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I had planned to share the ups, downs, ins and outs of my eco-friendly move this week, but I am buried in boxes and need a little breathing room in order to give you a better perspective. Rest assured, I have spent more time researching an eco-friendly move than anyone else I know — and I will reveal all. My beloved friend Eric has packed up a Penske truck full of stuff from my mom’s house and is working his way to Kansas. (Even though they barely mention it, according to my research Penske has worked harder than any other national truck rental company to make their fleet more fuel-efficient.)
While Eric winds his way through Virginia and Kentucky, I am hastily stuffing the contents of my apartment into boxes. (Cardboard boxes are easy to procure; ask friends like I did or check in with local businesses to see if you can have their cast-offs. U-Haul’s box exchange is also pretty nifty.) I’m keeping myself (somewhat) sane by listening to live stories from The Moth and boning up on my grammar with the audio book Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. (I am a word freak. Good writing makes me swoon.)
And I am dreaming of energy efficiency.
Last week, energy auditor Ryan Grimm paid me a visit. Armed with an infrared camera, duct blaster and an odd contraption that compressed the air within the house, he determined that the air in my house exchanges with outside air at a ratio of 1:1. This means that every hour, all the air inside my home is replaced with outside air — and explains why I am now dreaming of energy efficiency.
The infrared picture shows where the heat and cool interface. I am losing all the warm air in my house and replacing it with cold air every hour. Spring isn’t the hardest time to have to grapple with this but imagine how hard the furnace in my sweet little 84-year-old home has to work in colder months. (I don’t have central air-conditioning, otherwise that would be a concern, as well.) I need to help her (and my wallet) out.
Rex Miller writes in his book Carpentry & Construction, “Insulation can help conserve as much as 30 percent of the energy lost in a home ... [and] wall outlets are a source of 20 percent of this leakage.” One small but mighty way to save energy is to place socket sealers in your electrical sockets and switches. Socket sealers are foam pads that go between faceplates and sockets. You can make or buy them. When it comes to saving energy, they are little pieces of heaven.
My friend Carol reminded me a home is like a person. People put on hats and warm up extremities to stay warm. I’m following suit with my house. The most important thing I can do to keep my home cozy is insulate my attic and seal up any air leaks. According to the Department of Energy, only one in five homes built before 1980 are well insulated. If you have an unfinished basement like I do, get down there, weatherproof doors and windows and seal in cracks with spray foam. You have to warm up your house’s head and feet — even if you have spiders.
Back to the boxes,
Photo by Ryan Grimm