green car, green home?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by galaxee, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. Seaside Harry

    Seaside Harry Junior Member

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    Tideland's efforts are very similar to our own. Programmable thermosts upstairs & down, plus in two houses that we now rent out but used to be our primary residences. Also, reversable ceiling fans in every room in all houses (except a few that were trashed by tenants).

    We are still in the process of converting all bulbs to CFLs. We've already had to replace a couple of the older ones because they had crummy ballasts and tended to cook themselves, especially when installed upside down in recessed ceiling cans. There are some bulbs we won't be replacing until the prices come down more on dimmable CFLs. However, we recently found 3-way CFL bulbs at a reasonable price ($13.99) from TopBulb.com. This is where we also found some of the more unusual sizes & shapes such as the 4W torpedo bulb for our 8 gallon octagon aquarium.

    We have photosensor and/or motion-sensing fixtures for all our outdoor lights except the front porch carriage lamps. Those two are recessed too far under the porch overhang for sensors to work. For those lights, we recently installed a programmable controller that fits in the same space as the original light switch (but sticks out further). You enter time, date, and area of the country, then the lamps will turn on at civil twilight (automatically adjusting throughout the year) and stay on until dawn or any specific time during the night. Very much like digital thermostats, it can be set to work differently on different days. Very cool. Lowe's & Home Depot sell them.

    We are still a long, long way from winning any Rodale Press "eco home of the year" awards, but at least we've got the automobile part covered! :D
     
  2. ltu1542hvy

    ltu1542hvy New Member

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    A few months ago I replaced most of my lightbulbs with those compact fluorescent ones as well. I have several lights on dimmer circuits, and those unfortunately don't appear to be compatible with compact fluorescents.

    I then got a copy of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Guide to Effective Environmental Choices to get a better idea of what really makes a difference and what does not.

    Started donating money via my power bill to NC Green Power to (hopefully) encourage them to start investing in sustainable energy.

    Recently my dishwasher died and needed to be replaced. I went to Sears and told the salesman to show me the most energy-efficient model they had. He ended up opening up every one they had to look at the EnergyGuide label to compare the numbers. Most of them were within 3 or 4 points of each other and one was a good 10% more efficient than the rest of them, and that is the one that I bought.

    Became more aware of what I eat. Have been cutting back on meat in general and beef in particular and try to buy locally grown organic produce rather than that crap in the large grocery store chains. Do a lot more shopping in the local grocery co-op (Weaver Street Market in Carrboro).

    As time goes on and I have more money I want to sell my place and buy another one much closer to work, and then see if I can "greenify" it more. At that point I would like to look into solar power (saw a really neat demo of a solar-powered water heater recently).

    A lot of it requires a fundamental lifestyle change and I can't quite pull it off over night.

    - Bill
     
  3. DaveinOlyWA

    DaveinOlyWA 3rd Time was Solariffic!!

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    i guess i have to feel lucky that i live in such a moderate climate. last year, i averaged less than 35 kwh per day on the coldest part of winter. it was very mild and i went weeks at a time while never using any heat.

    i always have kept it cool in my house anyway so not much of a sacrifice. also for years, i used to leave most of my computers on all the time.

    i now turn all of them off except for one unless using them. i didnt really like the wear and tear on the power supply but have decided the possible expense of replacing one is worth not having a guaranteed drain albeit very small nearly all the time.
     
  4. bookrats

    bookrats New Member

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    Not sure this info will be of use unless you're thinking of doing a complete remodel of your house (though maybe portions of it could be used for partial remodels/upgrades):

    My partner and I bought a 1907 house in 1998, and had a major remodel done on it. The plumbing and wiring were circa the 1930s, and badly needed to be replaced, and we decided to take it down to the studs.

    Our three main goals were:
    1. To repair and restore the house, with the intent of living it in for many years.
    2. To preserve the house's original style, charm and architecture.
    3. To use "green" processes, technology and materials as much as possible.
    For the most part, I think, we were able to meet all three of these goals. There were places where we had to compromise one goal for another; but not frequently, and most of these weren't significant.

