Sunday, January 18, 2009

It Isn't Always Easy Being Green

Tony and I are by no means the "greenest" we could be. But I like to think we are learning - and we are definitely open to doing things that may be slightly inconvenient for us, but are little things that can make a big difference.

We recently installed a hot water heater blanket. These heaters are huge wasters of energy in a home, and for $20, the blanket is supposed to significantly reduce the energy wasted from the heat escaping off the surface of the tank. This means lower energy bills for us, and less wasted energy in general.

As you can see, once we were done (and covered in fiberglass shards) it looked like a pack of environmentally-conscious kindergartners put it up. You have to cut around all of the knobs and pipes, which isn't easy. That sucker is super-thick.

After one day of me at work having visions of our house burning to the ground with our puppies inside, we decided maybe it should come down. I read a few articles, and discovered that for gas heaters (which is what we have) you should leave installation up to the pros. Also, our water heater is ancient, and I'm pretty sure it's a fire hazard on it's own, without the help of being covered in fiberglass and plastic. So until we can have someone who knows what they are doing put it in, we put that idea on hold. But apparently electric ones are a lot easier to install, so if you have one of those, I would recommend it!

We also recently installed a programmable thermostat. Our old one was also ancient, causing our heat to turn on and off all day and night, and the temp was never stable. Our fancy new one is set based on our schedule, turning down when we are sleeping and at work, and kicking back on in time for it to be comfortable by the time we get up or get home, and we've noticed our heater is getting more time off as a result, while we remain toasty. Of course, the new one is a different shape, and we have no leftover paint... I'm betting that little white square will be there for a year, at least!

We've also put CFLs in all of our light fixtures. They work just as well as regular lights, and I'm lazy, so I like the fact that we have to change them much less often -- none so far! Of course you have to be careful with them, as they contain mercury, and dispose of them properly once they do die. We even found ones to go in our bathroom fixture - ones that aren't spirally and weird looking. However, these take much longer to get that fluorescence going... which isn't too helpful when I'm already late and need more than a dim glow to put on my makeup! Patience is a virtue, right?

Unfortunately, our garbage company doesn't pick up recycling. Luckily, we live right down the street from the recycling center. I love these bins from Ikea that conveniently hold all of our recycling -- and believe me, there's a lot of it! I could never go back to throwing all of this stuff away, knowing how much we recycle. The center has never recycled glass, and they recently discontinued recycling plastic, because it became too expensive (lame). Fortunately, we don't go through too much glass or plastic, but if they stopped taking Diet Coke cans, I would feel violated. Cardboard too -- soooo many things are overpackaged and wasteful - we have two bins just for cardboard.

I know there are many more things we could add to our list to be "greener." Not just because it saves us money (although, that helps!), but because I feel responsible knowing there are things that I could do to make our lives and the earth a little healthier. I plan on continuing adding to our list!


  1. I do not blame you for taking that off, it would scare me as well!

  2. Way to go girl! You should be proud that you are making an effort to be more green!

  3. I like your bins for recycling. I need some of those! We just use a variety of cardboard boxes . . .


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