October 10, 2011

Live Green, Save Green

Shortly after the Hubs and I toured The Lodge for the first time, we asked my parents to come up and take a look at the place with us.  Since the home was listed as a short sale, and the sheriff’s sale for foreclosure was just weeks away, the bank agreed to take our offer, but only if we accepted the house “as is.”  We wanted them to go through with a really critical eye and point out any potential problems, so I guess I shouldn’t have been so offended when they pointed out every tiny little problem with our baby.  The number one thing my Dad said, “this is going to be one heck of a house to heat and cool.”

That comment wasn’t lost on me, and since we moved in back in April we’ve been trying to find ways to make the home more energy efficient.  So I was thrilled when the good people at Home Depot reached out to me and asked if I wanted to participate in their “Live Green, Save Green” Campaign, all about how DIYers can update their home to be more efficient, and save some major cash in the process.  We’re no strangers to the Home Depot at our house, to the point where Ryder can literally tell you which locations have the “race car carts” and which ones don’t.  (20 blog points if you can guess which ones he prefers.)  In fact, here’s a little video we caught when Ryder was just a year and a half telling us what he wanted to do for the weekend.

 To get started, all we had to do was go through the 6 steps in our “Home Energy Audit,” with the help of this handy little tool kit they sent. 

I couldn't keep him out of the shot.  Erin- “Let’s go put this somewhere I can take a better photo.” Ryder- “Like in my playroom?”

 Step 1- Insulation.  I grabbed the ladder and hauled it up into each of our attic spaces to check out the R Value.  The handy little map Home Depot sent said that for our area of the country, attics should be insulated from R-49 to R-60. 

 I’m no stranger to the horrors of fiberglass insulation, in fact, I rank it’s itchy, painful residue that gets left on your body and won’t wash off right up there with one of the tortures from the Saw movies.  So I geared up with the safety equipment Home Depot so generously provided. 

I just got back from a run and didn't want to shower before I climbed up in the attic.  Forgive the sport top.
In the first attic, (found above the Laundry Room and spanning over the Main Bath, Hallway, Guest Bedroom, Laundry Room and Playroom,) I placed in the provided ruler, and at first it was a little hard to tell the actual level, but it looked like R44.

Then I found this sweet artifact stapled to the rafters:

July 2, 1981, R Value 44
 The second attic is above our Master Bedroom and Bath, and that one was also to R-44, although quite uneven.

Even though R-44 looks like it was code back when the house was built in 1981, today’s standards are higher.  We could save a lot of money by adding a little more insulation to our house. 

Step 2- Thermostat.  Since we just installed a new high efficiency furnace, complete with a programmable thermostat, we’re all set in that department. 

Step 3- Weather Stripping.- Although I’ve seen (and used) the full window, shrink wraps that you can apply to your windows for additional weather proofing in the winter, I’ve never before seen the Weather Striping that Home Depot recommends that you apply around the outside edge of your windows to prevent cold air from coming in.  With 20 windows in the house, that would help a lot.  We also have 2 doors that could use some draft guards- look at all that daylight you can see under the door.  Bad news.

Our bigger problem might be the 6 huge sliding glass doors that we have in our home.  Two of them are original to the house, and you can practically feel the draft blowing through them. 

Step 4- Air Filter.  Even though we had a brand new 4” filter placed in our new High efficiency furnace just 5 months ago, dusty and dirty home improvement projects like tearing up the tile have coated our filter thick with dust.  Getting a new one, with Allergen would really help.

Step 5- Energy Efficient Lighting- A quick tour of the house found 12 recessed lights that could use new energy efficient bulbs.  More over, we’d love to speak with a lighting expert at Home Depot about ways that we can make the many can lights, track lights, and other huge light fixtures in this house more efficient.  Look at some of these huge, ugly, energy sucking bastards.

Step 6- Water Conservation.  I don’t even like venturing into our gross Main and Downstairs Bathrooms, especially since Bath Crashers remodeled our Master Bathroom.  I’d gladly walk all the way up there from the Family Room to use our space ship toilet with the heated seat and front and rear cleanse. (Make fun all you want, but once you go bidet, you never go back.)   Remodeling the other two bathrooms is definitely on our short list, but we’re saving these two projects for this winter when we won’t feel bad about spending days in the house working instead of enjoying the weather outside.  (Hey, we live in Minnesota- we need to live it up outside when we can.)

 This 30 year old toilet in the Main Bath certainly wasn’t built with water conservation in mind, so it would be great to replace this toilet with a WaterSense product that uses 20% less water and could save our family up to $90 a year.  For our newer model downstairs, a dual flush converter could be installed to help reduce water use there as well. 

When all was said and done, I had quite the list of projects that I’m going to need to get moving on this fall so that my home is ready for the tough Minnesota winter ahead.  We’ll be blogging about every detail (would you expect anything less?) and will also have some great giveaways from Home Depot for you all so that you can do a little energy upgrading of your own! 

“I was selected by Home Depot to work on their “Live Green, Save Green” program. I will be compensated for the materials needed for my DIY projects. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.”

1 comment:

  1. I'm excited to see the improvements and hear how easy or painful it is. We need almost all of these things in our shack.

    And I love the "hopeeepoo" video :)