Guys, Gadgetry, Home Efficiency and the Bottom Line

A landscaper friend recently told me that, “When it comes to landscaping, the husband ALWAYS controls decisions about the lawn.” In remodeling, we have a parallel example. From our experience, gadgets are usually the domain of the man of the house.

TVs = man domain. I have a male friend who has a 6′ plasma TV in the living room, a huge speedboat, and a black Hummer that usually has a beer in the cupholder. His idea of “decorating,” God love him, is a TV in every room.

Audio-visual gadgets = man stuff. The guys love these electrical, blinking gizmos.

“Strap on green gadgets” like solar cells and geothermal heating systems = “green” man goodies.

Something about the male mind is just drawn to these products. But, guys, be very careful with this natural attraction when it comes to heating and cooling or making electricity. Just like your AV systems or TVs, your home’s energy-use and savings gadgets must operate as a cohesive system. Every home is different — and the solutions for a 17th Century frame house are different from an 18th Century house or a 20th Century house — but you can always find some fun, gadgety things to do that will satisfy your needs without breaking the bank.

For example, a great general contractor (GC) can help by bringing in a home energy auditor (who brings many fun gadgets with him!) to examine all of your home’s systems: thermal vapor barrier, energy use, windows, HVAC, etc. This audit when analyzed by the GC will show what types of energy-saving gadgets you may need. The GC can help you create a plan to increase your home’s efficiency. Perhaps, for example, a 97+% efficiency gas water heater and boiler unit is in order (starts at around $7,000 installed). I know it doesn’t sound sexy, but it is! Compare that to a $38,000 geothermal system with electric heat pump and $15,000 solar support system, which is admittedly sexier (they have more blinking lights and use heat-transferring gels, for example) but WAY more expensive. Plus, you get tax deductions for both. You can then use the savings you realized with the gas system ($46,000 + tax deductions) to go buy yourself a hybrid Hummer, speed boat, or a giant plasma TV!