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Happy Earth Day XXXVIII

Posted by admin on Apr 22nd, 2008
Apr 22

That’s right, it’s the 38th Earth Day. Hopefully you will celebrate the day by doing something good to cut down on the pollutants we blindly exhaust into the air, or contaminants we put into the water, or the things we do to jeopardize nature and all of its inhabitants. And hopefully that one thing you do to celebrate the day will give encouragement to you, and those around you, to continue celebrating Earth Day every day. I’m telling you – once you start, it becomes easier and easier to consistently make little changes that make consistently big differences.

Some simple things to start out with? Here’s some ideas:

1. Here’s my favorite tip. Do you have a burnt out light? Go get a CFL light, a double pack will probably run around $5, and replace it. Is that light in a place you don’t use the light very often? Then take a light bulb from somewhere you do use lights all the time – like the living room or the kitchen – and put that incandescent light in the low usage area. Then put the cfl in the higher usage area instead. That way you get maximum return on your cfl investment right away.

2. When you throw something away, think to yourself, “is any part of this recyclable?”. I know that a lot of times it can be a little tedious to properly recycle – like taking labels off of glass jars and the caps off of plastic bottles – but if you start thinking about it then it will become a simple habit and will soon become a consistent part of your day. Things that I didn’t give any thought to recycling before were: receipts, bags from a fast food stop (as long as there’s no grease on it), batteries, the laundry detergent bottle, most mail, cans (with the labels taken off), etc. I’m going to be putting up more recycling tips and guidelines in the near future and I’m going to try to make it an easy reference type page.

3. For a little more extreme do-it-yourself starter, you can save the water from your shower or bath and use it to water your garden. This is what’s known as grey water and it is full of good stuff, which your garden will love. As far as getting it out of the tub or shower effectively? I have a 5.5gpm pump that I bought at a used electronics store for $20 (from APEX Electronics in the San Fernando Valley if you’re in the area – I LOVE this store!) and hooked it up to a marine battery I had laying around.

4. Plant a tree. Either for shade, curb appeal or just because. If you don’t want to do it, don’t have time to do it, or don’t have a place to do it, then these guys can do it for you.

5. Do you watch a lot of TV? Have you been thinking of upgrading, or are about to upgrade your TV? If so, then donate your old TV and get a new LCD TV (!*NOT PLASMA*!). LCD’s use a lot less power than the old style TV’s and they are really coming down in price these days.

Bottom line – do what you can to make the planet the best it can be, then go out and enjoy it.

It’s not as hard as it sounds

Posted by admin on Apr 22nd, 2008
Apr 22

We bought our house about 15 months ago in the West Van Nuys (now Lake Balboa) area. When we were looking for houses it was one of those situations where we *knew* this was the house for us when we went on the first walk through. To make a long story short, the inspector came out, found a few minor things here and there – it’s a 1952 house so there’s going to be things – and made a comment that the attic has a lot of space and could probably be converted into a storage area or even another room. We have since determined, for multiple reasons, that the inspector was not the best one we probably could have invested in. For starters, you can’t build a room in your attic as is, period. The ceiling joists need to be converted into floor joists which means a roof removal, and structural changes, and…. Sorry, I’m getting side tracked. The round about point is that the inspector didn’t tell us that we had, at best, 3″ of insulation in our attic and, at worst, no insulation for up to a 10 foot square area. I would have liked to know that.

Last summer we had a hard time keeping up with the heat. It would get as high as 115-120 degrees at times and would take several hours to cool down at night. Needless to say we had our AC on for 10-12 hours a day – our highest electric bill was $585 last summer, which was quite astonishing. I’m not certain what caused me to go up into the attic the first time, but what ever it was I’m glad it happened. We have recessed lights that are IC rated (i.e. can be in direct contact with insulation) that didn’t have ANY insulation around them at all, and a bathroom ceiling that was completely devoid of a stitch of insulation. How did anyone survive in this house in the height of summer?

Since the moment I first ventured up into the attic, it has long been on my list of todo’s to insulate. It’s our norm to make it to a hardware store at least once a weekend for any one of our home projects. On one of those such visits to Lowe’s I found that they sell the Eco-friendly blown in insulation and the blowers to go along with that, all ready for the do-it-yourself-er. The insulation is “85% recycled” and has some strange stuff in it – like newspaper shreds, plastic bag particles, and other such filler material. It’s a two person project but it is one we knew we needed to tackle. Three hours and $250 later and we now have a fully insulated attic with 9-10″ of blown in enviro-friendly insulation. It was a little hot, messy, dusty, and dirty, but a lot easier than I thought it would be and well worth it in the long run.

I think I said it on an earlier post, but I can’t wait to see my next electric bill. I’ve got a little less than a month left. Between the gable fan, the programmable thermostat, and the insulation we should see a huge improvement over last summer. Next we will need to replace our single pane windows – but that will probably have to wait until next winter.

Here’s a picture of my helpers. They loaded the insulation hopper while I was up in the attic.

The troopers who fed the hungry insulation blower