Saturday, June 30, 2012

June flowers and new lighting

The end of June is a nice time in the garden: planting is done, harvesting has yet to kick into high gear and the perennials are flowering.

While the yard takes care of itself for a few weeks, we finished a long-term inside project around energy efficiency. A couple of years ago, some structural problems (ack!) meant we had the old house dozed and a new house build. Our new place is an ICF house by Effect Home Builders, which means it is a mix of foam and cement to the ceiling with extra insulation, triple-paned windows, energy efficient appliances, etc. It is a lovely home.

After years of living in a 1948 bungalow, a warm house with grounded plugs has been a treat. One of lingering to-do's was to address our electricity use. While we designed the floor plan to take advantage of natural light and solar gain in the winter, there are still a lot of lights and working at home means they are on more than in most people's houses. We initially fiddled with CFL bulbs and joined Bullfrog Power, but we've mulled solar power a couple of times.

The cost of solar has come way down in the past five years (about 50%) and we recently had an energy audit done by Dandelion Renewables with an eye to having solar installed. Alas, the shading on our house makes that unworkable. If the garage finally collapses, the roof of a rebuilt garage would be the place to out a solar system but our pocketbook hopes for a few more years from our 1952 garage (it is sinking to the north slowly).

The upside of the energy audit was that Dandelion identified a couple of easy places where we could reduce our consumption. After some mulling, we also decided to replace the 18 light bulbs we use the most with LED, and displace the CFL bulbs from these fixtures to replace the remaining incandescent bulbs.

The next gain is pretty large, even over the CFLs and, with the awesome prices Dandelion got on the LEDs (by shortening the supply chain) we should have full pay pack in two years--less, if the price of power jumps jumps this summer projected. Also the light itself is incredible. It reminds me of the WKRP episode where Johnny Fever takes off his sunglasses and then says "I can see!".

With that work finished, this weekend will include baking some Christmas cake, preserving some more herbs (the basil is going great guns) and freezing some rhubarb.

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