Progress on New Year’s Resolution to Become More Energy Independent

Small improvement to cut my natural gas use by 50%

Small improvement to cut my natural gas use by 50%

My New Year’s resolution is to become more energy self-sufficient in 2009.   I created my
project plan, and then started by reducing the energy needed to heat the house and the water.   I am eventually going to be creating my own electricity with solar and maybe wind power,  but I learned that for every dollar I could save in energy usage, that was $5 less I’d have to spend with creating my own energy to power and heat my home.  So I figured I would start with reducing my energy usage first.

I started with the heavy hitters first – the natural gas I was using to heat the house and the water.  I had a very old natural gas water heater and with my travel schedule, I was paying to keep a lot of water hot that I was never around to use.   I also had this open natural gas fireplace that used 40,000 BTUs of natural gas and let a lot of heat out through the chimney.   I replaced the water heater with an instant on tankless water heater – still working on the cost savings with that.  But with my travel schedule, it just made no sense for me to keep a tank of water, no matter how well insulated, heated.   For the fire place, that is easier,  I installed a natural gas fireplace insert that  uses half the BTUs, and is rated to heat the entire space of my house.  Plus the insert is very well insulated so I won’t have the heat rushing up the chimney when it’s not on.   By my back of the envelope estimates, I cut my natural gas use by at least 50%.   This means I am saving $70 per month.   I’ll have the upgrades paid back in less than four years.

Next I am making warm window shades to reduce the heat loss through my windows, improving the insulation under the house, and swapping out light bulbs with LED bulbs as they burn out.

Click here to see the project plan for becoming energy self-sufficient with this house.

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