Improving Our Energy Efficiency - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

Improving Our Energy Efficiency

Yesterday, we received this tidbit of good news in the mail:

Not that I need the validation, but getting a "Great Job" from my utility company was quite a nice little boost.

J and I can't take all the credit for this (and in fact, I personally cannot take ANY credit for this, as J is the king of the thermostat in our house). Our house is small and pretty efficient, at least on the ground floor.

However, we have made one change between last winter and this one. (Again, I'm using "we" rather loosely here. I had next to nothing to do with it.) (Okay, completely nothing to do with it).

You see, our upper floor was always, in J's words, "wicked hot and cold."

We're not the type to just crank the thermostat to make our bedrooms more comfortable. We looked into adding window A/C units, but we have these tiny little Mr. Magoo windows (seriously, from the outside it looks like our house is squinting), so that was not an option--although adding a space heater might have been the order of the day by the time we reached this winter.

J decided to call in some HVAC professionals to see why it was that our upper floor enjoyed a different climate from the first floor.

Apparently, we had a furnace and A/C more than robust enough to handle a house our size and age. The problem was delivery--the ducting leading to the second floor simply wasn't big enough.

Two separate HVAC guys proposed basically the same impressive solution: Knock holes in our walls and a floor in order to run bigger ducting up to the top floor. In addition, one of the two guys wanted to provide us with a separate thermostat upstairs so we could have extra control.

The estimate for doing the kind of home improvement that makes you wonder if it would make more sense just to move: $10,000.

This is where J swooped in to save the day with engineering skills. I'll let him tell it in his own words: 

"My cheap solution was to have an HVAC guy install a sheet metal scoop at the entrance to our undersized upstairs feeding duct line to force more of the conditioned air upstairs. While I was at it, I had him seal up all the exposed ducting joints throughout the house to cut down on leaks and send more of the conditioned air where we want it to go."

Total bill: $350.

Having a thrifty engineer husband: Priceless


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