Sunday, April 8, 2012

Making Our Home a Home Sweet Home: Part 6 – The Plan

I didn’t say it explicitly before, but have implied that our decision-making addresses the house as a system from the outside in.  You can have some fancy equipment and appliances, or even insulation, but without an appropriately designed shell of the building even the best heating and air equipment can struggle (along with the occupants).  Of course, under most circumstances, it may not be practical, or likely, that you’re going to rip out everything and start over (although it’s really exciting when you do get that chance!).  But when you do make major changes, you need to consider how the behavior of the equipment will change, and its longevity as a result. 

To be fair, too, there are some things that are not so inextricably tied to the skin.  Some are more related to behavior, the energy load that results from lifestyle, preference and convenience of occupants, and can be done without too many impactful side effects, good candidates for do-it-yourself, or honey-do lists. 

All things considered, here’s the plan, summarized.  I broke them out into two categories.  One that lists things that don’t require careful thought about how they impact the whole system (Non-integrated), and ones that do (Integrated):

Phase 1
Install electric water heater blanket
Insulate pipes within two feet of tank
Install programmable thermostat
Replace washer with ENERGY STAR washer

Install open cell spray foam underside of roof deck
Install variable speed ERV
Seal/reseal exterior doors
Seal exterior outlets
Seal crawl space with white reinforced liner
Determine method to insulate exterior walls
Install mechanical air supply to crawl space
Replace crawl space access doors with sealed and insulated doors

Future/Phase 2
Replace fridge with ENERGY STAR fridge (that might be all too soon!)
Replace hot water heater with high efficiency water heater, or solar water heater
(Buy a minivan to replace the station wagon!)

Remove exterior wall plaster or drill and pump exterior walls with spray foam or dense-packed cellulose
Replace shingles with ENERGY STAR related shingles
Replace gas pack HVAC unit with geothermal heat pump, or high SEER conventional heat pump

Details about key items to follow in future posts.

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