What Stops You from Completing those Tough Earth-Conscious Home Improvement Projects?

By Vernon Trollinger, April 28, 2014, Energy Efficiency, Green, Save Money

shutterstock_63240292No one said saving the Earth would be easy.

I was browsing through some articles on easy energy efficiency projects when I stumbled onto a few studies looking at why homeowners don’t follow through with energy efficient upgrades. According the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), The primary reasons are that:

  • Property owners often balk at the upfront cost of improvements.
  • Because many homeowners move every 5 to 7 years, they might hesitate to make a long-term investment in a renewable energy system or energy efficiency improvements.

Yet, equally important reasons come from a 2013 study that looks at the psychological aspects. Published by four researchers from the Imperial College London — Centre for Environmental Policy, it says, “The study found that the hassle associated with the installation of EE technologies serves as a significant deterrent to investment…”

“Hassle” can be defined here as a combination of disruption to routine by the installation process or the change to accustomed habit following the installation. One example cited in a report on UK homeowners points out that one practical psychological obstacle to insulating an attic (“loft” in UK parlance) is that a homeowner would have to clear the clutter out of it. Of course, there were some well-intended thoughts offered about how Her Majesty’s government can help by sending in smiling cleaning squads to help tidy up lofts.

That, of course, would never do.

All the same, the point is valid: clearing out rooms and attics in order to insulate interior walls is a pain that we all want to avoid.

No one said saving the Earth would be easy. Yet at the same time, being energy efficient is so far removed from the image of President Jimmy Carter wrapped in a sweater in the White House that it’s now ludicrous. Being energy efficient no longer carries the dismal threat of “cold showers, dark rooms, and warm beers”. The technology we have now works really well. All the same, people tend to focus on short-term benefits instead of doing those energy efficiency improvements that have long-term rewards.

So, with all this in mind, here’s my “Spring Energy Efficiency To-Do List” (in order of urgency/how soon I want to get them done). I’m also including each attendant psychological excuse that’s holding me back.

1: Properly air sealing my attic. Excuse: It takes a whole day. I have to move insulation out of the way to foam and seal everything. I hate hopping from from joist-to-joist.

2: Install ceiling fans in two bedrooms. Excuse: It’s an easy job but there’s wiring to do in the attic. ‘Nuff said.

3: Seal the duct work. Excuse: The HVAC needs to be off three days for the sealant to cure and it’s still too cold. And…well…I have to move lots of shelves around.

4: Install on-demand water heater. Excuse: OK – I have to move more stuff out of the way and it’ll take all day and be a mess.

I don’t know, maybe it’s residual winter-hibernation lethargy. The truth for all of these is that once the job is done, it’s done. So, I suppose I just ought to suck it up and get on with the jobs because they will lower my bills over time and raise my home’s value.

So, what’s your “Spring Energy Efficiency To-Do List?” What’s keeping you from getting it rolling? Is it just a matter of getting past the hassles? Or is it the expense, too much confusing information, or maybe not knowing where to find good information? Drop me a line in the comments box below. Perhaps I — or any of the readers — might be able help you with that.

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About 

A native of Wyomissing Hills, PA, Vernon Trollinger studied writing and film at the University of Iowa, later earning his MA in writing there as well. Following a decade of digging in CRM archaeology, he now writes about green energy technology, home energy efficiency, DIY projects, the natural gas industry, and the electrical grid.

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