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Greening your House

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Greening your House

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  • #99144
    Chris Sunami
    Chris Sunami
    Participant

    I’ve lately been interested in the concept of things ordinary home-owners can do to make their houses more ecological. Is anyone else doing this? I have some things I’d like to try, but probably need some advice (so far this is mainly speculative for me, but I want to move forward).

    Lights: I’m way behind on this. I hate CFLs and I haven’t had good luck with them. The ones I do have seem to burn out quickly, maybe because of my kids flipping the lights all the time. I like the new LEDs, but they are still prohibitively expensive. Lately I discovered the new halogens –not as efficient as the CFLs, but great light quality on lower wattage.

    Our house is setup with most rooms having multiple floodlights in cans on the ceiling. I dislike this for several reasons, but my wife likes the effect so we’re probably sticking with it. That said, I’d love some suggestions on making it more energy efficient.

    Water Heater: I found some info online about building your own solar powered heater for $1,000. Hopefully our current heater has some good years left on it, but whenever it goes, I want to try this.

    Rain Barrel: I made my own out of a plastic garbage can. However, I’ve more recently heard you should only use food quality plastic. Am I pouring toxic plastic chemicals on my vegetables?

    Solar: It seems like there are some companies that are bringing solar panels in reach of the average homeowner through leasing plans. Unfortunately they only operate in states with more enlightened alternative energy subsidies.

    Roofing: The demo eco-house on my street has a flat metal roof with ridges. I’m assuming this is to facilitate rainwater collection? Not really sure what this is for, but it looks like it might require less maintenance and create less waste than the standard. Anyone know about the cost comparisons?

    Inner Storms: Fortunately our house is well insulated with newer windows, but we still lose a lot of heat through the windows. I’ve been thinking about doing inner storm windows. I’ve seen some info on do it yourself kits using sheets of plexiglass. My main question on these is where to purchase the plexiglass. It is expensive at Home Depot and Lowes, but if you order online, the shipping costs are as much as the plexiglass itself. Anyone tried this, and how well did it work for you?

    What else can a homeowner without much spare cash try?

    #552911

    Alex Silbajoris
    Participant

    I stumbled into luck on some LEDs, Kroger had them on closeout, marked down by more than half, so I loaded up. Later, they were restocked in different packaging at full price.

    I’m mostly running CFLs with mixed results. I have a few different kinds, and some have slow startups – it annoys Linda, but sometimes I like it when the lights come up slow, and give my eyes more time to adjust before full blast.

    Half of my roof runoff gets channeled to the back garden instead of the curb, but no rain barrel yet.

    Save on air conditioning by opening the house in early morning and let the night’s stale warm air rise out. Sometimes this alone is enough to let you pass the day without turning the system.

    ETA food waste – tomorrow is our trash pickup (6:30 am) so today we clean out the fridge and finish off the stray leftovers instead of throwing them out.

    #552912
    Chris Sunami
    Chris Sunami
    Participant

    Save on air conditioning by opening the house in early morning and let the night’s stale warm air rise out. Sometimes this alone is enough to let you pass the day without turning the system.

    I know some people have the giant attic fans –does anyone know if those are worth investing in? We don’t have central air anyway, you can’t keep a unit around here.

    ETA food waste – tomorrow is our trash pickup (6:30 am) so today we clean out the fridge and finish off the stray leftovers instead of throwing them out.

    I try never to throw away food, although I haven’t done well with that in recent years. But we do compost all vegetable matter, that has worked out well.

    #552913

    Alex Silbajoris
    Participant

    Water conservation when dishwashing – the rinse water from one item can be the soaking water for another item. Old camping trick.

    #552914

    SusanB
    Participant

    All of our gutters feed into 12 rain barrels on our front porch (yeah, we are “that” house) which feed the vegetable garden in the front yard. The added bonus is that the basement has never been dryer.

    #552915
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster
    #552916

    roy
    Participant

    Chris, what’s your trash situation? With glass, mixed recyclables, cardboard, chipboard and paper pulled out of landfill trash, and food scrap/organics diverted to compost you can get your landfill trash to nearly zero.

    If you can’t compost at home you can hire Compost Columbus for food scrap diversion:
    http://www.compostcolumbus.com/

    #552917
    derm
    derm
    Participant

    Many many things. The cheap things:

    I too got me some of the Kroger LED bulbs. Those go on sale occasionally and I would keep an eye open for them. I would recheck the CFL bulbs. They have soft and blue white colors. Either works great for savings. They now make both LED and CFL can light bulbs.

