- Planning Your Half Project
If you are interested in doing your own 1/2 program, here are some ideas for developing a plan of attack.
1. A Plan for People Who Don't Like Plans
Make a full list of every possibility
Throw out projects that are not feasible for your residence/situation
Estimate the energy and GHG savings
Pick the group of projects that look the best
Sequence the projects so that they don't interfere with each other
The idea is to build a big list of candidates to chose from.
Here are some resources that might be helpful in compiling your list:
I've put a great deal of information on energy saving projects here:
Look through these lists of potential energy saving ideas:
EERE Consumer Tips: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips/index.html
Home Energy Saver: http://hes.lbl.gov/
Energy Star for appliances: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home.index
EEBA Energy Checklist: http://www.eeba.org/technology/publications/hec/default.htm
Rocky Mountain Institute: http://www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid119.php
Look through the list of projects that we did for our 1/2 program:
Check to see if your utility has an energy audit program. They will have a look at your house and suggest changes to save energy. They may even help pay for them.
If your utility offers a blower door test and/or duct blower test, by all means, take them up on it. Make sure you use this opportunity to mark all the locations where air is infiltrating, so that you can seal them up. What's a blower door test? http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Conservation/Southface22blowdoor.pdf
Some projects will be impossible for your residence or situation -- throw these out.
You might want to put some projects that look like a big stretch on a separate list to be looked at later.
For each project on your list, see if you can come up with at least a rough idea of what it would cost and what kind of energy saving it would achieve.
These resources may be helpful:
The links listed under step 1
Software tools to evaluate changes:
Insulation Upgrade Calculator: http://www.builditsolar.com/References/Calculators/InsulUpgrd/InsulUpgrade.htm
In the project descriptions of each of the projects we did for our 1/2 program, I've included how we estimated the cost, energy saving and GHG reduction for each project -- these may be helpful for similar projects:
If you need some help -- ASK!: http://www.builditsolar.com/Contact/contact.htm
Using the results of your evaluations from step 3, weed out the ones that don't seem worth it.
This should leave you with a good list of projects that make sense for your situation, economics, and the planet.
Put the projects into the order you want to do them. The order might be influenced by:
All things being equal, you might as well do the ones that pay the best the first.
Some projects may interfere with others if done too early. For example, its hard to seal up the electrical and plumbing penetrations from the living space into the attic if you have to wade through the 18 inches of loose fill insulation that you just added.
Your budget may require putting off some of the pricy projects until later.
You might just be more interested in some projects than other projects.
If you are doing the insulating and weatherizing projects yourself, then the book "Insulate and Weatherize" by Harley is well worth the price.
There are some good how-to guides, plans etc mixed into these pages:
Keep your utility bills so you can see what progress you are making. The bills will also be helpful if you sell the house to demonstrate its improved energy efficiency.