Mindset for Efficiency
“Energy efficiency” once meant double glazing and weather stripping our windows – now the Green movement has opened our eyes to not only how much energy our homes consume every day, but to the bottom line value of not littering our landfills with the “embodied energy” of the millions of homes around us that would have been thoughtlessly discarded if the housing boom had bulled forward. “Tear-down” is now a dirty word. The greenest house you can create starts with the home you have. Renovation has become cool as well as necessary. Beyond tech tips are the mindsets that are being reset:
Less stuff is always better. Fewer light fixtures, fewer doors and windows, fewer bath fixtures all cost less than “having it all” to maintain and use, but living in a barracks or a prison cell won’t be too appealing once you’ve satisfied your Thoreau fetish – but try to forget the more absurd “requirements” for resale.
Just say no to 72 degrees. Comfort is not a number. No super sophisticated heating/cooling system can overcome your desire for a ridiculously consistent interior environment. We wear fewer, lighter cloths in warm weather, so sub 80 degrees is probably fine, and when we are swaddled in winter garb sub 70 degrees works.
Minimize Air Conditioning. Windows high and low on more than one wall, venting skylights or attic fans, generous eave overhangs, screen porches, – anything that promotes air flow over your skin and puts you in shade limits the time you want the air inside your home colder.
Read more of my ideas on how to work with the home you have in my Fall 2011 release Staying Put