Homeowners Energy Workbook 2

As I was looking for a way to learn how to cut my energy bills, one particular book pushed me over the top: The Homeowner’s

The Book That Started It All

Energy Guide, How to beat the heating game by John A. Murphy.  The cover is a bit excessive, shrieking about, “Slash your heating bill . . . .”, “Block cold air . . . .”, “Save $100 by spending $5.00”, “Check 83 points . . . .”  But it has a regular picture of a house beside an infrared picture of the same house, showing the heat loss.  Now this was published in 1976!  I didn’t know it then but, infrared cameras were few and far between in those days.  They weighed a ton and had to use special cooling systems.  That was truly magic.

But I was sold.  I studied the book and thought to myself, “I can do this.  This is really cool.”  And here I am, a lot older, having spent thirty-five plus years working on this stuff.  Trying to add to Mr. Murphy’s writing.  I’m not sure if I should be grateful for getting started down this path or something else.  If nothing else, I have learned that there are ups and downs in just about any endeavor.

So let’s say that you are sitting in your own house while you are reading this.  You see walls, windows, ceilings, floors, doors and a bunch of furniture.  Maybe you hear street sounds outside or birds.  How is that sound getting through all that structure?  Maybe you have the window open.  Are you on the first floor?  Is the air coming in or going out?  Is the air conditioning running even though it’s December?  Is the air coming out of the grilles cold?  How cold?  Or maybe it’s winter and there is snow on the ground outside and it’s March.  Are you sitting there wearing short sleeves?  Do you feel a draft?  Maybe you should close the window!

I regard working on a house a bit like a story line from Crime Scene Investigators.  You have to start with the basics, but then you can unravel the details, and drill down to what is really going on.

This series of blogs  is designed to help you start keeping some records because although human beings are pretty impatient, a lot of the stuff that takes place in a house takes place over a long period of time and is certainly not instantly obvious.  Much of this stuff we know either intuitively or by experience.  We know that hot food will get colder if you let it sit there on your plate.  Your mother probably told you that even though you probably knew it.  We know that if we use a dry towel when we come out of the shower that the towel is going to get wet.  We know that if we pop an inflated balloon that all the air or helium inside is going to rush out.  In all of that we are experiencing the second law of thermodynamics: fluids and gases move from areas of higher concentration to areas of lower concentration.  Hot moves to cold.  Wet moves to dry.  Higher pressure moves to low pressure.  One of the things I find so intriguing about academics is that they always have to have names for things- like “pluperfect subjunctive” or “preposition” or “thermodynamics”.  I mean we just use the stuff and experience the stuff and live with it every day.  We don’t need no stinkin’ labels!

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