1/2 -- Conservation Projects
These are the 16 energy conservation projects we decided on. Energy conservation usually offers the most energy saving per dollar spent.
The totals to date for Conservation Projects are:
Again, your list of projects may be much different -- see the Planning Section. for ideas on making a good list.
|Electricity||Insulation & Infiltration||Window Treatments||Other|
|Tame the PC's|
|PC's and related
printers, wireless routers, ... use a lot of power.
Our two PC's and related equipment used 270 watts when on.
We put all the PC junk on power strips. At night we hibernate the computers and then turn everything off with the power strip switch.
the day we have the computers set to hibernate if they are inactive for 15
|Energy Saving/yr||1779 KWH||Initial Cost||$20||DIY Labor||1 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||3557 lb||$'s Saved/year||$178||DIY difficulty||2|
|Energy Source||Electricity||1st Year Return||890%|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$2834|
Cost was two power strips -- $20 -- they also provide some surge protection.
With PC's in hibernate, but other other peripherals on: 59 watts (54 downstairs + 8 upstairs)
Hibernate after 15 min in daytime: (297w-59w)(8 hr)(365
day/yr)(1/1000) = 695 KWH!
Obviously, doing something like this is another no-brainer -- I feel like a no-brainer for not seeing this sooner.
|Efficient Lighting -- Compact Fluorescents|
incandescent lights with compact fluorescents.
There is a much larger variety of these out there now, so you can find them for most situations.
Check with your utility for a rebate program
|Energy Saving/yr||1168 KWH||Initial Cost||$50||DIY Labor||2 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||2336 lb||$'s Saved/year||$117||DIY difficulty||1|
|Energy Source||Electricity||1st Year Return||234%|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$1861|
We spent about $50, including some rebates from the utility.
The numbers in the watts column a (qty of lamps) (old bulb watts - CF
lamp watts), and the KWH saving is:
information on CFs and Mercury:
|Eliminate Phantom Electrical Loads|
|I used a Kill-A-Watt
meter to measure the power consumption of all the plug in electrical devices
in the house to see how much power they used when switched "off".
I found a total of about 80 watts of power being used by devices that were "off". This may not sound like a huge amount, but 80 watts is 700 KWH per year!
I was able to either unplug or use power strips (that can be turned off) to eliminate 20 watts of the 80, and that is what I show below.
remaining 60 watts is my fancy Dish HDTV receiver that always uses 60 watts.
Turning it off has no effect on its power consumption whatever! -- nice job
Dish designers. I have not decided what to do about this, but its over
500 KWH and 1000 lbs of green house gas, so I will figure out something --
Lobby your congress person to have all electrical devices labeled with the amount of power they use when "off".
Plug the Kill-A-Watt into the wall, and plug the device into the Kill-A-Watt socket. It measures power use in watts, voltage, amperage, power line frequency. It keeps totals for kilowatt-hours and hours since it was plugged in. About $35.
Other brands work similarly -- Watts-Up is another.
|Energy Saving/yr||569 KWH||Initial Cost||$70||DIY Labor||4 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||1137 lb||$'s Saved/year||$57||DIY difficulty||2|
|Energy Source||Electricity||1st Year Return||81%|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$907|
The cost was a couple of power strips -- about $20, and the satellite receiver upgrade was about $50.
I measured the phantom power consumption with the Kill-A-Watt.
Yearly saving = (power use)(24 hrs/day)(365 days/yr)(1 KWH/1000 watt-hr) ($'s per KWH) = Saving $'s/yr
For my case: (20 + 45 watts)(24 hrs/day)(365 days/yr)(1/1000)($0.1/KWH) = $57 per year
(where the 45 watts is the old satellite receiver phantom load (60 w) minus the new receiver phantom load (15w)
Or, roughly: (phantom load in
watts)( 0.876) = $'s saved per year
|We replaced our old
fridge with a new Energy Star fridge.
After much searching and debate we settled on a conventional, top freezer model at 21 ft^3 that has an Energy Star rating of 448KWH per year. The top freezer style models offer the best space use (per Consumer Research), and the best energy ratings.
This fridge uses only about a third as much power as our old one, so its a very worthwhile change. If you want something that is spectacularly better, see the converted chest freezers at the More Information below.
One aspect of this I found disappointing is that when I contacted Energy Star to see if we should wait for new improvements that are just around the bend, the response was that they have no plans to require more energy efficient fridges for at least two years, and even then the change will be small. This is progress?
|Energy Saving/yr||720 KWH||Initial Cost||$800||DIY Labor||1 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||1441 lb||$'s Saved/year||$72||DIY difficulty (hooking up water line)||2|
|Energy Source||Electricity||1st Year Return||9%|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$1147|
Cost was $800.
|Leave Less Stuff On|
|This is just getting
into the habit of turning stuff off. I have only included the
equivalent of 100 watts for 12 hours a day -- I suspect it can be much more
than this. But, this still adds up to 438 KWH/year, and almost
900 lbs of green house gas.
