Holistic View of Energy Use in the Household-Part 2

Today we’re going to finish up the conversation we started yesterday about taking a Holistic View of Energy Use in the Household and reduction of that use where possible. We really hit on the big topics yesterday. And so I’m not going to do any deeper dive into those. Those are the areas where you’re using the most of your energy right now. And so therefore they provide the easiest opportunity to put plans in place to reduce that use. But some of the things they’re going to talk about today as we finish up the conversation is going to be water usage insulation and windows.

So when we talk about water really the number one thing that we’re talking about is how to reuse greywater. The fact that we take potable water and put it into a toilet so that we can flush waste into a septic system is almost a crime when you consider so many places in the world that don’t have access to potable water. A simple system like installing a sink on the back of your toilet. So when you wash your hands after using the bathroom that water from washing your hands goes down into the tank and then that water becomes the water that gets used on the next flush. That’s a really inexpensive easy install system that helps with this problem.

Another one would be a system that recycles the water from your bathtub and uses that for flushing water so for showers and baths and that it gets a little bit of treatment enough to make it not go bad. It is gray water it’s not portable. And then using that for flushing water is a really nice system. The thing that you could do is in addition to try to come up with an idea for utilizing that gray water for flushing your toilet. What we do utilize a portion of it or all of it for outside irrigation for gardens and lawns and things like that you know installing systems that are going to do a pre filter or inheres the reality a little bit of bleach. I mean a little bit of Bleach goes a long way to make sure that you don’t have a stagnant stinky you know water storage in between using a shower and using that shower water on your front yard. It’s a great way to reuse it realistically if a household were to get really serious.

They could reduce their water usage by 50 percent 30 percent is a pretty conservative estimate and I’ve seen estimates as high as 80 percent now. Not really sure how many times you’d have to reuse water to reduce your overall use by 80 percent. But those are the systems that give that kind of water reduction are pretty involved. They’re probably not very energy efficient or energy neutral and realistically those are for areas that don’t get enough rainfall don’t get enough or don’t have access to very good municipal water systems. But a 50 percent reduction is doable. And like I said a 30 percent reduction is easy with some very simple systems.

