It doesn't take a home renovation to realise substantial savings on your energy bill. Small, inexpensive changes around the house can yield a surprising return on investment, as one system analyst found.
Gordon Hudson wanted to make his home more energy efficient and save money in the process. The efforts of he and his wife, documented at the computer enthusiast blog Extreme Tech, are an excellent case study in how incremental change can have a big effect.
Gordon's day job is designing and building analytical systems; approaching his home as a system to be studied and improved upon, therefore, wasn't a huge leap. The first things Gordon and his wife did in a quest to lower their energy use were the obvious things most people would attack first: consciously turning the lights off, turning down the thermostat in the winter, taking colder showers. After a year of sweater wearing and cold showers they had only reduced their energy consumption by a mere 6%, which is a great rate of return for a savings account, but a terrible one when the price is a year of shivering post-shower moments.
Gordon realised the little changes like shaving a few degrees off the thermostat and cold showers just weren't going to cut it. He and his wife started on slow process of increasing the efficiency of the house bit by bit. Replacing every window in the house with triple-insulated panes was out of the question, but other projects were not particularly expensive and all things the average home owner could do over the course of several weekends. Among the easiest things they did were swapping out all the light bulbs in the house to compact fluorescent bulbs and vacuuming the coils on the fridge as a regular part of their kitchen cleaning duties. They installed an insulation jacket on their water heater and a mechanical timer to control the heater, so the peak heating times would be in the morning and evening when they needed more hot water.
He borrowed an infrared camera and used it to track down places where heat was escaping, in the process finding at least one door and window that were so poorly sealed they may as well have been left open. They also had an energy audit done and found, thanks to a leaky attic trap door and attic fan, they couldn't even perform the pressure test to establish how well insulated their house was.
The end result of their incremental efforts over several years was a drop of over 50% in their energy bill. The return on investment for their minor home improvements was under five years, a great return for a project with such a high rate of savings! For more details, pictures, and charts check out the full write up at the link below. If you have your own story about saving energy, share it in the comments below and help your fellow readers shave down their bills. Going Green—One Step at a Time [Extreme Tech]