The basics: First, how much energy leaks through your home's insulation and window and door seals. Second, the efficiencies of your main heating and cooling appliances, your furnace and air conditioner.My motivation for writing about these topics is the sense that people don't think beyond the off-the-shelf solutions. The farthest anybody seems to go is to hire an insulation crew. If this series of posts was about eating, what if you had every meal at a restaurant? I feel like I'm pointing out that there's food that literally GROWS ON TREES, and it's not full of SALT AND FAT, and it's even good for the PLANET. I'm stretching the metaphor - but I'm sure there are loads of little things we can do to reduce our use without sacrificing any comfort or convenience.
Occupant comfort: Heating or cooling small parts of the home to allow you to spend less energy on the rest. Sweaters; cieling fans; warm floors.
The System: in an engineering sense; you draw a dotted line around the house and account for all energy going in or out. Establishing a thermodynamics basis for where the energy goes while it's inside the house.
Utilizing waste heat: the energy in your hot water heater flue, furnace flue, and dryer flue; in the hot water down the drain at your shower, dishwasher, and laundry. How much energy is it compared to your insulation losses?
Electrical heating, intentional and unintentional: Lights; power leakage from appliances, wallwart AC adapters, etc. Note that this heating is helpful in the winter but counterproductive in the summer!
Ways of collecting the energy available to you: solar heat energy on your roof and driveway; wind; maybe even the potential energy of rain going downhill.
Alternative cooling: Evaporative cooling ("swamp cooler") when temperature is high and humidity is low; geothermal.
Your home's context: how lousy municipal power plant efficiencies are; waste heat utilization through campus combined power/heat systems.
Residential energy efficiency: Topics
As I become inspired to do so, I'll be "running the numbers" on various aspects of residential energy efficiency. Here's a list of some of the topics I have in mind. Comments may spur me on, so speak up. For starters, check out the Department of Energy's excellent "Your Home" site.