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Forget The Prius! Retrofitting Old Homes Saves More Energy

Forget The Prius! Retrofitting Old Homes Saves More Energy

It’s fun to focus on saving the environment through new green technologies and design, but did you ever wonder what kind of environmental impact we could have if we focused on fixing what’s already been built?

Here are some surprising facts about the environmental impact of existing homes in the U.S.

  • Homes use 22% of energy consumed in the U.S.
  • Your car uses less energy than your home–even if you don’t have a Prius.
  • Home energy costs average $2200 per year.
  • There are 58 million homes with no insulation.
  • There are 130 million existing homes in the U.S., half of which were built before 1972.

Those are just some of the reasons we should be shifting our focus from building new green homes, to retrofitting the 130 million homes already wasting their unfair share of energy.

In honor of National Preservation Month, Matt Grocoff and his family are taking this year’s them “Old Is The New Green” and leading by example in their community.  They are restoring their 110 year old Victorian home so that is becomes an energy producer, rather than an energy consumer–and without sacrificing design or functionality. Grocoff calls it “Mission Zero:”

“We want to prove that, even on a limited budget, you can have a home of unparalleled comfort and style while spending less on utilities than your neighbors who live in less comfortable homes.”

It turns out that Matt’s Victorian was one of those 58 million old houses that didn’t have any insolation. In Ann Arbor!

The Grocoff’s goal is for their house to become the oldest house in America to achieve net zero energy.

You can read more about Grocoff’s old house restoration mission on OldHouseWeb.com where he will be sharing his story through a series of mission zero home restoration blog posts and videos. Matt also produces videos about greenovation at Greenovation.TV.

Disclosure: Tracy Viselli works for OldHouseWeb.com but really wanted to share Matt Grocoff’s story with you because it’s important for us not to forget that restoring old homes is also about our green energy future.

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Photo to Matt Grocoff

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66 comments

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9:07PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Do both - insulate and use energy efficient transport. (Cycling may be even better than driving a Prius, where cycling is an option.)

10:53AM PST on Jan 24, 2011

What a win+win+win situation! Reduce energy use/environmental degradation, Create jobs (retro-fitters, trainers of retro-fitters), Decrease long term expenses for home-owners & renters!

4:15PM PDT on May 24, 2010

That´s sensible

3:02AM PDT on May 23, 2010

We need 1800 more signitures, to complete Ria's last dying wish. Ria is a Care2 member who has worked tirelessly and selflessly for years. Please help grant her JUST ONE LAST WISH, to have her petition target met. Will you do this for her? Will you sign? Will you ask others? Will you join and help? Ria as unwell as she is, very recently returned and left her farewell message to thank you. She can not finish the petition personally because she maybe leaving this world, but she has past on the petition for others to carry it on to the intended target to protest against this SLAUGHTER of the geese. She wishes to ensure the survival of geese for future generations to enjoy their company as free and wild birds of the air. Please I beg of you to help our fellow Care2 member obtain her goal.

BELOW ARE RIA'S WORDS AND PETITION. PLEASE SIGN AND ASK OTHERS AND FORWARD?
THANK YOU.

Focus: Animal Welfare
Action Request: Petition
Location: Netherlands

CALLING ALL ANIMAL LOVERS, BIRD LOVERS, WILDLIFE LOVERS TO HELP, SIGN MY PETITION,THANKS.

STOP KILLING WILD GEESE IN THE NETHERLANDS.

TAKE A LOOK AT THE VIDEO OF THE BRUTAL TRAPPING OF GEESE AND THEIR YOUNG AT THE LINKS PROVIDED IN THE PETITION TEXT. ALL THESE GEESE WERE TRANSPORTED TO DUKE DESTRUCTION COMPANY AND DIED IN HORRIBLE WAY, THEY WERE GASSED.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/18/stop-killing-geese-in-the-netherlands

2:22PM PDT on May 19, 2010

Ditto to anyone who has ever lived in humidity. I have lived in both AZ and the Sahel, and it can be 100 in very dry weather and you're comfortable in the shade with a cold drink or a fan. I've been back east when it was 75-80 but 90%+ humidity and you could nearly die, shirts and clothes get sopping. The Federal Govt. used to relocate to upstate NY in the summer, before AC.

To follow the thread, kudos to electric cars but unless the power comes from solar or another renewable, you are just 'masking' the pollution. I love the idea of the Prius, but unless you are getting direct or indirect renewables it's really a sham. Somewhere an oil or coal plant is burning filth in order for you to move. We should help design better storage batteries, and improved technology for the storage of oxygen and hydrogen as fuel (which you can get very cheaply from solar-powered electrolysis of water). Yes those are dangerous fuels and pose storage problems, but not much more so than gasoline. But their high energy makes them more efficient-they could easily replace jet fuel-and the byproduct is water!

5:28AM PDT on May 18, 2010

Nicky, air conditioning is one of humanity's greatest achievements. Quite a few pundits have labelled it as one the greatest inventions of all time. In many ways, it makes modern civilization possible.

Living in the Southern U.S., I will never give up my AC. People die from heat - and life is miserable trying to live with it.

1:26AM PDT on May 18, 2010

Here, in Australia, most of my friends and I, are trying our hardest to use as little of our precious resources as we can. Most of us sit watching our tv s, or reading, with only ONE light burning. Most of us trying to grow our own organic veggies and you would be so proud of us.. we try not to use the airconditioner and if you have ever sweltered in heat of over 40C for five days, whilst flopping around in front of a fan, which is limply swirling boiling air around the room, whilst sitting with your feet in a bucket of water and with hands in a bowl of water on one side of you and another bowl on the other and every time you go out to spray your outside animals with water, you take a recycled washing up liquid bottle,full of water to squirt over yourself every few seconds, you will know what we mean by making a genuine effort!! Our water is from rain water tanks and we try to cycle rather than use the car, where practical. All of us who live in the country are planting as many trees as we can. We don't use our electrical or gas heaters during the day in winter, which sometimes means that we go around doing our house-work with a hot water bottle strapped round us under our house-coats!.. DO you think we are earning some' brownie points' for trying??? Please say "YES!" before you think of getting us certified!

9:20PM PDT on May 17, 2010

Very good!

10:11PM PDT on May 14, 2010

Let's not forget that those Priuses take a lot of energy to create in the first place.

8:42PM PDT on May 14, 2010

thanks

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