Yesterday was Blog Action Day, when bloggers everywhere are supposed to unite in posting about a single issue: the environment. I consider this the most important issue facing the world today, but this blog (after a long string of daily posts) was silent. Why? Because we were too busy yesterday having a home energy audit.
The most dramatic part of the energy audit is the "blower door test," which determines how much air is being leaked from the house. The front door is sealed and fitted with an exhaust fan that blows air out of the house, creating a pressure difference of 50 Pascals between the inside and outside of the house. This creates the effect of a 30 mph wind blowing on the house from all directions. A series of pressure gauges determine how much air, in cubic feet per minute, is being leaked from the house. (This is sometimes expressed as ACH—air changes per hour, or how often the entire volume of air in the house is exchanged). A well-sealed house typically loses 1500 CFM @ 50 Pascals. Our house is leaking 3,750 CFM. So, as soon as the energy auditor was gone, we were on the phone to contractors for estimates of what it will cost to have the walls and attic space properly insulated. Proper insulation can decrease our air leakage by 50-60%.
We've already replaced most of our incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents, and at night we lower the thermostat to a nippy 58°-60°. You save 1% per degree on your heating bill if you lower the temperature at night. We also plan to replace our top-loading washing machine with a front loader, which uses less water and energy. And because a front loader spins the clothes faster (150-1600 rpm), they require less drying time.
Xcel Energy charges $35 for the home energy audit. There's more information on the program at Xcel's website.
My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .
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