Thursday, April 10, 2008

Conservation: learn first, buy later

My friends John Porterfield and Cappy Kidd at Informed Energy Decisions just got a new shot of publicity from A Fresh Squeeze. If you aren't already inspired to call them for an energy audit BEFORE you make a possibly pointless investment in new windows, then check out the Reader story from 2006. They're students and practitioners of "building science":
Building science looks at energy-saving ideas in the context of an entire structure. One recent client, says Porterfield, was thinking of spending $700 on attic ventilation fans for his building. "We told him that was a waste of money. A 1978 National Bureau of Standards study established that running roof fans just increases electricity use for cooling, without improving on natural ventilation through grills. That's only one of thousands of in-field energy-efficiency studies that builders and buyers are unaware of."

People ambushed by high heating bills often ask Porterfield and Kidd, Where can I buy the right appliance? They answer that in nonemergency situations it's more important to reduce their home's larger energy losses first, then buy equipment to fit their new lower energy needs. In other words, make sure the building shell is doing the best possible job of using and retaining whatever energy is put into it.

3 comments:

Paul Botts said...

We really shouldn't be still citing studies of mid-1970s appliances as being relevant to modern ones, though. i.e. a 1978 study of refrigerators or televisions or whatever would report energy usage per hour several times that of the cheapest models on sale at Circuit City today. And given the huge improvements in fan technology in other contexts (e.g. the small ones placed inside personal computers), it seems rather unlikely that the attic fan you'd buy at Home Depot today is no more effective or efficient than the ones sold in 1977.

So-Called Austin Mayor said...

HH,

After following the link, it is not clear to me that these folks do energy checkups on single family residences -- do they?

-- SCAM
so-called "Austin Mayor"
http://austinmayor.blogspot.com

Harold said...

Yes.