Reducing My Energy Consumption

Reducing My Energy Consumption: My Personal Story

I live in a 20 year old house and for sure the heating system was not very energy efficient. And I knew that I had some serious problems. So rather than wait I decided to investigate what was available BEFORE I had that terrible emergency. And I am glad that I did! I learned a couple of things right away. The first was that most people wait until their system stops working altogether before they call the serviceman. Of course at that point you are at the mercy of the serviceman and whatever equipment is available. The other is that you can pay now or pay later? Well what that means is that if you have an older system that is not very energy efficient, you are paying way too much in your energy consumption per month. And as energy prices increase, it hurts you worse. An energy efficient system will pay for itself in reduced energy consumption. And you will also save as energy prices increase.

Reducing My Energy Consumption: Equipment Prices

Obviously there are many people out there willing to take advantage of you and selling you something that you do not need! As with anything, buyer beware!

My original setup was a gas boiler that was used to heat my domestic hot water, hot water for my heat pump backup, and heat my small shop. So I had a huge water tank that was used to store the domestic hot water. I had it set at 120 degrees to reduce my energy consumption. I was paying a whooping $371.99 per month! (combined propane gas and electric, a 5 year average figure)

I had about 5 different estimates for all kinds of systems. I had one company tell me that I could get a geothermal unit for just a little more that a conventional system because of all the available rebates and tax credits. So my prices ranged from about $8,000 to $30,000. Quite  a range! Well it did not take me long to figure out that the geothermal unit was not for me. It would reduce your energy consumption more than any other, but the tax advantages were not for me. I would not live long enough to write all of that off on my taxes. You have to have a lot of tax liability for that to work. And even though it would reduce energy consumption the most, I still would not live long enough to see the payback.

Reducing My Energy Consumption: I’m From the Government and I am Here to Help You

I live it the first state. Delaware. So I thought that since I was going to reduce my energy consumption, maybe I could get some help from the government. After all I am helping the planet. So we have this great program called Energize Delaware. It is made to reduce energy consumption. So you first have an auditor come to your home and do an energy audit. He makes recommendations, and you get a check from Delaware based on what you do. Sounds easy and I am about to get something for free! NOT!

The very first thing is for me to pick an auditor from the “approved” list. They range in price from free to $450. So I started making phone calls. What a bunch of losers I talked with. I finally found one that sounded smart. And they were doing the audit for FREE! OK, this is looking good. Well when the auditor got here it didn’t take me long to figure out that he had an agenda. And it did not include doing me any favors or getting me into the Energize Delaware program. He wanted to “seal” the leaks in my home at the tune of $4,000. A whole lot of baseless promises on all of this money I would save by reducing my energy consumption. Sorry, I am not buying. I am thinking that I may not live long enough to see that $4,000 save me that much in reduced energy consumption!

And if I was to get a check from the program I had to use an “approved” contractor to install my system. The problem was that the “approved” contractors were twice as much as the one that I used. So a $10,000 system would have been $20,000 and I would have received a check for $4,000 from the program. Ummmmm, not sure if I want to participate. So here I am back at square one and with no help from the government. (I will actually get some tax credits on next years taxes)

Reducing My Energy Consumption: What and Who?

I ended up going with All in the Family Heating and Air. They are a small company right here in Laurel, DE. There are 2 employees who also happen to be the owners, Jere and Hollie Marvel. Down to earth and honest people who tell it like it is. No games, just what is best for the customer! Their shop is right at their house so their overhead is very low. This is how they can afford to do it for less.

Jere recommended a Bryant Evolution series 16.5 seer heat pump. And a pair of Rinnai tankless water heaters for the domestic hot water and the heat pump backup (and to heat my small shop).

The Evolution Series control is amazing. It tells you the inside, outside, and requested temperature all at once. There are many ways to set it to reduce energy consumption. It alerts you if there is a problem, or the unit requires service. And it is very quiet. This was important to my wife as her office is right next to the outdoor unit.

Reducing My Energy Consumption: What Do I Think So Far?

Well, Jere and Hollie have basically the same system that I have. They have 2 teens living at home. I have just my wife and myself. So I suspect that I my energy consumption will be less than theirs. I was getting 4 deliveries of gas a year. They are getting less than one. That should save me around $80 – $90 per month. The bad thing is that with reduced energy consumption, comes higher prices per gallon. Seems like no one wants a customer who doesn’t use much gas!

I have been checking my electric meter for the last 4 days. We have had a couple of nice days and a couple of VERY cold days. So it should be a good indicator.So last March I averaged 90 KWH per day. And for this first check I averaged 56 KWH. WOW! I really think that I am going to like this.

Reducing My Energy Consumption: The Bottom Line

I had saved a little bit of money because I knew that this project needed to happen. I also got a couple of checks from my credit card company offering me interest free money for a year. That came at a good time and I took advantage of it. Thank you Discover! I think that the money I save in reduced energy consumption will cover the payments. So I will definitely see a payback on this project in just a few years.

But there are also other advantages besides reduced energy consumption. I have and endless supply of hotter water that is only made if I “call” for it. The air from this new system feels warmer at the same setting. The new system is quieter than the old. I have a lot of additional storage space in the “boiler room”. Both Rinnais are mounted on the wall so the floor is empty. Used to be a big old boiler and a huge water tank.

My advice to you? If you have an old inefficient system start checking out the new systems that can reduce your energy consumption. And remember what Jere said. “You can pay now, or you can pay later”!


7 Responses to “Reducing My Energy Consumption”
  1. Nice and very inspirational story. In today’s era of global warming, energy consumption is the responsibility of every individual and they should contribute there bit towards it.

  2. Bob says:

    You are right Robert. Thanks.

  3. I admit I am one of those who waits until something breaks before calling a serviceman. I am also aware with the importance of saving energy not only to cut expenses but also to help save our environment. I learned a lot from your very inspiring story. I think I should start having my house checked now but I will take note not to trust everything that an auditor or contractor will say. Thanks for this helpful post. :)

  4. Richard says:

    Thanks for sharing your story and point of view. Before I was not aware of how appliances can affect consumption of electricity. Until I have watched it the television. So what I did was I replaced all incandescent lights to fluorescent and pin lights. I stopped using electric stove, rather I shifted to gas stove. My air-conditioner is now set at 3 hours only. Now I find my consumption more lesser than before.

  5. I think the best thing to do is to create an awareness, specially in the third world countries. The natural resources are getting so much wasted. We should take some responsibility as it is one of the things that really will take collective measures!

    I loved this post and re-tweeted it too.

  6. Excellent post. I think first person accounts are the best way to teach others. I’m in the heating industry and it is hard for people to see past their checkbooks sometimes. As you put it: “You can pay now, or you can pay later”!

  7. gxcollege says:

    this is very informative. I think it is really ideal for us to come up with such an efficient idea to reduce our energy consumption especially today that we’re facing both financial and global crisis. I pay my own bills too and I have to admit that i am also desperate to look for some energy efficient tips like this.
    I actually tried installing translucent roof in our kitchen, hoping that we could save energy and money from it too.
    Anyway, thank you for the tips. ^_^

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