Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Home Ownership and Energy Efficiency

Nearly 7 years ago,I accomplished one of my life goals and purchased a home of my own.While I had owned a condo,this would be my first change to own a home and not have to get condo association approval regarding how and when to make repairs,what plants to grow in my yard and pick what color would be used for the outside of my home.Like so many other home owners, I was price bound enjoyed certain home styles and wanted to live in one geographic area. I also wanted a home that could be updated to my own tastes and would have a space where I could garden. Part of my goals were to help make the home more energy efficient. My plan to use less energy and water would not only help me save money and help create long term value in the house but would also be more enviremently friendly. One of the first tasks I completed after moving into the house was to get a free energy audit provided by the Mass Save Program.As part of their work, they did an initial site audit and provided me with a free CFL for every light fixture and a programmable thermostat for my house. They also arranged for insulation to be blown into my walls and seal many of the air leaks in my house.The programmable thermostat helps control temperature in the house and helps lower the oil use at home. Much of this work was either free or done at a reduced rate. The old inefficient hot water tank and fridge was replaced along the way. While they were an added expense, I received a rebate on both and reduced my gas and electric use along the way. Part of the process of lowering my energy usage entails cleaning the filters in my furnace on a monthly basis and having it tuned up every other year. This helps it run more efficiently and use less energy. Using CFLs and learning to turn off lights and electric gear is also saving electricity. I have just agreed to have some solar panels placed on the roof of my house. While this is a major expense, tax breaks, energy produced and other factors will eventually greatly reduce my electric usage. My passion for gardening is slowly being fulfilled. The garden is slowly taking shape.Not only are the plants and flower beds taking shape,but they are helping to bring back wildlife to the house. but helping to make the house more attractive. Plant cuttings and yard waste not only keep the plants healthy, but also are part of my recycling plan. Many of the native plants were planted to not only be attractive but to serve as wind breaks during the winter and help shade the house during the summer. Both are attractive ways to save heating and cooling costs. It was never my intent to create a Net Zero House or to be Energy Star Rated. There are still steps to be taken in order to further reduce my energy consumption. The steps already taken have greatly reduced my energy usage(and costs) but hopefully will make my house a more comfortable one as well.

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