April 2003 News
Energy conservation makes cents
By Angela Arpke
HOUGHTON -- "Hey, turn off that light … Close that door, let's not heat the whole Copper Country." Sound familiar? If you stop and think about these statements for a moment, you will realize they are all about energy conservation.
On Saturday, April 26, to conclude Michigan Tech's Earth Week activities, the public can visit several Copper Country model energy-efficient homes:
- The award-winning, passive solar, super-insulated home and studio designed by the late Garfield F. (Skip) Kindred, Architect. In the past five years, this 1,920 square-foot house, located in Hancock, has received international recognition as a model of energy efficiency at high latitude. Its 2002 average heating bills were $31/month and electricity bills were also $31/month.
|The Kindred home in Sylvan Estates in Hancock is nationally famous for its energy-efficient, passive solar design. The home, designed by the late architect Skip Kindred, is featured in the Earth Week Tour of Energy-Efficient Homes between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, Apr. 26.
(Photo © 2002 Merle Kindred. Reprinted with permission.)
- The Bach Home and Workshop, Houghton. Dave Bach, of Bach Construction and co-founder of Copper Country Habitat for Humanity in 1994, designed and built this single family home and workshop for himself in 1999. This house is wood frame, two story with direct gain solar-tempered strategy and radiant concrete floor mass consisting of colored concrete, which stores heat from 400 sq. ft. of south-facing windows. Backup heat is hot water radiant floor heating supplied by a gas-fired 40-gallon water heater, which also supplies domestic hot water. Its average monthly heating cost is $30.
- Two homes built by Copper Country Habitat for Humanity (CCHFH) in South Range.
Using plans designed by Kindred and Bach, these homes conform to Habitat specifications of 1,056
sq. ft. for a three-bedroom house. The core plans are modified to suit specific sites and family needs. Houses cost $40,000 for materials and professional labor. Volunteer labor and donated or discounted materials and services help make these houses affordable. Tony and Cindy Itoney and Rich and Sharon Nixon partnered with CCHFH in the summer of 2002. The houses share the basic energy efficient features of the bigger houses: shallow frost-protected footings, 2x6 design, airtight construction, low-e windows, water heater as backup heat, and heat recovery ventilation systems. Winter heating costs for these families used to be $200+ a month. Now the average is $50-60.*
|Volunteers from the United Church of Christ Congregational Church in Amery,
Wis., join Copper Country Habitat for Humanity builders in South
Range in June 2002. The two South Range Habitat homes built last
summer will be featured in the Earth Week Tour of Energy-Efficient Homes between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, Apr. 26.
(Photo © 2002 Merle Kindred. Reprinted with permission.
- Churning Rapids, the Kinzel/Kingsley Home on M-203 near Hancock. Terry Kinzel and Sue Ellen Kingsley have created an alternative energy homestead with a 750
square-foot house, pond, garden, and chickens. This home has a photovoltaic and hydroelectric system and provisions for energy storage and an inverter to allow excess electricity from the hydro and PV to be sold back to the grid. The house is a modified super-insulated design with a slight trade-off in energy efficiency for splendid views from abundant windows. The woodstove uses about two cords of wood a season and a gas boiler unit supplies backup heat. The original homestead was 2.5 acres and additional acreage has been added over the years bringing the entire parcel to approximately 900 acres as part of the Keweenaw Land Trust, which Terry and Sue Ellen helped
If you don't have a home as energy-efficient as these models, how can you bring down the cost of your own energy use?
Conservation of both energy and water is simply the practice of using resources efficiently. However, in the midst of busy lifestyles, our awareness of energy and water conservation may slip from our minds. When individuals, especially those paying the utility bills, remain aware of their resource consumption and practice conservation techniques, financial savings can be realized.
Ok, turning off a light switch saves energy. But how much money does it really save? The cost of electricity is only about $0.06/kWh. Although in one hour the savings of keeping one 60 W bulb off is negligible, the same bulb left on continuously for a year (8760 hours) would cost $31.54. Switching to a 15-watt compact fluorescent light would cost about $4, but would save $23.65 over the same 8760 hours. Still not convinced? Think about how many different energy and water consuming fixtures and appliances you have in your home. Now do the potential savings start to add up?
Want some tips to maximize your savings? Try the following:
- Turn off lights and TV's when they will not be used for more than 15 minutes.
- Run your dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load -- you will save both water and energy!
- Repair leaky faucets and continuously running toilets.
- When your top-loading washer reaches the end of its life, replace it with a front-loading Energy Star model. You will pay more up front, but your clothes will be cleaner, and your savings in energy and water costs will outweigh your initial investment.
- Set your computer power management to turn off monitors when not in use for more than 15 minutes.
Environmental Sustainability Committee member, Kristine Bradof, of the GEM Center for Science and Environmental Outreach
emphasizes, "Contrary to popular belief, screen savers are not energy savers and keep monitors running at nearly full power." Studies by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory state that many people "believe that equipment will last longer if it is never turned off. This incorrect perception is a relic from the days …when hard drives and circuitry were made differently and best left on; this is not true for current equipment."
For questions about MTU's Environmental Sustainability Committee contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions about Energy Management contact Dave Taivalkoski at email@example.com
or visit the MTU Energy Management
* Read more about these Habitat for Humanity homes in Merle Kindred's
June 27, 2002, article, Wisconsin volunteers help build South Range Habitat homes.
** For more information on the Tour of Energy-Efficient homes, from 1
p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Apr. 26, and for more details on these homes, visit the ESC
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