Author Topic: buying a house , head spinning, energy efficiency - where do I start?  (Read 1353 times)


  • Bristles
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  • Posts: 317
as planned , we are now seriously looking at houses for purchase and preparing to make an offer , so something that was 'well, we would do it in the future' become real . Now I would like to ask help from Mustachians on their thoughts and recommendations on any of the below (or anything else people would like to do). While this is not the first house purchase, it is still first one in the last 15 years and there is desire to do up front work before we move in vs while living (as we have done it last time while my DW was pregnant with our first, in a middle of storm of other family events)

background - circa 1990 house in west suburbs of Chicago, original owner, little modifications, 10 year old appliances (gas forced heat, 10 year old AC system, hot water tank)

- good books to read, review, reference while looking for things that make sense in energy efficiency?
- things to look at during inspection beyond the obvious (age of appliances, windows, etc). not sure how much research on insulation existing in place we can do without punching holes in the walls/asking sellers if they know what builders did/didn't insulate.
- if anyone else is in Illinois and have done a project that included solar and/or battery, you comments are especially welcomed.
- what does/doesn't make sense in 2016 from purely financial point (i.e. batteries, solar, etc.)
- what should be considered longer term while there is still a chance to open walls/change design without having moved in first ?

I read anything I can find at this point, looking at the earlier threads here talking about importance of insulation (attic , walls, basement) , 'blower tests' to detect leaks, any other biggies?

Separately,  I will probably open a thread regarding wiring existing house for networking/Ethernet. Since I make my living as consultant in area of data management (data architecture, data/db development, etc), I would be bringing a lot of devices with me and would like/'need' to wire the house appropriately.

Thank you for your help!

and if moderators feel this belongs more in DYU vs Ask a Mustachian, please feel free to move it


  • Stubble
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  • Posts: 159
Read this (the entire menu on the left): helps a lot with sealing a home, things to look at, etc.

In addition (not sure it's covered there), changes will make sense with very old refrigerators, but 10 years is recent enough not to be a bit gap in performance and thus financially would likely not return.  Basically after 2000 is where the cutoff is:


  • Senior Mustachian
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  • Posts: 11433
  • Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
And the new appliances with electronic components/motherboards are headaches - keep the non-electronic ones going as long as possible.


  • Pencil Stache
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  • Posts: 516
    • ChooseBetterLife
Check with your utility company. In Phoenix, they subsidize a home energy audit that checks leaks, insulation, windows, A/C, and much, much more. It was awesome, and 80% covered by our power company.

They basically said that windows are almost never a good investment because they're such a small % of wall area. It's more cost effective to add insulation to the walls (if possible) and caulk the windows than to replace the windows.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Posts: 79
  • Age: 37
  • Location: MN
I always found this page and diagram to be helpful when discussing home energy conservation with the public. (I am an environmental educator wiring at a center that discusses sustainability).