The off-grid crowd will attest to how much developing these habits can save.
|Energy Saving/yr||438 KWH||Initial Cost||$0||DIY Labor||0 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||876 lb||$'s Saved/year||$44||DIY difficulty||0|
|Energy Source||Propane||1st Year Return||infinity|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$698|
I said that we would turn off the equivalent of 100 watts for 12 hours a day.
(100watts)(12 hr/day)(365 day/yr) = 438 KWH/yr
My guess is that we can do better than that.
|We did purchase an
efficient, Energy Star washer a couple years ago -- a Maytag Neptune front
I've decided not to take any credit for this until I can figure
out where all the laundry energy (washing and drying) goes, and how much we
are really saving.
|Energy Saving/yr||350 KWH *||Initial Cost||$400||DIY Labor||0 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||700 lb *||$'s Saved/year||$35 *||DIY difficulty|
|Energy Source||Pro/Elec?||1st Year Return||9%|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$558|
|* The saving would be much greater if you use hot or warm
water washes or rinses. Most of the saving for the new efficient
washers as estimated by Energy Star is based on the fact that they use less
water, and that means less water to be heated. Heating the water is
80+% of the energy used in cloths washing. Since we have used cold
wash and rinse for years, this is not a saving to us. I estimated the
350 KWH based on better water extraction due to the high speed spin cycle on
these washers. Better extraction saves drying energy.
If you use hot water for wash and rinse, the savings for these washers can be much greater. Just switching to cold water wash and rinse on a conventional (high water use) washer can save as much as 7 or 8 KWH per load!
This is one of those cases where if we had done our homework better we might have opted to use the new washer money for other energy saving projects that would have been more cost effective. But, the new washer is very nice, does a good job, saves some energy with better water extraction, and saves about 7000 gallons a year in water.
Our old DISH DVR used 53 watts all day every day for 464 KWH a year. The new Direct TV DVR uses only 18 watts.
|Energy Saving/yr||310 KWH||Initial Cost||$0||DIY Labor||0 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||500 lb||$'s Saved/year||$31||DIY difficulty||0|
|Energy Source||Electricity||1st Year Return||infinity|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$492|
|More Attic Insulation|
|We added blown in
cellulose over the existing fiberglass loose fill insulation in our attic.
I can only do this for about half the house -- the rest is cathedral ceiling.
Having cellulose over the FG insulation adds more R value, and also should eliminate some of the problems with FG insulation (e.g. air circulation).
Be sure to do the attic infiltration sealing of plumbing, electrical and
other penetrations, and the heat duct sealing BEFORE putting more insulation
(photo from Harley book)
|Energy Saving/yr||1593 KWH||Initial Cost||$256||DIY Labor||6 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||812 lb||$'s Saved/year||$126||DIY difficulty||3|
|Energy Source||Propane||1st Year Return||49%|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$2007|
Cost of the cellulose for my attic was $256 (about 25 cents per sqft for 6 inches deep).
Most places will loan you the blower if you buy the insulation from them.
Rebates may be available.
In general, we had about 10 inches of loose fill fiberglass, which only provides about R2.2 per inch, or R22 total. In addition, loose fill fiberglass can loose as much as half its R value due to convection currents within the insulation. We added 7 inches of loose fill cellulose over the existing 10 inches of FG. This brings our total R value up to about 47, and should reduce the convection currents problem with the FG.
5/11/07: Updated to reflect adding some more insulation to a part of the attic we did not think we could get to earlier.
|Crawl Space Insulation|
|Our crawl space was
originally vented to the outside, and the floor above the crawl space was
not insulated. We converted to the crawl space to a conditioned space
by sealing the vents, adding a sealed poly moisture barrier over the dirt
floor, adding rigid foam insulation to the inside of the concrete walls, and
insulating the rim joists with rigid foam and fiberglass.
This (it seems to me) works better than insulating the floor above the crawl space, in that 1) its less work, 2) it lessens the possibility of moisture problems, 3) eliminates any pipe freezing issues, and 4) lets the furnace and ducts live in a conditioned space.
This would make much more difference if the crawl space extended under all of the house, but its only under about 25% of the house.
More information (search for "crawl")
|Energy Saving/yr||1094 KWH||Initial Cost||$210||DIY Labor||8 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||558 lb||$'s Saved/year||$86||DIY difficulty||4|
|Energy Source||Propane||1st Year Return||41%|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$1370|
Cost of the poly and insulation was about $210
|Sealing and Insulating Heating Ducts|
|Sealed the exposed
heating duct joints with duct mastic.
