Saving Money in the Short and Long Term
We are so luck in the Northwest to enjoy our wonderful older homes. Such variety, Craftsman, Mid Century Classic, and NW Contemporary styles of architecture just to name a few. Along with the solidly built homes full of historic charm so carefully decorated and loved lies the evil money pit (cue the daunting music in minor chords). It actually resembles more of a sieve. Small and sometimes larger cracks, holes and circuitous routes so small the eye doesn’t even see the stealthy thieves. When the pressure from our forced air furnaces or the heat stack effect takes over during our cold winter nights, physics charms all the heat that good money and fossil fuels create as a by-product of combustion. It coaxes heat to find a way to escape our carefully locked-down fenestrations and into the wilds of the the outdoors.
In plainer language, the heat we pay so much to create leaves our homes too quickly around unintentional gaps in the inner walls of our homes and businesses. I recently was lucky to have Steve Hoffman, a contractor with Community Power Works, to my Phinney Ridge home to perform what is the state of the art energy audit. This involves a large red piece of nylon fabric, some Velcro, an aluminum stretcher frame, a large box fan and a couple fancy electronics. In some ways the test is deceptively simple.
My part of the work ended at cleaning the ashes out of my fireplace. I also locked up my indoor dog and cat for a couple of hours just so they wouldn’t escape during the test as there are times the front door is open.
As I suspected, indeed my chimney flue leaked, but I also learned the double pane windows I installed to save energy were a large source of heat loss around the factory assembled mullions and transoms. No surprise of course the 10 year old can lights in the kitchen were also a source of money escaping through the ceiling and into the attic. I learned of some cold spots in the walls I need to investigate more thoroughly and a few other surprises.
To top off the deal of the decade, the auditor went through the house and provided me with replacement low wattage compact fluorescent lights to replace the soon to be outlawed incandescent bulbs. I plan to see how far I can go with this program, so far I have $95 out of pocket expenses for a $400-600 assessment, and about $50 or more value in light bulbs.
Community Power Works is funded by a federal stimulus bill and won’t be around for much longer. I highly recommend seizing the moment. This deal is too good to be true! My plan is to install a mini-split heat pump with two heads, one for each floor of my home. Not only will it provide me an inexpensive source of electric heat, but will also provide me with something I haven’t experienced in the 25 years that I have lived in this home. . . . air conditioning! Of course Community Power Works will be there to help me with the rebates and incentives I can collect while saving myself money in the long run and increasing the value and comfort of my home. Stay tuned to this channel for the ongoing greening of a 65 year old home. I will continue to blog about the process, the good, the bad and the ugly. So far we’re off to a great start!