Energy savings & safety, was: security in cohousing
From: Joe Gotobed (jgotobedLPL.Arizona.EDU)
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 1999 15:15:21 -0600 (MDT)
The responses to the "security in cohousing" thread make it clear we
all agree community is the most effective security. That is the primary
reason our family is involved in the Sonoran CoHousing project here in

While I agree with Liz's statement "there is no such thing as safe"
it's important to try. I advocate automated systems for safety and
energy savings and simply note they can be extended to other uses.

Fire safety. Smoke alarms are essential and I'd like to be able to hear
my neighbors' alarm as well as my own. Ours CoHo will have ten three &
four-plexes. So in addition to the inside horns that wake you from your
sleep, one more on the outside of the building wakes the neighbors.
Make sure it's high enough off the ground to avoid tampering.

Energy efficiency. Interior lighing is a big heat load. Leaving lights
on more than needed wastes energy and adds cooling costs to counter the
heat (I live in a desert). Doors/windows left open also increase
utility bills. Door and window sensors along with motion sensor light
switches (with an on-off overide) will all be paid for by their energy
savings. This is based on current utility costs (which may well rise
over time).

A growing number of lenders are willing to listen to this simple
pitch.  If you lend me the money for the efficiency foo-foo the utility
bill reductions will more than pay the increased mortgage.  You're
simply offering to send the bank some of what you save from the gas &
electric folks. They like that.

Extending these safety and energy savings devices to perform as alert
systems is not complicated and very reliable. I may be a *bit* biased
due to twenty years as a computer-geek but my 5 yearold can turn our
alarm on & off and the three yearold could if we'd thought to put the
panel lower on the wall.  If it was on the outside next to the door
then it could unlock the door for you too. They are used routinely
on autos now which is far more demanding than residential use.

Many homeowners insurance policys are less if you have a "security"

It's certainly true that "security" systems don't make you safe.
Reliable ones alert the community (with few false alarms) to the
presence of burgulars that might otherwise be missed. As a consequence,
word gets around among the thieves, and your space is less of a

Quality designs do not have the horn where the bad guys can silence
it.  The buildings' fire horn, out of reach and easy to see, can do
this duty.

Of course I've not talked my neighbors into any of this :-)... by &
large we're just struggling to keep prices in line & get built. The
extra $1,000 may only be spent by my family when it's all said & done.
And if I only reap the energy savings and never set off the fire alarm
that would suite me just fine. If my teenager is so clueless as to set
of the alarm I've got a real problem :-). Yikes.


Joe Gotobed

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