Click on the thumbnail version of the graph to see it at full resolution.
Well it has been a year since we began our journey towards a more sustainable suburbia. I wanted to make a summary post about our energy use and review all the things we have done to make our home more eco friendly and report the results for the first full year.
A Brief Recap
Here is a recap of our starting point, in case you don’t want to wade around in previous posts to find out the particulars of our situation. We live in a 2200SF ranch style brick home in St. Louis, Missouri, with a partially finished basement. The house was built in 1972. We added insulation in the attic about 6 or 7 years ago to raise the insulation factor from R11 to R35. The windows are double pane, installed in 1988. Most of our minor appliances had already been replaced in the last several years with energy star models…so there isn’t much room for reduction of energy there. Both our heating and cooling systems were over 20 years old. In the summer the air conditioner could not even keep up with the heat if it was above 92 degrees outside…so the house was warm…in the low 80’s during the summer. In the winter, we kept the house pretty cool…I often wore fingerless gloves in my office, and always wore layers. The gas water heater was over 15 years old and was leaking. My husband and I both work from home, so we use more energy than a couple that works outside the home…we both have offices, computer equipment and many other electrical things that seem to add up a lot on our energy bills.
At the very end of April 2010 we had a 3 ton geothermal heating and cooling system installed to replace the heater, air conditioner and water heater. We had a 4 ton vertical loop system installed in the front yard (3 wells each 200’ deep) We had very good timing because all of the systems needed to be replaced…REALLY needed to be replaced…and all at once. Putting in the geo HVAC system replaced everything at one time. Also, we were able to take advantage of the 30% federal tax credit.
The Payback Period and Savings Estimates
We had priced other high efficiency systems, and came to the conclusion that the ground source geothermal system, after the federal tax credit, would actually only cost about $4000 more than a traditional 95% high efficiency system and new water heater.
My estimates on cost savings were that we would save about $1000 per year in energy costs…making up the difference between the geothermal system and a 95% efficient system in only 4 years.
Did we reach our goals?
After this first year, as you can see from the graphs, I believe we are on target to have reduced our energy use overall by over 50% and have saved a little over $1000 in the first year.
We also made some other energy efficient choices right around the same time, including replacing many of our incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL’s) and a few LED bulbs. In addition, we started turning off our computers at night (well I didn’t do this nearly as much as I should have) and we put a few things on timers to reduce the amount of time we ran them, like the dehumidifier and a fan. These strategies have a smaller impact on our bills, but they do add up.
So after a year I am very happy with our decision to put in the geothermal heat pump. We really feel good about the environmental impact we are making by reducing our household energy use by 50%, and are really happy about the extra money we will have in the bank after a few more years of paying off the system. Yay Sprawlstainable!!!!