How Oil Pointed the Way to Home Energy Savings
When the oil fields began to be developed in places like North Dakota, manpower was an immediate need. Manpower was needed in remote places where the oil was hiding and having enough ready housing was a problem. The cheapest and quickest solution was manufactured housing. Pull it in, set it up, and your done.
Manufactured home communities began to sprout up over night and the housing shortage was in the process of being met. While crews worked to bring in more oil, nobody seemed to pay much attention to the amount of energy those manufactured homes consumed through a cold winter.
It wasn’t until oil development slowed down a bit and families became concerned about their energy bills that somebody started to look at energy use and what could be done to use less power. With temperatures below zero for weeks and the wind at a near steady 30 miles an hour - along with $400 electric bills, the potential for dramatic energy savings was there if it could be realized.
Research was started that was a combined effort of energy specialist from power companies, the State Department of Energy and the State Universities. During this research period, two identical manufactured homes were placed in a building and subjected to the same temperature and wind conditions. Both homes were fitted with the same data collectors and energy monitoring equipment.
One home was left as it was and the other home was used to experiment with different weatherization measures. As an example, both homes had 3 inches of batt insulation installed at the factory when they were built. Now researchers, with the help of blower door equipment, took the second home and air sealed the ceiling. This air sealing measure reduced the amount of air leakage through the ceiling and roof.
This air sealing measure encouraged the researchers as the data loggers indicated noticeable energy conservation. One by one, additional measures were afforded to the second home and data was recorded as to the effectiveness of each measure.
This North Dakota research is just one of the studies that have been done to determine how homes waste energy and how different weatherization measures effect saving energy. When you finally schedule that energy audit of your home and the auditor tells you that your heating ducts need to be sealed and duct sealing is one of the most cost effective measures you can do to a home to save energy, go ahead and nod your head, after all, they may have gotten their auditor training in North Dakota.
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