You-are-stuck-at-home vitality audit – Penticton Western Information
This is the last article on the COVID-19 energy audit that left you stuck at home.
In the last column we covered refrigerator issues. Now let’s talk about clothes dryers, washing machines and dishwashers. (Water heaters require a column of their own.)
5. Clothes dryer. Dryers (and toasters) are an interesting challenge. Using an electric or gas element to generate heat does not leave much room for energy efficiency. However, here you have a high tech answer. All heating and cooling takes place in the direction of heat pumps – air heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps (Geoexchange) and, if you own a property by the pool or lake, open circuit heat pumps. Modern heat pump tumble dryers work with a fraction of the energy. They also have the benefit of being better for your clothes – instead of baking your clothes to evaporate the water, they dehumidify. They don’t need an outside vent, but the water they draw has to drain somewhere and they can’t do their job if you lock them up in a tiny utility room. The other alternative is the clothesline or as a friend said to me: “We’ll let God dry it”. Let me know if you find out how to get God to make toast.
4th Washing machines. Devices have changed a lot in the last few decades. Modern washing machines and detergents can effectively clean clothes in cold water. Save the hot only for powdery mildew or body fluids. Because manufacturers don’t make an energy efficiency effort until the government mandates changes, your devices have an expiration date. For washing machines this date is 2005.
To take advantage of great new devices, you need to set two things:
- Stop doing your dishes.
- Stop washing clothes in warm or hot water.
3. Dishwasher. I love the way Consumer Reports dates your dishwasher: “One big clue that your dishwasher is decades old is whether it’s olive, yellow, or almond.” The reason you need a new dishwasher doesn’t lie in the energy (although it has dropped from 1.5 kWh to 0.2 kWh per charge), but in the water. There are a handful of places on earth where water shortages will hurt us long before we are hit by climate change, and unfortunately the Okanagan is on that list. You should replace your dishwasher if it was manufactured in 2003 or earlier.
2. Oven filter. If you have a compressed air system, take the air filter off your heater – go to the hardware store, buy six of these, and mark the date of change on your calendar. Ordinary people need to change oven filters twice a year. If you have smokers, forest fires, pet dander, or construction dust, change them quarterly. Cleaning the “filter” is just good mechanical advice. This applies to clothes dryers, humidifiers, refrigerator (clean exposed coils) and vacuum cleaners.
1. Vampire devices. The last thing on my list is to find vampire devices – devices that won’t turn off or draw a lot of power while on standby. Your devices (mostly electronics) have gotten a lot better so I suggest that you go smart and only worry about the items listed on SaveOnEnergy.
You may have noticed that I skipped the isolation entirely.
The problem is that random houses of random ages built by random builders have isolation holes in random places. It’s not necessarily the builders’ fault. A water leak can compress the insulation and leave holes at the top of the frame. The only effective way to find isolation holes is to use a thermal imaging camera. You can buy a FLIR on Amazon.de for $ 587.
In Kelowna, you can borrow a thermal camera through the Okanagan Regional Libraray with a program launched in February 2020 called See The Heat (the program is currently on hold due to COVID 19). After all, the best tool for isolation holes is a Certified Energy Advisor who has experience of installing a fan door, and a thermal imaging camera.
Missed last week’s column?
Färber: DIY energy audit with solar bonus material
About Kristy Dyer:
Kristy Dyer, with a background in arts and physics, consulted with clean energy companies in Silicon Valley before (happily!) Moving to sunny Penticton. Comments to [email protected]
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