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Learning to Conserve Resources and
Manage an Eco-Conscious Life
To purchase a copy of
Ed Begley, Jr’s
Guide to Sustainable Living
visit one of these online retailers:
Barnes & Noble
Foreword by Jay Leno
Section I: Conserve
1 The Green Home Audit
5 Windows & Doors
6 Water Usage
Section II: Produce
7 Solar Power
8 Wind Power
9 Building & Remodeling
10 Garden & Compost
Section III: Manage
11 Heating Your Home
12 Cooling Your Home
13 Heating Water
14 Decorating & Cleaning
15 Babies & Nurseries
I first met Ed Begley, Jr., in 1974. It was at a
But Ed and I also have some things in com-
When we installed 54 kilowatts of solar panels
also turned me on to a lot of this stuff, and Jay
show called “Dean Martin’s Comedy Shop.” We
mon. We both had fathers who would yell “Turn
on the roof to help power the garage, Ed helped
Leno’s Garage is a better, greener, and more ef-
were doing the program together. Ed was doing
that crap off” when we left the lights or the TV
me partner it with a 10-kilowatt wind turbine
ficient place because of it. I’m a great admirer of
this “disappearing man with a necktie” bit. I
set on. Ed reminded me that this was a form of
for additional power.
what Ed’s done over the years and he’s inspired
think he continued to do stand-up comedy for
energy conservation, so I guess my father was
I also enjoyed sharing with Ed all of the
several more years before making the decision
an environmentalist. Who knew? Ed and I both
classic alternative fuel vehicles we have at
to focus on acting.
believe in leaving this planet in no worse shape
Jay Leno’s Garage. We looked at my 1916
than we found it. Ed says to “live simply so that
Owens Magnetic Hybrid, one of the earliest
last year, Ed told me that he struggled a bit to
others can simply live.” I think of it as “do no
gas/electric hybrids designed by Westing-
find acting work in the late 1980s and 1990s.
harm.” Ed’s focus is very much on conservation,
house. We checked out my 1925 Doble steam
One of his agents felt it might have been due to
and I think that’s good for many people. Since
car, which is so efficient that it can still pass
his environmentalist lifestyle. I have to admit,
I’ve been lucky enough to have some success,
California emissions standards today. We even
many of us used to make fun of Ed and call him
I’ve tried to make sure that if I’m going to use
took a ride in my 1909 Baker electric car. This
a wacko back then. Of course, many of those
more electricity than the average guy, then I
country really has a history of doing great
same people have now jumped on the “green”
should be committed to produce that power
things, which I think is why both of us are
Jay Leno’s Garage
bandwagon, as if they’d been doing these
myself in a sustainable way.
hopeful for the future.
During an appearance on The Tonight Show
things all this time too. I give people like
about automobiles and motorcycles. I have a
fairly large garage where I keep cars and work
A lot of the things Ed does in his life really
There’s no question that Ed is a bit of an
As many people know, I’m quite passionate
Ed a tremendous amount of credit—this guy
a lot of deadbeats like me. I hope he can inspire
oddball, as well as a little cheap. But he has
on them. Ed has been over to the garage several
wouldn’t work for me. He lives in a house that
times in the last year or two for visits. The first
is, like, seven square feet—I think it’s a con-
time Ed visited Jay Leno’s Garage, I was a little
verted Fotomat booth or something. He rides
nervous—it was like having your mother-in-law
his bike a lot—I think it takes him twenty-eight
giving your place the white-glove test. But
hours to ride across town to work. He has a
Ed was very encouraging to me as I told him
solar oven in his backyard that he uses to cook
I wanted to make the garage green and get it
food. It’s sort of like frying ants with a magni-
off the power grid. He advised me on utilizing
fying glass. When his family asks “When will
nontoxic cleaning products for the garage and
dinner be ready?” his reply is “Tuesday.”
installing a new high-efficiency water heater.
