Let me introduce you to me and my project. I am GReg and I am in the processes of doing a massive renovation to a 1940′s house in north Florida. I am going to cover the energy saving issues I have tackled during this interesting trip through a lot of seemingly bogus information.
I am what you might call a wallet environmentalist. I am interested in the environment, but I think that conservation should not only save the green on the planet, but the green in my pocket. Heck, if you are spending less on fuel you should see the results. Interestingly this is not how most green building stuff is marketed, and for that matter it’s very hard to find out how things compare and the ROI (Return on Investment) for any given product. It seems like they don’t think the economics of environmentalism matters.
Here is my approach. There are a lot of things you can do that will pay for themselves at a better rate than your home loan rate. If there is a net gain in savings over what you are paying to the bank, then this is where you should start, and there are tons of these, but the people marketing these things are not pushing these points, and in many ways, this may be because of the way they look at the market. I’m sure I’ll rant about this more later.
The project of this week is dealing with insulation of my house. The house is fairly complex, it has the 1940′s bit you see (above) with 6″ roof beams that limit how much attic insulation i can use and the new bits with 10″ roof beams. The new part has modern house wrap under it providing a great air barrier, the old part has 67 year old tar paper. Things I can do for one part does not apply to the other in every case. It’s like having two houses to deal with.
Now lets look at the project and some lessons learned.
- insulation companies want to sell you the most expensive stuff they can, at this point it’s foam. It’s great, but not for all things
- Your insulation needs vary due to geographic location more than I thought
- This information about how it effects your home is hard to find
Let me show you what I mean by location. I am located in north florida. We are more interested in cooling than heating since that is the big cost. But all parts of the house are not heated evenly by the sun. The roof of course gets the brunt of the heat but for the walls, it’s the West and south west of a house is the part that causes the most energy to be used in cooling. I always thought the south would be, but apparently I was wrong.
With even minimal eves, in the heat of the summer the sun is almost directly overhead in Florida, the north and south walls get very little heat during most of the day they tend to stay in shadow and what they do get is at such an oblique angle it’s effect is minimual, the roof gets it but not those north and south walls walls. The only walls that get it is the east in the morning and the west at night, and they effect cooling costs very differently. In the morning your house is cool from the night, and the air is cooler. The heat that the house absorbs from the east is cheap to cool since moving something that is hot (air) from a house (that is fairly cool) to the outside (that is also fairly cool) is not that expensive and does not use that much energy. At the end of the day this is not the case. The outdoor temperature is very hot, so any additional heat is moved from the house to where it is extremely hot, and that takes more energy a lot more energy.
Is this true for all of the country? Nope, Go north, and not even that far north from Florida and during the summers the roof and the south walls get heated as well as the east and west. Reverse rolls for the southern hemisphere.
Knowing this what can I do?
- Block the sun on the west side of my house is easy since, there is a large pecan tree and a large stand of bamboo that are doing this already for me. In short I’m going to try to never let the sun hit the house.
- Build a porch on the west side of the house. Interestingly enough, old houses in central Florida have two story porches on the west side of the house to do just this. The porches cover the whole west side of the house, and their long roofs keep the sun from ever hitting the walls of the indoor living area
- Use awnings
- Tint the west windows
- Spend your limited insulation money here.
Fortuantly my addition is on the west, so it’s easier for me to add insulation here.
More on Different kinds of insulation soon.
Gotta pay the bills:
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