If you’ve read my recent post about the new journey that our family has embarked on, you know that we are in the process of taking a 30 year old manufactured home that is an electricity hog and transforming it to an energy efficient green home.
The purpose of this article is to document our real-life energy conservation case study and show you how we were able to take this old house and convert it into a green home that is very energy efficient. We’re calling this case study the “BooneyLiving Energy Conservation Challenge“.
Unlike most of the articles here at BoonelyLiving.com, this one will be constantly evolving so it will be important for you to check back often. As we make improvements on the energy efficiency of this old house which result in us using less electricity, I’ll pop back into this article and bring you all up to speed on our progress. When we make a particular change to the house, I’ll also write a new article that describes how we actually did what we did so that you can do the same.
Some Basic Information About The House We’re Using For This Case Study
The house is a 1979 double wide manufactured home. The total square footage of the house is 2492 but 500 square feet is an unheated attached workshop. All of the windows are the old drafty single pane type. All of the appliances are electric and fairly new with the exception of the furnace. We have no idea how old it is but it is also electric and it is the forced air type. The only energy saving measures that were in the house when we bought it were compact florescent light bulbs.
We Knew It Would Be Bad But Not This Bad
We bought this house as a project to use for our case study on improving the energy efficiency of an old home and we expected that the first few power bills would be high but when the mailman delivered our most recent bill we were shocked! If you can believe it, the bill was $414.60!!! Can you believe that?
The bad news is that it’s no fun to have to pay a power bill that is over $400. The good news is that this means there are probably a ton of things we can do to lower our costs. This is after all what we were hoping to be able to do with this house. Make the changes and report the results to the readers of BooneyLiving so that they can make similar changes and hopefully experience similar savings to their power bill.
A Look At Our Most Recent Power Bill
We’ve been living off the grid for the past 8 years so as you can imagine, it was quite a shock to us when we saw this bill. If you’ve read my article on how to read an electric meter, you know that the power company bills you for each kilowatt hour that you use. According to our most recent bill, our home consumed 3676 kwh’s of electricity over the last 34 days! That means that we’re currently using an average of 108 kwh’s per day.
Now granted, January is one of the coldest months of the year so we should expect to pay more during this time of year but I think we can bring our daily power usage way down.
To get a jump start on lowering our power bill we’ve recently done the following things:
- We lowered the temperature on the water heater from 160 degrees F to 125.
- We turned off the heated drying setting on the dishwasher.
- My husband crawled under the house and took some time doing repairs to the heating ducts. Click here to learn more: How Duct Sealing Can Reduce Heating and Air Conditioning Costs.
- We thoroughly cleaned out the furnace blower and motor.
- We replaced the furnace filter. You can learn more about this in my article titled: Don’t Forget To Change Your Furnace Filters.
- We lowered the setting on the thermostat to 65 degrees which even feels a bit hot for our comfort level.
- We lowered the temperature setting on the clothes dryer from high to low.
- The pump house for our well had a small electric space heater running in it all the time to prevent the pipes from freezing. We installed a temperature sensing switch that will automatically turn the heater on if the temperature falls to 38 degrees F and off when it gets to 50 degrees F.
- We disconnected the little auxiliary water heater that is under the kitchen sink. The purpose of this appliance was to provide instant hot water for beverages like coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
- We installed window insulation film on our drafty single pane windows. Here’s a link to the article where I explain how to go about doing this project: How To Insulate Windows and Reduce Heating and Cooling Costs.
- We installed weatherstripping around all of our exterior doors. To read more about how to do this, please read: How To Install Door Weatherstripping.
- We installed an efficient EPA certified wood stove. Click here to learn more about this: Why We Chose to Instal An Efficient Wood Stove.
How We’ll Be Measuring Results For Our Case Study
My husband made a spreadsheet to keep track of how many kilowatts we are using each day. We’re manually reading our meter everyday and we’re tracking this data in a spreadsheet that we’ll use to graph the impact the changes we are making are having. In order for this data to be meaningful we’ll need to collect it over a long period of time. If the temperatures next month are warmer than they are this month, it wouldn’t be entirely fair to assume that any decrease in our power consumption was entirely because of the changes we made. It could also be because the outside temperatures were lower which would mean that the furnace wouldn’t be running as much. To make sure that we have meaningful data for our case study, we’ll be tracking our daily power consumption for at least a year.
A Look at Our Results So Far
I’ve been reading our meter every day for just over a month now and you can see by looking at the chart below that we’ve made some remarkable reductions in the amount of electricity that we use each day. It’s worth noting that of all the things we’ve done so far, installing a wood stove and turning that old glutton of an energy user (our electric furnace) off has had the biggest impact. It’s not hard to see what day that happened by looking at the chart below.
Please Join Us In The BooneyLivng Energy Conservation Challenge
The more people we can get to join in on this challenge, the more impact we’ll have on the planet and our dependency on fossil fuels. Click here to learn how you can join me in this challenge and do your part to make the world a greener place for us all to live.