Renovation 2007: No solar panels either

I have researched and thought about the whole solar panel thing and my roof is so small and does not have a full days’ sun that the amount of power I would produce would be minimal. Part of me is thinking I could produce more power with a bike generator. Now if I were in Florida, I might be able to do something, but no. I have a small rowhouse, in the middle of a long row, in Washington, DC, with little roof space.
I would probably do more by cutting down on my energy use than trying to up my energy production. It reminds me of personal finance advice where it doesn’t matter if your income doubles if your spending outpaces it. Same goes a bit for energy use. The goal will be to reduce my energy consumption. Maybe I’ll look into small solar things. I don’t want to be a pioneer in this arena. It would be nice to talk to someone with the same square footage and with similar conditions, who has lived with the solar (panels/ water heater) for a while.
Last weekend I had a quick chat with someone from an eco design firm and it was mentioned that more can be done with just replacing energy inefficient things in the house. The example given was a homeowner wanted new insulation which would save something like (I forgot the exact number given) 10-30%, yet just replacing the old furnace would save 60%.
I’ll keep y’all informed about any energy efficient/ eco-friendly stuff I find.

4 thoughts on “Renovation 2007: No solar panels either”

  1. What is your attic space like? Do you have access to the attic?

    I think many of the energy efficiency issues with these old houses stem from the attic. They tend to be improperly ventilated, under-insulated, and generally too small to provide a sufficient buffer between the interior ceilings and the blazing heat on the roof.

  2. Sometime this week or next, when I can get it confirmed with the contractor, I will finally have access to my attic/crawlspace. I have no idea what the situation is up there. I gather there is absolutely no insulation up there. After that I’m going to put a bunch of holes in my walls so I can get a structual engineer to take a look at my houses bones, so I know my options.

  3. Improving insulation in and around windows and doors (and as mentioned above, in the attic) can make a big difference. Also, an old water heater can be an energy hog. You can also replace light bulbs with compact floursescent bulbs. I know this all sounds suspiciously obsessive-compulsive, but a lot of little energy leaks really do add up to one big leak.

  4. Well insulating the house is one of the un-sexy things I’m doing with the house. Not only for energy eff. but also to cut down on noise.
    I do have several compact florecent bulbs in the house. They work well and I have had little need to replace them. The lights for the front and back porch are florecent lights.
    I’m really interested in the tankless water heaters. I have witnessed their power while staying in Britain. One of the natives had one in the kitchen and it served the needs of his two flatmates and 4 (including me) American visitors.

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