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So you are thinking of introducing some sort of Renewable Alternative Energy into your plans for a more Sustainable Living. Before you try to size your system you must begin with energy efficiency. Just as the government realized it is cheaper to invest in energy efficiency then energy creation, so will you as you run through your project.

More with less is the theme here, but do not think you have to revert back to oil lamps and cooking over campfire. There are lots of energy saving tips to make your home more energy efficient and best of all most governments in North America have millions of dollars in grants to help you reach your goals.  Once you know exactly what you are wasting energy on you will be happy and most likely make it your personal mission to reduce your energy consumption and monthly bill.

Here are a few examples:

  • Swapping out old light bulbs to CF (Compact Flurescent) will reduce energy consumption by 80%
  • Installing on-demand water heaters will reduce hot water energy consumption by approximately 50%
  • Turning down the thermostat and putting a water heater blanket will reduce your energy consumption by approximately 20%
  • Low-Flow shower heads and aerator faucets will reduct water consumption as well as energy consumption used to heat that water
  • Replace old appliances with Energy Efficient appliances
  • Get a leak test done in your house and follow the recommended remediation steps could save you up to 50% of your heating costs
  • Adding Solar Water Heating system can save you approximately 50% of the energy used for heating water
  • Install a home power meter like the cent-a-meter to precisely monitor your energy consumption and take action appropriately like reducing Phantom Electric Loads

These are just some of the examples of what you can do. A quick Google search on home energy efficiencies will give you more information then you can handle and as mentioned above, make some calls into your local and federal/state governements to see what programs they have available for energy efficient retrofits.

These action items can be done over a period of time and most are not that expensive to accomplish. Here is the list of items we've done or are planning to action by the end of the year:

  • Bought bulk CF bulbs on special and replaced in all fixtures. Some local government have give aways for CF bulbs to promote use, so be sure to check that possibility.
  • Installed a water heater blanket and foam insulated all hot water pipes
  • Installed low-flow shower heads
  • After having a Leak Test done, we've replaced all windows and doors. Needed to be done anyways with 25year old wooden frame windows
  • Installed foam gaskets in all electrical outlets to reduce draft
  • Installed child safely plugs in unused electrical outlets to further reduce draft

The Leak Test was an eye opener for us and the follow up report was great. It detailed what action items would give us the biggest bang for our buck, literally. We are expecting a nice grant for our energy efficient upgrades so far. Before we call them back to do a second test and submit our paperwork for the grant, we will also replace the attic door with a new efficient, insulated attic door.

Living on the East Coast of Canada we have long cold winters so every bit insulation and reduced heat loss helps and equates to electricity and dollars saved.  Over the winter we also plan on purchasing and installing the cent-a-meter home metering system.  This will allow us to monitor, identify and reduce energy consumption during the heavy heating season and give us good numbers to work with for planning our hybrid renewable energy system.

That's it for now... Keep it Green ;o)

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