Dyer: You-are-stuck-at-home energy audit

Dyer: You-are-stuck-at-home energy audit

Kristy Dyer is a columnist for Black Press Media who writes about the environment

This is the final article in the COVID-19 you-are-stuck-at-home energy audit.

In the last column we covered issues with refrigerators. Let’s talk now about clothes dryers, clothes washers and dishwashers. (Water heaters demand a column all to themselves.)

5. Clothes dryers. Dryers (and toasters) are an interesting challenge. Using an electric or gas element to create heat doesn’t leave much room for energy efficiency. Here, however, you do have a high tech answer. All heating and cooling is moving toward heat pumps — air heat pumps, ground heat pumps (geoexchange), and if you own a pool or lakefront property, open-loop heat pumps. Modern heat-pump clothes dryers work at a fraction of the energy. They also have the bonus of being better for your clothes — rather than baking your clothes to evaporate the water, they dehumidify. They don’t need a vent to the outdoors, but the extracted water does need someplace to drain and they can’t do their job if you lock them up in a tiny utility closet. The other alternative is the laundry line, or as a friend said to me “We let God dry”. Let me know when you figure out how to get God to make toast.

4. Clothes washers. Appliances have changed a lot over the last few decades. Modern clothes washers and detergents can effectively clean clothes in cold water. Save the hot only for mildew or bodily fluids. Because manufacturers put no effort into energy efficiency until the government mandated changes, your appliances have a use-by date. For clothes washers, that date is 2005.

To leverage you great new appliances you need to stop doing two things:

  1. Stop rinsing your dishes.
  2. Stop washing clothes in warm or hot water.

3. Dishwashers. I love how Consumer Reports dates your dishwasher: “A big clue that your dishwasher is decades old is if it is olive, yellow or almond colored”. The reason you need a new dishwasher is not due to energy (although they have dropped from 1.5 kWh to 0.2 kWh per load) but water. There’s a handful of places on the earth where water shortages are going to hurt us long before we get slapped by climate change and unfortunately the Okanagan is on that list. You should replace your dishwasher if it was made in 2003 or earlier.

2. Furnace filter. If you have a forced air system, get the air filter out of your heater — go to the hardware store and buy six of them and mark the change date on your calendar. Normal people need to change furnace filters twice a year. If you have smokers, wildfires, pet hair, or construction dust change them quarterly. Cleaning out the “filter” is just plain good mechanical advice. It applies to your clothes dryer, humidifier, refrigerator (clean the exposed coils), and vacuum cleaner.

1. Vampire Appliances. The last thing on my list is finding vampire appliances — appliances that don’t actually turn off, or draw a lot of current when they are in standby mode. Your appliances (mostly electronics) have gotten much better so I suggest you go at it intelligently and worry only about the items listed at SaveOnEnergy.

You may have noticed that I’ve skipped insulation entirely.

The trouble is that random houses, of random ages, built by random builders, have insulation holes in random places. It’s not necessarily the builders fault. A water leak can compress insulation, leaving holes at the top of the framing. The only effective way to find insulation holes is to use a thermal camera. You can buy a FLIR on Amazon.ca for $587.

In Kelowna a program started in February 2020 called See The Heat allows you to borrow a thermal camera on via the Okanagan Regional Libraray (the program is currently on hold due to COVID 19). Finally, the best tool for insulation holes is Certified Energy Advisor, who comes with experience, a blower door, and a thermal camera.

Missed last week’s column?

Dyer: DIY energy audit with solar bonus material

About Kristy Dyer:

Kristy Dyer has a background in art and physics and consulted for Silicon Valley clean energy firms before moving (happily!) to sunny Penticton. Comments to Kristy.Dyer+BP@gmail.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

(Dave Ogilvie/Contributed)
Injured mountain biker rescued in West Kelowna

The mountain biker reportedly has a hip injury about 1 km up the Smith Creek Road trail

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Asia Youngman (right) is pictured shooting another short film she wrote and directed titled Hatha. (Luba Popovic)
Peachland set to star in fantasy thriller film about N’xaxaitk’w — a.k.a. the Ogopogo

The film will follow an Indigenous teen as she navigates peer pressure, bullying and identity

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Jeanette Megens
KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Jaimee Peters photo of a Willow Midwives helping with a birth. Willow closed its doors March 31 because of a shortage of midwives. (Contributed)
South Okanagan’s only midwifery to re-open this summer

Willow Community Midwives was forced to close because of a shortage of midwives

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Gord with a mom and her young son outside Pathways which was defunded on May 31. (Facebook)
Gord Portman with a mom and her child outside of Pathways. The sign says it all about the difference Pathways has made in people’s lives. They were defunded by Interior Health on May 31.
Penticton man takes the plunge for the recovery house that helped save his life

Gord Portman said Discovery House and Pathways have been everything in his 1 year sobriety

Most Read