the last two years of my life have
Now with this new book, Ed Begley, Jr.’s
been unbelievable. I’ve been filled with hope,
Guide to Sustainable Living, I want to really
watching Americans from all walks of life em-
turn on that green GPS unit and take a very
brace the environmental challenges of today
specific look at my entire journey so that I can
with action and optimism. Getting e-mails from
answer all of your great questions.
red-state Republicans that say things like, “I may
not always agree with you politically, Mr. Begley,
as my friend paul connett likes to say,
but where do I get one of those barrels to catch
there are two kinds of thinkers today: back-end
rainwater?” makes me realize that this is a chal-
thinkers and f ront-end thinkers. Imagine your
lenge we all understand and want to overcome.
bathtub faucet is stuck and water is pouring
Although I think many people give me way
onto the floor. B
ack-end thinkers start to bail
too much credit, if the example I’ve set in my
water using a cup. When they find the cup is
life has been the inspiration for some people to
too small, they switch to a bucket. When they
make positive changes in their homes and busi-
find the bucket still isn’t keeping up, they bring
nesses, then I’m eternally grateful.
in a pump to bail the water. When that’s not
In my first book, Living Like Ed, I tried to summarize my thirty-nine-year eco-journey and all of
Answering all of your
questions about making
your home—and your
enough, they bring in an even larger pump in an
attempt to keep up.
the things I had done in various areas of my life—
The front-end thinker, on the other hand,
including my home, my transportation choices, my
turns off the tap to the bathtub, and then be-
efforts to recycle and save energy, and much more.
gins the process of cleanup. In this book, I’ve
Since that book came out, I’ve received
tried to take a f ront-end thinker approach to
incredible feedback from people all over the
going green. If you make the right decisions
country, including an avalanche of advanced
and do things in the proper order, you can put
questions on various green subjects. People
money in your pocket, reduce waste and pol-
are hungry for answers, and I feel that since I
lution in the city where you live, reduce our
started this green journey for my readers, I’d
overall dependency on Mideast oil, and lead a
better join them on the ride.
healthier and more t oxin-free life. And who isn’t
If the first book was a map, I tried to give
for all of those things?
everyone the correct ZIP code for Ecotopia. We
Please join me on this journey to make your
even visited some of my favorite points of inter-
home—and your lifestyle—greener and health-
est along the way.
ier and better overall in so many ways.
i know, for a lot of folks, it’s really tempting
to go straight to the shiny, sexy stuff, like installing solar
panels or a whole-house fan or geothermal heating and
cooling. But before you mount solar panels on your roof,
before you invest in a residential wind turbine, before you
buy new windows, before you install more insulation—in
fact, before you spend a dime on changes to your home and
your lifestyle—you’ll want to have someone perform a green
energy audit on your home.
This audit will identify the areas where you can conserve energy,
where you can become more efficient. This type of audit will establish a
baseline: It’ll give a snapshot of where you are right now. I promise you,
the time and money you invest in an energy audit will pay off several
In order to take your level of green up a notch, first you want to conserve. Establish a baseline, see the challenges you face with your home,
and see where you can improve the situation. Then go from your baseline
to a lower energy-usage position before you do anything else. First you
want to work to get your use of electricity down to the lowest possible
level. Only then can you start to think about creating your own electricity
Measuring Your Carbon Footprint
on-site. Otherwise, you’re just going to be overproducing electricity, and
that’s wasteful in many, many ways.
Let’s begin with some ways to establish that all-important baseline.
Different Types of
Tap into Free Resources First
When you look at the different levels of green
home audits, the first two typically are free—at
The best way to figure out your home’s energy
no cost to you, the consumer. So start with the
performance is to perform a green home energy
free options and consider the results.
audit. This term is used a lot these days. Some
A great example of a free audit is on the
people call it a green home audit. Some call it
Energy Star website (see Resources, page 340).
an energy audit, but the terms are not always
In the website’s section on home improve-
used to describe the same types of activities.
ment, you’ll find the interactive Energy Star
Actually, there’re all different kinds of green
Home Energy Yardstick. You’ll need to have
home audits and energy audits. Some audits
your last twelve months of utility bills (or ask
look at your electricity use. Some look at your
your utility company or companies to get you
natural gas use. Some look at your water
a twelve-month summary). Plus, you’ll have to
use. Some look at all of the above. Some also
enter some basic information about your house,
consider your recycling habits and your waste
including the following:
management. And some go so far as to consider
your overall carbon footprint.
