An Update on My Begleyan Quest for Efficiency

Last week I wrote about the inspiration I took from Bill Nye’s Unstoppable to improve the energy efficiency of my own home. This post is an update on that, so if you didn’t read that, it may be where you want to start.

Resolving to improve things has really opened my eyes to a number of things that I had either never considered or willfully ignored. I’ve already taken a few small steps toward improvements.

The first thing I wanted to do was check on the status of our attic insulation. No worries on that front, as there’s a solid layer of blown insulation up there. Surprisingly, the same is also true of the attic of the garage. That seems strange, given the garage itself is a drafty cold/hot mess. Very cold right now.

While in the garage attic, I did discover it is faced by our bedroom closet, which is always freezing. I believe I will add a layer of fiberglass insulation against that wall up there and see if that improves.

Also while examining the garage, I discovered this.

IMG_20160109_134008606.jpg

That would be a very large and obvious crack under the weather stripping of my internal garage door. Warm air is flooding out under there, and this is no doubt the biggest offender I’ve discovered in the house thus far. For now I’ve put a towel down to stop up that flow of air, and I’ll be exploring options for correcting the problem permanently. I expect that one problem alone accounts for a measurable and wasteful loss of efficiency.

I have been opening our living room windows during the sunniest parts of the day. We have three large windows side-to-side on the facing of the house that gets all the sun. This has noticeably improved the solar heat absorbed into the house during daylight hours, in theory taking load off the furnace. When it cools off, I close the blinds again for insulation. The only downfall to this particular strategy is I work in the basement, which is not aided by that heat upstairs much. Brr!

I picked up some caulk with an eye toward fixing some of the window cracks I’ve known about for a while. Two large window frames on the cold side of the house in particular need a lot of work. This is one area I’ve been willfully ignoring until now. We’ve redone some of the windows, and knew that more needed it, but it got put off.

I also discovered when shopping for a replacement dimmer bulb for the living room that they offer LED ones now. Dimmer bulbs have been an incandescent hold out, as standard energy efficient bulbs don’t handle it at all really. I picked up an LED to try, and it does not dim as variantly as the incandescent ones, but it does the job. The only real negative seems to be that it makes a soft buzzing sound when on. I worry that a whole array of them in the fan lights might be annoying. Still, the difference in efficiency between incandescent and LED is stark.

I’ve also tried to be better about turning PCs off in the house. I have a work and a personal desktop that are both almost always left on. That’s a convenience for both, but obviously wasteful. I’ve been turning them off when done with them. I have also been making an effort to unplug chargers when not in use.

Those are some of the steps I’ve taken or looked at so far. Here are some things on my hit list still:

  • Insulating hot water pipes
  • Converting the rest of our incandescent bulbs to CFL bulbs (the only ones that aren’t have been in our house and have not burned out since we moved in back in 2009!)
  • Being better about unplugging chargers when not in use
  • Checking fireplace for heat loss
  • Clean HVAC filter more regularly

We haven’t received an “efficiency” update yet from the power company. I’m interested to see it this time, and I’ll be hanging on to them now for comparison, to see how my efforts pan out.

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