    Here's a short list of some of the things we did:
    • The house was (and is) wood siding with wood floors and stairs, etc. We refinished and restored the existing floors when possible. But any new wood that was added was from certified renewable suppliers, i.e., wood sources that don't clear-cut, and are planting new trees where they harvest grown trees.
    • Use recycled materials. One example is the thick-old fashioned linoleum we used for much of the basement (it's called marmoleum); it's made from recycled plastic and linoleum products. (Bouncy and really fun to walk on barefooted.) Also tile: all of our tile was made from recycled glass. Much of it looks like normal tile, but we also used some that's made from melted-down bottles of different colors. The latter isn't to everyone's taste, but we like it a lot.
    • Heat and water savings. Besides doing lots of insulation (though not super-insulation), we also used a device that extracts heat from waste water (i.e., hot water going down the drain) and uses it to heat the hot water going up the hot water pipes. Also have a radio-controlled pump that starts the hot water circulating through the hot water pipes. This saves the water that you would normally waste after turning on the hot water at the sink, and then waiting for the water to become warm.
    • Also, instead of having a separate hot water heater and a gas heater for forced-air heating, we have a gas-powered boiler. This heats hot water for the house, but it also heats a metal coil that is placed in the forced air ducts, and heats the air. Economical, less chance of gas leak (no heating plate to crack over time) and also apparently mechanically simpler and more reliable long-term (we'll see.)
    Also, here's a few green methods we decided not to do:
    • Didn't replace the glass in the windows with double-pane glass. We like the old-fashioned "wavy" look of the old glass; but, you lose more heat through the old glass. To alleviate this, we used windows shades that have a "honeycomb" construction; when lowered, they makes air pockets which hold in heat, thus insulating the windows some.
    • Use non-oil based "green" paints for the interior painting. These release less toxic fumes during the painting process, and are safer to dispose of. However, our general contractor and painters agreed that (in general) they didn't last as long, or hold up as well, as the oil-based paints.
    • We have a gas range. We like to cook over a gas range; but in a well-insulated or super-insulated home (we have the former), there's more of a potential problem with gas buildup, even with a good ventilation fan. We went with the ventilation fan (which is always on when we're cooking), and an electric oven (dual-fuel.)
    I should add: when I say "we", it's the "royal we". My partner and I hired people (a really wonderful general contractor -- we have no horror stories) to do the work, as we are not fix-it folks.
     
  5. Virodeath

    Virodeath New Member

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    I have read lots of articles over the past years when building our houses that stated ceiling fans are not as efficient as originally thought and in most cases use more electricity than maintaining a set temp. with your AC.

    I am at work atm so can't put my finger tips on the links.

    Viro
     
  6. GreenLady

    GreenLady Member

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    Great thread. There's some really good ideas in here.

    I enjoy trying to live as green as I can. As an environmental professional, I try to 'put my money where my mouth is' so to speak, as much as I can. When I'm harping on employees or contractors about air quality or recycling or something, and they say, "oh yeah, what kind of car do you drive?", I can respond "A Prius" quite smugly.

    At home, my husband and I are switching over to compact fluorescent light bulbs. We do not get a newspaper, we have double-paned argon filled windows, a programmable thermostat, a programmable timer for outdoor lights, we installed solar screens on the south and west exposed windows to reduce how much sunlight enters the house, we compost, we have an electric mulching mower (I live in a non-attainment area for ozone pollution), we only use organic products in our yard, we use all-natural 100% organic pest control (our cats :) ), we have a high efficiency a/c and heater with a heat pump, when we have children we will use cloth diapers instead of disposables, we try not to recycle paper until we have used both sides, etc.

    All our major applicances are 15 years old, so when they give out, we will replace them with energy star products.
     
  7. priusenvy

    priusenvy Senior Member

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    There are also things you can do that don't reduce power consumption, but at least change the time of day when power is consumed, which reduces peak usage. And it's peak usage that puts the strain on the power grid and requires new powerplants to be built, not total consumption.

