A resource for becoming self-sufficient by making homes work better.
Building, Contracting, Rehabbing, DIY
I became a licensed general contractor in 1982 so have been around long enough to make my share of mistakes, learn from them and begin to understand what durable construction is. This is a skill-set I bring to tax deed properties and it's a good match because these properties often have been neglected for years.
Through the articles, references, and videos you will find help with the many projects that needy houses give you.
Info From Larry Kinney
Windows and Window Treatment
Windows are wonderful devices—they enable us to see outside of our homes, provide natural light, and may be opened to provide ventilation. But windows—particularly inefficient ones—are effectively holes in the insulated envelope through which a great deal of energy can flow. This tends to make energy meters run faster, ultimately resulting in higher utility bills.
Duct Systems in Southwestern Homes
Ducts move air back and forth between air handlers and conditioned spaces in buildings. If they, and the HVAC system and building shell of which they are an integral part, are designed and adjusted properly, ducts can do a credible job of maintaining comfort in most spaces during most of the year somewhat efficiently.
Lighting Systems in Southwestern Homes
Everyone knows that a candle puts out a lot more heat than light, but that is also the case for Edison's wonderful invention, the incandescent light. Large wattage incandescents may produce 16 or 17 lm/W, but smaller ones—like those in refrigerators—only 11 lm/W or so.
Residential Energy Auditing Techniques
Many things affecting energy performance can go wrong in homes and apartments. An energy audit aims at identifying the factors that may contribute to energy waste and comfort problems.
Auditing Procedures and Tools to Extend Vision
In the field, the energy auditing process makes use of a number of diagnostic tools to extend vision and aid in quantifying flow under a number of conditions, some of which the energy auditor creates himself.
The Craft of Energy Auditing Illustrated: The Boulder Pottery Lab
Refrigerator Replacement in the Weatherization Program: Putting a Chill on Energy Waste
Over the past decade, many refrigerator manufacturers have improved the energy efficiency of their products by a factor of three or more. Refrigerators manufactured after 1990 present lower peak loads to the grid and have much higher power factors than those manufactured in previous decades.
Using the sun's lumens directly to supply interior light began before recorded history. However, Edison's invention made it easy to ignore the usefulness of natural light, with the consequence that these days many buildings are built which use much more electric energy than they should, both for lighting and for cooling. Electric lighting has at least three disadvantages vis-a-vis well designed daylighting systems.
Presentation at National Indian Gaming Association (2005)
Resources for Renovated and New Dwellings with Integrated Systems
Homes should be beautiful and functional, inside and out; after all, people live in them!
Assessing The Integrity Of Electrical Wiring
Dense-pack cellulose insulation is a very useful and cost-effective technique for lowering both conductive and convective heat losses in a variety of housing types. In row homes, for example, GRASP in Philadelphia has found dense-pack cellulose to be very effective in treating attic bypasses that can be reached only by a hose.
Measuring the Energy Performance of Appliances
As energy costs increase, it is useful to know how much appliances consume in deciding to adjust or replace them to save energy. Savings follows waste, so measuring the extent of waste is a wise first step in conserving energy.
Snug House Sustainability
How do these homes work? They are coupled to the earth--and decoupled from the earth around them. They are super insulated with cellulose or fiberglass, sometimes both.
Info From Steve Baer
Meanwhile Back in the Jungle
One hundred and thirty years ago we discovered photovoltaics, electricity from sunshine, and in the last decades have advanced the manufacturing of clean, odorless, silent, ageless panels. Conversion of the sun is at least ten times as efficient as photosynthesis, a panel casting the same shadow as a man produces more power.
The Electric Leaf
One hundred years ago photovoltaics were a curiosity, 30 years ago a specialty energy source for space satellites, remote telecommunications sites and irrigation pumps for dope growers. Today the panels are common inexpensive and made by the millions. The electric leaf's arrival is more than noteworthy, it will prove cataclysmic for it promises to change the world.
Star in a Bottle
Ignorance has delayed an inevitable change in financial hierarchies. Modern life has depended on fossil fuels, engines, power plants, immense transmission lines and equipment to use fuel and power.
Who are we, what are we doing? Today science, technology and industry determine everything. Man's drama continues with questions neither he nor his computers can answer.
We must conserve energy, slow the creation of green house gasses, avoid economic collapse as fossil fuels run out. We hear this all the time. What if some took it seriously? What if honesty prevailed in the solar energy field? Let us imagine Sunmen doing their sun work.
The Clothesline Paradox
A few years ago Peter Van Dresser mentioned the Clothesline Paradox.
Solar Energy advocates are continuously humiliated by being show "energy Pies". Slices are assigned to coal, gas, oil, hydroelectric and even nuclear, but solar energy is evidently too small to appear.
Now we have passed very peculiar laws, we are desperate to change ourselves into a new kind of sustainable society. The laws forget everything we have done for thousands of years. By law we are to be “all electric.
Beyond Petroleum, Beyond Money
In one second our moon, 2,159 miles in diameter, intercepts as much energy from the sun as two million barrels of oil. All the oil pumped from every oil well in the world could not light the moon for even one minute a night.
Solar Powered Walking
The battle between fossil fuels and solar energy takes place on many fronts. Some are in the news, others are forgotten or have never been recognized as parts of the energy competition. It is a sad fact that people don’t recognize that they are solar powered, fueled by sun grown crops.
A New Flat Earth
The machine has never enjoyed such an advantage as now that it can run on solar energy. After successfully procuring huge subsidies, it proclaims its new diet so loudly the public mistakenly thinks solar energy is advancing while really it is the owners of the solar scented machine going forward and our uses of solar energy going backwards.
There is an unspoken rule in modern times that interferes with every discussion of solar energy. The rule is to not count any energy that is traditional, not count age old methods that support life, however well they work.
Can we agree that optimism is positive while pessimism is not? The answer “yes” leads to a dilemma which has bothered me for years. It has to do with progress, science, technology and how we use the sun. We don’t look evenly at our uses of the sun.
Clotheslines and the DOE
We need clotheslines more than solar power plants. They are cheaper and really do what the power plants claim – use the sun in place of polluting fossil fuels. The Department of Energy, which did not exist before 1977 acts to abandon and neglect cost effective, traditional uses of the sun.
Infrastructure and Proactive
I did not hear these two words until middle age. I am suspicious of new words for old things. Might this be a trick?
We would know better how to deal with solar energy if it were deep in the ground and had to be mined or pumped. Our tycoons could get it out even if it were deeper than coal or oil. The fossil fuel culture would produce the machines, the pipelines and the personnel to get it.
Something puzzling is behind the clamor for green energy. It is powered by politics and subsidies not thirst for natural energy. No one notices the beautiful, cost- effective traditional use of the sun, given up as we subsidize the generation of solar electricity and wind power.
In a recent Scientific American there is a picture of a Neanderthal man; huge head and features, very hairy and pictured with a sea shell on a cord around his neck.
The article judges him to be one of the early humans because he had the shell around his neck. So, how does that make him human?