For simplicity’s sake, we can break down the
offerings into three levels of green home audits.
From the most basic to the most detailed and
involved, you can
1. use an online resource to get a general
idea of your home’s energy use
2. contact your local utility company for
an audit, which is often free
3. get a professional green audit, in
which a company sends representatives to your home to evaluate your
energy usage, water usage, and more
Another really valuable type of home audit is
a green home health issues audit. Many profes-
• your ZIP code
• your home’s age
• its square footage
• the number of occupants
The site will tell you how your home’s energy
efficiency compares with similar homes across
the country, and it provides recommendations
for energy-saving home improvements.
If you want more detail, another great free
resource online is ENERGY Guide (see Resources, page 340). Check that site to see if
your electric or gas company offers a “personalized energy center.” Many utilities from all
across the United States are included. Once
you choose the link for your utility, you can get
some pretty helpful information.
sional energy auditors will address potential
health threats from your home during their
the green home audit
Utility Company Audits
people about our rebate programs at the time,
easy online tools. When you’re ready to inves-
The site then gives you a LILI—that is, a
Another option for a free audit is to contact
if we feel that they’re appropriate. We have
tigate even further, there’s one other great and
Low Impact Living Index number. This score
your local utility company directly and see if
rebates for attic insulation, w
still free tool: the most in-depth free resource
lets you know how you compare with other
it offers h
ome-inspection-type audits for its
refrigerator purchase and recycling, LCD moni-
I’ve run across, which is on Low Impact Living’s
homes in your area, and it reflects not just your
customers. Many utility companies will do this
tors, and recently added solar attic fans, ceiling
carbon footprint but your entire environmental
to help you conserve energy and to help you
fans, and the new energy-efficient pool pumps.”
better understand your utility bills, too.
So before you have someone visit your house,
I highly recommend using this site’s free
To encourage customers to get these free
this number is, the better.
Naturally, these types of audits focus
audits and take steps to conserve energy use,
household impact calculator (see Resources,
specifically on the service provided by the
some utility company auditors also give home
page 340). It covers all the environmental
garding how to lower your Low Impact Living
particular utility company. So if the utility
owners compact fluorescent lightbulbs and
impacts for your household—carbon emissions,
Index number. Some of the relatively simple
provides both natural gas and electricity, the
other useful items to help them save energy—
energy usage, water usage, trash production,
suggestions include, for instance,
audit will cover both.
all part of the package.
water runoff on your property, and even more.
These audits can be very helpful. For ex-
A free audit may not be the most in-depth
To get you thinking about things you might
ample, Silicon Valley Power (see Resources,
energy audit available, but it’s obviously well
want to change, the calculator asks some really
page 340) in Santa Clara, California, will send
worth sixty minutes of your time.
valuable questions about:
a specialist to customers’ homes for free. The
q the age of your heating and cooling
audit is quick and painless. It takes just an
Household Impact Calculator
hour or less. The specialist will walk through
Free utility company energy audits are re-
your home and evaluate your refrigerator (or
ally useful, and so are some of the quick and
q how often you use your air-
refrigerators), your dishwasher, your washer
q how many loads of laundry you do each
and dryer, and your lighting. The specialist also
will ask questions about your energy habits,
q how many times you run the dish-
how many people live in your home, and other
The site then provides many suggestions re-
• installing l ow-flow showerheads
• installing ultraefficient toilets
• installing a h
• replacing your incandescent lightbulbs
• increasing ceiling insulation
• planting shade trees
• reducing the temperature setting on
your water heater
• buying carbon offsets for airplane travel
Alongside each suggestion, you’ll find a
number indicating how much the change will
q how many refrigerators you have, how
lower your LILI score. I find this to be a really
The specialist will come armed with copies
old they are, and how large they are
helpful resource. It goes into considerably more
of two years’ worth of your utility bills. They’re
q how many of your lightbulbs are com-
detail than the other free resources I’ve found.
