Category Archives: A Parallel Homeowner

Re-Think Windows to Reduce Costs

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Before replacing our windows, we asked ourselves – do we really need all the windows? Our house is light and bright. But, two windows facing due west let in too much summer heat. And, an east-facing window above the bed just didn’t seem necessary with three other big windows in the room.

 

 

Should we remove them? We needed to be sure that wouldn’t be a big mistake. To test-drive the idea, we kept those shades lowered for a long time. Decision made.

 

We don’t miss the windows at all. In fact, we like the recovered wall space and

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Insulation – Good for the Garage

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Our attached garage is now fully insulated. It’s cold outside but the garage is comfortable. I don’t need to wear a coat to use my treadmill! The garage was even more unbearable on hot summer afternoons. I couldn’t even consider hopping on the treadmill then. I’ll have no excuse this summer.

 

We searched for the smartest insulation option. For us that meant a reasonably high R-value, low cost, and eco-friendly manufacturing. I did a bit of on-line comparison shopping.

 

We found an eco option. Owens Corning offers EcoTouch® PINK® FIBERGLAS™ Insulation. It’s formaldehyde-free with 58% recycled content. It’s

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Choose an INSULATED garage door

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Our garage door creaked as it opened and the opening mechanism whined like it was about to die. It was time for a new garage door and opener in our “slow-flip” house. That means we have yet another opportunity to install energy-saving features. And, a new garage door will upgrade the look of the house.

 

In our former house, I got an uninsulated door and regretted that budget-cutting decision. The garage was always very cold in our high-mountain location.

 

I started with web

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Staying Cool – Solar Energy Lowers Air Conditioning Costs

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June was a very hot month and we used our air conditioning quite a bit (for a surprising reason I’ll share below). We braced for a high utility bill. The good news is that June was a sunny month. Our solar energy PV system produced much of our monthly energy use. So, our June electric bill was only $12!

 

We were used to a cooler climate so we (including our dogs) enjoy staying cool with this creature comfort. We normally use air conditioning sparingly, wanting to reduce energy use and go easy on the budget.

 

We always practice energy efficiency

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Windows Save Energy

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We bought our house knowing we would need to replace all the windows. Leaky inefficient windows made the house very uncomfortable in the chilly winter, throughout the hot summer and on windy days.

 

We set some must-have features for our replacement windows:

 

We wanted low-e windows. They reflect heat, keeping summer heat outside and winter heat inside. We wanted durable, low-maintenance, energy-efficient frames. That ruled out vinyl frames. Vinyl does not hold up to weather extremes over time. It ruled out wood frames. Wood, although beautiful, needs resurfacing and degrades with extreme sun or moisture damage (a lesson learned

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Shower Green – Let the Savings Flow

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Now for our next step to transform our slow-flip house into a sustainable gem. We tackled the shower in our master bath.

 

There is a dizzying variety of showerheads and shower systems to choose from. It’s important to consider water-saving units. Saving water means saving energy too – the energy that pumps, treats, transports and heats the water.

 

I looked for the EPA WaterSense® Label to narrow my search. WaterSense Showerheads use 2.0 gallons per minute (gpm) or less. That compares to standard new showerheads that use 2.5 gpm or older ones (before 1992 federal

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Saving Money with My Solar PV System

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We moved into our slow-flip house before June and started paying the dreaded electric bill. In December we installed a solar photovoltaic system and the impact on our bill was amazing!

We stopped paying for electricity. In fact, we produce more electricity than we use so the utility pays us! Bottom line, we saved about $45 each month for a total of $540 the first year. We achieved those savings even after installing air conditioning – a creature comfort we thought we needed. Happily, we get a check from the electric utility every few months.

Our solar installer, Positive Energy

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Kitchen Appliances – Go Green

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We replaced all the appliances in our kitchen. Energy-efficient appliances reduced our energy bills, quieted the operating noise and gave us a sleek new look with modern features. ENERGY STAR® and the yellow labels guided our choices.

The appliances in our “slow-flip” house were outdated and mismatched. It was a no-brainer to replace them. It’s daunting to walk through the aisles of refrigerators, dishwashers and stoves with so many styles, price points and features. Decisions. Decisions.

The refrigerator is the biggest energy user among kitchen appliances. So, I focused on finding the perfect energy-efficient refrigerator.

Right-sizing was the first thing to consider

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Home Gardening – First Baby Step

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I need to take baby steps to become a gardener. I found an easy way to begin a garden and green my thumb.

I’ve had some luck with gardening and lots of lessons learned. Living next to a natural area, many different critters have enjoyed my lettuce and tomatoes – just when they were ready to pick! But, I can’t say they got all that much from my meager try.

I could easily give up. The many farmers markets make it easy to get fresh, organic, locally-grown foods.

A Parallel World is influencing me to take another step.

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