Energy Reduction Suggestions
New to the forums but a long time lurker, what a wonderful resource all of you have been!
Right now my family and I are on a footprint reduction course and Im looking for cost effective ways to reduce our energy consumption and waste generation. So far weÂve:
Insulated the ductwork in the basement (it was open and bare)
Installed CFÂs in pretty much every socket except two immediate use/short duration lights
Set the thermostat to 80 during the summer weekdays when weÂre not home and 75 when we are home in the summer, with corresponding reductions in winter for heating.
Isolated phantom loads and put many of them on power strips with a switch on the wall to turn them off when weÂre not home. Going to hook some of the more forgetful strips to an X10 controller as my kids are not quite at the "remember anything" stage of life yet.
Use a late model iMac instead of a PC whenever possible (which is most of the time), as it consumes only 25W of power as opposed to the 450W demon PC consumption.
Installed ES ceiling fans in all of the upstairs bedrooms, useful for both summer and winter heating/cooling cost reduction.
Installed weather stripping on ALL of our windows. Added insulation behind every light switch and plug in the house which drastically cut down on the draft weÂd feel in winter or when running the AC.
Reuse our plastic bags like they were going out of style.
Started a 3x3x3 compost pile (1) in the back yard.
Gotten a push Reel mower (me-powered) and electric weed wacker and dumped the old gas mower and gas trimmer.
Ride the bicycles to close destinations weather permitting. Also have a motorcycle (55 mpg) and a Vino 125 cc scooter (75 to 85 mpg, and it goes 55 mph if on a downhill slope, heh) we try to use instead of cars whenever possible.
Drive cars only when necessary. Combine tasks to conserve fuel by doing as much in a single trip as possible. Drive in a very fuel sensitive way using all of the tips and tricks out there, which means I actually get the mileage on the vehicle that it theoretically gets according to the sticker when you buy it (most people never get that kind of mileage in real life).
Started recycling plastics (itÂs not mandatory in our area).
So far so good. On the agenda for this summer are the following items:
Set up a rain barrel/rain water collection system for the garden next week. If I prove to be a handy plumber type of person with this project then I will expand it to a more grand scheme of a thousand or two thousand gallon collection system based under our deck (homeownerÂs association has a thing against large projects being visible, and yes, I hate them).
Our house faces directly south. Directly. And we have two very large windows in the front of the house. IÂm buying retractable awnings and installing them along all of the windows in the front for summer time use. The amount of heat generated by these windows is enormous, weÂve known this for a while but didnÂt think to get awnings (busy kind of people the last few years) until recently.
Adding more insulation to the attics soon (theyÂre single layer R-19 right now). Also going to experiment with a radiant barrier. Probably adding some more soffet vents and ensuring we have a natural convection going on adequate to moving hot air out of the attics (we have two attics). If that doesnÂt work out, adding fan(s) for ventilation purposes, possibly solar vent fans.
Working on a ventilation scheme for the garage so it doesnÂt heat up so much in the summer, preferably a small solar powered arrangement from a small 10W or smaller panel.
Building a vermicomposting setup. My son is psyched about that one, lol.
Put ourselves on the list for a 2009 Prius, which is rumored (by Toyota) to go up to about 80 mpg when its released next spring.
Probably some more things IÂm forgetting right now.
My questions are:
1. Am I missing something really obvious here in a "Quick and cheap with big payback" sense? We have money to spend but I want to hit the obvious things before trying to eke out the more minute details in this plan. Consider that every step IÂm taking is being soft sold to the wife. SheÂs warming up to these steps when she sees cost savings (the CF/insulation really made her happy from a bill standpoint), so things like "Well, move into a straw house" probably wonÂt fly, lol.
2. The radiant barrier Â I see hardware stores charging pantloads of money for what I consider rather dismal coverage by commercial radiant barrier insulation. IÂm wonderingÂIf we had a home project that consisted of lots of aluminum foil being glued to poster board (and/or cardboard) shiny side out, letting it dry, then stapling it shiny side out in the attic (not on the floor of course), would this work? Seems to me that kraft paper backing on aluminum foil is all that the really expensive stuff is, wouldnÂt my alternative work as well (and be a whole lot cheaper)?