A short while ago I was in a meeting that centered on creating a flexible winter weatherization plan that would have a wide degree of application.  While such plans are not uncommon in the least, I was surprised to hear that we, as inhabitants, came up as a serious aspect of energy inefficiency.

As someone who works with material and energy inefficiencies, I often hear blame directed more at mechanical and structural systems rather than people.  But people play such a direct role in energy consumption that taking mechanical and structural aspects alone into account simply cannot give you an adequate picture of where or what your real issues are.

Two houses built of the same level of efficiency, one kept at 75 degrees and the other at 80 degrees, will have different energy consumption values.  While this shouldn’t be of any particular surprise, my point is that a mechanical (HVAC) and structural (Insulation and wall materials, windows) can only take you so far.  They’re at most, only half of what the full picture of energy consumption in a home looks like.

We, as people, are finicky.  We have habits, some odd, some less subtle, some terribly obvious, that attribute to some level of unnecessary energy consumption in our homes.  We keep our thermostats set needlessly high, we leave doors open, we neglect routine maintenance on our homes because we forget or are simply lazy.  We need to each evaluate our lives and assess how we’re needlessly attributing to energy consumption.  When I look at my energy bill, I need to cope with the fact that the majority of the energy I consumed and cost that goes with that is likely directly due to my own negligence.  We need to be smarter and more observant of how we go about our daily business at home and understand how that business can translate into wasted energy.

People are different and each home and individuals lifestyle will play into parts I cannot begin to foresee.  Therefore, I would encourage everyone to take a step back and examine what you do around your own home that could contribute to needless energy consumption.  In the future, I hope that we as a collective body are pushing mechanical and structural systems to be more efficient rather than using mechanical and structural systems to try and correct our own inefficiencies.

 

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Tags: auditing, consumption, efficiency, energy, environmental, hvac, impact, insulation, social, waste, More…weatherization

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Comment by A. Tamasin Sterner on February 10, 2011 at 7:29pm
We often talk about the study done where 10 identical houses were built in the same neighborhood.  They housed identical appliances and HVAC.  The only thing different were the families who lived in the houses.  There was a 10 to 1 difference in energy use!  Occupant habits alone made that much difference.  If we are to make any real difference in energy use in this country, we need to educate everyone about energy use patterns... and pray!
Comment by Dennis McCarthy on February 6, 2011 at 7:48pm

Nathan

 I wholeheartedly agree that everyone should analysize their own usage- I was able to halve my

kWh consumption and almost anyone  else can- and should! Our family's consumption of about

8 or 9 thousand watts daily happens because an effort was made ,evaluations were done,we use only SSLighting ,everything is either unplugged or on on strip outlet, ductwork is sealed, appliances-energy eff

insulation gaps were filled. Being observant is a good start, my analysis of the problem is this - People tend to

Purchase energy/ then waste energy/then re purchasing energy - the challenge is how to reduce that 2nd part.

 But if more people made it a priority the benefits would be multi faceted. Imagine if everyones typical electric bill were in the $35- $40  range - Think of the CO2 output, or the number of new nukes not needed - Just think

of how great it would be to have money spent on family budgets in areas other than utilty bill payments!

Comment by David Eggleton on January 17, 2011 at 7:14pm

These days, factors involved in irresponsible passivity include so much more than laziness, ignorance and indifference directly attributable to your neighbors.  Even if that were not true, you'd be advised to act more respectfully than you write, in order to notice and encourage scraps of what's best in them.

If you are going to extend the viability of your business much beyond today's affordability threshold, compassion for people misdirected and misled into fragmentation and disintegration will be key to the effort.  More and more, the market will consist of people who really need ideas and greater confidence in themselves.

I encourage you to start paying attention to the 1000 Home Challenge.  Follow links in the Resources section of the page.

Comment by Nathan Christensen on January 17, 2011 at 3:22pm
I agree with you wholeheartedly Jon.  Although its more unfortunate that still, even with them becoming part of the code, there is still a human element that will need to take the time to program them and make them work effectively in each home.  Otherwise, they're just another thermostat.
Comment by Jon LaMonte on January 17, 2011 at 2:42pm
Why do you think that programmable thermostats are now being added to the code?  Because people are to lazy, ignorant, or indifferent when it comes to doing something and simple as moving the needle on the thermastat.

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