The Smoking Gun
Congratulations to George and Laura on their new 8501 square foot Dallas Digs on a lovely 1.13 acre lot. Although it is pretty big, we would not begrudge an ex-president (or vice-president, for that matter) a little room to move around. Since you did such a good job of going green on your Crawford ranch, we thought you might be interested in some tips from Al Gore's house.
I know, it is an odd source, everybody knows from Fox and everywhere else that the Gore's little Nashville pile uses 12 times the electricity of a normal house and 20 times the gas. It was all over the news for months. Too bad that the truth is more inconvenient, and that the reality is that the Gore family have done a few things that you might want to emulate:
1) Go for LEED Gold certification. It is a great system where an independent third party, not FOX news or snopes or Pyjamas media decide if you are green, but objective criteria are determined and you have to prove that you meet them. Maybe you can hire our own LEED accredited professional to help. New studies show that it is good for property values too.
2) Install a ground source heat pump(often inaccurately called geothermal) to reduce the cost of cooling significantly. They have reached the tipping point and are everywhere now. They make a lot of sense in Dallas, if less so in cooler climes. The Gore's heat pump reduced their natural gas consumption by an astounding 93%.
3) Upgrade your windows and ductwork. Sealing ductwork is a no-brainer, a lot of energy is lost through leaky ducts. But if your house is as nice up front as it looks from the air, it might have nice looking but leaky windows- Smoking Gun says it was built in 1959 and they probably didn't double-glaze then. Fortunately there are new ways to seal them like the magnetic storms shown above. But please, no vinyl replacement windows!
In Britain they collect rainwater in butts.
4) Install a rainwater collection system. The Gores use this for irrigation and water management. I believe you have a big one (25,000 gallons!) in Crawford so you know the drill:
-Rainwater harvesting takes a huge load off existing mains water supply infrastructure;
-only 5% of water in a home is used for drinking and cooking, so if you have any concerns about drinking rainwater, don't- you still can use rainwater for everything else;
-if rainwater harvesting was used for only 15% of residential landscape irrigation in the US, it would save a billion gallons of water per day;
A typical home with 2000 sq.ft. of roof area in Central Texas can yield up to 40,000 gallons a year, water that would otherwise run off and contribute to erosion. If properly managed, the RWH system can provide up to 100 gallons of water per day for a typical home. More reading on Rainwater:
Water on the Brain. We’re Learning. Slowly.
Rainpod Kicks Butt
How Design Can Save Us: Waterhog and Groundhog
Put a Double Entendre in Your Garden
5) Change all your lightbulbs. I know, everyone loves complaining about them, Michele Bachmann thinks they are a left wing plot and tried to pass the Lightbulb Freedom of Choice Act, but really, you can't tell the difference and they have even done Pepsi Challenge type tests that prove it. You can also install light emitting diodes, like Al did.
Truth and Progress
6. And of course, Cover your roof with Photovoltaics. The Gores did, after a long fight with the local zoning board. Thirty-three panels contributed to a drop in consumption of 11%, despite a 2007 heat wave that caused average consumption to increase 20% the year it was installed. You can also buy the electricity that you do consume from green sources like solar and wind, as the Gores do.
When I wrote my completely fair and balanced post on your Crawford house it was picked up by a thousand right wing sites to compare to Al Gore's and "prove" him a hypocrite. Not one of them had the good graces to mention it when the Gores got LEED Gold. But I promise, if you do the same in your house, we will cover it.