May 2008

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Bobby Jones

Holy crap. Someone may actually take this blog seriously.

Andy Coulter

i put new windows, siding and extra attic insulation into my 38 year old house. Problem pretty much solved short of solar panels.


It sounds like this focuses mainly on energy usage, similar to Energy Star for appliances and EPA ratings for cars. But believe it or not, there's more to it than that.

A huge part of the cost of a house is property taxes, at least where I live. Since those taxes are local, and dependent on annual budgets drawn up by brain-dead town council members, they are impossible to estimate accurately. They can vary widely town to town and state to state. The best you can do is assume they will always increase.

Maintenance costs are another big item. Builders will tell you that new houses won't need any work done on them for years, but don't bet on it. Older houses need constant upkeep, but it's different for each one. How do you estimate that? Can you predict when a hidden pipe will start to leak?

Then there's appreciation, (or depreciation), of the value of your property. Do you calculate that into the total? If a new development of expensive homes is built near your house, your value should go up. If the neighborhood gets taken over by gangs of drug pushers and prostitutes, your house could be worth next to nothing.

In other words, too many variables for this to be done with any usable accuracy. In real estate it has always been about Location, Location, and Location. The APR or TCO of similar houses in different locales can be very different. I'll bet Al Gore pays less for property taxes and electricity on his big house in Tennessee than I do for my little house in Connecticut.


The problem with any such rating scheme is that it will soon be hijacked by special interest groups (aka manufacturers) and start mandating particular technologies. You'll end up getting points for "having a solar panel", regardless of its output, or how sunny it is at your house. If you want to quote a single number, quote "price to heat home to 72 degrees in winter" and "price to cool home to 78 degrees in summer".


Surabaya Stew

Hello again Scott,

As an Architect, I can tell you that while the details would be hell to work out (and not quite as easy to compare, due to differing occupancy and usage loads), your idea is not only good but in fact would be a godsend to us hardworking professionals in the building industry. Right now, all these facts and figures and statistics that are used to calculate energy efficiency are contradictory and confusing. Plus, they don't give the entire picture.

However, what would be the best way on enforcing it though? Government mandates? Tax breaks? Societal pressure? Personally, i think this movement should gradually eased in starting with new construction, then higher priced houses and then urban dwellings. I believe that the rest of America (and the world) will follow eventually, because once you have real numbers to compare and relate to, the entire experience of house buying will be transformed away from counting amenities and on a path of sustainability and saving money.

Cartoonists come up with the best ideas!

Tanmay Kumar

This may be old news now, but it deserves strong and repeated mention to get anything done these days, so here goes. eD says "...just hit the print screen button and copy the strip to your favorite..." Someone else put out a bsh script. That's all fine and dandy.


I deal with the Constrictor of IT Services everyday at work anyway.



Do you ever calculate the off-topic comment ratio? If you did, I'm betting this one would be an all-time high......unless that's part of your plot to save the world........

Peter Payne

Hey, digg this idea:


Another big money factor these days is the commuting time, cost, and distance to work and other services. This site:

Has a map showing housing affordability including commute times (it looks like with the assumption that everyone works downtown). This site:

gives an address a score of 0 to 100 depending on an approximation of how many services can be walked to from there. It's not perfect: if you lived on an boat anchored in the middle of the East River, you'd probably still get a score of 100. But it's still a cool hack.


For a long time I've wanted to have a T-shirt with the words 'I fear change' printed on the front. I think I may have found my target market.

Wanna go halvers, Scott? You can have '' on the back.


Scott, I dunno what people are complaining about with the website, but I love it, and it works fine on my computers. Good work with it, and I love the mashup stuff. Seriously, I'm addicted.

John Reedy

I saved the world yesterday, sadly...nobody will ever know, things just go on as usual...

jerry w.

How about an APR for horses, all that hay and oats add up, you know.

Also, as it's been said hay is the first stage of horseshit.

And this is an election year.

Do the math.


Hi Scott! I wonder if you can put some more ugly animated shit on the homepage. I mean, it's not like I go there for the actual comic or anything! Which, by the way, does not ever load for me! Har har!

Seriously though, I don't want any wizz-bang shit. Just give me the fucking comic, in black-and-white. Or don't - I can get along without it, too.


It's easy to do this.

You can call the electric/gas/water companies and ask what the historical average use is for a house you're looking to buy. True, you've got to take into account the current residents (ie: old people like it warm, fat people like it cold, etc) but you can get a general idea.


I enjoy viewing Dilbert first thing every morning when I get to work.

As Amy posted here: , I can't install Adobe Flash here at work.

It would be nice if the new site offered an option to view the Dilbert site the old way, and perhaps saved the viewers preference.


We should extend this principle to everything. All price tags should have a comprehensive estimated TCO. That way at least we would know what we are getting into.


If consumers wanted this it would already be demanded of builders. There is no need for big brother to get involved.



I have to think that the new website design was forced on you by United Feature Syndicate Incorporated. I'd hate to think it was your idea or you in any way participated in the concept.

I like to think you're the kind of creative person that will fight for his brain children. This was just the sort of thing that made Bill Watterson hang it up. He had no tolerance for seeing Calvin and Hobbs corrupted.

The animations are a HUGE MISTAKE. GET RID OF THEM. I want to be able to place the voice of MY boss in the PHB's balloon, and MY inept coworker in Wally's balloon, any MY AA's in Carol's. Not some marginal voice actor.

By the way people, I've never saved the strips myself, but to those of you who do: you can always hit print screen then paste the screen shot into to your fav image editor. A little more work, especially for the Sunday strip, but it seems to be the wave of the future.



continuity broken in today's strip. In pic 1, Asok holds a phone in his right hand and grabs his chest with his left. In pic 3, he still has both hands in this position but this time, his left hand is lifted holding the empty space where the phone was, and his right hand is on his chest.

Jason Dumler

Someone said you couldn't calculate all that stuff. That's silly. Of course you can calculate all that stuff. The idea is to come up with a *rating*, not an accurate measure of how much the house will cost. That way, generally speaking, you know whether or not house A is more efficient than house B. It would take a little while, but people would work out whether 1 point of efficiency is worth $10,000 more over 5 years or not.

Also, you can't save the world in one day. I expect to see another idea tomorrow. Whenever *tomorrow* happens on your blog.


love the new site, well done, and dont listen to the 1% complaining ... can you please sort the blog link though ...

European houses already have this (Energy certificate in the UK ) and its a legal requirent.

and our cars get better MPG too (and look great , and go round corners)

Admit it scott you want to be European (but obviously not French)


This is already law in Europe :)

For example, it will be required starting from 2009 in Italy.


I'm sure it was difficult for all the people slagging off the new Dilbert site when computers shrunk from being the size of a room or when this new-fangled internet came about, but seriously, get a grip people. Things change.

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