I really believe in reduced flush and restricted flow showerheads. I know a lot of people that want their shoulder to split their hair you know or part their hair when they’re taken. I don’t necessarily need a shower that’s that powerful. Our shower at the office off grid homestead is I believe a gallon and a half per minute which is still I mean there’s a lot of you out there you can get four a gallon and Minahasa a gallon and a half. You know and you know 70 ish. My wife who has very thick hair doesn’t have a problem doing what she needs to do to get her hair washed and all that. So with me I have relatively thin air a bucket of water would do me just fine. But you know using those reduced flush I think we got to one point three leader per flush system that handles anything we throw at it that restrict it flow showerhead you know is a big deal you could put restrict flow faucets on your sinks and it’s just a simple situation of the vast majority of the water that comes out comes out hits the fixture and goes down the drain without ever touching us. So if we could get a system in place where we’re just reducing the amount per minute of water that we’re using. That’s that’s a huge saver drip irrigation. It doesn’t work very well with grey water but if you’ve got systems where you’re using fresh water for irrigation or rainwater for irrigation which is even better a drip irrigation system is very efficient way to use that water. You got a mulch. You know this will never be a gardening show but you got a mulch. You got them all. [00:05:49][104.0]
[00:05:50] She got a mulch that’s probably the best way that you can reduce the amount of watering that you need for your vegetable gardens if you run in that high efficiency washer and dryer. We talked a little bit yesterday about the consumer electronics didn’t really touch on dryers but a high efficiency driver can can really help drive can really help. And also it just hanging your clothes out and let it dry in the sun. You do need to alter your your soap and fabric softener strategy when you’re drawing in the in the sun but it’s it’s it’s a great way to do it. And and and that little bit of vinegar in there make sure that even if you’re in a humid client climate you’re not going to have mildewy clothes. And the last thing I’ll touch on is mentioned it earlier but the rainwater harvesting I mean can you imagine if you used the rain that comes off your roof and the water just from your tub and that water between those two collection methods should be way more than you’ll ever need unless you run into some big orchard operations to to water a home scale orchard or a home scale garden or combination thereof. [00:07:15][85.9]
[00:07:17] We use a lot more water on ourselves than we do on our plants and then again you know if you could if you could take some of that sink water and reuse that in your toilets for flushing water that’s a fantastic way to reduce that usage and so if you look at what’s your water bill is and I haven’t had a water bill for six years even when we were up in Indiana we were on rainwater harvesting system but I think I out water you know which included our sewer used to run us about 50 or 60 bucks a month something like that you know I would be fine with investing a little bit of money to cut that in half for ever. So those are some water ideas on insulation. My I’m going to come at this part of it and maybe some other podcasts we’ll talk about insulation and new construction. But right now we’re just going to talk about insulation in a house it’s existing identifying where your holes are and your insulation in there is going to be an address and those of possible is a big thing you know going through and put in the little inserts behind your your wall plates. It seems like it’s not that big of a deal but the difference between not having it there and having it there is a pretty big one. Are you losing a lot of energy through those areas. Well it really depends on how cold it is outside how cold it is inside you know what the difference is as a big play on how much you really lose in there but that’s an easy thing to put into place. Look into putting in an attic fan. Make sure your your attic insulation is adequate that insulation typically if it’s blowing in it’s going to settle over time and that’s going to reduce the value there. [00:09:12][114.4]
[00:09:12] You can take in a lot of radiant heat from your attic into your house and if your duct work is in your attic which in most houses it is these days your duct work isn’t insulated so you run and your doctor through an unconditioned space and that stuff you know I mean I’ve seen studies where they showed Addicks get up in 140 150 degrees. So combining proper insulation with an attic fan just to pull air from the cooler side of the house through to the warmer side of the house. And these guys can be solar powered and you can actually buy an attic fan with a solar panel. It’s all one integrated unit put it on your house that does a huge benefit for it for a house regardless of if it’s got the ductwork running through that unconditioned space. But if it does then it’s even better. I mean you know you’re talking about in some places 40 to 50 degree differences in temperatures from one to the other. Now some of the things that a lot of people aren’t going to be willing to do when it comes to keeping those Addicks school or would be things like painting your roof white spray foam insulation directly below the sheeting which also acts as a vapor barrier and the other option would be installing a cupola. So maybe I’ve always call that a cupola. Maybe pronounce it pronunciation a slightly different but OK uvula is. You see on barn’s are the time. It’s that little tower. That’s just a little bit higher than the rest of the roof with vents and that provides a thermal chimney for that hot air to rise and get out. And of course when it rises and gets out it pulls the cooler air in to replace it. So it does a similar job of an attic fan without the actual electricity the reality. [00:11:07][114.6]
[00:11:08] Like I said before as a lot of people aren’t interested in having that on their house but don’t announces it probably looks really good so that it lets us move on to Windows. Windows are a major area where you’re going to be losing thermal energy or gaining thermal energy and whichever it is it’s the one you don’t want to do. So you know we we have some of those block out drapes as well as blinds as well as screens on all of our windows so we can use in the blackout drips are the ones with the white on the back. So we’ve got a couple layers there of protection to keep that keep that thermal radiation from getting into the house and heating up the air molecules that are in the house and making the house hotter than it should be solar screens are are really great thing to have if you can’t do that on an awning properly designed ironing or even an awning this just over the window itself is a great idea for keeping that summer sun from coming into the house directly. You know we want that ambient light to come in it’s it’s nice and it’s better than that you know flipping a switch and having electrical lights running when we’ve got the sun outside but that doesn’t mean we want direct sunlight coming in through any of the windows so identifying some strategies to keep that from happening is a big deal. A whole house fan of ours. I bring this up now because ours is actually mounted in our window. It’s a 30 500 ish cubic foot per minute fan that draws about 300 and 80 Watts when it’s on high speed. [00:12:55][107.8]
[00:12:56] Well that’s a nice trade off in the evenings when it cools off outside you know not during the time of year where it’s still ridiculously humid at 8 o’clock at night but outside of that area outside of that time of the year when it starts to cool off at night kick in that holehouse fan on and do doing some air changes with cooler air replacing the hotter Air has a bit has a big effect that makes a big difference between a house you know again is unconditioned but a house that is unbearably hot to be in and one that’s a little bit hot but with some awesome airflow is comfortable. I can tell you that my my wife’s family they had a whole house attic fan and when they lived in metro Atlanta and I remember going over there and I mean it would be hard to open up the front door when they had that fan going because of all the airflow coming in but they didn’t need to run airconditioning to keep the house nice and that was in Georgia. Now I’m not saying they didn’t run air conditioning at all but they ran it for a lot less a lot smaller portion of the year than a lot of their neighbors did. So running back through just through a quick water conservation is a big deal. I’m all for people lowering their water footprint. I hate the idea of taking part of a water and using it to flush toilets. It just seems like a massive waste to me. So I didn’t find ways to utilize rainwater or grey water or reduce flush restricted flow type systems you know. Looking at how you’re irrigating your garden in different things you can do. [00:14:36][99.4]
[00:14:37] They’re hanging close up to dry. Cover your holes with insulation. You can. You can also do you can go get an RF camera that will not RF on our camera and go around the outside of your house and see where it’s hotter or colder than the other areas that’s where you’re losing thermal energy. Attic fans holehouse fans. Re-evaluating the insulation in your attic and then doing things like using drapes solar screens and awnings to prevent direct sunlight from coming into your house there in the middle of the summer. These are always combined with some of the things that we talked about yesterday where you can have a decent impact in all these little things by themselves aren’t going to be noticeable but they start adding up and they start multiplying exponentially as you put some of these different things together and these strategies you can really do a lot to reduce your energy usage whether you’re on grid off the grid. Hybrid doesn’t matter. So with that we’re going to finish up for the day. You guys have any questions please send them to me at Shawn at Haake by Soula dot com. Feel free to go visit the Web site Haake. My Solr dot com. I’ll be honest with you. Right now there’s not a whole lot on that site other than the blog information and a contact form if you’d like to talk to us about any solar design or solar solar consulting or energy audits that you like for us to do for you. We also have the Facebook page has hacked my solar. The rest of the social media stuff. [00:16:12][95.1]
[00:16:13] Kind of staying away from right now but if you guys have places where you are and we’re not and you think that would be good for us to be there definitely let us know. Well thanks for joining us and look forward to talking to. [00:16:13][0.0]
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