Sunday, March 7, 2010

Greening Oakland Homes

Yesterday in Montclair was the first of a series of info fairs to help educate Oaklanders about making their homes more energy and water efficient. It was put on by Greening Oakland Homes, an out shoot of the Montclair Community Action Group.

Exhibitors included:

greening Oakland homes fair

The fair was aimed at average homeowners here in Oakland, informing them of the range of products and services available. Besides a small exhibit floor, several of the exhibitors spoke on different subjects. Levi Blankenship of Building Solutions talked about what's involved in a home energy audit, and what's commonly recommended to improve things. I've been following green building for 5+ years as part of the work for the addition I built and remodel, the main focus of my other blog, DIY Insanity. But I learned some things, too, like that on average, there's 30% leakage from forced-air HVAC ducts in Bay Area homes, even some with relatively new HVAC systems. If the ducts are in a crawlspace or attic like most, that means almost a third of the energy is wasted.

One of the main take-aways is that it pays to look at the process in 3 stages: better sealing of the building and ducts, then correctly sizing HVAC and appliances, and then consider things like solar panels. Photovoltaic solar panels may be a lot sexier than sealing your HVAC ducts and adding insulation, but they cost a lot more, too. In terms of comfort, overall efficiency, and payback of your investment, it makes sense to make your building more efficient before trying to power it with solar.

The next fair is tentatively scheduled to be part of the Temescal Street Fair in June. If you're a homeowner, or just interested in how to make homes more energy and water efficient, it's worth checking out.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

There's a good graphic explaining the order to approach efficiency over at Jetson Green.