Insulated all the ducts that were not already insulated and that were in the attic and the crawl space. Not many in my case.
|Energy Saving/yr||940 KWH||Initial Cost||$20||DIY Labor||4 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||479 lb||$'s Saved/year||$75||DIY difficulty||3|
|Energy Source||Propane||1st Year Return||375%|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$1195|
The cost for sealing ducts is minimal -- a can of duct mastic for about $5.
The cost for insulating ducts is also low -- perhaps 25 cents a lineal foot of typical ducting. I figured about $20 for both, since most of my ducts were already insulated.
I estimated the fuel saving at 3% of the propane used for heating. It may in fact be a good deal more than that, but I felt comfortable with 3%. I took no credit for the ducting I insulated, since it was just a few feet that was not already insulated.
This is Pretty much a no-brainer -- just put on the list of "must do" things. It may get you a huge saving, or it may not. But, its easy and cheap to do.
|Caulk around windows
Seal wiring and plumbing penetrations from living space to attic.
Most infiltration is probably not where you think it is -- read the guides at the More Information link, and find out where the cold air is really coming from.
If your utility offers a blower door test, you should definitely take them up on it. Take every opportunity during the test to identify infiltration locations, so you can fix them later.
|Energy Saving/yr||1980 KWH||Initial Cost||$50||DIY Labor||8 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||1009 lb||$'s Saved/year||$156||DIY difficulty||3|
|Energy Source||Propane||1st Year Return||312%|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$2485|
A few tubes of caulking and some polyurethane foam in cans (e.g. Great Stuff) -- maybe $50.
Very hard to estimate -- best you can do without before and after blower door tests is a guess.
I guessed that infiltration was cut down by 0.1 ACH (Air Change per Hour). This would amount to an about 10% reduction on a typical house having a 1.0 ACH, or 20% on a well built and tight new house.
I used this method to estimate 6,100,000 BTU/year, which is equivalent to 73 gallons of propane burned in a 90% efficient furnace, or 1980 KWH (the calculations are detailed at the link).
Again, this is a no-brainer -- its very hard to estimate exactly how much you will save, but the cost is so low and the potential saving are so high, that its a must-do.
Insulating Window Treatments
|Multi Wall Polycarbonate Storm Windows|
|We have some high
windows with odd shapes that are hard to insulate with any kind of
conventional thermal shade or shutter. These were a large heat loss.
I ended up making inside storm windows from triple wall polycarbonate glazing. This insulates well, works for any shape of window, still allows daylight in and some view out (although distorted a bit).
The More Information link has complete construction details.
Polycarb storm window in place
cutting out the polycarb storm windows
|Energy Saving/yr||2700 KWH||Initial Cost||$450||DIY Labor||8 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||1100 lb||$'s Saved/year||$220||DIY difficulty||4|
|Energy Source||Propane||1st Year Return||49%|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$3500|
The cost was $450 for 134 sqft of window. The dual wall is probably a better all around deal -- the R value is good, and price is much lower.
|Bubble Wrap Window Insulation|
|This is kind of a neat
idea that comes from the greenhouse crowd.
You can insulate windows using bubble wrap packing material by spraying a water mist on the window, and then applying bubble wrap. The bubble wrap will usually stay in place for the full season with one spray. The bubble wrap distorts the view, but does allow good daylight to still come through -- good for windows you don't need a view out of.
This is very cost effective -- payback is usually less than one heating season. At the end of winter, you can just pull the bubble wrap off, roll it up, and save it for next year. If you are going to use much of the bubble wrap, its worth finding a dealer in packing materials to buy it from (or a greenhouse supply place). The places like UPS get prices that are way to high.
See the More Information link for a complete how-to.
|Energy Saving/yr||955 KWH||Initial Cost||$38||DIY Labor||1 hour|
|CO2 reduction||487 lb||$'s Saved/year||$75||DIY difficulty||2|
|Energy Source||Propane||1st Year Return||197%|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$1195|
Cost was 141 sqft at 27 cents/sqft = $38.
|We have added thermal
shades to a total of 140 sqft of window. The cost for these shades
should probably be partly charged to aesthetics, since we would have some
form of shades anyway, but I have put the full cost of the shades against
the insulation function.
We have two types of shades. They are both the accordion pleated style, but some have an "Energy Track" on the side (see picture) that prevents air from flowing around the edges of the shade. While I have no way to test it, it appears that it would be effective.
