The focus in modern homes today is primarily on energy conservation. This can be looked at from two perspectives. The first is caring for the environment and the second is saving on spiraling electricity charges. Whichever way you look at it, the savings to society and you is immeasurable. There is also a wrong notion that building an eco friendly home can empty your bank. Not so again! While incorporating sophisticated methods do cost a pretty packet, these types of homes can be built on a budget too.
Converting a home built in the traditional way to an energy efficient one is not easy and when I decided to do so, I realized that it called for a certain level of technical knowledge on what exactly needed to be done. I give here my experience so that things will be smoother for you.
• Having an energy audit – The first step naturally was to know which areas needed to be tightened up. I called in a professional inspector to conduct an energy audit and recommend ways and means to plug the loopholes. I informed him my budget and requested him to keep the changes simple, nothing hi-tec. He thus kept his observations confined to air leaks, poor insulation and the efficiency of my appliances and electrical systems. Nothing sophisticated like thermal imaging and precise airflow measurement.
• Studying the options – My next step was to read up on new techniques in the field of home energy conservation. The name of Mick Fabar and his building company Mick Fabar Constructions kept popping up repeatedly. I found that he is the pioneer in this field and his specialty is building energy efficient homes. He incorporates such innovative techniques as passive heating and cooling systems, recycling options, use of solar energy and water conservation solutions. I decided to see if one or more of his methods could be used by me.
• Controlling air flow – Ultimately this is what everything boiled down to, insulating my home from the elements outside. Since my home was old, changing the ill fitting doors and windows would cost me the earth. Instead I decided to use caulking to seal places that do not need to be opened such as gaps where cool air crept up from the basement or around electrical switches. For the doors and windows I decided to place a number of simple draft catchers under affected doors and at the base of leaky windows.
• Checking electrical appliances and equipment – Finally, I decided to check the rating of all my electrical appliances, some of which like my bedroom air conditioner were quite old and energy guzzlers. I decided to have them changed with ones with higher energy efficient ratings. This took my budget way over target but it also brought down my energy bills substantially. I hope to recoup this investment in a very short time.
These are some of the measures that I have already taken. My next project will be to install a small solar energy setup, reflective insulation to control solar radiation and upgrade my windows. Over the next two or three years I hope to make my house an optimized energy efficient home.