looking for any trends in usage, including
pact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs)
seasonal shifts with your winter heating and
q your recycling habits
A Professional Green Home Audit
q information about your yard
Once you’ve taken advantage of all the free
q how many vehicles you have, including
resources and you’ve gotten a general idea of
“The auditor usually will give recommendations for ways to save energy right at the
their year, make, model, and annual
your home’s energy consumption, the next step
audit,” says Leslie Mackenzie of Silicon Valley
is to hire a professional to visit your home to
Power. And it includes information on ways to
q how many short, medium, and long
save money when you invest in newer, more
airplane flights you take each year
perform a thorough green audit. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting an
expert to come out and do a home energy audit.
efficient appliances and other items. “We talk to
footprint. The average score is 100. The lower
the green home audit
Before you get too concerned about the money
without it. This infrared gun is a heat-sensing
camera, basically. It will tell you where your
you’ll spend with this audit, think of it as an in-
home is losing heat in the wintertime and
vestment, rather than a cost. If your electricity
where it’s letting in heat in the summer.
and gas bills combined come to more than $100
The prices for these services range from
each month, having a professional perform an
$100 or $200 for a basic audit to $1,500 or
energy audit will pay for itself in a very short
more, depending on the size of your house
time—maybe even within the first year.
Remember all the benefits this audit will
and the size of your property. Naturally,
property and do a detailed evaluation.
• They look at your overall carbon
• And then they play “what if ” using
sophisticated computer models, so
they can tell how much of a difference
give you—beyond the financial. You may be
it will make in your house—on your
quarter-acre of land will cost a lot less than
able to improve your health and the health of
energy bills—if you make a particular
an audit of a 6,000-square-foot home on fifteen
your family by performing a green audit. If you
were able to reduce allergies and reduce other
health issues, how much would that be worth
to you? It’s invaluable, isn’t it?
price. And speaking of analysis, some compa-
They also bring in high-tech equipment to
detect leaks or to find places where the insu-
nies will give you your audit results and also
lation may have settled in your walls, if the
take the next step: analyzing what various
indicators point to that type of a problem, and
changes will cost and how much money you’ll
finally they provide a useful report to you.
save as a result. This cost/benefit analysis is
incredibly valuable, since it basically provides
a road map for you to follow as you make the
Before the people at Low Impact Living
types of changes that will help you conserve
So what do you get when you pay a green home
perform an audit, they have the homeowner
field, and different companies within this field
energy and water and make your home even
auditor to work for you? If you’ve been watching
fill out a questionnaire and provide his or her
do things differently. Some will mostly look at
my TV show, Living with Ed, you’ve seen Jason
utility bills. “The utility bills are really criti-
Performing green home audits is a pretty new
Pelletier and Jessica Jensen, the folks from Low
cal,” says Jason. “By looking at all the bills over
Impact Living, in action.When Low Impact Liv-
the course of a year, you can really understand
blower door testers—to figure out how well your
Finding a Company to
Perform an Audit
ing performs an audit, the team members leave
what the drivers of energy or water use are.
home is sealed and insulated. Some will look at
It’s not difficult to find a company that per-
no part of your home unexamined:
Is it irrigation? Is it heating? Is it cooling? Is
your appliances and your lighting, both indoors
forms green audits or energy audits (you can
and out. Some will look at your water usage and
do a Google search).
your heating and cooling systems. Some will
bring out some fancy equipment—duct testers,
your carbon footprint as a whole.
• They look at energy and water and
Low Impact Living, which is based in the
utilities and recycling.
