I recently got our energy bill for the period covering the recent cold snap: $500! Granted that was some record-setting weather but still… $500! Ouch. I’m still in shock. Or perhaps I should say I’m floored.
Some of my friends assumed this high bill was indicative of high energy costs here in Southeast Louisiana. I don’t know how we compare to other parts of the country, but I don’t think that’s the culprit.
Rather, it’s the amount of electricity used. We clocked almost 6,000 killowatt hours over the course of that month. That’s 174.9 kwh per day. I suppose it’s possible Entergy misread the meter, but let’s assume it’s accurate for now.
How could we possibly have consumed that much energy?
I suspect the problem is lack of insulation. We thought we were in pretty good shape because the house was insulated as part of the renovation. As the seller informed us:
The exterior walls of the house have R13 fiberglass insulation throughout the house. The second floor attic has R30. The lower attic (over the kitchen area) has R19, which was the heaviest insulation that would fit between the joists over that area….
All of the [vinyl] replacement windows (which includes most of the windows in the house) are double-glazed Low E, and Energy Star rated.
However, there’s no insulation underneath the house. Since it’s raised a few feet off the ground, that means plenty of air gets underneath there and when it’s cold you can definitely feel it.
It seems that insulating beneath raised houses in New Orleans presents special challenges. I found an interesting article about this, which outlines the four basic choices: fiberglass, rigid foam board, open-cell spray foam or closed-cell spray foam.
But the more I read the more daunting it looks. I was heartened to learn that a scientific study has been mounted right here in New Orleans, using the different methods to insulate underneath twelve houses in Musicians’ Village for twelve months. But after scouring the web I couldn’t find the final report, so I contacted the principal investigator (Sam Glass at the USDA FPS) and am waiting for a reply.
It’s all further complicated by the fact that our floor could use some repairs in a few places. I assume it would be best to address these repairs before adding insulation.
I don’t think this is something I’m going to tackle myself. There are just too many variables, too many things to screw up, and more work than I have time to accomplish, what with being a public school widower and a daddy.
Oh, the joys of home ownership.