Energy Efficiency – Elusive and Ephemeral

(The four E’s (you heard it here first)


My Energy History:  When I was a but a wee one, we spent a rare Christmas upstate, and in just under TWO  WEEKS, burned 200 gallons, which would have added up to 2,400 gallons for the heating season, or very nearly $10,000 at current pricing.  Much time, effort and money latter,  the house was eventually insulated to 1980 standards.  Oil use was cut 40%, to 1,400 gallons, or $5,600 at current pricing.   NOT GOOD ENOUGH!  In the last 3 years I’ve embarked on super insulating, actually performing an entire deep energy retrofit, of our old house in the country.


First I cut energy consumption 30% 

Not Good Enough!  

I've cut it 50%!! 

Met my Goal!!!


Now I'm just aiming for as low as I can go.

I've got a bit of work left superinsulating the attic and water heater.
After that I will be switching over to capturing solar energy via a solar tempered sun spaces around the house.


It’s not just that I’m an energy geek, or even that I’m just a geek.  It's either slash costs or loose the house.


Does that mean energy efficiency is important only for those with old homes, homes in the country, the less well off?




We all know we need to protect the environment more. 


Simplistically think of powering 100% of your energy needs with solar cells (photovoltaic’s).  It's a contradiction to have to cover not just your house (school, factory, etc) but cut down a half (or half dozen) acres of trees out back and cover that with solar cells too, just because you haven’t slashed energy use first. 


The big energy use in our buildings is thermal, heat loss and gain (building and for hot water use).  The easiest and lowest cost means to reduce thermal energy needs is not just insulation, but super insulation Click here and    here for more.



30% Reduction 2011-2012 

Soooo last year
50% Reduction!!


It was no mean feat.  The truly low hanging fruit had been picked.   The house had been insulated to 1980 - Standards, bat in wall, 1/2 inch foam under vinyl siding, 7 inches of bat and some 2 inch foam (walkways and creating storage platforms) in the attic.  Though as was typical for the time, the foundation was still uninsulated.  Click here for more


Superinsulation has made possible 90% of the energy savings by reducing heating costs.  The frost proof shallow foundation  Click here for more,  the truly DEEP energy retrofit in the attic, 25 inches deep all told Click here for more.  


Geek tweaks have saved less than 10%, but, that's $300 a year!!  Super insulating the Hot Water Tank, is one, the other recovering the Dryer Exhaust (through redundant lint traps) . 



No guesswork, no theoretical models, just the facts m'am, just the facts.

In Progress:


The energy costs for our old house in the country must be slashed if it is going to remain… ours.

Our old country place must also start to pull it's weight, and make money, no doubt by "renting rooms".


This is where Architecture with the capital A comes into play.  New techniques, housing, and building forms need to be developed, for both new, and more importantly, to cost effectively rehab our old houses.  


Architects must do to provide comprehensive solutions beyond the task, the building, the project, taking into account our historical socio – economics as well as the nature of our future relationship to the built environment.


My family have taken huge hits in this depression, and it’s not sour grapes to say that, it’s only a recession to those who didn’t loose their jobs.  It is our second Great Depression to the 12 - 20 million who are the various “categories” of unemployment, along with their 30 or 40 million husbands, wives, and children.  It is a Depression that will echo for decades, as like me, we've abandoned retirement savings.  We will have significantly less for living expenses during retirement, such as, heating our old house.  Hence my mad desire to slash the operating costs of our country home to the bone.  Given my energy history, even if I slash costs 50% to $2,500 with current pricing, that will be $5,000 in my late retirement, 1/3 my projected SS, which as I noted, is now going to form the bulk of the retirement income the tens of millions financially marginalized in our Second Great Depression.

Sustainability Pays 
Upfront where it hurts
the most, your energy bills.

Click Here

To see my savings from
my work to date
40% reduction
in oil use.
Insulation - 
How Much Is Enough
Quick answers to your insulation questions

Easy Energy

Try it out

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Country House 


Eco Test Bed 

An Ongoing Deep Energy Retrofit Case Study

Location: NYS
Catskill Mountains
Upstate New York
Micro Climate: Extreme
-7000 Heating DD
-limited sun 
-deep in narrow valley.


Energy Conservation
Low Temperature Solar Thermal


Energy Update:

30% Reduction 2011-2012 

Soooo last year
50% Reduction

(Click here)

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