“So before we even go into somebody’s home,
from the questionnaire we’ve done and look-
Los Angeles area, has associates all around
• They look at indoor air quality.
ing at the utility bills, we have some sense for
make sure these folks have, and that’s an
the country, and if you visit their website (see
• They look at your behavior and how it
where we need to really focus our time. That
infrared gun that can measure heat. If your
Resources, page 340), you can search for repu-
home auditor doesn’t have an infrared gun, tell
table, highly skilled individuals in the energy
them thanks, but the audit isn’t worth a penny
audit realm near you.
There’s one specific tool that you want to
• They go through your home and your
an audit of a 1,200-square-foot home on a
The extent of the analysis also affects the
Duct-pressure testing can show if there are any leaky
ducts in your home.
• They look over your utility bills.
affects the overall picture at your home.
• They even look at your transportation
being said, we don’t ignore any part of the
home, but this information gives us a way to
prioritize what we’re doing.”
the green home audit
The In-Home Evaluation
furnace, your air conditioner, your water
After the prep work, Low Impact Living sends
heater, and all of your appliances, including
your property and sketch that out, too. In other
A green consultant can visit you and give you
a team into your home to do an evaluation,
the pool and spa, if you have those. They look
words, when it rains, where does the water
a basic audit for maybe $100 to $175 an hour.
which usually takes three or four hours. You
at the lighting in your house—not only the
that falls on your yard and your roof go? They’ll
This should include an instant evaluation of
should always be home while they’re perform-
bulbs and the type and the size, but also the
map out your downspouts and they’ll try to
where the obvious issues are. What Low Impact
ing the audit, because questions about your
controls, whether you have things on timers or
understand, based on the elevation of your
Living does next is what I think makes their
lifestyle—which rooms you use, what tempera-
property—hills, low areas, and so on—if the
audits especially valuable. They use their own
water is running off into a natural area where
computer models to analyze your home, your
ture you set your thermostat at, even which
They’ll ask you questions, again, about your
window coverings you open and close each
habits and activities. How often do you use
it will sink in or it is going straight out to the
habits, and your current spending, and then
day—are critical to their evaluation. So they’ll
these appliances? Does your air-conditioning
street or storm drain.
they make specific recommendations, letting
walk through the house and through your front
run all day and all night? When do you do
and backyards with you, asking questions and
laundry? They’ll look at other electrical devices,
sort of irrigation system. You’ve got sprin-
like TVs and computers and stereos.
klers or you’ve got a drip watering system
A home auditor takes measurements, inside
and out. They sketch out a floor plan, how big
If you’re like most people, you have some
All of this information is gathered to
you know how much the changes will cost and
how much you can expect to save as a result.
For example, they will try to figure out how
or some combination of the two. The auditor
much energy and water your house uses, what
evaluate the energy part of the assessment.
will spend some time evaluating the system
its carbon footprint is, and so on. They plug all
your rooms are, where the windows are, and
This gives the auditor raw data needed to
and asking you, again, about your behavior.
that information into the computer, and then
how big they are. They sketch out the landscap-
calculate your energy use and to do some
Do you take out the hose and hand water? Do
they can start playing with “what if ” scenarios.
ing. How much is hardscaping (stone or con-
modeling to see what changes will have the
you have everything set on timers? If not, how
crete or even gravel areas), how much is lawn,
most profound effect. This information also
long do you run each set of sprinklers and
how much is trees and shrubbery. They draw
helps to assess your overall carbon footprint,
this all out on a map of your property.
which is part of the total environmental
The next step is to look at the building
envelope. “We look at the windows and how
The auditor also will look at all your household products, primarily your cleaning products
and any hazardous waste storage area. They
But the audit doesn’t end there. The next
• What would happen if you swapped
out all of your old appliances for new
Energy Star appliances?
