Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Big Red’s Green Footprint

I was totally unprepared for the shock of my first gas bill. I shouldn’t have been, for the past three months everyone I showed the house to said “I bet this house is a BITCH to heat.”

Well, apparently they know much more than I do about heating 3,500 square feet of hardwood floors and my first gas bill was high enough to make me sit up and take notice. So I decided to hit the drawing boards to find ways to decrease my energy consumption and reducing my ‘carbon footprint’ in general.

Here’s a brief summary of what I thought may help:

  1. Move my bedroom from the 3rd floor apartment to a more traditional bedroom on the 2nd This enabled me to turn my 2nd heating system down to a chilly forty degree setting and lock the place up for the winter. floor.
  2. Installed a new idiot-proof programmable thermostat. Installation was not idiot proof, but I did get it after breaking the first one (luckily, Home Depot has taken the Army’s stance on asking questions).
  3. Changed nearly all of the lights in the house from regular ol’ bulbs to CFL’s. While not effecting the gas bill, it would effect the electric bill and just seemed like the right thing to do.
  4. Made a full-on attack of my basement situation. My basement, which doesn’t count to the square footage of the house because it’s not finished, consists of over 1000 square feet of open cold air, with pipes and ducts running around like Frankenstein’s lab. First, I insulated my hot water heater and my hot/cold water pipes. Secondly, I spent about two weeks insulating a massive duct that went from the heater, across the basement and up into the second floor. What a pain in the ass, but the effects were immediate. My whole house seemed to warm up & I was able to readjust my thermostat again.
  5. My doorless laundry room was freezing cold, due to the fixture that the dryer vent used to go outside. This coldness was basically making my refrigerator redundant in the kitchen. I attempted to seal it up with no success, so I opted to buy a heavy duty curtain to put over the doorway. The kitchen was warmer within minutes, and looking a lot nicer to boot.
  6. Got a recycle bin. This process was actually done by my neighbor, Alice (more on her when I’ve got time), but long story short, before I knew it, I had three of the suckers in my living room. Since getting the bins, I’ve averaged less than one bag of trash a week.
  7. Adjusted my shower situation. I was showering on the 3rd floor, which meant that the water had to run for nearly 5 minutes before warming up. Rather than moving the show down to the 2nd or 1st floor, I’ve made a concerted effort to shower at the gym as much as possible, which is disgusting. Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m really any cleaner after leaving. Either way, I typically shower there Monday-Friday after making myself sick on the treadmill before going to work. I used to use the ‘house’ soap, but I think it was just colored corn oil or something. This is probably the change that I’m least happy about.
  8. Built a WORM BIN!!! This may sound disgusting, but if you put a bunch of redworms in a Rubbermaid container under your sink in the kitchen, they’ll eat your veggie-type waste. This means, little to nothing goes down my drain any more and in return for saving the little pricks from the pointy end of a fishing pole, they give me potting soil.
  9. What good is potting soil without plants? In the past couple months, I’ve gotten several plants, big and small. A couple were purchased out of pure pity (I’m the Oskar Schindler of grocery store botany), but all are doing fine.

Today I got my gas bill & I was happy to see that my work paid dividends in the form of $100 lower bill, nearly a 30% decrease in one month, of course the amount I spent on insulation, plants, light bulbs and worms is significantly higher than $100, I feel good that it will pay itself off soon enough. If not, there’s a school nearby and I’ve got plenty of room to grow weed in the basement.

1 comment:

Spyder said...

Way to go!

We're replacing our light bulbs as they burn out. Got the prog. thermostat. We recycle. We have a fireplace insert & heat the house burning wood from storm damaged trees or trees that are dead on our property. Also drive a hybrid. Hubby & I carpool together as much as possible.