Monday, April 23, 2007

So I am late!

I have a good excuse!

First Imelda had to sing at mass.. she is a member of the children's choir at church and I love to pick the sound of her voice out of the mass of little girls and boys... plus if you listen carefully? You can hear her giving the other children directions... (she has done this since she was about... oh, 3)

Then we had to be ready for the Angel's track meet. but as it turns out it was cancelled due to insurance concerns... stupid

THEN, finally at 7:00pm Imelda had her quarter?/semi? final volley ball match. Amazingly, the burned through the other team... the Saints. And this was the Saints first stringers... our girls played their B-team on Saturday.. and dispatched them. Now they play again next Sunday. And if they win at 4:00 pm... they will be back at 7:00 to win the whole thing! (knocking on wood as I type this)


I missed Earth Day.

But here is the thing. It is important and easy to respect the earth. And ironically? Cost Effective. So many people think that to be environmentally correct has to include strange architecture and inefficient appliance. But this is no more!

Here are some things that Fun Daddy and I have included in the rehab that are environmentally friendly...

Roof: Metal with a Hylar coating before the final color coating. The Hylar is important in that it improves the reflectivity of the roof. This allows solar radiation to bounce off the roof back into the atmosphere instead of transforming from solar to thermal energy. The metal roof also cools quickly after sundown. All around this decreases the energy use for cooling. Increased electrical use in summer generally requires the use of more fossil fuels which increases global warming gas production as well as an increase in ground level ozone.

Appliances: We are using as many Energy Star rated or equivalent appliances as possible. The washer and dryer and energy star rated, the fridge has an equivalent rating.... In fact using as much energy in the course of a year as a standard incandescent light bulb. The zoned heating and cooling units are all high efficiency and will work to keep the various zones at optimal temps without over taxing the entire system. In lieu of a high efficiency hot water tank, we have opted for an on demand hot water system... This allows us to have all the hot water we need by super heating water quickly when we need it instead of wasting energy heating and reheating a tank of water that will then be depleted. oh and the washer and dryer system minimize the use of water (front loading) and are Energy Star rated.

Windows? Low e double insulated windows that keep heat in more than standard double insulated.

Insulation? Well, we have some now.. The house is now built to Energy Code instead of relying on the thermal mass of the building we will actually have R-13 in the walls and R-40 in the roofing. this cuts down on heating and cooling cost. we lost some space in areas of the house but gained additional benefits...

Such as daylighting! In those parts of the house where insulation was added to the old portion of the house each window now has a 10-inch sill. This sill allow light to bounce off of it and in fact acts like an interior light shelf.. The light in house is brighter than we have ever had.. especially in the basement. Wow. I really recommend it.

Another issue with light? Compact fluorescents. Dollar for dollar the best money you can spend to green your house. Not only do they use less electricity to operate? They last longer too! The cost efficiency of these bulbs make up for their steeper initial cost. So... buy two or three a month... The first one that I bought lasted 7 years. And that was for a bathroom light that needed to be on almost constantly due to the darkness of the room naturally and that it was the bathroom and I had little kids. Yes! One CFL got me through potty training and then another 5 years with mes filles.... The initial cost of the bulb? $8. How many incandescent bulbs would you have gone through in that time period given the use of the light? I guess 20. I saved money on the cost of the bulbs alone without considering the cost of the energy to run them...


The final item that I think of in this rehab is one of the most vain... Paint.

I insisted on Low-VOC paints. VOCs are volatile organic compounds and can best be described as the stinky fumes in products that are considered bad for the environment. Gas, paint, to name a couple. VOCs outside the house lead to an increase of ground level ozone. Now I know you are thinking, "Ozone? Don't we need more of that stuff?" and yes we do.... but we need it in the stratosphere to protect the earth from ultra-violet radiation. This radiation causes skin cancer and ironically the preponderance of ground level ozone...

Ground level ozone on the other hand leads to increased respiratory problems in people with those kinds of problems (for example, my brother would have had to stay in on an ozone action day.) Why?

Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs interact with particulate matter in the presence of sunshine and create ground level ozone. The best way to fix this? eliminate the VOCs which are present in gasoline, paint fumes and thinners, dry cleaning fluids, farming and ruminant animals (the dreaded cow methane) and particulate matter which is most common in the burning of fossil fuels such as diesel fuels and gasoline and dusts from natural resources. Together in the presence of sunshine, these chemicals create ground level ozone...

So yes I am late, but Happy Earth Day! I can't wait to start on my outdoors agenda!

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