The List (or, at least, the start of one):
- Solar Energy
- Installing solar panels is an expensive thing to do, each panel costing you upwards of $1000 and each system requiring more than one to sufficiently cover the daily kilowatt usage in your home. You can cut back on you daily energy consumption, but you will still need several panels to cover your basic needs.
- In addition, there are also the costs of various other solar system components - battery bank, inverter, etc. - and installation of the system by a licensed contractor that can easily double the cost.
- Fortunately, there are a wide variety of tax incentives and rebate programs, not to mention manufacturer specials that can help to reduce the cost. I personally hope Rocky Mountain Power will continue their Solar Incentive Program which has provided $1.55/w for residential homes up to 3kw or $4650 towards the purchase and installation of your panels.
- Last month, we managed to keep our energy consumption pretty low, consuming on average 8kwh/day (easy to calculate if you look at the monthly electricity usage on your utility bill). Still though, this would require that we install approximately 9 panels just to maintain the status quo (see here for method of approximation).
- We would also have to take into consideration the amount of unobstructed, south-facing space on our roof in order to ensure we could install the amount required.
- Energy Efficiency
- Until we can install solar panels on our roof and in anticipation of the energy conservation a limited amount of panels would require (not to mention the benefits of conserving all around), I've been thinking of ways in which we can reduce energy consumption in our home.
- For example, while we consider ourselves lucky to have had our appliances included in the purchase of our home, every single one of our appliances is old and needs to be replaced. As we proceed to do so, I expect that I will be taking an avid interest in Energy Star qualified appliances for which there are also various tax incentives and rebate programs.
- I also expect that I will be replacing all of our lightbulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs), although I would prefer LEDs after reading this article.
- Our furnace being over 25 years old and running at about 40% efficiency, I expect that we will be replacing that as well, although we will probably preempt this purchase by insulating our basement/attic and sealing/insulating our ducts according to at least one of many guides I've read about making heating/cooling systems run more efficiently.
- I also expect that we will eventually install a central air unit that will replace the window units that came with the home.
- Once the new heating/cooling systems are installed, it'd be nice to purchase a smart thermostat such as this and that would help to manage the times at which the systems are most heavily used. At present, I try my best to adjust the thermostat manually, but it'd be nice not to have to physically adjust it each and every single day.
- Another thing that I've taken into consideration is the amount of energy used by appliances that are left plugged in when they're not being used. According to this article, it seems that the most significant "vampire usage" is primarily restricted to devices that are always left on, e.g. a wireless router, cable modem, or DVR. Still though, I think it would help to restrict this idle usage as well.
- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
- In addition to our energy conservation efforts, I also plan on paying much closer attention to the things we purchase for general consumption. I'd prefer that we not purchase any more than what we need, that we buy used where we can, and that we reduce the amount of waste we produce as a consequence of said consumption...
I am starting to run out of steam to continue much further with some of the ideas that I've had, but I think you get the general idea. And I've, at least, got a good start on my list of planned improvements. As time goes on, I will be adding to this list and hopefully checking things off of it as well. Some of these things may be more unrealistic than others, especially being on a very limited budget. But I like the idea of retrofitting an old house such as ours to be more energy-efficient and cost-effective as well. I also like the idea of retrofitting myself, per se, in trying to think about living my life more responsibly than I have done in the past. The new (old) house has given me new motivation to accomplish things that I have wanted to accomplish for a long time, if even just so that I can teach Colette how to live her life more responsibly and efficiently as well. It is better for me to be a good example for my child than it is for me to expect that she should be able to figure these things out on her own.