Follow our instructional videos Green Your Home and $AVE GREEN with efficiency!
Part I - Green Your Home and $ave Green
Low or No Cost Measures To Do Today! Choose more efficient options for daily activities. Seal the energy leaks around your home and in your home's thermal envelope.
Part 2 - Slightly Bigger Investments, WAY Bigger Savings
Our professional energy audit, a comparison of insulation materials, and the insulation installation process.
Energy Efficiency at the Dream Farm
A high reflectivity roof reflects heat in the summer, and our half-buried lower level stays near 50°F all year keeping the whole house more temperate.
Sixteen inches of cellulose insulation (R-49) in the attic keeps our living space comfy. Cellulose insulation is a renewable resource, it is made with recycled newspaper and low toxicity borax for pest resistance.
3.4 inches of polyurethane foam, sprayed on exposed cinder block and in wall bond areas, provide insulation rating of R-19.
Replacing all our incandescent bulbs with LED lighting saves us up to 90% on lighting costs. LED bulbs also add less heat to our home during the summer, reducing our cooling bill.
Our Sunrise Windows boast excellent thermal properties, with nano-coatings that reflect infra-red radiation, keeping heat out during the summer and keeping heat in during the winter.
Our high efficiency hot water heater supplements our solar thermal hot water system. We also cover it with a thermal blanket for extra savings.
Keep your fridge full to prevent warm air entry! Our high efficency fridge uses less than 1 kWh per day (our old fridge used 2.75 kWh/day) saving us over $100 annually. Your utility may actually PAY YOU to take away your old fridge.
Using an outlet strip with switch to turn off power eliminates "phantom loads" - devices that suck power all day long even when not being used.
Five Steps to Energy Efficiency
Get an energy audit.
Though there are certainly a great deal of improvements you can do on your own (see the link for "Efficiency First" above), a professional energy auditor will use a blower door, infra-red thermography, and other observations data from your home to determine how you can most effectively spend your energy efficiency dollars.
Plug the leaks in your home's envelope, and insulate your attic and walls.
The EPA estimates that properly insulating and sealing the outer envelope of your home can save 5-50% of your energy bill. Sealing air leaks with foam or caulk, or even just stuffing plastic bags from the grocery store in gaps and around utility entrances and other openings can save you big buck$! Why not do it now?
Upgrade and/or eliminate large energy wasting appliances.
Most people assume behaviors like turning off the lights make the biggest difference in energy savings, but the truth is, getting more efficient appliances, heating and air conditioning beats any efficient behaviors hands down.
Our old refrigerator was using 2.75 kWh per day. Our new fridge uses less than 1 kWh per day, saving us over $70 yearly. Save even more by unplugging or recycling a second fridge or freezer!
Change out incandescent lights to LED's.
Making this switch will save you $50 in electrical costs (over the life of the bulb) for each bulb you buy! Light Emitting Diode bulbs are inexpensive to buy, are often dimmable.
Strive for Energy Consciousness.
There are plenty of other fun things you can do to save energy and money. Here's some that we've done, which of course include the above.
Efficiency at the Dream Farm
In many ways, our home is a very typical American home. We have all the modern conveniences including washer/dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, toaster, microwave, three computers, vacuum cleaner, water softener, well pump, electric space heaters, lighting in all ten rooms, a radon exhaust fan that's constantly running, and lots more.
According to the Energy Information Administration, in 2008 the average household in the U.S. used over 30 kWh per day of electrical energy. Our home uses only 9 kWh/day (not including our electric vehicle which uses 5 kWh/day)
Thus, efficiency saves us 21 kWh/day compared to the national average, whereas our photovoltaic array only generates 15 kWh/day. So in this way, we have saved more from efficiency measures than we have generated using renewables.
Efficiency is the cheapest, easiest, and most important way to reduce your emissions. Efficiency is generally better for the environment than buying renewable energy systems (which take energy to manufacture and install!)
A kWh saved is truly a kWh earned.
Electric Use Data Before/After Efficiency Measures
Daily Electric Energy Use at the Dream Farm by Year
Before Efficiency Measures
Year Daily Use
2002 12.32 kWh
2003 13.57 kWh
After Efficiency Measures
Year Daily Use
2004 10.15 kWh
2005 10.80 kWh
We averaged a 19% reduction in energy costs after efficiency measures.
Electric Car - 2019 Chevrolet Bolt
We drive very efficiently, and lately have been averaging 4.2 miles per kWh, with only about 10% expressway driving. Most drivers would get around 3.9 miles per kWh with the 2019 Chevy Bolt proper tire inflation.