Blogs > Tom Miller > October 2011

It’s been a lousy summer for plants, but a good one for energy efficiency and indoor comfort

Indiana can get pretty hot and humid in the summer, but usually gets enough rain to keep residential lawns and gardens (and farmers’ crops) healthy and adequately watered. Except the last two summers.

The city of Indianapolis consumes around 160 million gallons of water per day three season of the year: winter, spring and fall. In the summer months, the city consumes more than 300 million gallons of treated, potable water, almost doubling consumption. The majority of this water goes into irrigating lawns and gardens.

Because of the efforts we’ve made with hardscape, native ground cover, native trees and bushes, and minimizing the amount of land covered in grass, our home got through more than two months of no rain without watering and without losing a plant to the drought.

I know drought stresses plants and trees, and that it may make them more susceptible to disease or the ravages of a harsh winter. But over the last six years of monitoring we have only lost a few small plants that didn’t get enough water when they were first planted (lesson learned). And the grass greened up with the first good rain shower in September.

On the energy and indoor comfort front, the news is equally good. Eighteen months into our geothermal system we’re noticing dramatically improved indoor comfort. The temperature stays very constant throughout the home, and once we balanced the humidity to the season, we eliminated the moisture build-up on the windows. Plus, there is noticeably less dust, and no one has suffered from allergies, cold or flu.

The dramatic decrease in natural gas consumption (from an average of 183 Therms/month to just 22 Therms/month) is the good news. On the electricity side, we are averaging 3,000 KWh/month vs. 2,550 before.

By converting Therms into KWh, (1 Therm= 29.3 KWh) we have saved over 52,000 KWh. I think we can reduce the electricity by more closely monitoring the geothermal system in the winter months to reduce use of back-up electricity. We continued to add insulation, and are looking into additional electrical power reductions by converting more lighting to LEDs and replacing some older appliances.

Seeing the savings in water and energy consumption is a great incentive to continue making our home more efficient.

Posted: 10/26/2011 7:21:14 PM by Heather Wallace | with 0 comments

About Me

Tom Miller is not a building scientist, green guru or even a halfway decent DIYer. However, he is passionate about making a difference, ecologically speaking.

The purpose of Tom’s blog is to share experiences and observations from a homeowner’s perspective in the hopes that it will help building professionals spot unmet needs and dramatically increase the velocity of green building adoption across the country.




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