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November 30, 2008


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Great blog and a great post! I'm curious now what an energy audit would find in my place. I don't have an attic, and I do have all new windows (except one) but that idea about sealing up the house and sucking the air out with a big fan makes a lot of sense. I wonder if (not to take business away from Informed Energy Decisions) the person without $750 could do something similar? I have a huge window exhaust fan that I could see doing the same thing. How about this: sealing up my house and running the big window exhaust fan, and going around with a stick of incense to all the windows, doors, cabinets, etc to see where the air is coming in? (bonus: my house would smell good).

Zoe Zolbrod

Angela, have you taken any steps towards dealing with the hole near your dishwasher? We have a similar situation in our kitchen--a cool, cool breeze blowing in all winter long between the sink and the dishwasher--but we don't know how to patch the hole without ripping out cabinets.

Patti Vick

Hi Angela-Great Blog!!
So, how have you noticed a difference in your heating costs this winter? Are your toes cold or warm?
You rock!

Joe Derhake

This is a great story how you can find the low hanging fruit in the world of energy conservation. I bet Aaron and Cheryl's surveys would be of great value in commercial energy audits.

Angela Bowman

In response to Zoe re. the dishwasher; I have yet to close up the wall behind the dishwasher. It was my hope that by sealing off the plumbing chases, i.e. the holes at the top (attic) and bottom (basement) of that wall, it would cut the draft off at the source. I can't say for sure how much of a draft is still coming through.

Eventually I should seal the hole regardless, which is not as difficult in my case because (a) I can pull the dishwasher out and (b) the cabinet next to it is the sink cabinet, which is open to the wall in back anyway.

You might consider looking in the attic and basement and see where the draft is coming from. If you find it, fill it with rockwool or spray foam. More to come on air sealing in a coming post.

Angela Bowman

In response to Joe: Informed Energy does indeed to a lot of commercial energy audits, for which there seems to be a growing market.

Angela Bowman

In response to Patti: my toes are warmer! More on that to come.


Hi Angie - what a beautiful blog! I'm going to send it to my class. We are in the throws of analyzing data from 170 homes in Minneapolis where my tireless and awesome students have surveyed homeowners about what they have done to make their homes more efficient, and why they might care to do so...Once we've figured out the story that the numbers tell I'll post some goodies. Looks like our lives are merging once again.



Thanks for starting nest. It will prove to be interesting. For some reason
one of your posts caused me to look at bit into tankless water heaters vs
tank type. Tankless are the rage now, and like many things that are a rage,
there is sometimes more marketing than science involved.

In floor heating systems are an example. Lots of talk about how they are
more efficient than "normal" heating systems. I read a study (I can't
remember now who published it, but it seemed to be someone neutral) where an
in floor system and forced air system was installed in the same building.
Turned out that the in floor system energy savings was not substantiated.
There are lots of variables, however, so ymmv

I came across this article: http://tinyurl.com/5na8px about tankless vs
tank water heaters. the study was conducted by a manufacturer of both types of water heaters.

Two things stood out: that they are sensitive to hard water. The tankless
mentioned, lost efficiency within two weeks of hard water usage. Water
softeners can be used, but if it breaks down for a week or two and you are
forced to use water unsoftened then you've done damage to the tankless.

The other is that the energy savings with tankless came with infrequent use (eg, a single person, only using water in morning and evening) whereas for larger water usage, ( eg family) it looks like the amount of savings isn't that great, compared to cost of installation. Plus, the tankless are finicky about installation, needing special venting, air intake, gas supply, and location. So if you use water infrequently, and energy is expensive, and have proper location and venting situation, tankless might make sense.
Again, lots of variables.

Cappy Kidd, President Informed Energy Decisions

I want to thank Jeffrey for his contribution to the discussion regarding tank or tankless water heaters. It is true this is an issue we are often asked about.While the performance and maintenance issues will vary depending on manufacturer, There is another part of the equation that should be uppermost in our thinking. When we think of preservation of scarce natural resources, we should draw an = sign between energy and atmosphere and water. Already today not some time in the future close to two billion people are in a water scarcity situation. This is not just limited to the third world, for instance Australia. One thing that studies show is that people with tankless water heaters take longer showers since they don't run out of hot water. There is a wonderful organization called the Alliance for Water Efficiency that focuses on the broad spectrum of water issues. Their website is allianceforwaterefficiency.org


i came across another piece about tankless hot water heaters.

really, i am not campaigning against them. i find the argument interesting, and the pros and cons applicable to other possible strategies that people are apt to employ.

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