Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Conservation Pyramid

MN Power's Conservation Pyramid is one of many tools I'm referencing as look at decreasing our carbon footprint. The residential pyramid focuses on energy conservation and starts with the basics of understanding energy efficiency and inexpensive improvements. The pyramid illustrates additional conservation measures that gradually increase in complexity and consumer investment.

At this point I'm focusing on the bottom two tiers of the pyramid. We had a home energy audit performed in October 2009. The audit results were somewhat surprising, areas I anticipated would be huge inefficiencies (i.e. our windows) weren't all that bad. Other areas that I hadn't even considered being an issue were showing up as problematic.

Here's a brief list of what needs to be done:
  • Caulking around windows and ceiling/floor trim
  • Replacing the bathroom fans with more efficient models and making sure they are vented correctly to the outside of the house
  • Venting the range hood outside
  • Adding insulation in the attic to achieve R-50 and sealing up the attic hatch
  • Insulate rim joists
I missed the boat on Project ReEnergize, a program that rolled out in fall 2009 which offered rebates for specific efficiency improvements performed by certified contractors. As a result we will likely be doing most of this work ourselves. Typically this translates into Scott doing the work, but since it is my idea I have a hunch he'll have plenty of grunt work for me to do.

On the up side there may be tax credits available for some of our projects.

So far we have purchased replacement fans for the bathrooms and ventilation tubing and I am going to attempt to coordinate caulking under the trim with the replacement of the kitchen floor. Now the big challenge will be finding the time to get this done.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Carbon Makeover

Our home was constructed in 1980 or thereabouts and has undergone some remodeling over the years, however the list of projects that I can create for my better half is endless. One of the main things I'd like to address with our home is weatherization (and of course there's the never ending list of cosmetic changes I'd like to do...eventually, but that's another story). On a similar note, a recurring theme that I have heard voiced has to do with weatherization and renewable energy options for those that don't qualify for assistance yet can't afford to pay for everything out of pocket. These were just a couple of factors that got me thinking about a "carbon makeover."

Although weatherization is a huge part of the project it is only one of several components. My goal is to look at several aspects of our home, living, and transportation habits; record what we are already doing; and make improvements that will lessen our carbon footprint. While doing all of this I also want to identify available resources that can assist me in accomplishing these goals.

The areas I'd like to address for our home and family:
  • Home Weatherization & Efficiency
  • Transportation
  • Food
  • Waste
  • Daily Living & Household Chores
Stay tuned for future updates on where we're at with our makeover.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Minnesota Winter Test

by Paul...

ARC08, Our new home just faced another first.
Mid day on January first we turned off the lights, turned off the heat, and headed for the cities.
The temperature January second reached 32 below zero.
January third woke up to 31 below.

After more than two days of bitter cold weather with no heat, the house temperature was still 66 degrees.

I like my ARC!

ps... I have to remind myself that it will get better. This is an unfinished ARC that has no solar panels and no air exchanger, so we still have some windows open.