OK, this is my first-ever blog post, so I might as well admit my biases right up front. I spent 15 years with Johnson & Dix selling heating oil and propane in the Upper Valley. Great company, talented crew, but no way around the fact that our customers were spending a fortune heating their homes with fossil fuels.
Petroleum should only be used as a transportation fuel. That's where it does the most good, and where efficient alternatives really haven't gained any penetration yet (especially in trucking/commercial vehicles). So I am a big advocate for anything that can offer cost effective alternatives to heating our homes through a long New England Winter. Conservation, cordwood, pellet stoves, solar thermal, fancy thermostats, the whole gamut - that will be the focus of this weekly column.
So here's my first recommendation - get a home energy audit, and do it in the Winter so the cameras can pinpoint thermal losses and show you were best to spend your time (and money) better insulating your home. We can debate the relative merits of solar/biomass/geothermal/wind until we're blue in the face, but the simple fact is that Conservation Trumps them All.
So start with plugging the holes in your home. Get a grip on the fact that saving energy (and money) isn't as sexy and clever as the media would lead you to believe; it's mostly about wielding a caulk gun, laying out rolls of insulation, and even stapling plastic or laying bales of hay around the foundation of your home. Common sense stuff, and the dividends are immediate.
If you light a couple candles at the dinner table on a Winter night and the wax spills off to one side and splatters all over your table, you've got fugitive air leaking into your home. Once you've got the candles burning straight up in the air, then you can start plotting your next energy-saving investment
More on that next week!