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Can't See the Forest for the Trees

November 1, 2011 - 7:30am


One thing I’ve been putting off doing is an energy assessment. I don’t know why – my utility company offers them for FREE!

I’ve done a few things around the house, like putting insulation behind all the light and plug switch plates I can get at and replacing the insulation around the outside doors and under one garage door, closing off rooms that aren’t used very often, setting back the programmable thermostat, replacing almost all the indoor lights with CFLs – really basic things like that. Plus, my house was built in 1982, during the last oil crisis/renewable energy drive, so it has double paned windows already as well as a recirculating water solar water heater/furnace assist (but I’ve let the water tank go dry and can’t fill it off my well – insufficient quality and quantity to fill a 1,000-gallon tank, which when full of solar-heated water helps heat the basement), among other things. I’d like to have the energy audit done to give me a baseline and to have some better guidance as to how to prioritize the next set of projects. However, on my way to let the dog back in through the walk-out basement during the last snow storm (she can go out the dog door by herself, but for some reason won’t come back in that way), I noticed that the metal dog door is pretty battered and bent up by years of use and doesn’t form any kind of seal at all, so I basically have a large 9” x 12” hole in the basement wall. It’s somewhat sheltered from direct access by the wind, but the fact remains that there’s a large hole in the wall. I did track down the website where I can find another one of the same type of dog door, and I might even get two – one for the inside and one for the outside.

Sometimes it’s not just the little things, but the big things that count. Time to schedule that energy audit, get the solar tank filled – and order a new dog door!

Another project I’ve started (in the midst of going through 23 years of boxes in the garage) is to tabulate my old power bills for the last several years (NOT all 23 years!), both amount of electricity used and the amount it cost, both per kWh and per month. I plan to annotate the table as I make major (or minor – like a new dog door) improvements in my home energy upgrades. It will be interesting to see the results.