• What would happen if you were to
install new insulation?
they’re constructed and built,” says Jason. “We
step is to look at your water usage, both in-
look into your recycling habits and your waste
look at the insulation levels. And in insulation,
doors and out. Inside your house, they’re going
production and waste management.
we look at the attic. We look at the walls. We
to be looking at flow rates, and they’re also
look at the subfloor, either above the basement
looking for leaks in toilets and drips in sinks—
you if there are any particular interior design
or underneath the crawlspace. And then we
things like that. After all, fixing a leak is some
or remodeling tips that you’re looking for or if
look at whether the pipes and the ducts are
of that easy, low-hanging fruit that you want to
you have any other concerns. This is the time
insulated. We also try to do a sort of qualita-
pick first—some of the no-brainer stuff you can
to mention that you’ve been wanting to change
change would be from an environmental
tive assessment of the ceilings, windows, doors,
do to reduce your use of water.
your windows, or to ask about solar attic fans
perspective, and they also look at the financial
versus attic vents, and so on. It pays to put
implications. How much would it cost and how
at the type of landscaping you have, you’ll find
together a list of questions before the auditor
much would it save?
out if you have drought-tolerant plants or not
comes, and you can always add to it as you
and if they are native plants or not.
walk through the property with your auditor.
ducts, wiring, and plumbing fixtures and the
After that, they go through all the different
systems in your house. They look at your
A respectable auditor will look at runoff on
Finally, before the auditor leaves, he will ask
When the auditor moves outside and looks
• What would happen if you installed
• What would happen if you added solar
panels to your roof ?
They look at what the benefits of each
Low Impact Living has many separate
computer models. They have models to consider
the green home audit
heating and cooling and refrigerators and dish-
These changes are cheap and easy to make.
your electric bill and check. Did it really save
washers. They have models for renewable energy
In fact, these are the same kinds of things that
say you follow one recommendation that a
you 50 k
ilowatt-hours? It did! That sort of posi-
options, like solar electricity and wind power. It’s
I talked about in my first book, Living Like Ed.
company like Low Impact Living says should
tive feedback will encourage you to take the
pretty amazing, sophisticated stuff.
We’ll look at many of these changes in the next
save you 50 kilowatt-hours of electricity each
next step and the next and the next to make
couple of chapters.
month. After some time has passed, get out
your home even more energy efficient.
Once they’ve done all of this analysis, they
produce a report and they sit down with the
Once you’ve taken care of the low-hanging
client and explain the report. They’ll even help
fruit—once you’ve made all the really easy
pick specific products and services, so if, for
changes—then you can move up the ladder
example, new windows are called for, you know
from there, if you will, and do some of the
just what kind to shop for.
medium-ticket changes, then, finally, you
This home audit first shows you how to
conserve energy and conserve water, then, if
appropriate, it explains how you could produce
Sample Costs and Paybacks:
Green Home Audit
can plan and save to make the big-ticket
For instance, in the middle range, you might
The type of green home audit that I had was very thorough and it cost $1,000. That’s a
power. The auditor will even do the same type
consider getting a new, energy-efficient dish-
of analysis that a solar installer would do to
washer and installing an energy-saving, pro-
tell you exactly what size solar or wind system
grammable thermostat. You could add window
you can change in your particular home that will cost only a few dollars but that will
you would need, and how much that would cost,
treatments like blinds that will help block the
produce real energy savings. Some of these changes will even be free, if you can adjust
as well as what rebates you’re entitled to.
hot summer sun and reduce cooling needs.
your lifestyle ever so slightly—say, if you can get in the habit of opening and closing your
big chunk of money, but I guarantee you it was money well spent.
A good green home audit will help you find that low-hanging fruit: the specific things
Then you might start saving money for
drapes or blinds each day, or if you can get in the habit of turning off unused electronic
bigger-ticket changes, such as adding insulation
Easy Changes and
devices, or if you can stop overwatering your yard.
in your attic and your walls and under your
So, yes, you may spend a thousand dollars to get this good advice, but depending on
home, getting an energy-efficient refrigerator,
your lifestyle and your particular home, you could save hundreds of dollars each year by
or installing new dual-or t riple-pane windows.
making a few small changes. So your payback could be within a couple years, easily.
