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Old 08-06-2010, 07:19 AM
 
Location: Richardson, TX
8,721 posts, read 12,816,067 times
Reputation: 3784

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Dallas got a shout out on another list.

American Cities Get Smart about Energy | Smarter Cities
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Old 08-06-2010, 07:58 AM
 
1,282 posts, read 3,293,099 times
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Old 08-06-2010, 07:58 AM
 
Location: Lake Highlands (Dallas)
2,394 posts, read 8,114,698 times
Reputation: 1037
It is nice that the City of Dallas has had a pretty strong focus on lowering greenhouse emissions. More importantly, the Dallas model has focused on the financial benefit of such decisions. There is a misconception out there that green has to cost more. While that is true in some cases, it is not in many more.

We have made many investments in our home to increase energy efficiency and/or our comfort level. Most of these have saved us money. Here are some of the bigger changes we maded:

- Air sealing: air leakage is probably one of the biggest issues in all but the newest homes. We had quite a few old can lights in the ceiling. The problem with many, MANY can lights is that they are classified as "non-IC rated", meaning they cannot be in contact with insulation (fire hazzard) and that they are actually vented... meaning there is a hole in your ceiling that allows the heat from the bulb to escape into your attic. Guess what that also allows? In the winter, you're heated indoor air rises... right out those holes. We changed about 8 cans out for IC-Rated (sealed) and air-tite rated (gaskets to ensure a tight seal to the attic drywall) new cans for about $20 each (granted, I did it DIY).
- Insulation: having a 1970's vintage home, it had a sprinkling of insulation in the attic. For $1200, we added about 12" of insulation through the entire attic, after we had replaced the old can lights. The benefit of these two modifications? 30% lower heating bills in the winter. Estimated payback time: 2 years.
- Air Conditioning: our AC unit was 18 years old. We replaced it with a 16-SEER (higher = better) dual-speed AC unit (low and high, runs in low most of the time so it does a better job of removing humidity from the home and in high only when it's really hot out [>90]). Cost: $6600 installed. Estimated payback time: 6 years.
- Windows: we've replaced 2/3 of our windows. Window replacements, in general, will not really pay for themselves. We did it for other reasons - aesthetics and it makes the inside of our home MUCH quieter. We're saving to replace the rest of the windows. Plus, it will increase the resale value of the home... so if you live in the home 5-10 years, you will probably get your money back through energy savings + increased home value... but that's not why we did this upgrade.
- Tankless Hot Water heater: I'm personally not convinced these units save a ton of money. But they do save a ton of space. We moved ours from a closet inside the home to the other side of the closet wall into the garage. The gain? An entire closet without sacrificing a lot of space in the garage. We use the snot out of that extra storage space! It holds all our pet stuff - carriers, food, extra litter, etc, etc... and we put a hole through the wall and trimmed it out so the cats can go into the closet to use the litter box so it's no longer in plain site! That's worth it's weight in gold.

That covers the biggies. We live very comfortably, without having to make huge lifestyle changes like some misconceptions would imply. And our bills? We just received our July electricity bill - and even though we pay a bit more for "100% wind" energy, we used 1544 KwH and paid $188. Not bad for an almost 2600 sq ft 1970's vintage home! When LED lights eventually make it into the prime-time, we're planning to replace some lights in our breakfast, living and bedrooms that are on dimmers (because CFL dimmables just don't cut it), we will be able to lower that usage by about 80-100KwH per month, again by applying the right technology instead of lifestyle changes.

Wow... I wrote a freaking book. Anyhow, hope this data is useful in helping someone evaluate upgrades to their home, because we love our low bills that will continue to pay us back year after year.

Brian
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:13 AM
 
Location: Richardson, TX
8,721 posts, read 12,816,067 times
Reputation: 3784
I am really impressed how much improved the output of LED lights have gotten. I have an ARC Halide HID bike light. These typically cost anywhere from $400 - $500, including battery pack either NiMH or Lithium Ion. THese lights are similar to the bluish white lights seen on high end luxury car models. LEDs are now just as bright and batteries last a lot longer with less output. However, the are not necessarily cheaper.
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Old 08-06-2010, 12:10 PM
 
Location: Lake Highlands (Dallas)
2,394 posts, read 8,114,698 times
Reputation: 1037
Yup, LED lighting still needs some time to mature and come down in pricing, but I think we''ll get to a point that it will be appealing to the mass markets in the 2012-2013 time frame. If I could get a 1,000 lumen, dimmable LED for $50 - that's the point I think people will start to adopt the technology. Considering the VERY long life of LED, a general purpose 1K lumen bulb would certainly work in the heavy use areas like living rooms and kitchens.

Brian
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Old 08-06-2010, 02:50 PM
 
Location: San Diego since 1997
126 posts, read 324,041 times
Reputation: 68
Thank you for posting this PanTerra, how cool! I'm impressed Dallas!
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