The Cost of Energy Savings

This is a guest post from my dad, who posts occasionally (typically when he’s spending a boatload of money on something that he finds annoying). If you want to read other posts from my dad, check here

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.

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.

Sprinkler systems are another thing that we need and low flow, rotating heads cost more than fine mist pop-up heads.  Not bad I think so quote me the rotators.  Well by 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.

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.



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6 thoughts on “The Cost of Energy Savings”

  1. Yeah, it can be a pain trying to update an old home, but in the long haul, it’s always worth the extra work.

  2. Wow, that’s an expensive heating system. Can’t you just go with a portable heater in every room instead? How much less efficient would that be?

    • That’s a great thought joe. The layout of the house is odd, and there’s a few really large rooms where I’m not sure a space heater would be terribly effective, but I’m not sure.

  3. We’re so non-energy efficient! I never upgraded our 41 year old windows. We at least have storm windows so it isn’t quite as bad as just single pane windows. Looking at the cost of replacing all of them versus the energy savings, I can never justify the expense. We only spend around $1,000 on heating and cooling each year, and reducing that by 10% or so by doing the window replacements would never pencil out to our benefit.

    We have done the easy things – weather stripping around doors, and more involved sealing on one door we never use. We use CFLs – they are dirt cheap (under a buck per bulb) and seem to last a loooong time (we probably don’t replace more than 4-5 per year and we have at least 30 CFL’s in the house (that means roughly 6-7 average life cycle per CFL). Even our outside floodlight is CFL. 15 watts versus 150 watts for the halogen I replaced. Just enough light to scare away bad guys and illuminate the entrance when it’s dark. Not too much to piss off the neighbors!

    • Justin
      You have to think of it as an INVESTMENT! We spent 8k on our windows this year, but our heating bills have been soo much lower so far. (our true test will come when the december bill comes, as we will have like 15+ below 0 days).

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