But even beyond that, a good green home audit will help you prioritize bigger changes
Whether you choose a sophisticated analysis
The goal of having a green audit performed is
so you spend your money wisely. Maybe you think your windows are allowing a lot of
like the ones performed by Low Impact Living
so you can first identify the areas where you
heat to escape in the wintertime, but a green home audit could reveal that the problem is
or you do something more basic to start with,
need to conserve. Sure, your ultimate goal may
actually a lack of insulation in your walls. Once you know that, you won’t spend thou-
almost every green home audit is going to turn
be to produce all of your own power on-site. But
sands of dollars on new windows and be disappointed in your lack of energy savings.
up some of the same simple changes you can
first you need to reduce your power needs. By
make, which are the first steps most people
making all—or even most—of the changes rec-
will affect your home’s energy efficiency the most. It should even show you how much
are going to want to attempt. We’re talking
ommended from a green home audit, you may
those changes will cost, so you can start saving to make b
about things like choosing compact fluorescent
be able to cut your electricity use by as much
And you can relax, knowing that the changes you make will make a real difference to the
lightbulbs, changing air filters, taking shorter
as 50 percent.
environment, to your wallet, and to your quality of life.
showers, and turning off the tap while you’re
brushing your teeth.
also as a way to measure your progress. Let’s
A good green home audit absolutely will help you identify the specific changes that
The great thing about an in-depth green
home audit is you can use it as a roadmap and
the green home audit
Ed’s Green Home
REAS also came back another
time and did a whole different
test on my house. This was
a blower door test. Basically,
Please don’t think I’m telling you to go out and pay someone to do a green home
they put a large fan on my front
energy audit on your house when I wouldn’t do the same thing myself. I’ve been
door and blew a lot of air into
a believer in these audits from the first time I heard about them. But it was my
the house. Then they were able
first experience with one that took things to a whole other level.
to go around the house, using
As you probably already know, I’ve been going down this e
a pressure gauge, to identify
since 1970. I’ve done a lot of work to my 1936 ranch house since I bought it back
where air was leaking out.
in 1988. I’m very much aware of the value of things like insulation and compact
They could identify where seals
fluorescent lightbulbs and programmable thermostats. But having a green home
were bad, where caulking was
energy audit was an eye-opener, even for me. I had the folks from REAS Inc.
needed, where I needed new
(see Resources, page 340) perform an audit at my house. And they brought that
weather stripping. They even
all-important infrared gun.
went under the house into the
Caulking your windows is an easy first step to
insulating your home.
Since it was wintertime, they turned the thermostat way up for thirty minutes
to get the house really hot. Then they went around the house with the infrared
That two-part green home
camera. They were looking for cold spots, which showed up as dark areas on
energy audit added quite a few things to my t o-do list. REAS helped me create a
plan for additional attic and wall insulation. The people who installed the insu-
In the summertime, they look for hot spots, which appear light on the camera.
lation for me came back and filled in all those nooks and crannies that needed
This way they can see where the heat is and where it is not.
yet more insulation. And I sealed up all the leaks REAS found. I also put in more
To my surprise, there were many places around my house where we needed
window and door weather stripping. And I even sealed the crawl space under
to fill in insulation. Even though I had recently added more insulation to my
my house (for more on that see Chapter 4).
home, they found several areas—many, many areas—where heat was escaping
Then I had REAS come back and perform these same two tests again, to be
from the house in the wintertime, and where heat could enter the house in
sure I had completely solved all those problems, and found all those places
where energy was leaking right out of my house and money was leaking right
So the infrared gun is a great way to start to determine where your home needs
out of my wallet. And you know what? My energy usage and energy bills are
more insulation, since it will identify right away some of the most offensive
now the lowest they’ve been since the late 1980s!
spots. An infrared sensing device is essential to find where your insulation is and
where it is not.
To purchase a copy of
Ed Begley, Jr’s
Guide to Sustainable Living
visit one of these online retailers:
Barnes & Noble
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