Energy Efficiency as a way of Recession Proofing

14 03 2008

We are looking at what can be done in our home to decrease our energy use and as a nice bonus decrease our monthly bills. 

Four months ago I quit my job to be at home with our 8 year old autistic son. Since then I have learned to shop smarter and cheaper while increasing the quality of food we eat. I have also become consumption conscience and am working toward getting rid of the clutter– things we don’t use anymore like old software and “pretties” that have been in boxes for the last three years. A bonus is that selling this stuff on Ebay has paid the mortgage two out of the last four months. Ebay bought all  (yes– all) of our Christmas presents and paid for a lot of our groceries. I’ve begun a recycling program at home and am planning a big garden– the tomato plants are already starting to sprout in the sunroom! My bicycle is going in for a tune up and I’m looking for a big basket to attach to it for running errands. So, it’s only natural that the next step in my transformation is energy efficiency.

Our house was built in the 1930s. It has a lot of charm but doesn’t have a lot of the things that would make it efficient.  When we moved in three years ago we planned to replace windows and update the heating/cooling system (which right now is a 15 year old furnace with radiators and window AC units). So these are things that have needed to be done for a while… we just haven’t made it a priority… (Shame on us!)

Replacing windows and insulating the attic are no brainers– that must be done. What about the dinosaur gas furnace and water heater? I’ve been reading up on tank-less water heaters– they are electric, hard-wired and just heat what water you need when you need to use it so there isn’t any electrical waste. These units run about $200 a piece and require someone who knows what they are doing to install. They are small enough to fit under the kitchen sink. As far as the heating/cooling options– there are minimally invasive installation split unit air conditioner/heaters that run between $500 and $1,000 depending on the size (BTUs) you need. These also have to be professionally installed.

In a rough estimate we’d be able to replace windows, insulate the attic, replace the water heater with three tank-less heaters, and swap out our furnace/ACs for under $10,000. Ok. That’s a lot of money. But the timing is right to pull some money out of the market– I have to do something with the retirement fund from my last job. So, I can reinvest it in a market that is kinda iffy right now or we can use it to decrease our footprint and our monthly bills. I think we’ll probably divided it between the two…

It looks like by making these changes we would recover (in monthly savings) our investment in two and a half to two years. It increases the value of our home– or will when the housing market recovers.

I still have some research to do but we believe that decreasing our monthly bills without incurring debt is a pretty smart move. If we are, in fact, in a recession or heading towards one decreasing our monthly expenses is smart.

Financial pundits are making investment and debt reduction suggestions for recession proofing. Our investments need to stay put. Our debt is limited to our house. So apart from aggressive savings (only where do you put it? Watch CNBC for an hour and you’ll need to take a handful of pain pills…) decreasing our monthly bills seems to make the most sense.

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3 responses

14 03 2008
Nicholas

Great post, and great plan!

There’s another piece of your plan that could help save even more money. A lot of governments offer tax breaks and other incentives to home owners who run energy efficient. I know in the Seattle area, homeowners with solar power not only get tax breaks, but can sell their extra power back to the energy grid. I think it’s worth a look!

Thanks, Nicholas! We’ll certainly check into tax breaks and are looking at solar and thermal power– just not there yet…

15 03 2008
Energy Efficiency as a way of Recession Proofing | christmas presents

[…] Read the rest of this great post here […]

20 05 2009
Poonderge

Wonderful post / Hope to come back soon.

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