Protect the environment by attacking cheap housing

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Protect the environment by attacking cheap housing

Before I moved into my house, I lived in an apart­ment com­plex. I hadn’t live in an apart­ment for years, so I had for­got­ten how not family-​friendly apart­ments can be. Our first night fea­tured two peo­ple scream­ing pro­fan­i­ties at each other at 2 in the morn­ing, me call­ing the cops and then wish­ing the one guy would make good on the promise to kill the other so that it could finally be quiet. Yeah. Despite the nice exte­rior, the apart­ment was not full of nice people.

I soon dis­cov­ered it had more defects. The doors leaked air. The fil­ters hadn’t been replaced on the air con­di­tioner. Lots of lit­tle things that I ended up fix­ing or work­ing with main­te­nance to fix.

The worst was the water. I walked out one cold win­ter morn­ing to see a sheet of ice on the street. The next morn­ing, there was…another sheet of ice. And the next day, and next day. When it hadn’t rained in a few days, but there was still a sheet of ice, I found it odd. Then my water bill shot up. So I called man­age­ment, which said it knew about a “foun­da­tion level water leak,” but wasn’t going to fix it because it was too expensive.

Yeah….we moved out shortly after, and a month later I hap­pened to drive by again, just for kicks. There is still a mas­sive pud­dle in the park­ing lot.

While I was stay­ing at the apart­ment, I walked through a lot of homes being built by some large com­pa­nies. Sadly, the work­man­ship on the homes was lack­ing. Worse, the builders go cheap on things like insu­lat­ing air ducts and exte­rior walls. The homes, like my apart­ment, look nice on the out­side, but they leak energy like a sieve.

I keep hear­ing news about the “Green New Deal” and it’s unre­al­is­tic meth­ods for shift­ing to more renew­able energy pro­duc­tion. The green deal­ers have it all wrong though. The first thing to tackle is energy use, and a mas­sive, low hang­ing fruit is shoddy home construction.

So, let’s do some math:

Assume 13rd of your elec­tric­ity is used for heating/​cooling.

If you just bet­ter insu­lated homes and saved a “measly” 10%, per house you’d save:

10,400*0.30*.1 = 312 kw hours, which for the entire US would be
312×126 mil­lion = 39.312 bil­lion kw hours

To put that in per­spec­tive, that’s about as much elec­tric­ity as the state of Nevada gen­er­ated in 2017.

Insu­lat­ing isn’t sexy, but it does work. Even bet­ter, you see the results instantly in your elec­tric­ity bill, all with­out sac­ri­fic­ing much of any­thing. Just using LED lights and bet­ter appli­ances has caused res­i­den­tial con­sump­tion to begin taper­ing off.

Res­i­den­tial isn’t the only issue. Com­mer­cial build­ings, espe­cially small places like the apart­ment I used to live in, are noto­ri­ous for poor con­struc­tion prac­tices. City gov­ern­ments tend to look the other way when there are prob­lems. Yet the res­i­dents of those build­ings are the most vul­ner­a­ble. Com­pared to a home owner, who cares about his or her elec­tric bill and can do some­thing about it, a renter in an apart­ment is fight­ing a giant bureau­cracy when she tries to fix an issue. Most won’t bother, or sim­ply move on.

City gov­ern­ments should be look­ing out for poor con­struc­tion prac­tices and should push busi­nesses to be fix­ing large issues. It doesn’t take a rocket sci­en­tist to con­clude that a con­stant water pud­dle in the street is prob­a­bly a water leak. Of all the use­ful things a city gov­ern­ment can do, enforc­ing proper build­ing codes should rank near the top.

Just like bal­anc­ing your check book, the first step to going green should be cut­ting our elec­tri­cal usage. Tech­nol­ogy is mak­ing that eas­ier in terms of solid build­ing prac­tices, whether it is insu­la­tion, LED lights or bet­ter appli­ances. Lower elec­tric­ity makes gen­er­a­tion eas­ier, and less gen­er­a­tion gives renew­able energy a chance to com­pete while low­er­ing the impact to our wallets.

Sounds to me like some­thing we can all get behind.

This post rep­re­sents the views of the author and not those of the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of the Navy, or any other gov­ern­ment agency.

If you liked this arti­cle, please throw Da Tech Guy a tip. If you didn’t, throw him a tip anyway!

Before I moved into my house, I lived in an apartment complex. I hadn’t live in an apartment for years, so I had forgotten how not family-friendly apartments can be. Our first night featured two people screaming profanities at each other at 2 in the morning, me calling the cops and then wishing the one guy would make good on the promise to kill the other so that it could finally be quiet. Yeah. Despite the nice exterior, the apartment was not full of nice people.

I soon discovered it had more defects. The doors leaked air. The filters hadn’t been replaced on the air conditioner. Lots of little things that I ended up fixing or working with maintenance to fix.

The worst was the water. I walked out one cold winter morning to see a sheet of ice on the street. The next morning, there was…another sheet of ice. And the next day, and next day. When it hadn’t rained in a few days, but there was still a sheet of ice, I found it odd. Then my water bill shot up. So I called management, which said it knew about a “foundation level water leak,” but wasn’t going to fix it because it was too expensive.

Yeah….we moved out shortly after, and a month later I happened to drive by again, just for kicks. There is still a massive puddle in the parking lot.

While I was staying at the apartment, I walked through a lot of homes being built by some large companies. Sadly, the workmanship on the homes was lacking. Worse, the builders go cheap on things like insulating air ducts and exterior walls. The homes, like my apartment, look nice on the outside, but they leak energy like a sieve.

I keep hearing news about the “Green New Deal” and it’s unrealistic methods for shifting to more renewable energy production. The green dealers have it all wrong though. The first thing to tackle is energy use, and a massive, low hanging fruit is shoddy home construction.

So, let’s do some math:

Assume 1/3rd of your electricity is used for heating/cooling.

If you just better insulated homes and saved a “measly” 10%, per house you’d save:

10,400*0.30*.1 = 312 kw hours, which for the entire US would be
312*126 million = 39.312 billion kw hours

To put that in perspective, that’s about as much electricity as the state of Nevada generated in 2017.

Insulating isn’t sexy, but it does work. Even better, you see the results instantly in your electricity bill, all without sacrificing much of anything. Just using LED lights and better appliances has caused residential consumption to begin tapering off.

Residential isn’t the only issue. Commercial buildings, especially small places like the apartment I used to live in, are notorious for poor construction practices. City governments tend to look the other way when there are problems. Yet the residents of those buildings are the most vulnerable. Compared to a home owner, who cares about his or her electric bill and can do something about it, a renter in an apartment is fighting a giant bureaucracy when she tries to fix an issue. Most won’t bother, or simply move on.

City governments should be looking out for poor construction practices and should push businesses to be fixing large issues. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that a constant water puddle in the street is probably a water leak. Of all the useful things a city government can do, enforcing proper building codes should rank near the top.

Just like balancing your check book, the first step to going green should be cutting our electrical usage. Technology is making that easier in terms of solid building practices, whether it is insulation, LED lights or better appliances. Lower electricity makes generation easier, and less generation gives renewable energy a chance to compete while lowering the impact to our wallets.

Sounds to me like something we can all get behind.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

If you liked this article, please throw Da Tech Guy a tip. If you didn’t, throw him a tip anyway!