MAIL: What You Are Waiting For…


"What Are You Waiting For?” (“From the Crew” in HP159). After reading this piece, I thought to myself, “Well, Joe, ‘Why not?’ indeed. What am I waiting for?” As I sat there, I started to make a mental list of what I would need.

I would need to have an unshaded, south-facing roof. After consulting with my handy Boy Scout compass, I realized that the roof faced S13E. Close enough! However, to make it fully unshaded, I would have to remove 11 trees, one of them about six feet in diameter, shading a quarter of an acre. I would have to wait until I cleared the trees before determining how many panels I would need.

My most recent electric bill showed that over a 33-day period, I had used roughly 26.4 kWh per day. As I walked around my house, I started to notice that I’d inadvertently left on lights and a ceiling fan in an empty room. After turning these off, I started to think of other ways I could reduce my electricity consumption without significant lifestyle changes.

I’ve slowly replaced most of the incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Now that I’m focusing on reducing consumption, I’m going to replace them all. As I walked through the house, I noticed daylight around my front door. I realized that although I’d weather-stripped the doors, I had failed to caulk around the frames, so I added “caulking my doors and windows” to my list. Additionally, I noticed that my thermostat’s  setting for summertime cooling was a too low, so I adjusted it to 80°F.

I then went up to my attic and saw that it was insulated with 4-inch-thick fiberglass batts. I would need to add at least 4 more inches of insulation, as well as extend the insulation into the eaves of the house to improve the home’s thermal performance. In the process, I figured I would replace the old batts with new batting, so that everything would be new once the process was finished.

I walked back outside and realized that the “new” roof I had installed when I retired was now over 20 years old. Before installing PV panels, I would need to replace the roof, which was built on 2-by-4 trusses on 2-foot centers. So I decided I would replace the roof with a metal standing-seam roof. After that, I would start thinking about thin-film laminates because of their appearance and lighter weight.

My next stop was at the bank. My banker said everything was in order, but the bank was reluctant to make a 20-year home improvement loan to an 86-year-old man.

Joe Kyle • Carthage, Texas

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