Grandpa Plays Base During Energy Audit
Today's power trip, an energy audit with a base player
Today’s Energy 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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Somewhere in the Big City
I had made the appointment about a week earlier. This morning I drove and hour and a half to be on time at 10 AM. Plenty of vehicles in the driveway so I feel I am in pretty good shape for a successful home energy audit. I step up on the front porch and knock on the door.
I get a little uneasy when it takes several minutes for someone to come to the door. After all, I am only 6 minutes late, it’s 10:06 and they should be near the front door eagerly expecting my arrival. Finally, I hear footsteps coming near the door and hear the deadbolt slide open. The door opens about 6 inches and a shy voice says, “Hello”.
I proceed with my normal hello, introduction, and friendly greeting and then wait to see what happens. The person says, “Is it today?” And I respond, “yes, sorry if I surprised you.” the response from the other side of the door is, “Just a minute, I need to get my son off the couch.”
There is little doubt at this point that these people have forgotten the appointment. Usually people will take the opportunity to straighten the house a bit and straighten themselves from a bit to a lot before I arrive. In the case of the forgotten appointment, I am more likely to face a grumpy homeowner who looks very much like a grumpy homeowner. People aren’t to thrilled to learn that a stranger is standing on the porch with a wagon full of equipment that would like to spend the next three hours looking and testing their home. Sometimes a re-schedule is in order.
I hate to waste a hour and a half drive, so I promise to be as quick as possible.
This home was constructed in 1956 and is a ranch style home with a full basement. The basement is finished and the entrance to the basement is from inside the garage. A little unusual.
There is a wood fireplace in the living room next to the big flat screen T.V. The home has been upgraded and repainted inside to the point that it makes the kitchen cabinets look really bad. The cabinets date the home, there is no place for a dishwasher.
Here are a few things that are “Energy Right” about this home:
- The furnace filters are properly installed and have been changed recently.
- The attic sports a newer layer of blown cellulose about 10 inches deep that’s nice, even and smooth.
- The windows and doors have been up-graded. The windows are vinyl double pane, U-35, low-E. Very nice.
- The fireplace damper has been securely closed and a nice picture placed where the fire usually goes.
- The supply heating ducts are inside the home between the basement and main floor.
- The plumbing penetrations under the kitchen sink have been filled with Great Stuff insulating foam.
Here are a few things that are “Energy-Not-So-Good” about this home.
- The gas furnace is 28 years old. Running well, but there are far more efficient furnaces available.
- There are two refrigerators and one freezer in the garage and they all look like they came across on the Oregon Trail.
- The refrigerator in the kitchen is not Energy Star efficient and it has a hole in the door seal that is big enough to slide three quarters through at once.
- The water heater is about 14 years old and the water temperature is set at 132 degrees.
- The return air ducts in the attic are solid round pipe, not sealed and not insulated.
- The plumbing penetrations under the two bathroom sinks have not been sealed.
- The washing machine is a old top load.
- The dryer is a match to the washing machine and the homeowner says she has to run a load in the dryer twice to get the clothes dry.
While I was taping off the heat registers for the duct blaster test, I found grandpa, a very nice man, sitting in his bedroom playing the base guitar. Kind of caught me by surprise.
This household has $3,500 to spent on energy repairs and up-grades. The question becomes, what should be done with the money so it does the most good for energy savings.
Energy Saving Recommendations.
I recommend to the homeowners that they first look at up-grading their 80% efficient gas furnace to a new condensing 95% efficient model.
- The furnace is their main heat source and currently uses as much as 3.1 therms per day in the winter.
- The furnace is 28 years old and the heat exchanger may become a problem anytime. With a cracked heat exchanger, there is a possibility of getting Carbon Monoxide into the home.
- If the furnace goes out, you have a major expense all at once. Use the additional funds while you have them.
- The other energy saving items are less expensive and can be dealt with one at a time with out breaking the bank.
- There is a rebate from the gas company for upgrading an older furnace.
The next step for this home is to get three, gas company approved, rebate qualified Heating Contractors to take a look at the furnace and provide bids for a new one. Price is important, efficiency rating is important, and always take into account the contractor and equipment warranties.
Thanks for stopping by Detect Energy, hope you will come back soon, but I won’t leave a light on for you…