First Steps: A rough draft of our zero fossil fuel plan

When we first moved into this house, aside from the scary-ass grey shag carpet and the popcorn on the ceiling, we noticed that (a) there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot of insulation in the crawl spaces (attic & underfloor) and (b) the cool-man 1977-vintage aluminum windows pretty much had, without exception, blown their seals. As a result, air infiltration was problematic at best, vicious at worst. Since then, we’ve

  • Added (some) insulation under the house
  • Replaced all the windows with CDI double-pane models
  • Replaced the sliding glass doors with CDI double-pane models
  • Replaced the front door with a solid-wood door and new weather stripping
  • Replaced the inefficient, leaky gas water heater with a high-efficiency Marathon electric heater
  • Replaced many light bulbs with compact fluorescents (not all, but a lot – I’m looking forward to LED light bulbs as the CFs take a while to warm up and I can sometimes hear them cycling at 60Hz 
  • Added a 10kW NG generator (not an energy saver, but after 5+ days without power, including three in a hotel room with small kids, a marriage-saver
  • Replaced the scary-ass shag carpet, and removed the popcorn – these don’t make the house more energy efficient, but they were nasty…and not in a good way
  • There is a lot more to do, but we need to start small, simple and cheap before we tackle the large projects:

    • Improving efficiency by adding insulation
    • Adding cellular shades in the kitchen & family room
    • Replacing remaining incandescent lights with CFLs as they die
    • Teaching the kids to turn off lights when they leave a room
    • Installing a clothesline
    • Turning down the thermostat (this will be a hard one for Sandy – she dislikes the cold)

    Once we’ve done all this work, we’ll have a better baseline and can move on to calculating our energy needs.  I’m hoping we can tackle the solar water heater before the end of the year so we can take advantage of the $2,000 tax credit from the Federal Government which expires on December 31, 2008, but it’ll be a few years before we indulge in PV panels.  Maybe by then they’ll be cheaper and more efficient (and hopefully the next president and congress will re-up the tax credits.



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    2 Responses to First Steps: A rough draft of our zero fossil fuel plan

    1. Solar says:

      Yes! Keeping in mind the drastic environmental changes and rising fuel prices going Solar is one option open to all at minimal investments. The Solar Water heating systems are so easy to install and most of them come in a Do-it Yourself kit, With the technological advancement the once heavy, bulky hard to move panels are now available widely in light weight easy to carry by one personal only packages. The advancement in technology is not only limited to light weight, but for those concern about the aesthetics of the panels, the good news is that the panels are now available with a variety of trim colors to choose from and can be easily matched to your roof. Saving about $25.oo on ones electricity bill every month on a residence of 4. We all use hot water, as one of our basic needs and what can be a better way, than helping our environment, saving our resources and ourself’s some money other than by investing in a Solar Water Heating System.
      There are a couple useful websites I’m aware off, that I would like to share with you
      1. – is a comprehensive source of information on state, local
      , utility ans federal incentives that promote renewable engery ans energy efficieny.
      2. – one of the many manufacturers of certified Solar Water Heating Systems available. One place I saw the light weight panels and trim color options I was mentioning earlier.
      Lastly, the local utilites in some areas also provide additional rebates and incentives for adding a Solar Water Heating Sytem to your exisitng water tank.
      Keep the look out on. Feel Good and save- money for you, environment for us.

    2. Thanks for the post! We are looking into a solar hot water heater as our first step into solar. I didn’t know there are do-it-yourself kits. I’ll look into those. Thanks for the links as well!

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