Deep Energy Retrofits – A Twitter Conversation

My first Twitter Follower was SLS Construction.  He posted on his blog tonight about a Twitter Convo that I was participating in.

You can read Sean’s Blog Post here.  He does a great job for homeowners in general and for Energy Efficiency.

I jumped into a conversation between my friend John Poole of Derby, Connecticut and Peter Troast of Energy Circle.

John lives in a Derby that is very old.  In Connecticut they have houses that are 200 – 300 years old.  I live in Derby that is not so old. In Kansas and we do not have houses that old. John has a blog about preserving those old houses.  You can read John’s Blog here.  He has a neat Point of View and some very good experience.

Peter is CEO of Energy Circle. They work at explaining problems in building science, and providing real, actionable insights for homeowners to increase the energy efficiency of their homes. Energy Circle also provides energy efficient devices and products for consumers and marketing services to Energy Raters and Auditors.

Others that were mentioned in this convo were Chris Laumer-Giddens and Energy Vanguard.  Chris is an Architect and Energy Guy, Energy Vanguard, a twitter handle for Allison Bailes, is a physicist, energy guru and a juggler of some fame.  They hang out in Atlanta and other places, where Ya’ll is common.  You can find them at Energy Vanguard.

Here is a shot of part of the convo, just before I jumped in.








Somewhat later, John (from Derby, CT) posted a link to the Wiki definition of a Deep Energy Retrofit.

Wiki uses a 30% reduction in energy use as a line to define deep as in Deep Energy Retrofit.  I can accept a 30 % reduction for deep.

That level of reduction eliminates, in my climate zone (4), moving from an old 60 AFUE furnace to a 95 AFUE furnace, or a new AC unit, or spending a couple thousand dollars on windows, none of which will reduce an annual energy bill by 30%.  At this level, it would require air sealing work to reduce infiltration, insulation and then take a look at the equipment.

Any discussion of Energy Efficient Improvements, for me, also must involve some type of significant savings to cover the cost, and probably some work that will significantly improve the comfort, quality and durability of the home and the lives of the people living there.

Without going into too much detail in this post, that means most of the cost should be returned in energy savings in a reasonable time frame or work is done for the sake of doing stuff right.  Stuff is safety related, like fire safety, electrical safety or indoor air quality.

When the Twitter Convo seemed to hit the limits of the 140 char blog, Sean suggested that we draft our friend Leah Thayer to help out some how with the issues.  Leah runs the Daily 5 Remodel site and is a connector of people and ideas.  Sean threw out some ideas for a Blog Off type of pushing the 140 limit or perhaps some type of round table to do the same.

This post was to throw out two points on Sean’s wonderful idea and to keep the ball rolling

First the definition of DER – use the Wiki at 30%.  Second, the pushing of the 140 limit should be documented for ourselves and others.  I am open to the options, and look forward to continuing the extended convo.

Speaking of others, at some point AFF got involved with a comment about leakiness.  We all know and appreciate Alexandra’s and Kymberly’s efforts to keep us fit as a fiddle. AFF with her twin KFF are fitness and exercise (please excuse my use of the ‘E’ word?) gurus.

9 thoughts on “Deep Energy Retrofits – A Twitter Conversation

  1. AlexandraFunFit

    The good news is that I sort of understood what you are talking about here! I definitely understand John’s perspective on the issue of preservation and retrofits. I think the idea of a blog off will make all of you happy. Thanks for mentioning me, especially as the type of energy I deal with involves kcals, not AFUE (er, I don’t even know what that stands for).

  2. Pingback: Deep Energy Retrofit’s – The Conversation | The HTRC: Homeowner's & Trades Resource Center

  3. Sean @ AlaGBS / SLS Construction

    Wow, first one on Twitter – you poor soul : ) (Honestly, wow that is pretty cool & I am honored)

    I never really considered a percentage as a DER, though I guess in some ways 30%+ is pretty accurate. I think this might turn out to be pretty enlightening and thanks for jumping in. I did add a link at the end of the article over here and hopefully the conversation continues.

  4. John Poole


    Thanks very much for that wonderful introduction of me and my blog and my town, too (your sister city!), and also for writing this great summary of our conversation.

    I think you make a very valid point here, that any attempt to characterize a DER based on some percentage reduction also needs to be tempered by region/climate zone. For comparable structures, a 30% reduction in Derby, CT most likely would require more effort to achieve than a 30% reduction in Derby, KS. And certainly even more challenging to achieve in Maine, where Peter lives.

    I also really like Hal’s approach of phased reductions over a five year period. I think any complex undertaking is best handled in an iterative fashion like that. Succeeding in the earlier iterations instills confidence in the approach and how the project is being managed, as well as providing a good baseline for planning the subsequent phases. Always good to focus on achievable, short term successes, rather than embarking on a risky revolution.

    Really looking forward to seeing how the rest of this extended conservation evolves. So, thanks again, John, for this great writeup!

    ~ John

  5. John Poole

    Oh, I should also point out, by the way, that Kymberly has spear-headed a number of historic preservation projects, and even holds an award for historic preservation (though the details currently escape me).

    Also, Alexandra is an aspiring essentialist, and has asked me to teach her how to do outdoors handwashing of clothes (even in the dead of winter), as an approach to living a more sustainable lifestyle! 🙂

  6. AlexandraFunFit

    Yes, Kymberly has won awards in St. Joseph, MO for her work. And I am most certainly NOT an essentialist, nor have I any plans at all to do handwash outside. John has become delusional as a result of this DER discussion. The only thing I will do outside involving water is sit in a nice, hot jacuzzi and mock John while he scrubs his principles on a rock in a river.

  7. John

    AFF – John is not delusional! He has a purpose in life as do you! Both of you keep wanting the other to share some of their purpose.

    KFF- Congratulations! Next trip to St. Jo, let me know – that is a day trip for us!

    John – I’m not sure about the amount changing due to climate. I think the about should hinge more on what the current costs are and what they can reasonably come down to. If we base it on climate, then we start having problems comparing Vermont, where Todd hangs out from time to time, the islands where he hangs out at other times and Kansas or Connecticut. Cost and a percentage of cost reduced already considers climate and direct utility costs. Ten cent electricity here in KS v. 17 cent electricity in Maine is in the calculations.

    I think this will be an interesting process and I am looking forward to Peter’s chime tomorrow. When will we get yours?

  8. John Poole

    Hi John,

    I’m glad at least some one here knows I’m NOT delusional!

    When I mentioned factoring in climate, that wasn’t quite how I meant it. I totally agree with you’re saying, but that wasn’t what I meant. What I was saying was that, if we agree that a DER is characterized by a minimum 30% reduction in energy consumption, then, all other things being equal, a DER performed in New England would probably require more work/greater project expense, than one performed in Kansas, in order to achieve a 30% reduction in both locales. I wasn’t referring to energy costs. Does that make sense? If not, please let me know.

    As for my chime, it was actually posted last night in the form a very lengthy comment of mine on Sean’s blog. I meant to just say a few things there. But then got carried away, and figured, oh heck, just let it rip! So that comment was my main response. However, I am also taking most of the verbiage I contributed there and am now working it into my own blog post. I hope to have that done sometime tomorrow, as well.

    But I definitely agree this is an interesting process, and it’s fun watching it unfold!



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