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Tips on Saving Energy & Generating Energy in Your Home: An Interview with Keevin Larson of KC Larson Inc.

By Keevin Larson

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

KC Larson Inc. was started in 1984 as a sole proprietorship - K.C. Larson Plumbing & Heating and then changed to K.C. Larson, Inc. in 2000 to better reflect the many services we provide. At present we provide consulting, design, and construction services for plumbing, HVAC, electrical, renewable energy, compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling, and process piping systems.

For our residential clients, we focus on energy-savings systems that include Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Panels (electric generation), Solar Thermal Collectors (hot water generation), High Efficiency (air-to-air) Heat Pump, convert from Fuel Oil Heating to less costly and more environment-friendly natural gas systems. The newest energy service we provide is residential CNG fueling systems. This type of system allows you to fuel your vehicle at home if the vehicle runs on compressed natural gas.

If a client would like to purchase a new bi-fuel (gasoline/CNG) vehicle or have an existing one converted to bi-fuel, we can install a small CNG fueling appliance at the exterior of their home or within the garage. Fueling at home is much more convenient than visiting a gas station once or twice per week. The vehicle fuel cost of CNG is approximately 30 to 40% less than that of gasoline based on the same energy value along with burning much cleaner in the engine which results in less motor oil changes.

In your opinion, name five areas where homeowners can easily change the energy structure of their house (e.g. windows, better insulation)?

Over the past few decades, the installation of a ground source heat pump (geothermal water to air) system was a good decision for most homeowners. This remained the case for many years although upfront installation was costly due to the required site work piping. Recently this has begun to change; a geothermal water-to-air system is approximately 330+/-% energy efficient. This equates to: for every $100 of energy cost you put in to heat or cool your home, you get $330 back in energy. At present there are air-to-air heat pump systems that are 250 to 280% efficient without the great expense of excavating your yard to install geothermal piping or drilling wells to hold the piping.

For example: Air-to-air heat pump system at 250 to 280% efficient costing $10,000.00 to install. The same size geothermal system at 330%+/- at $17,000.00 to install. The extra cost of the geothermal of $7000.00 will take multiple years payback wise to make up for the 80 to 50% efficiency difference. Future maintenance costs: a geothermal system has many more controls and moving parts compared to an air-to-air heat pump system.

In a nutshell, in the very near future or at present comparing some air-to-air equipment, the added expense for geothermal (water to air) site work may not present a favorable return on investment compared to that of the new air-to-air heat pumps.

Effective Energy Usage of Any Home or Building: This begins with the building envelope, proper wall and attic insulation, leaking windows or doors. There is little gain having a high-efficiency heating/cooling system if your building envelope is not tight.

What are the main benefits of performing these small energy changes.

Many home owners supplement their space heating needs with a wood stove. This can be very effective at reducing heating season energy costs especially if the heat from the wood stove can be circulated throughout the house via the ductwork that is used for air conditioning. Normally this can be accomplished easily, but it must be accomplished in a safe manner by a professional if the homeowner is not familiar with HVAC building regulations.

On average, after your company's services, how much can homeowners save on energy bills?

Solar Energy: In 2008 we were installing solar PV panel system for approx. $10.00 per watt. A 10kW (10,000 watt) system could cost $100,000.00 fully installed on a house. Since 2008, the price of the PV panels themselves has decreased tremendously. At present we are able to install the same 10kW system for $3.30 to $4.00 watt. If a home uses a lot of domestic hot water, then it may be prudent to look into installing a solar thermal (hot water) collector system. The more domestic hot water that is used, the payback for the installed solar thermal system is proportional.

The Building (House) Envelope: Most new homes have been well sealed and insulated during construction. On average, homes that are more than 2 decades old are not as well insulated or sealed due to the standard building codes of the time. Homes that are 5 decades and older can be hit or miss as to the overall extent/quality of insulation along with how well the building envelope is sealed. Two main building components dictate how much energy a home will use for heating and cooling, besides the size of the building of course. The first is air infiltration; is there too much and where is it coming from? The second is building insulation; is there too little, is it old and flattened in the attic or has is settled and sagged in the walls? The building envelope also includes the doors and windows. If the house is 40+ years old, there is a possibility these have very little insulation value even if the doors and windows are fairly air tight with little air infiltration.

What is the easiest way for people to contact you or your business?

Our phone number is 570 329 1441 website

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About The Author

Keevin Larson is the president of K.C. Larson, Inc.

Phone: 570-329-1441

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