Green House – Solution Fluency

(The following is a project on how I could renovate my house to make it more energy efficient.)

1. DEFINE

My company, Byrne Industries has been hired to work on making the Byrne household (our house) more energy efficient. Our house has 3 floors, 9 rooms a garage and about 40 lights. The following are graphs on our electricity usage.

Some things that will be not possible to make more energy efficient is our tech: phones, TVs, computers. My family uses these a lot so it won’t be possible to save power on using our tech less. Another problem is that we can’t turn the heat down to save money because my brother has 2 pet birds that will freeze if it is too cold. All of these things have to be factored in when thinking about how to save electricity.

2. DISCOVER

There are lots of ways people have learned to save money on electricity over the years. Here are some of the things people do.

Adding insulation to the attic

Adding insulation to your attic seals air leaks and makes it less costly to heat and cool your house. The amount of insulation you need to buy varies depending on the size of your house but this stuff is relatively cheap anyways.

Programmable thermostat 

These programmable thermostats lower the temperature of your house when you are away saving money on heating because you don’t need to heat your house when you aren’t even there. These things cost about $220.

Water pipe insulation

To save on water heating costs many people insulate the first 2 meters of their hot water pipes with foam sleeves or insulating wrap. This saves some of your heat escaping through the pipe.

Master plugs & power bars

These are for powering down your devices when you are not using them with just on flick of the switch. This is important to save energy because even when your devices are not in use they still consume standby power.

3. DREAM

Here are some imaginary solutions to the problem.

What if:

• It was possible to absorb the light that is lost after you turn on a light. Like if you had a super efficient solar panel floor ceiling and walls so where ever the light bounced off of it would generate electricity enough to power the light again. Not perpetual light because that is impossible and not light that gets absorbed right away because then it wouldn’t be able to bounce back into our eyes to see.

• My dog’s pee and poo could be turned into energy. For example he could poo on the ground (Like he always does in the morning) then the floor would absorb it and break down the atoms into oxygen and extra electrons. This would be amazing because there would be A. no poop, B. more oxygen and C. more electricity.

4. DELIVER

Now enough imaginary solutions. What will actually work for our household? I have put together 3 ideas that will save my family money on electricity.

1. Solar panels on the roof

These aren’t a cheap solution but they help save money on your energy bills. These solar panels are installed on your roof and they save money by generating your own electricity. They are also a better alternative to fossil fuels and could qualify you for tax incentives.

Here is a video showing how they work:

Now here is a quote from The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World; “a typical solar panel generates about 400 kWh of electricity per year which, at $0.25/kWh (the average electric rate in California), amounts to $100 of electricity. With 20 solar panels on the roof consumers can reduce their annual electric bill by $2,000. Since each panel costs around $500 to install (including equipment and labor), the payback is only five years.”

This shows that you only need about 5 years in California to get your money back and we get a little less sun so probably only 6-7 years! and In the video it talks about how solar panels last a long time so the money you save will be big.

Pro’s

• Save $2,000 a year.

• A cleaner source of electricity.

• Can qualify for tax incentives.

Con’s

• They are pricey.

• In. places with not much sun their value goes down.

• They take up roof space (this is bad for small houses).

 

2. Storm doors

Since my attic is already nicely insulated we should probably get storm doors to prevent air from seeping in through our doors to save on heating costs.

Storm doors are doors installed outside of your regular doors to better insulate your house, protect your door from the elements and make your house more secure. These doors have have low-emissivity glass or a protective coating and last up to 50 years. Having these doors on your house can help reduce energy loss up to 50% because some doors let out a lot of heat. There is also a lot of options in storm doors to choose from some have full view panels that let you see your entire door while others have a kick plate to protect the bottom section of your door. There are also storm doors that come with grids and dead bolt locks to make you more safe and secure. In warmer weather you can also change out the glass or acrylic part of the door for a mesh net or a solar screen to prevent too much sunlight from coming in.

According to homewyse.com the purchase and installation of a storm door can cost anywhere around $411.68 to $634.80.

Pro’s

• In some cases they can save you up to 50% on your heating bill.

• Your house is slightly more secure.

• In the summer you can change out the glass for a mesh net or a solar screen.

Con’s

• They are a bit pricey.

• If you install them yourself you run the risk of making more heat escape than before.

• You might not be able to find one to mach your tastes in architecture.

3. LEDs

LEDs are the most efficient form of lighting we have. They use 75% less energy than our standard run of the mill incandescent bulbs and last 25 times longer. Here is a chart showing the break down of LED cost.

Now how do LEDs work you might ask? Well they work pretty similar to solar panels. Here is a video explaining it.

Pro’s

• A way more efficient source of light.

• The light is brighter.

• They last way longer.

Con’s

• They are a bit pricey.

• Some people don’t like the slightly bluish colour of them.

What does my family save in the end?

Well if we get the annual cost from the chart at the top $8783.09. Then subtract $2000 from the solar panels, an estimated $100 from the storm doors and $3618 from the LEDs. The annual bill goes from $8783.09 to $3065.09. We save a whooping $5718!!!

Sources

16 Ways to Make Your Home More Energy-Efficient

https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/electricity-infrastructure/about-electricity/7359

 

https://www.renewableenergyworld.com/ugc/articles/2017/02/03/rise-of-personal-solar-power.html

Storm Doors

 

https://www.homewyse.com/services/cost_to_install_storm_door.html

https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/lighting-choices-save-you-money/led-lighting

 

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