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Tom Miller

Tom Miller is not a building scientist, green guru or even a halfway decent DIYer. However, he is passionate about making a difference, ecologically speaking. The purpose of Tom’s blog is to share experiences and observations from a homeowner’s perspective in the hopes that it will help building professionals spot unmet needs and dramatically increase the velocity of green building adoption across the country.
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Recent Posts

Want People to Work? Set Them Free

Posted by Tom Miller

Feb 12, 2016 12:33:41 PM

Our friend Tom Miller posted this great essay about what motivates employees. He urges us to look at volunteerism as the model.

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Our Cottage Needs A New Roof

Posted by Tom Miller

Oct 22, 2012 1:18:00 PM

WE'RE FORTUNATE TO HAVE A SMALL COTTAGE IN NORTH CENTRAL MICHIGAN. Nothing fancy, but we love the area and the feel of being away from it all. With no Starbucks within 60 miles, nesting loons on the small lake, and galaxies worth of stars at night it’s just about perfect for us.

Except, it needs a new roof. And our cottage happens to be a 45 year-old A-frame, beautifully crafted with rough sawn cedar interior walls, pine tongue and groove ceilings, half-timbered exterior walls and a very large cedar shake roof.

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Geothermal Heat Pump

Posted by Tom Miller

Aug 2, 2012 1:09:00 PM

News flash: Geothermal heat exchange systems ARE NOT a source of renewable energy. And it’s OK with me.

LATELY THERE HAVE BEEN A NUMBER OF ARTICLES and blogs questioning the efficiency and energy savings of geothermal (ground source heat pump) systems. Several of these articles “exposed” the shocking fact that these systems are not renewable energy sources like wind, solar and hydroelectric.

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Home Energy Management: You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure

Posted by Tom Miller

Apr 16, 2012 10:40:00 AM

TYPICALLY, I'M NOT MUCH FOR KEEPING STATISTICAL TRACK OF THINGS. There are a few things that I do keep a close watch on (blood pressure, cholesterol, that kind of stuff).  So, several years ago when I started paying real close attention to the energy consumption and livability of both our home and office I decided it was the right time to measure a few things.

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Is the sustainability movement running out of steam?

Posted by Tom Miller

Apr 3, 2012 12:52:00 PM

WITH EARTH DAY CELEBRATIONS SCHEDULED FOR LATER THIS MONTH (April 22) it seems like an appropriate time to check on the sustainability/green movement and see what kind of shape it’s in. Here’s how I’m seeing it:

The developed countries are realizing that the rest of the world wants the economic lifestyle that we enjoy. And these countries – lead by China, India and Brazil – are also experiencing huge population growth. By mid-century our 7 billion people will have 2 billion more people to feed, clothe and shelter. Oh, and provide automobiles, consumer electronics, appliances...plus food and water.

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Learning to live in a more energy efficient fashion.

Posted by Tom Miller

Jan 6, 2012 12:56:00 PM

NOW THAT WE'VE BEEN LIVING in our “new” more energy efficient sixty-year-old home for the last year or so, we’ve noticed some changes in our behavior.

The most interesting is the temperature at which we set the thermostats. Humid summers in Indiana was accompanied by a cold and clammy 70-degrees indoors. The home felt more like a damp, cool basement – all over. Now, it’s a different story. Summers mean the home stays at 40-50% relative humidity, and thermostats are set at 75- and 77-degrees respectively, for the two zones in the house. And it is very comfortable.

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A good summer for energy efficiency and indoor comfort

Posted by Tom Miller

Oct 26, 2011 1:00:00 PM

INDIANA CAN GET PRETTY HOT AND HUMID in the summer, but usually gets enough rain to keep residential lawns and gardens (and farmers’ crops) healthy and adequately watered. Except the last two summers.

The city of Indianapolis consumes around 160 million gallons of water per day three season of the year: winter, spring and fall. In the summer months, the city consumes more than 300 million gallons of treated, potable water, almost doubling consumption. The majority of this water goes into irrigating lawns and gardens.

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Couple of Things About Energy Consumption

Posted by Tom Miller

May 19, 2011 10:59:00 AM

Finally, some numbers to crunch. 

IT'S NOW BEEN A YEAR SINCE the insulation, geothermal system and building envelope sealing have been completed on our 50-year-old home in Indianapolis. Enough time to see the effects on energy consumption across all four seasons.

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Have a Green and Happy New Year

Posted by Tom Miller

Jan 8, 2011 11:11:00 AM

2010 WAS A GOOD YEAR, especially in terms of getting our home a bit more “buttoned up” in terms of fixing the building envelope issues, adding geothermal and landscaping in a more water-efficient manner.=

The home certainly feels much more comfortable. All through a hot and humid summer, the thermostat was set at 78 and 76 degrees for the two different zones, and was much more comfortable than the previous 70-degree setting, which was cool but damp.

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A Green Landscape Without a Sprinkler.

Posted by Tom Miller

Aug 17, 2010 12:21:00 PM

I REALLY DO NOT LIKE WATERING THE GRASS.It seems like such a terrible waste to use treated water to grow the grass, which then has to be cut, fertilized and treated with herbicides and pesticides.

So, for the past several years I have been implementing a landscaping plan that would dramatically reduce the amount of water, fertilizer and chemicals I used. I started by focusing on two ways to minimize the amount of grass on the property: using native ground cover and hardscaping.

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An Update on the Geothermal System

Posted by Tom Miller

Jul 6, 2010 8:34:00 AM

WITH ALMOST TWO MONTHS OF HOT, HUMID INDIANA WEATHER since the geothermal system was installed, we couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Utility bills are going down and the comfort level in the home has improved dramatically.

In the past when the weather got into the mid-to-upper 80s, with the humidity not too far behind, we’d set the thermostat on 70 degrees, and be cool, but “clammy”. Now we set the main zone in the home at 75 degrees and the second (less used part of the home) on 77 degrees, and we’re totally comfortable, without the clammy feeling. That’s because the humidity is controlled via the Whirlpool dehumidifier to stay below 50% relative humidity.

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Geothermal System is Installed

Posted by Tom Miller

May 12, 2010 12:53:00 PM

JUST A YEAR AFTER I STARTED making my 50+ year-old home more energy efficient and sustainable, the biggest part of the project was completed. When I first started investigating my HVAC options I was focused on high efficiency furnaces (gas and heat pump varieties). But the more I investigated geothermal, the more intrigued I became.

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Geothermal Earth Day

Posted by Tom Miller

Apr 22, 2010 8:42:00 AM

WELL, THIS IS ONE EARTH DAY I WON'T FORGET. I’m getting the ground loops put in for a geothermal system to heat and cool our home, and to provide hot water as well. The CimateMaster system I saw at the GreenBuild tradeshow last October will be installed next week.

It’s taken a long time from initial discussion to installation, but I think it will be well worth it.

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