This is a guest post from my dad.
We recently also have moved into a new home that I would consider a “fixer upper”. As I told my wife “we are moving out of a lot better home than we are moving into”. That took some getting used to and it is an on going process. When we found the house and moved, we suddenly got the opportunity to look at new thing and upgrades that are on the market, especially when you have a fixer on your hands. At our old house everything was good and we liked it so there was not much incentive to spend money for the latest and greatest things, even if they would save money over the long haul. We went to a home improvement show and I for one was shocked over what is on the market now and how much it all costs!
We had a list of things we wanted to fix up but soon were derailed by reality. The living room had very little lighting and none of it was over head. It was dark and hard to use after the sun went down. We looked around and decided we wanted to go with flush mounted, ceiling LED lights. Needless to say they were quite spendy, but we decided to get them anyway and have been very happy but have not gotten the bill to see the effect of the much lower power consumption. They are totally sealed units and have a 25 year life, we shall see, but I am fully expecting to see a noticeable change in our electrical use. We had tried the CFL’s but they are a hassle at best, and do not last as long as they say in the real world, and a con job at worst.
Jeff’s note: LEDs are expensive, but they are quickly coming down in price. H and I have upgraded 3 rooms to all LEDs (The rooms where we spend most of our time), and are planning to do a few more rooms in the coming months. Also, dad shouldnt quite expect to see a totally noticeable decrease in kWh used after replacing just one room (unless those lights are on 24/7 – in which case he has another issue), but it should start to tick down noticeably the more rooms he replaces.
We are now looking at ways to cool the house since it is hot water heat which everybody always says “it is the best heat you can get”. They always fail to bring up that you cannot use central air because there are no ducts in the house. There are several different types of choices but again we are looking at a Mitsubishi heat pump/AC inverter unit. The box is outside but you have blowers in the house that you control the A/C room by room. Looks like a nice system and at 18-22 SEER rating very efficient and cheap to run. The down side is of course COST. A unit that will cool 2 rooms will run about 8000.00$ and the more you add, the more it costs all the way to 19,000$ for 4 rooms. I do not think I will live long enough to pay back that kind of investment, but I know the heat with 3 large, west facing windows may kill me quicker, if my hot, sweaty and irritable wife doesn’t do it first.
Jeff’s note: I havent found that air conditioning is worth the investment in wyoming. We usually dont get highs in the 90s, and when we do it’s for only a few days and we can ride that out pretty easily. For some though, it’s a real need.
Sprinkler systems are another thing that we need and low flow, rotating heads cost more than fine mist pop-up heads. Not bad on water use, so I’ll take the rotating head sprinklers. Well the time you add 25 heads, it adds up to a 6500.00$ system to save a little more water.
Window replacement was something we had done before and knew the ups & downs of that, but decided to replace 5 old steel frame casements windows with Marvin aluminum clad wood windows. The Marvin brand is not as well known as Anderson but in my opinion have a much better product for a little more money. Our last house we had replaced the windows and never had any issues with the Marvins we used. Very energy efficient but again 6500.00 for 5 windows I am not sure there is a realistic payback in money saved.
Jeffs note: there may not be a payback now, but when you get the air conditioning, you’ll want to keep as much of that cold air in the house as possible.
Like a lot of people my kids have helped educate me about energy savings and as a native westerner I have always been conscious of things like saving water. After all we have seen and looked at I would do it all again and pay more for energy savings, I’m just not sure that my desire to save energy will leave me any money to pay the utility bills when they come in.