Survinging the Heat

Posted: July 29, 2012 in Being Green

In addition to keeping the various fleet of cars going and maintained I’ve also been trying to keep the garden and trees in my yard alive as we’ve had 100+ degree days with very little rain.  I’ve been using my 12×12 canopy I use for the track and putting it over my garden to give it shade during the day and having the sprinkler on occasionally.  The tree I recently planted next to it won’t provide filtered shade yet for several years.  Also with 4 rain barrels (2 with 50 gallons and 2 with 20 gallons) we’ve been able to water for weeks but they eventually run out as well.  Our tomatoes and peppers have been doing very well as I’ve got mulch in the garden to keep the soil cool and moist and have been watering every morning and night.

In order to keep our electricity bills down over the past couple of years we’ve phased out every incandescent light (you can get Pharox LED bulbs for $5 on sale from time to time).  Since these 150+ light designs use a substantial amount of energy to make light by heating up a piece of tungsten to over a thousand degrees and the upper part of the light bult can reach 350 it’s like using a small oven to light your house (in the summer it creates more heat for your a/c system to condition).  There’s a reason those little easy back ovens kids played with used them as their heating element.  Where we had flood lights / recessed lighting we went with CFL par 30 bulbs as LEDs are just too expensive (cheapest are still $30+)  and when our basement has over 40 of these – that is a lot of dough to pay (found CFL bulk packs which comes out to ~ 4 per bulb).

Our most recent electricity bill was just over $250 which is pretty good considering the weather and with about 4,000 sq that’s a lot of air to condition.  Last year we replaced our cheap builders grade heat pump with a Lennox signature series SEER 17 heat pump (much more efficient).  Our heat pump is also on the south side of the house and used to bake in the sun – which made it work harder so we planted a couple trees close to it to shade it during the day (cool shade over a heat pump is supposed to make it 10-20% more efficient).  We also only keep one zone on upstairs at a comfortable 72 degrees using ceiling fans to create a nice light breeze.  Cool air is more dense so falls down whereas warmer air which its molecules vibrate more making it less dense rises.   We do the reverse in the winter.  Also check your air filter at least once every 3 months as when it runs more often it needs to be replaced sooner.

The next modification we plan on doing is the Nest Thermostat that you can control with the iPad via WiFi (those cost $500 a pop so it will be later this winter when we do this – and we have 2 zones so need 2 of them).

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