Saving Energy Where the Big Dogs Run
Today's Power Trip, are you afraid of big dogs?
Today’s Power Savings is my way of sharing my day-to-day adventures in home energy savings, I am a Home Energy Auditor and I enjoy sharing my day with you. Here on Detect Energy, I hope you will find both the inspiration and the information that you need to conserve power and lower your energy bills.
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It sounded like a herd of elk. Three big dogs running around upstairs trying to get me, the visitor. They were directly overhead, running back and forth – no kidding – sounded like a herd of Elk.
I have visited this home before and have seen the dogs on a previous visit – It’s my hope to not see them again. A rottweiler, a lab- pitbull mix, a Lab, and a pitbull. Four dogs that have been country fed, exercised, and are upstairs because they can be aggressive.
This is a small two story home of 884 sq ft. I am a little dumb-founded because I have a hard time understanding why people would turn their home over to four big dogs. Case in point - the inside of the bathroom door has been demolished by a dog or dogs that have been placed in the bathroom so they would not eat someone and they have ruined the door trying to get to their next country meal.
I’m thankful the dogs are upstairs because I have to go into the bathroom to check the shower valve. Seems the shower/tub valve has slowly reduced it’s flow until taking a shower is a long process. I assume, since the home is on a well, that sediment from the well has plugged the valve.
Sure enough, I dismantle the valve and find several stones and pieces of gravel inside. I am feeling pretty good until I put the cleaned valve back together and the problem of low water flow is worse instead of better. I take the valve apart again, clean and reassemble four more times and I still have a valve that will not let enough water through to wet your whistle let alone get the soap out of your hair.
Time to call a plumber. Can’t decide if I should call a plumber I don’t like and not tell him about the dogs or call one I do like and tell him about the dogs. The bathroom door is getting so damaged and thin, it might not separate the dogs from a meal even one more time.
This home is basically a box. The upstairs sits squarely over the downstairs. The upstairs rooms have a vaulted ceiling from one end of the home to the other with short kneewalls and kneewall attic space on both sides. There is an upstairs balcony that extents over the front and makes a cover for the front door. When the Elk run out over the balcony they really sound like a herd of dogs or something like that.
Besides the shower valve, which I failed at miserably, I am here to see about saving energy. The homeowners have about $3,500 to spent on something that saves energy. After looking around a bit, I make the following recommendations:
1. Replace the refrigerator, it is a 24 year old energy hog that is working over time to reach a hardly respectable 42 degrees. New refrigerator, $1,100. Savings approximately 750 kWh/yr and $90.
2. Replace the washing machine. The household includes a number of grand kids on a regular bases and the washer gets used a lot. The current model is a top loading 12 year old and not energy star rated. Cost is about $840. Savings per year $150 in electricity and water.
3. Replace the front door and find new homes for four big dogs. Dog damage includes, not only the weatherstripping, but the door casing as well until the door no longer shuts securely. Sunlight streams in around the full perimeter. Cost about $620. Savings from stopping the draft, approximately $50.
4. Insulate and air seal the floor including closing off the underfloor access so animals cannot enter. The kneewall attics and the vaulted ceiling areas all have insulation, but the under floor does not. Air seal the floor, install 6 mil black visqueen as ground cover, install R-25 fiberglass batt insulation. Cost about $940. Savings in energy cost will be about $110 per year.
With these improvements and repairs, the home should save about $400 per year in energy cost and water and the home should be a lot more comfortable for both homeowners and big dogs. I am really interested in the comfort of the dogs, I may need to make another visit and I want them to be comfortable and happy.
The plumber arrived the next day and could not get the old valve to work either. That must be because:
- The valve was toast before I took it apart.
- I ruined the valve trying to fix it.
- The plumber is not very good at repairing valves.
Anyway, the shower got a brand new valve, energy saving upgrades are in the works and the nice doggies didn’t eat an energy auditor or a plumber. A successful day.
Thanks for stopping by Detect Energy, hope you come back soon, but I won’t leave the light on for you…