    Caulk. Dirt cheap. Go around every window, crack and crevice outside to minimize leaks. Same with weather stripping your doors.

    Insulation upstairs. Best do it yourself job for a homeowner. Rolls of the pink stuff, alternate directions each layer. Mind the vapor barriers.

    Compost pile. Saves money if you pay for garbage. You can also do plastic bags at grocery stores. We recycle everything plastic in them and let God sort it out. We don’t fill a garbage can ever with a family of four.

    Check to see if you have the best deal on gas and electric. The default companies are the most expensive.

    Wood stove. Got one at a good price, had Blackburn put it in our old gas chimney space. Run it at 85% efficiency with a tax break, and for it to spare our utility bills plus it is pretty nice. It warms our first floor so the thermostat does not come on until the middle of the night when it cools down. I don’t mind a cool bedroom to fall asleep in. If you do then mix in an electric blanket. you can find dirt cheap woodstoves on Craigslist all day long. If you have a wood source you have heat.

    We have a whole house fan and love it. Keeps the A/C bill to a minimum. Not too expensive. We paid 800 to have the fan installed completely. A very good do it your selfer can do it. If work did not take my time at the time I would do it. Framing and electric skill, half a day of work.

    Underfloor heat mats. When I did my bathrooms I put the radiant heat mats in and put insulation under it. You can keep your house cooler if your bathroom gives you the warm shivers when you walk into it at night or after you get out of the shower. They use a minimum of electricity to keep a coil warm.

    Dryer vent heat scavenger. You can get a little louver vent in 4″ dryer pipe that when you run your dryer, you flip a switch and it vents the warm air into the area. They come with a filter you clean just like the dryer filter. Makes the basement warm when you do laundry and scavenges lost heat. Ten bucks.

    If I think of anything else I will post up

    #552918

    HighLife
    Participant

    +1 on the whole house fan – couldn’t live without it.

    #552919

    Analogue Kid
    Participant

    Walker said:
    Good timing! ;)

    https://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/greenspot-members-offered-12-off-energy-audits

    I had this done, and even at full price it was well worth it to find out my furnace and water heater weren’t venting correctly and there were huge air leaks in an area I would have never thought to check.

    derm said:
    Check to see if you have the best deal on gas and electric. The default companies are the most expensive.

    Don’t know about Grandview’s aggregation thing, but in Columbus the standard Columbia Gas offer is still the cheapest. Some companies offer teaser rates that are lower for a month or two, but you aren’t going to do better than the default price because of the auction setup they have for now.

    #552920
    derm
    derm
    Participant

    Analogue Kid said:
    I had this done, and even at full price it was well worth it to find out my furnace and water heater weren’t venting correctly and there were huge air leaks in an area I would have never thought to check.

    Don’t know about Grandview’s aggregation thing, but in Columbus the standard Columbia Gas offer is still the cheapest. Some companies offer teaser rates that are lower for a month or two, but you aren’t going to do better than the default price because of the auction setup they have for now.

    Grandview had a pretty good deal when it was available and I am glad I did it gas wise. Electric you have your choice of many. I locked in a rate almost 30% lower than AEP from Dayton Power and Electric for this upcoming winter. You don’t really need an offer sheet, just call around. They gave me a better deal that what came in the mail when I asked them what their deals were.

    #552921
    hugh59
    hugh59
    Participant

    CFL bulbs are not cost efficient. I installed a 3-way CFL bulb in a lamp in my living room on November 10, 2013. It lasted until January 1, 2014. It was supposed to last 8,000 hours. It lasted about 500 hours. My guess was that it was on about 3 to 10 hours per day. It lasted about 50 days.

    In order to get the maximum life out of a CFL bulb, you need to leave it turned on 24/7. That hardly saves energy.

    #552922
    Chris Sunami
    Chris Sunami
    Participant

    I’ve also had bad experiences with the CFLs. And the new halogen flood lights I was excited about all burned out in about a month –they were great while they lasted. :o

    Here’s hoping the LED’s come down rapidly in price, given that they’re phasing out the old filament bulbs. I hate to be reactionary but I might have to start hording if the alternatives don’t improve fast…

    #552923
    rus
    rus
    Participant

    ChrisSunami said:
    I hate to be reactionary but I might have to start hording if the alternatives don’t improve fast…

    It’s not reactionary to want a working product.

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)

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