Wednesday, November 11, 2015

October 2015 Energy Usage - Still Good

I know I haven't been posting here much lately. I am still in crafty mode. That will change substantially after Christmas. I've got to get a new kitchen done in Kathy's house, then it's time to work on new kitchen at my house as well. Both kitchens will be gutted to the studs because I want to insulate and air seal the outside walls better. One rate limiting step is that my brother will be making the cabinets. The good news about that is that I will get really nice custom cabinets for a very low price (in my house the only cost will be materials and the cost of John's co-worker, Mike). The bad news is that he has to make them on his weekends off which takes a LONG time. It's ok though, because I'm not speedy about the stuff I do either. Several of my little cardboard Halloween houses took a month to do.

Ok, so here is the excellent report on my October energy use from Duke Energy.

Ok, remember my sister and brother-in-law moved out at the very end of September last year so this graph shows my energy usage with only me (and my animals - 6 cats, 1 dog) in the house. I put a continuous layer of insulation in my attic that adds up to about R-20. I also air sealed fairly well up there. That's the only change from last October. 

The insulation at this time only goes between the attic joists so I do have thermal bridging from wood joists. The plan is to add a substantial amount of cellulose on top of the current batt insulation when I beef up some of the roof framing. I don't know when that will happen, but I plan to have it done well before next summer. 

I am often amused at the suggestions Duke Energy lists to make your house more efficient. Usually I've done these suggestions long ago as in choosing an Energy Star washing machine.

I don't consider this month's recommendation for spray foam insulation amusing, however. I also don't understand the current fascination with spray foam as insulation as noted in this month's report. It has so many significant drawbacks that I would never consider it as an insulation material. 

The serious disadvantages are:
1. Cost - very expensive insulation
2. Flammable - it's highly flammable (
reaching flashover conditions in 44 SECONDS as opposed to cellulose which did not reach flashover conditions after 15 minutes.
3. Oil product - it's made from oil rather than some much more environmentally friendly material such as cellulose
4. High Global Warming Potential - known as GWP. That means that the gases it gives off as it cures contribute to global warming far more than regular carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels
5. If not installed properly at the right concentration and temperature, it can give off aggravating fumes that can make a home if not unlivable, certainly very unpleasant. 

Here are some articles about spray foam insulation and why to avoid it.

2. National Fire Protection Association Testing of Various Types of Insulation in Wall Assemblies - NFPA286 2006 testing You tube video

3. 475 High Performance Building Supply has several articles on avoid foam insulation and why it is important to do so. 

4. Green Building Advisor article on lawsuits against spray foam manufacturers

There are multiple questions on the Green Building Advisor website from consumers who ask what to do about the problems they have had with spray foam insulation.

Well, that's it for today. I will continue to post on this blog, just not so much during craft season (where I post mostly on my other blog -

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

August 2015 Energy Reports

I haven't been doing much stuff on my house because I am still building my little cardboard houses for the Head Start Fundraiser.

I do have my most recent energy report from Duke Power for August 2015. And John brought me his report as well. It's kind of interesting the comparison because we use almost exactly the same amount of energy. I'll talk about that in a minute.

This is my report for August. Still doing very well. We are still very much in hot summer mode, still requiring air conditioning frequently. I am very interested to see what will happen in the winter with my improved insulation though I have probably 2 months before I will use any heat.

The chart shows things better than the graphic above. You can see that I am WAY down from last August but there were 3 people living here at that time.

Ok, so here is John's report from his new highly insulated house. My house is about 2000 sq ft and I think his is about 1300 sq ft.

So why did he use almost exactly the same amount of electricity as me? Well, he keeps 3 TVs plugged in while I have none. My computer and router are on power strips that are turned off when I am not using them. But most importantly, he keeps his house at about 65 degrees all summer where I pretty much only use the AC at night to sleep and I turn it down to 74. When I am cooking I may turn on the AC for a little while, mostly to combat humidity.

Ok, so here is John's energy chart for the past year.

John did not move into his house until the middle of September 2014. We were over there a lot in August and September painting, doing the floors, but no one was actually living there so that explains why his energy usage is higher for this August and September. John asked me why his electricity usage was higher than the energy efficient homes in January through March. It took me a second to figure it out - his all electric house is being compared to NON-ELECTRIC homes for heating. We'll have to call Duke Energy and get him in the right category.

That's it for now. I finish my fundraising project in early October, then it is back to air sealing and insulating more on my house.

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New blog - With Glue and Glitter

I finally decided that trying to have crafts and energy efficient posts on the same blog just doesn't work very well. I feel like my serious intent to work of energy efficiency is diminished somewhat when I post the crafts I like to make. And then the crafts that are really a lot of work seem trivial on this site. So I started a new blog for the crafty stuff - With Glue and Glitter. I think this will help me write better for each site and be less disconcerting for the you, the reader.

No posts yet on the craft site, but I will put some in the next 2-3 days.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Latest Cardboard House Finished

I know this blog is kind of schizophrenic -s ometimes heavy into energy efficiency and other times heavy duty crafting. That's just a reflection of what interests me at the moment.

My little cardboard houses are basically an artistic form of recycling that I continue to have a lot of fun with.

Here is the final product of probably a month's worth of serious crafting - the Black Hat Inn - FINISHED (except maybe a pennant or a bat or a skull at the top of the Black Hat Inn sign).

I worked really hard to come up with a way to support the spinning witches. You have to spin them with your finger, but the movement is still pretty cool. I also worked hard to make the sign curved. The spooky tree is a die cut that has been glittered with glow-in-the-dark glitter. I made the cauldron out of polymer clay. The brooms are toothpicks and unraveled sisal rope. The ghost doorman holds the sign "Welcome to the Black Hat Inn". I found the font online - it's called Lumos, similar to a Harry Potter font. Everything except the brooms are glued down. I may leave them free so people can pick them up.

Close-up of the spinning witches and the Black Hat Inn sign.

Better view of the base of the Inn.

So now I have 19 houses done for the Head Start School fundraiser. I was hoping for 50 by October 1st, but I keep getting caught up in artistic expression (which isn't likely to translate into increased donations) and that slows me down. I am having fun building these houses though. I hope at least some of you enjoy looking at them.