    For instance, in a hot climate, a pool pump needs to be run as much as 12 hours a day, and can draw as much as 1.5kw for a small pump and much more than that for larger or multiple pumps. If you run the pump at night, and into the morning (say 9PM to 9AM), rather than during the day when A/Cs are running full blast, you can keep your peak usage down, and move some of your consumption to the period when there's excess power generating capacity.

    I believe that in parts of CA you're actually prohibited from running a pool pump during the day.
     
  8. keydiver

    keydiver New Member

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    Wow! :eek: I really applaud everyone's efforts, honestly! ;)
    1)
    I tried to find a washer like that when we built our new house a few years ago. Everyone at the appliance stores and Sears looked at me like I had 2 heads! :blink: Them they'd go "oh yeah, those old things. We haven't seen them in years." So, I found the Fisher-Paykal models mentioned above instead. My wife isn't real excited about them, as the washer doesn't always get things as clean as she'd like, and requires her intervention at times, but she doesn't complain, much.
    2) I also have alot of curly bulbs.
    3) I installed a heat exchanger on the A/C compressor that preheats the water to the water heater.
    4) I installed Huper Optik film on the windows with southern and western exposures. I tried to get "E" glass windows when we built, but the manufacturer my contractor was using (cheap) didn't have their E glass hurricane certified yet.
    5) I paid the contractor for much heavier insulation in the ceiling. (Does anyone know where I can get info on the benefits of an attic vent fan? I've been thinking of a solar-powered fan for one of the gable ends)
    6) We are in South Florida, but we NEVER run the A/C below 78 degrees. It is usually 79* day/80* night. Most of my friends would die at those settings here, they set theirs at 65-73*.
    7) I have a couple big solar panels on the roof, but they're mainly part of my emergency power/water plan. ;)
    8) I use passive solar to heat the pool.
    As I said, we live in South Florida, and I *thought* we were doing pretty good, as most of my friends have electric bills routinely >$300, and I freaked out when our's got near $200 during this sweltering summer we've had. But, after hearing some of your stories, I can see I've still got a ways to go. B)
     
  9. keydiver

    keydiver New Member

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    Isn't that only true if you have a meter that does peak metering? I'd try it, but I don't think my electric meter knows what the time of day is. I'm sure my pool pump running 7-8 hours a day is one of my major energy hogs.
     
  10. priusenvy

    priusenvy Senior Member

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    I don't understand what you wrote. How does the type of meter you have affect your ability to smooth out the power demand from your home? I understand that with those types of meters you can get rewarded for your "good" behavior, because you pay less for power during off-peak hours (or less for lowering your peak usage), but I don't understand how that is required to just do the right thing on your own.
     
  11. DocVijay

    DocVijay Active Member

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    I also considered using the pool pump at night rather than the day, but our pump is right outside our bedroom wall where our bed is, so it was a no go.

    keydiver going from over $300 to $200 is pretty admirable considering you live in Florida. We have two very efficient A/C units, but they still drive up the bill.
     
  12. rflagg

    rflagg Member

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    Things that have come as a direct response to buying the Prius (Feb 2004) and our awakening to our consumption:

    #1) Our home is now being fed green energy - in Virginia, Dominon power is required to offer alternatives for power, and for just a few cents more per kWh you can pick up 100% 'green' power - from Wind, Solar, all renewable resources. 100% of our electricity consumption is now being provided by green energy.

    #2) Terrapass - the little sticker you might have seen that was started up by a class in PA, I believe - dedicated to offsetting the CO2 emissions from your vehicle, regardless of type. Check 'em out if you haven't, Terrapass.com.

    #3) Completely Vegetarian - we have since gone vegetarian, decreasing our consumption of animals(land or sea) raised as feed for humans.

    #4) Shopping consciously for Food - organics - Vegan means giving up all products obtained through animals, Vegetarian means giving up meats (and seafood, in some cases). However, vegetarians still have to deal with many products that are obtained through cruel practices - for example, most chickens bred to lay eggs are caged in and left in lighted rooms for 24hrs a day, because light increases the production of eggs. Not to mention hormones, feed of deceased animals, etc. By buying organically, making sure your purchase of eggs states 'cage free' or naturally raised - and the same goes for milk, etc., you can help decrease this. Everything from cheeses to the gel capsules that hold drugs are more often than not obtained and made with animal products, and these areas we are still working to decrease as well.

