by Don Ames, www.detectenergy.com The security of home energy conservation and the Energy Spy Insider.
Think of the ways we try to separate the outside climate from the inside climate. In a nut shell, that is the goal of an energy efficient house. Take a snowmobile or a dog sled and you will see a domed home made out of snow and ice. Grab a camel ride and get sand in your shoes and you may spent the night in a home that is made of camel hide. But, enough with the " make-do-with-what-you-have" society, we live in a society that has been to the moon and back, so let's add a little Physics and common sense to the effort of coming home to an energy efficient house.
One interesting insight is the fact that the people that live in igloos and hide huts use far less energy than we do - they are already energy efficient. It seems, that since we have progressed to an advanced society, we have increasingly become extreme energy consumers. We had better find a way to dwell in a more energy efficient house before the seal and hide hunters only have polluted air and bare landscapes in which to live in.
In all new construction, the building codes are progressively asking for a more efficient house. The effort to provide a better home shell with increased performance is underway, just like it has been for a hundred years. Every builder knows that they may have a leg up on the competition by building a better home.
New homes are designed to maximize heat retention during the winter and minimize heat gain during the summer. Three areas of new home construction are vitally important.
I know you have some very neat features and design ideas that you have been saving up for years. Finally, you are in a position to build your very own home. The problem is, gas is now $3.80 a gallon, electricity is 14 cent a kilowatt, and natural gas is $1.10 per therm. Before you put the final touches on that cool bay window or that classy vaulted ceiling, better take a quick course in energy efficient design.
Even the Mongolian sheep herder takes this into consideration. What is the best location for the home on the property. How do hills, trees, other homes, and the passing sun affect the otherwise energy efficient house. Which windows are facing South and where are you going to put the solar thermal and solar electric panels? Site planning means you will be able to take advantage of the environments ability to help you heat and cool your home.
You get what you pay for. When you hire a contractor to build your home and the fellow the is willing to park his travel trailer on site and build your home for the half the cost of any other builder, he may not be the best person to correctly install the energy efficient measures that will affect your home for years to come.
You might ask yourself, "how hard can it be to install insulation?" What you should be asking yourself is, "how hard can it be to install insulation incorrectly?"
Whether you live in Macon or Fairbanks, an energy efficient house must have an A-plus thermal barrier. The thermal barrier is made up of the air barrier and the insulation barrier and they should be touching each other on the same plane. Get this wrong and your power bill will remind you every month that the guy in the travel trailer was not the best deal.
The process for an energy efficient house is a little different if the house was built in 1975. In this case, the first step is like going to the Doctor - The Doctor know, let him or her diagnose the problem and the best course of action.
Building Science has progressed to the place that students of energy education are finding great courses to further their expertise. Armed with classroom studies and high tech working tools, these new age energy auditors know a wasted therm when they see one. Available now throughout the country, contact your power company to get a list of the good ones.
The energy auditor will be able to help you with this one. What is the best cost-effective measure for your home, how much will it cost and how much should you be able to save.
If your doing something to an existing home that will save energy, it's called weatherization. If the side of the work van says, "Weatherization Specialist", that's the guy you want.
The Weatherization Specialist will know where the insulation is needed, how to get it there, and how to install it correctly. They will also know how to operate a caulk gun and a can of spray foam insulation.
In all this energy efficient house stuff I have been talking about, I hope I have not presented it in a way that discourages you from being your own energy auditor, architect, or weatherization expert. I confirm that you can gain the knowledge needed to successfully identify the problems in your homes thermal barrier and to design a home that reduces energy consumption. All it really takes is two parts inspiration, one part common sense and an unbearable power bill.
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