Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year...and energy audit results!

Sorry it has been so long since my last post; lots of travelling the past two weeks! I do have lots to share, so I will probably be posting more frequently in the next few days. Thrilling, yes? Let's get started.

We received the energy audit report on December 23rd, like an early Christmas present (or not). Since Brian had kept us informed of most findings during the walk through, nothing was too surprising, but it was still a bit of a shock to see all of our facts and figures in black and white. Like how much we spend each year in oil and electricity, even without central air and even with keeping the thermostats at 62 in the winter.

First item in the report: our HERS (Home Energy Rating System) Score, calculated with EPA Accredited software. A 100 means your home is built to current code; an 85 gets you an Energy Star rating---the lower the score, the more efficient the home, in other words. So what did we get? Maybe a 90, or a 104? No. A 147. So, uh, we're pretty inefficient over here. Knew that, but still, it's a bit embarrassing.

Good news! We passed all of our safety tests for carbon monoxide and the like. So at least we are not dealing with danger here, just comfort and cost.

Insulation--ack. Here are some figures for you: our ceiling (attic) currently has an R-value of 11; should be 49. Our basement ceiling is currently at 19; should be 25. And the walls, both basement and above ground? Should be 15-20; we currently have a big fat ZERO. So clearly a lot to be done here.

Air leakage: an average home in our area has an Air Change per Hour rate of .45-.60. Ours is .74---so pretty leaky. We're losing air through the recessed lights on the second floor; rim joists in the basement; first floor windows (original to the house and unlikely to be replaced);  the whole house fan (which should be replaced with a newer tighter model or removed altogether); and again, the fact that the walls are not insulated.

Our oil boiler was determined to be working at 83% efficiency; this could probably be improved with some good maintenance/cleaning. I have been on the waiting list for service since the end of October---perhaps I should give them a call tomorrow to see what's up? We use the oil furnace to heat our hot water as well, and while this is fine in the winter when the boiler is running anyway, it is much less efficient in the summer.

More good news! We are mostly good on appliances and lighting, having installed Energy Star appliances in the kitchen and switched most of our bulbs to CFLs. I know there is some debate on the worth of an Energy Star label, and CFLs have their own issues (disposal, the fact that they need to warm up), but hopefully these changes are at least saving us a few pennies here and there. I am trying to be better about unplugging my computer at night too!

Here is one last statistic from our home--the Energy Usage Disaggregation. This is a breakdown of how we use our energy (heating, cooling, lights/appliances, and hot water) and what percent of our energy bills goes to each. In our neck of the woods, we obviously spend more on heating than cooling, but still--get a load of these numbers:

Cooling (with window a/c units, if anything)   5%
Lights and appliances (apparently about average for our area)   9%
Hot water (high for our area, probably due to inefficiency in the summer)  8%
Heating (combo of oil and electric, thermostats set to avg of 62)  78 %

That 78% is why we scheduled this audit in the first place. Well, the fact that it's 78% of  "what do you mean they are already filling the tank again?" and not 78% of well, anything less.

Tomorrow I will go over the recommendations for our home, as well as provide some of Brian's energy saving tips anyone can implement immediately--see you then!

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