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The Home Energy Diet: How to Save Money by Making Your House Energy-Smart (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) Paperback – May 1, 2005
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With rising energy costs, homeowners are beginning to examine the energy efficiency of their own homes, asking questions that range from where energy comes from and how much it costs, to how to choose new appliances and what options exist for renewable energy?
The Home Energy Diet answers all these questions and more, while helping readers take control of their personal energy use and costs so they can save money, live more comfortably, and help the environment. Energy auditor Paul Scheckel first explores energy literacy, and then describes how your home uses-and loses-energy you pay for via:
- Hot water
- Heating and air conditioning, and
- Windows, walls and insulation.
The Home Energy Diet involves readers in learning about their own homes by measuring, metering, investigating, and considering habits related to household energy use, then learning how to quantify energy consumption and cost, and to make informed decisions about cost-effective improvements and upgrades. The book explores the misunderstood concept of efficiency versus cost by comparing fuel costs and equipment choices, including the possibility of using renewable energy for meeting home energy needs. This authoritative guide makes efficiency fun through personal anecdotes and humorous "tales-from-the-basement" energy misadventures.
Since energy efficiency is an investment that offers returns greater than Wall Street, readers can earn several hundred dollars every year just by following the advice in this book. As a bonus, many of the energy-saving strategies described can make for improved indoor air quality and healthier, more comfortable homes.
Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series(2004-12-01)
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The book surprised me when I first started reading it. I expected another "easy reader" on the subject. I was pleasantly surprised to find detailed explanations on why things should be done, situations where a particular improvement may not be the best, and how to approach the many different systems in a house - air heating and cooling, envelope, insulation, water heating, ventilation, etc. It was also refreshing to find different ways of examining the same system - for example, amount of fuel used for different heating systems, amount of heat generated for a particular type of fuel, and all the relationships between them.
As you start reading, you will find a lot of sidebars and short stories to highlight the discussion in the chapter. One thing I found slightly annoying is the number of Math Boxes that interrupt the flow of the book early on. These are sidebars that present sample calculations for the various topics, e.g. efficiency, fuel used for different heating systems, etc. I'd prefer the Math Boxes to be contained in an appendix with references in the main body of the book, but that's just me. Other readers may not find this annoying, and it's certainly not enough for me to reduce my rating of the book.
I highly recommend this book if you are serious about exploring ways to improve your house's efficiency. It's not an "easy reader", but it's well worth the time to read through it.
On the first page, this sentence immediately caught my attention: "I will not ask you to sit alone, shivering in the dark as some readers may remember being asked to do so during the 'energy crisis' of the 1970s." I was just a kid back then and I remember that fear-based misperception for energy conservation to this day!
The author advocates a logical 'Triple A' method that generalizes well:
- Awareness: Learn about the ways your home uses and loses energy.
- Assessment: Evaluate your home's energy requirements.
- Action: Choose effective solutions to reduce energy costs and implement.
The book makes an important distinction between energy efficiency and conservation. Efficiency is taking advantage of reduced-energy technologies to do more or the same with less cost. Conservation is simply using less (e.g., turning off the light) which also reduces costs. Minimizing overall energy costs requires a combination of efficiency and conservation.
For the action step, keep in mind that return on investment (ROI) should constrain what to install, what to replace, or what habit to change to reduce energy consumption. The question to ask is: What is the expected payback time from reduced energy consumption to recover the cost of this energy-saving investment? The shorter the time, the better. For me, less than a year is desired. I don't want to wait twenty years to break even.
Chapter 1 provides an overview of energy literacy: Measurement of energy, sources for energy, and major areas of energy consumption. It is an essential chapter on energy basics. Each of the other chapters cover specific topics: Electricity, Appliances, Hot Water, Heating/Air Conditioning, Envelope (heat loss: air movement, walls, windows, foundation, and attic) and Buying New Appliances. The appendices show how to calculate your energy consumption profile, greenhouse gas profile, and home heat load.
There are two types of text boxes included throughout each chapter: Math, Diet. Math boxes provide supplemental mathematics for many of the concepts. Diet boxes provide a list of key techniques to reduce energy costs. Nice addition to the overall book content.
And finally ... There should be a chapter on the futility of energy conservation with teenagers in the home. It is not their fault. They just unknowingly consume every available BTU and KWH within reach.
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