The claimed R values are R2.8 without the track and R4.3 with the track -- these do not include the existing window R value.
|Energy Saving/yr||3159 KWH||Initial Cost||$1086||DIY Labor||3 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||1525 lb||$'s Saved/year||$258||DIY difficulty||3|
|Energy Source||Propane||1st Year Return||23.8%|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$4109|
Cost for all the shades was $1086.
|Add Strom Door To Front Entry|
|We added a storm door
to the front door. This was for a number of things, including better
summer ventilation, and a better view of sunsets, but it also reduced the
thermal losses out the front door for both conduction and infiltration.
|Energy Saving/yr||216 KWH||Initial Cost||$200||DIY Labor||3 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||100 lb||$'s Saved/year||$17||DIY difficulty||4|
|Energy Source||Propane||1st Year Return||8.5%|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$270|
The door cost $200.
Electric Mattress Pads
|Electric Mattress Pads|
|We use electric
mattress pads that fit under the mattress pad, and heat the bed.
Unlike electric blankets, the power consumption for mattress pad heaters is
very low (about 0.15 KWH per night). The energy saving comes from
being able to run the bedrooms much colder while still being
very comfortable. We have 2 furnaces in the house. But, since having electric mattress pad heaters, we
have pretty much turned off the furnace that heats the bedrooms.
The saving in propane is considerable, and the comfort is outstanding.
Others have reported being able to do the same thing with good down comforters and the like, but we have tried that, and for us (actually me) it does not work.
Updated to correct a math mistake Nov 13, 2007
|Energy Saving/yr||2320 KWH||Initial Cost||$125||DIY Labor||0 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||1150 lb||$'s Saved/year||$186||DIY difficulty||0|
|Energy Source||Propane||1st Year Return||148%|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$2963|
The mattress pad heaters vary in price, but ours was $125.
Vent Dryer Inside
|Venting Dryer Inside|
|We have started to
vent the dryer to the inside of the house in the winter.
We live in a very dry climate, so the added moisture is a benefit, not a problem.
The advantage of venting inside is twofold: 1) you recover the heat that was added to dry the cloths (about 2.2 KWH per load), and 2) you avoid bringing in cold outside air to make up for the air that the dryer is pushing outside.
To vent to the inside, you need 1) a dry climate, 2) an electric (not gas) dryer, and 3) a way to catch the lint in the dryer exit stream.
Caution: Gas dryers should never be vented inside, since the
combustion products are in the vented air. Electric dryers should only
be vented inside if your climate is dry --
be very alert for moisture
Logging humidity in room that dryer was vented to.
|Energy Saving/yr||630 KWH||Initial Cost||$5 to $20||DIY Labor||2 hrs|
|CO2 reduction||286 lb||$'s Saved/year||$63||DIY difficulty||3|
|Energy Source||Propane||1st Year Return||314%|
|10 yr saving (10% fuel inflation per year)||$1002|
$20 for some tubing and a lint filter.
Part 1: Recover heat from dryer exit air:
From the Canada energy site, dryers use about 930 KWH a year to do 416 loads, or 2.23 KWH per load.
I assumed we would vent inside for about 150 days and do one load a day, so the heat energy recovery is:
(150 loads) (2.2 KWH/load) = 330 KWH/yr
Part 2: Avoiding infiltration of dryer makeup air:
(170 ft^3/min)(68 min/load)(70F-30F)(0.07 lb/ft^3)(0.24 BTU/lb-F) = 6800
BTU/load, or 2 KWH per load.
The total saving then is 330 KWH/yr + 300 KWH/yr = 630 KWH/year
Green House Gas Emissions:
Green House Gas gas reductions were estimated like this.
In the project descriptions, "DIY difficulty" is a 1 to 10 rating of how hard the project is to do yourself: 1 being very easy, and 10 being "No chance I'm ever doing that again".
There are a lot of ways to do a good job of calculating economic return -- Internal Rate of Return (IRR), Life Cycle Costs, ... I think most of these just go right over peoples heads, so I decided on three less accurate, but very simple indicators: 1) dollars saved in fuel in the first year, 2) first year rate of return, which is just (first year $ saving/cost of project), and 3) 10 year fuel saving with 10% rise in fuel prices each year. I think these give a pretty good feel for how good the project is economically without requiring an econ degree to understand? If you have a suggestion for a better way, I'd like to hear it.
Note that my heating fuel is propane, which is a relatively expensive fuel. If you use natural gas, your savings will likely be somewhat less for the same energy saving.
10 Year Cost Saving:
The "10 year saving" uses a fuel inflation factor of 10% per year. This may be higher that what we will actually experience, but I used it as a measure of what would happen if fuel prices continue to go up at a high rate. If you would like to use another factor, here are some others:
For 15% per year increase, multiply the first year saving by 20.30
For 10% per year increase, multiply the first year saving by 15.93
For 8% per year increase, multiply the first year saving by 14.49
For 5% per year increase, multiply the first year saving by 12.58
For 3% per year increase, multiply the first year saving by 11.46
For 0% per year increase, multiply the first year saving by 10.00
Gary 08/02/06, updated Nov 13, 2007, Updated 11/4/13 -- Added new DVR