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Page history last edited by Jonah 5 years, 7 months ago

Jonah lives in Somerville, MA.


He bikes around a lot, and owns 2 kill-a-watt watt meters, and a TLD100 (Black & Decker Thermal Leak Detector), which he'd be happy to lend!


Jonah bought a condo in Somerville, MA, and has been evaluating and improving its efficiency.  Some of the things done thus far:


My heating is gas-fired forced hot air, and in MA that will be the top energy consumer during the winter (and maybe all year, depending on how much I end up using my AC).  My utility, NStar, gives free energy audits, which found good wall insulation, but a need for air sealing, particularly on the basement sill.  Probably not coincidentally, the same company which NStar hired to perform the audit, Conservation Services Group, just happens to have a deal with NStar where NStar will refund 75% of any energy improvements they make.  Seems perhaps a bit of self-dealing, but I did get a full basement and attic air sealing for around $200.  Not too bad. Apparently Massachusetts utilities have to pay a portion of their revenues into a fund which pays for residential energy improvements (is that what gasnetworks.com is?).  I wonder how much of that money finds its way back to NStar via CSG?


Anyhow, the air sealing is the first step recommended pretty much anywhere for lowering heating and cooling costs.  One concern is oversealing; there are minimum standards for fresh air circulating into a home.  You can only find out how much air is circulating if you have a blower door test, which I've not sprung for yet.  One solution for oversealing is a heat recovery ventilator.


I installed a programmable thermostat, a Lux TX9000TS, which was a consumer reports "Best Buy", and programmed it pretty aggressively.  I have yet to try to get year-over-year consumption data for my condo from NStar, but that should give some clue as to whether it's making a difference or not.  Another nice feature of this thermostat: it has a programmable alarm which tells you when you need to change your filters.  And, since it knows exactly how many hours your system has been used for, it can be precise!  Neato.


My next project is sealing and insulating my HVAC ducting.  The ductwork seems to be in good shape, and fairly tight, but metal seams just can't be made airtight by themselves.  So, I've bought some duct mastic at Home Depot, and I'm sealing the ductwork following the directions as Oikos.com.  I also picked up some Reflectix foil-bubble-bubble-foil insulation, with the intention of insulating the ductwork after I've sealed it with the mastic, which should give me R6 insulation, according to the instructions here.  Current progress: 6/9 ducts sealed.  Strangely, I have 8 output ducts, but I can only find 7 vent registers in my condo.  Huh?


I replaced my door bottom seals on my basement exterior door and my front door.  I now get that satisfying sucking sound when I open my door, a sure sign of a tight door seal!  Previously, my TLD100 showed that there was considerable cold air leaking in from under my front door in particular, and also some from my basement door.


I called NStar, and inquired after year-over-year data for my condo, but they were only able to give me high/low/mean, which doesn't really give me a clear picture.  Satisfyingly though, even without the air sealing (happening soon), my bill for January was 25% lower than last year's (though Jan '09 had 1329 degree days vs 1184 in Jan '10, a 10% difference).  That's good evidence that the programmable thermostat (the only real efficiency improvement at that point) had a measurable, positive impact!


Other things on my list:

  • Blower-door audit after the air sealing is done?
  • I wish I could rent a TED unit... I'm just not sure there's too much more to optimize, electricity-wise.  All I've got plugged in are 2 laptops.


Completed projects:

  • air sealing the basement
  • programmable thermostat
  • new door-bottom seals
  • installed a low-flow shower head (ECO-533, see my review on Shower Heads
  • duct sealing 90% complete


Past projects:

Solar Powered Garden Lighting 

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