Saturday, March 31, 2012

Making Our Home a Home Sweet Home: Part 3 - Fixtures and Equipment

Around the time of the window replacement, our gas pack (a combination air conditioner and gas furnace) needed to be replaced.  At that time, the contractor mentioned we didn’t need to bother replacing the ductwork, as it was R-4.2.  I didn’t look into what that meant (as far as ENERGY STAR or other recommended performance programs) and just took his word for it.  Later, after looking in my scary crawl space (see Part 2), I understand why he did not want to replace them or at least seal them.  While he installed a new digital thermostat, it was not programmable.  I also did not know to inquire about SEER and AFUE ratings (air conditioning and furnace efficiency ratings, respectively), so he just replaced it with whatever was on sale at the time.

A while back Duke was giving away low-flow fixtures to its employees (my wife Beth qualifies here), so we picked up a 2.2 gallon-per-minute showerhead.  But, it still takes a good 20-30 seconds for hot water to reach its destination at any of our three fixtures.  We have replaced all our incandescent bulbs with CFLs, but still have one halogen lamp.  Reasonable LED torch style floor lamps are not readily available yet.

These are not uncommon circumstances.  Ideally, of course, we’d address all these issues in one fell swoop.  All the walls, roof and crawl space need (some, or better) insulation and air sealing, which would impact the load and therefore size of the HVAC equipment.  We could use a more efficient water heating system, or at least a recirculating pump to minimize water use.  We should replace all our appliances with ENERGY STAR rated ones.

I’m guessing our financial reality is like a lot of other folks.  A lot of other responsibilities and commitments, with school debt, three kids, travel plans, the list goes on.  But, we got to the point where how we feel at home became a real priority.  The following posts will describe the pathway we took, and the thinking, and building science, behind it.

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