The Greened House Effect

  • Deep energy retrofitting can cut energy bills by 50 to 90 percent, but requires significant investment. Photo: The Greened House Effect

September 13, 2013

When southeastern Ohio carpenter and home improvement expert Jeff Wilson first started thinking about a green home, he imagined building somewhere in the idyllic countryside. But he ended up deciding on a more feasible approach.

Deep energy retrofitting, a type of renovation for older buildings which can cut energy bills by 50 to 90 percent, is the approach he documents in his book, “The Greened House Effect.”

Wilson says planning with an expert, like a contractor or architect, is key, though there are many fixes a handy homeowner could learn to do, like shoring up exterior walls with foam board. In past years, conservation-minded homeowners rushed to just blow insulation into older homes, but there are problems with this approach.

“They [homes] immediately started to rot out from under people because moisture was trapped, so obviously it’s not as simple as just adding insulation,” says WIlson.

Although an improvement over merely adding insulation, deep energy retrofitting isn’t without its critics. Some say that the cost of the improvements don’t justify the energy savings, but Wilson disagrees. Homeowners who once kept the temperature in their house at 65 degrees during winter to keep their heating bill in check are able to keep their houses warmer at 70 degrees and still manage to save energy and money.

Wilson says the retrofit benefits go beyond budgeting. Indoor air quality can be improved with an a energy retrofit, through better ventilation.  He also thinks home energy upgrades can help create a common bond between green lefties who want to preserve the environment, and more conservative folks who want more energy independence. As a matter of fact, it happened in his own family.

Wilson will talk more about these cultural implications of energy, and the ins and outs of his own home retrofit at the Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs Mountain Resort on September 22.