Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Natural Gas Usage History As Proof Of Rapid Payback In Attic Floor Sealing

A too-long post title would include the words:
     and Complete Rebuild Of Attic Floor and Attic Wall Insulation

This post revisits that titled:
Making Sense Of Gas Usage History dated 10/23/2012.

The subject has not changed. Only, emphasize the floor sealing here, and gage its contribution to the savings. Acknowledge that present savings at oddly-low cost of natural gas, badly mislead observation of savings, for durable measures that will last for fifty years or more.

A fresh post works better for this new view, in a blog. The new view is needed to challenge new policy in Oregon, forced in a gutting of weatherization programs under Oregon Public Utilities Ruling UM 1622. Sealing of an attic floor, never mandatory before adding insulation, is now not required at all. This is obviously stupid. It is a shameful decision.

Sep 26, 2014
Is UM 1622 Already Decided? Oregon's Public Utility Commission "Staff", whoever that means, has issued what appears to be the full breadth of an expected OPUC ruling: Description: Staff Report for September 30, 2014 ...

Sep 25, 2014
Wishes Of OPUC Hearing UM 1622. I will attend the 9/30/2014 9:30 AM hearing of Oregon's Public Utilities Commission, in the matter of Docket UM1622 . If I am allowed to speak, I will offer my wishes for a good future of ...

Please consult the prior post for links to job photo albums for the sequence of improvements in 2009 to 2010.

 Added data points from November 2012 affirm this home has unambiguous large savings of natural gas consumption since major weatherization efforts began in 2009. Monthly numbers of therms and dollars give an inspiring picture. Annual totals perhaps inspire more, and include a look further into history. Was the July 2008 to June 2009 heating season peak unusual, we wonder.

The bigger and less-noisy picture does not diminish certainty things have improved dramatically since 2009. The recently-achieved savings are at least $300 per year, beyond a similar amount from declining gas prices. Say that half of $300 savings is due to unexceptional opportunities in attic floor sealing, eliminating attic floor pits. That sealing was achieved in 4 1/2 hours of enjoyable effort in a lighted, safe attic, with near-zero material cost. $200 is my usual sealing charge, and that would have been sufficient here. Payback of sealing costs, as usual, is in about one year. Know that savings will persist, and will grow very large, when, soon , natural gas prices rise steeply. Take back that $300 credited to cheap gas prices; the savings are real.

A  whole lot more than recently-achieved savings is evident. Everywhere, see home owner response to rising energy costs. Good things happen where a home owner takes action when true cost of energy is billed. $100 per month was a pain threshold in 1997. The main attic got added insulation. The result was exaggerated with children grown up by 1999, the house largely unoccupied for several years. A new pain threshold of about $150 per month was approached in 2008, with rising gas prices and with the house again well-occupied. New windows and doors then, followed by the very-effective weatherization I routinely achieve.

Think now of consequences to motivation and action, if energy costs were not subsidized, not ignoring cost of military enforcement for imports and ruin forever of our land with fracking. The adjustment below is a very incomplete correction. Where rising energy cost obscures the dollar savings, we must focus on saved therms. If 300 therm per year savings are claimed since 2009, see yet the $600 per year savings in applying a current $2 per therm number for investment decisions.

Find the above chart here . Why would anyone think USA natural gas prices will not soon rise more steeply than in adjustments above? Know then that few will ever again see monthly cost reductions from weatherization measures. Rather, weatherization will limit ever more-ruinous energy cost impacts on family budgets. Investments, sooner rather than later, will have ever-increasing returns helping the family budget, as energy costs and inflation take off. Weatherization may determine whether one can afford to stay warm, active and healthy in Winter. It is about more than money and return on investment.

Relate those "global" energy prices to consumer cost, with the EIA chart above. Divide chart values by ten to convert to dollars per therm. See restrained consumer cost since 2008 through fracking that must soon end, then quickly moving beyond $2 per therm with geometric growth (a multiple per year), or even faster. There should be an immediate spike upon termination of fracking, way beyond a geometric growth line.

Here are photos and their captions, from the Picasa web album that supports this post.

My work in this home began in January, 2008, with installation of a first MidMade ladder to the garage attic. The attic floor was insulated to R15, probably with little effect upon heating costs.

A second MidMade ladder to the main house attic was installed in August, 2009, permitting home owner maintenance including construction of a walkway over rather good insulation in place since 1998.

In January, 2010 I began staged upgrade of all attic insulation. Working from the new attic ladder, find, to seal, the expected attic floor pits. There is this dropped ceiling over a wall storage case, merely hidden by "foil" faced insulation. All base insulation within truss spaces has this crumpled facing, preventing intimate contact and allowing a lot of bypass convection to balance with attic temperature as gas must do. Insulation including a second layer has been perhaps half-effective.

The home's largest energy losses since original construction have been in this 4 ft by 4 ft triangular pit 16 ft deep at the stairwell. The pit was merely hidden by insulation batts and was a great hazard before 2009 construction of a walkway.

The triangular pit contains a ventilation duct and a storage cabinet.

The patch is quite simple, except for this shape with wood bridge, allowing drywall tuck under the gas pipe. GP Densarmor rests upon the bridge and found framing.

The patch is 100% air tight with old and messy method of a professional spray foam cartridge. One should prefer simpler and more-secure sealing with flexible grout.

The poor master bath fan in the attic floor was correctly ducted through-roof, but allowed a lot of infiltration to the attic. Patching an oversize hole was limited with commonly-available materials. The replacement is a Panasonic FV08 VQ5, now air tight to the attic with proper drywall and flexible grout patching.

1 comment:

Keri Russell said...

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