It’s said that the greenest building is the one that’s already built, because so much energy is embodied in the existing structure.
With greater public awareness of the need for energy independence, the issue of how we can make our existing homes more resource-efficient is becoming ever more critical. Residential buildings make up a large fraction of our energy needs, largely due to heating and air-conditioning. So it’s no longer enough to simply do the small stuff, like switching to compact fluorescent bulbs, or turning down the thermostat at night.
In The Greened House Effect, author Jeff Wilson brings his twenty-five years of construction experience and hands-on knowledge of home building to bear on making our current houses cleaner, greener, more comfortable, and healthier. Think of a deep energy retrofit (DER) as a “whole home makeover”—one that represents a significant investment, but that saves money from the get-go by capturing the energy you “drop on the ground” every month, every year, through inefficiency, poor design, or simply living in a typical older home. This isn’t a book about freezing in the dark, but a solution that allows us to live more comfortably while making a positive impact in the world.
“We can’t buy our way out of the current and impending crises with the latest and greatest high-tech. We can’t buy our way out of it by simply replacing our old stuff with newer, “greener” stuff. That approach only assures that we will continue to experience the vicious circle of energy waste and dependence. I would argue, though, that we can save our way out of these problems,” writes Wilson.
Using his own family’s retrofit of their 1942 home as a prime example, Wilson weaves a readable narrative at a practical, hammer-and-nail level. He presents the solutions to our building and energy problems, making them seem possible for average homeowners and small contractors by offering the right balance of information, skills, financing strategies, and materials.
Technical information is presented in sidebars and graphs, and numerous color photos illustrate the process, including:
Testing the energy efficiency of your home and learning where improvements need to be made;
Dealing with local building codes and regulations;
Financing and paying for a DER;
Major components of the DER, such as roofs, exterior walls, basements, and whole house systems; and
Details of home-scale renewable energy options to complement the DER, including passive and active solar systems.
Wilson’s building experience, along with his lifelong passion for energy issues, all come together to form an inspirational, can-do approach to making our community, our nation, and our world a better place—one home at a time.