    #5) CFLs and LEDs - we do have a few lights on dimmers, which CFLs can't handle, but also a few ambient lights that, instead of using CFLs, we use LED lights that use much less power than a standard CFL, and last longer too.

    #6)Feline Pine Kitty Litter - our three cats no longer use the standard clay-based kitty litter that we'd both regularly breathe into our lungs and that they'd get into their paws. The compressed recycled pine pellets not only cover the odor better, but also 'soak' up much more efficiently than any clay based litter I've used.

    We're continually working to make our footprint smaller and smaller on the world around us. Next up is to attempt a homemade soda fountain, which would reduce our usage of plastic/aluminum - although we recycle - by a large amount. If you're interested in this, check out www.sodaclubusa.com. Of course, it's really called 'pop', but I let some things slide. :)

    -m.
     
  13. keydiver

    keydiver New Member

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    I'm sorry, I'm not from CA (thank God!), so I missed your point that your concern was for grid loading, not reducing my household energy consumption. My wife and I aren't big energy-hogs, so I don't ever think about "smoothing out" our usage, just reducing it. I'm sure in CA, with your energy crunch, you think of things differently. But, as someone else said, my pool pump is right outside my bedroom window, so thats not an option for me either.
    What I was referring to, as you rightly assumed, was one of those "smart" electric meters that rewards you for transferring your energy use to off-peak hours, which I don't have. A friend of mine got really sweet rates for heating and storing his hot water off-peak in PA, and had a "smart" meter that PP&L could talk to, control the hot water heater, and monitor his usage.
    These posts urged me to go to Home Depot at lunchtime and buy a few more packs of CFL's. :D
     
  14. FredWB

    FredWB New Member

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    Dave, did you really mean 35 kwh/day? Sounds a bit high but you didn't say how large your house is or how old your furnace is. And the moist cold air can force you to run the heat some just to keep from shivering. I looked around at some of the goals they had for energy efficient houses down in Florida and tried to come close to those, which were around 5-6 kwh a day. That's a lot tougher to hit here in the winter, but we usually are around 7 when running the furnace a bit. Lately it's been tough to hit our former averages of 150 kwh for the month and we've drifted just above 200. The new 36" TV didn't help and my wife is home a lot more and on the computer. But the days of 600 kwh for us are a distant memory.
     
  15. DaveinOlyWA

    DaveinOlyWA 3rd Time was Solariffic!!

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    WOW bookrats awesome suggestions you have there.

    and yes i mean 35 kwh and that was max. my average was actually around 15-18... bill works to about $45 a month. and i live in all electric apartment. in the summer my bill is about $25 a month. having daylight until 10 PM definitely helps!~!
     
  16. DocVijay

    DocVijay Active Member

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    35 kwh a day is high? Also, how do you get a house in Florida with A/C down to 5-6 kwh per day? For our house, we averaged 108 kwh/day in September. Somehow I don't hink that's possible without resorting to solar power to supplement your electrical use. Where did you get the info for those houses? I'd like to see, and emulate as much as possible.
     
  17. hobbit

    hobbit Senior Member

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    Hey bookrats, tell me more about that drain-water heat recovery
    thing? I was just thinking about something like that the other
    day and am pleasantly surprised to hear it exists already.
    .
    _H*
     
  18. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    It's called a "de-superheater" and I'm surprised you have even heard of one, let alone use one. Do you have a heat pump or a conventional A/C? Even folks who put in heat pumps rarely use a de-superheater to preheat their domestic hot water. Congrats!

    Again congrats. I have never understood folks who live in normally hot climates who set their A/C so low the entire house could be used as a giant refrigerator. Or folks who live in my climate who set the heat for 75 degrees, walk out into -40, then complain and shiver about the cold.

    My Dad told me a LONG time ago when I was a snotty kid whining about the temperature: "In summer it's hot, in winter it's cold. About time you understood that and DEAL WITH IT."

