The Low Down On Green Living
December 15th, 2008
If you’ve been reading our blog for a bit, you know how important we think home energy efficiency is. It’s not sexy, but you can cut 20% or more off of your home’s energy bill, carbon footprint, and water usage by doing some pretty simple projects. With the economy being as bad as it is, those extra dollars can really come in handy.
One of the biggest opportunities is making sure that your home is well sealed and insulated. Doing these projects is pretty easy - we’ve written about how to seal your home here. However, finding where and what to seal is a bit trickier. We’ve recommended some pretty primitive DIY tricks such as using incense sticks or blown-out matches to track down drafts or looking for discoloration in key leak areas such as attics. If that doesn’t work, though, you might need to use sophisticated equipment that only professional home energy auditors can afford - blower doors, duct pressure testing equipment, and thermal imaging equipment. Home energy auditors do great work (especially our LIL-listed contractors), but they can be expensive depending on what tests you need.
In January, though, Black and Decker is introducing a new tool that will help all of us DIY-ers called the Thermal Leak Detector. It’s a very simple device that allows you to detect temperature differences between different points in your house. You start by shining a light from the device on one location and choosing a reference temperature difference (options of 1, 5 and 10 degrees). Then, move the light to a different point - if the temperature difference between the new location and the reference point is greater than the threshold that you set, the light will change color (blue for cold and red for hot). For example, shine the light at your wall, and then move it to an outlet. Light turns blue? Then you probably need to install an outlet gasket to stop those cold air flows. Find a warm point in a wall near a heating duct? Perhaps you have a leaking duct behind it.
The best part is that this device is expected to sell for $40 or so, making it affordable for almost everyone. Spend a few hours at it and I almost guarantee it will pay for itself. Assuming that it works as advertised (we’ll let you know as soon as we get our hands on one), this is really a no-brainer for your home improvement toolbox. Team up with a few neighbors to share one and it gets even better.
B & D also has some other interesting energy efficiency products. They’ve come out with a Power Monitor that shows the instantaneous electricity usage in your home - no more guessing about whether your lighting or appliance upgrades are really paying off. With a device like this you can set a monthly energy budget and actually be able to stick to it - no more trying to figure out what went wrong several months later when you get that bill (like that lightbulb someone left on in the closet for several weeks!).
They’re also coming out with an easy switch upgrade that will add a motion sensor to any switch in your house without requiring any electrical wiring. It’s called the Lights Out Auto Switch, and it seems to be a great solution for those trouble lights that always seem to be on long after everyone’s left the room.
We’re thrilled that Black & Decker seems to have the home energy efficiency market on it’s radar screen. It should make it easier to find these powerful new products at a home improvement store near you.
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