Monday, August 25, 2008

Always Room for Improvement

In my new-found quest to live more green, I have begun to occasionally have a defeated feeling in my gut when I look around at all that I have done in the past that is most certainly not GREEN, and cannot easily be undone. Today, it struck me that I was looking at the glass half-empty, rather than half-full, and I strolled around making a quick, mental list of the things we have done right, admittedly not even knowing it:

1. Our nearly 4-foot deep roof overhang protects our home from the Florida heat, helping us to use less energy to cool the house. This depth also provides refuge for the bushes around the home from some of the beating sun each day.

2. Following an energy audit, I did all of the improvements that were suggested, such as caulking windows, adding more insulation (the maximum), and insulating certain pipes for the air conditioner.

3. Rather than replacing our small hot water heater with a larger one for our family of 5, I chose to better manage our hot-water usage by scheduling its use throughout the day in order to make a smaller amount of hot water go further. At the time, I merely thought I was saving the cost of a hot water heater, but now I realize that I have saved much in electric cost to heat the extra water we would have used, had we continued to do laundry, dishes and showers all at night, as previously.

4. I have a rain barrel positioned at the rear corner of my house underneath a gutter downspout. That's it pictured above. Each time it rains, the barrel fills with rainwater, which I use to quench the thirst of my potted plants. My plants prefer the rainwater to tap (yucky chlorine!) and I save lots of water. (Yes, I have LOTS of potted plants) My rain barrel is painted with a beautiful nature scene and a picket fence—most adorable. I am often asked what it is and rarely have I met anyone who knew of them.

5. We have a Hot Tap installed near our air conditioner, which somehow (I’m clueless!) collects the hot water circulating out of the air handler and places it into the hot water heater to remain hot. This saves us the electrical expense of heating the water.

6. A few years ago when we did some work on the house, we added additional roof vents and a roof ventilation fan. This sucks hot air out of the attic and expels it through a vent, thereby maintaining a cooler attic which extends the life of the roof.

If you are interested in any of these ideas, I’ll be glad to tell you what I know. Feel free to comment below.

I feel better just finding a few things around here that don’t appear to be sucking the life out of our Earth. It does trouble me, though, that my list of goals to correct previous faux pas is soooo long. Such is life; there is always room for improvement. I'll work harder at seeing the glass half full.

Tomorrow's tips on eating organic are all about saving money by making use of your over-ripe fruit. I'll be making organic fresh-fruit sorbet. It's awesome; hope you'll join me.

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