Monday, January 19, 2009

rise #20

Aaaahhhhhh, can’t you just feel the warmth, or at least imagine it. I’m ready for summer.

Green tip: Home Energy Audits – since my last writing I’ve had the opportunity to follow an energy auditor as he walked a house, and needless to say it was very enlightening and worthwhile. While everyone may not be able to afford a professional audit ($200 – 400), there are certain things you can do to improve your home efficiency and save money:

Insulate – check your attic and if there is less than 12 - 15” of insulation, you need more (goal is R50). Feel your exterior walls and see if they’re considerably colder (during winter) than the air in the room and check behind some electrical outlets for insulation, if you don’t find any insulation and the walls are cold, then get some insulation blown into them too (goal is R11 or better). You can insulate an entire house for just a couple thousand dollars and there are state and federal rebates to help you out. Expect to make your money back in 5 – 9 years and to be much more comfortable in the meantime.

Fix air leaks – on a windy day, slowly move a lit stick of incense around your windows and doors and watch for where the smoke does weird things, this’ll help you find your air leaks, next step is to caulk and weather-strip to close them up

Check your hot water heater – if it has a tank and is over 10 - 12 years old, you should probably get it replaced or at least check it regularly (monthly) for rust (look for rust flakes under the flame bowl or rusty water stains on the floor) – when purchasing a new one, consider going with an on demand hot water heater (tank less) which costs about 3 or 4 times as much, but will last twice as long and be twice as efficient, not too mention that you don’t need to ever worry about running out of hot water

Check your furnace – get it professionally serviced every 2 - 3 years and change the air filter every couple months during winter, also ensure your duct work is sealed very tightly

Lighting efficiency – use CFL’s instead of old incandescents, preferably ones with less than 3mg of mercury

Refrigerator (most energy consuming of appliances) – replace your fridge if it’s over 15 - 20 years old

Additionally, for those in the Denver area, I’d like to recommend the energy auditor I used, George Scott (720 979 4960), and let you know that he’ll give you a $25 discount off of his normal $225 price if you mention my name. As he’s the only energy auditor I’ve observed, I’m unable to make a judgment as to his effectiveness vs. other auditors, but I can promise you that he’ll do a good job and the money will have been well spent. And in case you were wondering, no, I’m not getting a kick back.

And just as many of you are excited about tomorrow’s inauguration, so too am I. May the next four years bring a better economy, a greener economy, more peace, more compassion, more hope, more truth, and more happiness for all of us, and for the world.

“Society is like a stew. If you don't keep it stirred up you get a lot of scum on the top.” - Edward Abbey

Life tip: Stay positive. Many people are going through tough times, be it economically, health-wise, love-wise, but remember that tomorrow the sun shall rise anew and that your life is only as bright as your outlook.

“For money you can have everything it is said. No, that is not true. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; soft beds, but not sleep; knowledge but not intelligence; glitter, but not comfort; fun, but not pleasure; acquaintances, but not friendship; servants, but not faithfulness; grey hair, but not honor; quiet days, but not peace. The shell of all things you can get for money. But not the kernel. That cannot be had for money.” - Arne Garborg

Wishing you beauty & bliss

Monday, January 5, 2009

rise #19

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! (and happy time off from work!)

Green tip: Want some soft, long lasting, sound-dampening, easy to clean, & environmentally friendly flooring, check out cork, but ensure that it has no PVC, formaldehyde or VOC’s. You could also save some European ecology: Cork

“Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth.” - Øystein Dahle

Life tip: Finding direction for the new year. Instead of setting goals or resolutions, try setting a theme or direction for the year first. Take some time and reflect on your life and determine what are the one or two overarching items that would take your life in the direction your heart of hearts desires. For me, it’s working towards becoming financially free (in order to get out of the rat race) and creating a community (the quality of life is in its relationships). Once this is done, then figure out a handful of action items that will help you achieve your theme. On my docket for the year is selling my house, creating an environmental one-stop-shop website, starting a community garden with my friends, and starting a gathering of folks to discuss important topics (e.g. politics, environment, ethics), teach each other skills (e.g. guitar, knitting) & enjoy life.

“The United States is like a giant boiler. Once the fire is lighted under it, there is no limit to the power it can generate.” - Sir Edward Grey

Interesting website/article: Be warm this winter and save some dollars, shrink wrap your windows ShrinkWrapWindows. I did 1.5 rooms yesterday morning in an hour or two (including some learning time, e.g. don’t overlap the double sided tape at the corners & have a helper when putting up the plastic on large windows)

“The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” - Marcel Proust

Yummy recipe: Sesame Asparagus, mmmmm. SesameAsparagus Check out the surprisingly large number of health benefits at Asparagus

Lastly, I’d like to give a shout out to an organization making a difference, Solidarity Clothing, a fair trade Illinois-based organization partnering with Bolivian sewing cooperatives. If you’re interested in some environmentally & societally-conscious clothing check out You can also learn a bit more at Happy shopping!