    I usually set my heat for 65-68, down to 60 at night. The A/C is NEVER on when I'm away, otherwise I set it for no colder than 75. Summers here are a bit like Florida in that it's also very humid. I run the A/C more to dehumidify than to freeze myself.

    I first tried a Bryant Evolution system at my house in the Burbs, later when I built my new home at the hobby farm about two years ago. The Evolution system uses a matched variable speed condensing gas furnace, two speed non-Freon A/C condenser, and a matched evaporator coil.

    I can program my system for dehumidify priority, so the variable speed fan will run very slow, along with the outside condenser, to maximize dehumidification. It will slowly but surely take indoor RH of 75% down to 49%.

    For those with sky-high cooling bills, may I suggest the following? Keeping in mind I used to live in places like Mesquite, NV and St. George, UT:

    1. Do whatever you can to keep DIRECT solar gain off your windows. Use the outside mesh on the windows. Use exterior awnings. You HAVE to keep that exterior solar gain away.

    2. The A/C ductwork is usually mounted in the attic. Don't even think of putting the ductwork in the floor or you will only cool off the floor. In my climate I don't have much choice, as you have to prioritize for heating at -40. Make sure all the ductwork is sealed air TIGHT with mastic and that aluminum foil tape. Make sure the ductwork is insulated too. More information on this topic:

    http://www.energyconservatory.com/applicat...plications1.htm

    http://healthandenergy.com/air_duct_leakage.htm

    http://www.energystar.gov/ia/home_improvem...tionFS_2005.pdf

    http://www.energystar.gov/ia/home_improvem...lingFS_2005.pdf

    3. For new home construction, make sure the overhangs on the south facing windows are sufficient to block the sun for the hotest part of the year. It's best to not even have any west-facing windows.

    I never had water bills over $55 for the 3 month billing period, never had electric bills higher than $45 a month, and my highest gas bill in January was $135. That was a FRACTION of my neighbors.

    A lot of folks have a very hard time believing this, but you have to make relatively minor "sacrifice" to achieve enormous energy and cost savings.

    You may also find this hard to believe too: in a climate like Manitoba where it can easily dip to -40 in winter you don't even need to use 2x6 walls or tri-pane windows. The roof only needs R-40.

    If it was up to me, all new homes would have roofs of R-60+, double walls (2x6, 2 inch straping, interior 2x4) stuffed with insulation, and tri-pane windows with dual Low E and dual Argon fill. That sounds pricey, but the fancy new homes have way more invested in useless frilly architectural details.
     
  19. rflagg

    rflagg Member

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    I feel the same, but I also know some people are 'veggies' without giving up seafood. Believe it or not, my sister asked me today about it, because she didn't know either.

    -m.
     
  20. FredWB

    FredWB New Member

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    I don't believe they were using much in the way of AC in that house. It was a super insulated (R25+ walls and r50+ ceilings) tightly sealed single story small house to keep the humidity out, radiant barriers in the attic, reflecting roofs, huge overhangs, single story, gas water heater, exterior shading on windows, small energy star refrig etc. One of the utilities was doing it as an experiment along with a university. If I find the article I'll let you know.

    I was able to to get down to that level and below here in San Diego but we really don't need much in the way of AC usually and it's pretty tough to maintain long term.

    Having electric water heating is a big cost right off the bat for you. Even with the latest 20+ SEER AC you'd have to do a lot of things to the house or apartment to reduce consumption to even approach those levels. The electric water heater probably uses 10-15 kwh a day on it's own. Then there's the clothes dryer that uses 5000 watts if it's electric!

    It seems that areas like Texas and Florida are the hot beds of inovation when it comes to building energy efficient housing. I had a small house in Austin yrs ago and was able to keep my bills below $50 when my neighbors were using $150-$200 a month. Radiant barriers, caulking, super vented attic, single story with large overhangs, ceiling fans, etc all helped. I don't remember the consumption but I'm sure it was above 5-6 kwh a day because energy was much cheaper there back then.
     
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