(We live in SoCal so this is about Energy Efficiency and home improvement/ not a Glass House for tender plants)
Our home was built in early 1944, during WWII, as housing for the influx of workers down the street at Douglas. As a result, it was very modest in size and construction materials. When the neighborhood was developed, construction materials were so scarce that foundations were poured for the garages, but no framing or structures were put up. All the home owners built them in the subsequent years after the war, once materials were easier to come by. The house did have a fair sized city lot, .14 of an acre, since homeowners were encouraged to maintain “Victory Gardens.” Purchasing 50+ years later, we still had a bare bones house to work with, with few to no improvements, and nothing but a couple of trees and grass in the yard.
We are slowly working our way through energy efficient home improvement projects and we try to leave as gentle of a impact with our lifestyle as possible. We have made as many decisions as possible to support this effort, however, we are a bit limited by our income and time. We have chosen not to go into debt to do these things and have to save up for each project as we tackle it. We also are trying to make any permanent design choices, quietly blend in with the era of the house, not what I consider dis-imporovements, that look like they belong in a newly constructed home or the latest trends that will soon go out of style.
Projects to date so far:
Low Flow Shower Head
Low Flow Faucets
Double paned e coated windows.
Blown in Insulation in the walls, made from recycled newspaper.
Insulated the attic.
Energy Star Refrigerator
Energy Star Dishwasher
Front Load Washer Machine – Energy Star (we are on our second set, our first set was purchased when we bought the house and replaced with a Samsung that had vibration reduction to keep it from shaking the house like the kenmore did.
Tankless Water heater-the Noritz works fine with our energy star Samsung WF328 front load washer. I read lots of complaints about LG front load washers not being compatible with tankless water heaters because LG fills the wash in spurts never allowing the hot water to stay on long enough to supply the hot water. However, our Samsung does not have the same issue. In addition, the Samsung washer has an option to do a cold water sanitizing wash using a “silvercare” setting.
Solar Tube Light in the interior bathroom.
No Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) Paint and other Low VOC Paint throughout the house
Refinished the original 1944 hardwood floors, rather than installing carpet or virgin wood materials
Gray water irrigation from the clothes washer in ornamental flower beds in the backyard.
Drought Tolerant Plantings with a few natives
Programmable Irrigation system
We have converted a significant amount of our yard to edible gardening. I am one of those folks that feel if you have to water it, you might as well eat it.
DoggieDo Composter/ digestor (yuck)
* Some of the future projects we have discussed include a solar water heater or solar electricity, whole house attic fan, another gray water system-attached to the shower drain, and a porous cement driveway. We also plan to only add enough space to add a closet into our back bedroom. By keeping the house small it helps reduce the total energy we use as a family to heat and cool the house. We do not have air conditioning due to the large back yard tree shading a large portion of the house.
Other Lifestyle Choices we have made:
Eliminated junk mail delivery by “opting out”
Electric Lawn mover and yard equipment
Grow and raise a portion of our food to reduce the distance it travels
Buy organic over conventional whenever possible and not cost prohibitive ( I always buy these organic: strawberries, peaches, grapes, celery, lettuce, apples, milk, corn, soy products, bell peppers, cherries, potatoes) We have yet to find a good source for grass fed beef.
Eat only seasonal and local produce (sorry Chileans)
Use wash cloths to clean up spills and launder them, instead of always using paper towels
Cloth Napkins, not paper
Make a portion of our own cleaning supplies with vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, gentle soaps
No store bought bottled water/ instead use reusable aluminum bottles when traveling
Decorate with vintage furniture
Cooking from scratch and eating take out food less
Biking for short trips
Drying clothes on the line (arbors in the driveway.) We do still use a gas dryer for a lot of clothes, but I hope to install a larger line so I can do more line drying easier
When we purchase things, we try to find “made in America,” as well as support smaller local retailers, rather than large corperations like Walmart.
We try not to eat at chain restaurants when we go out to eat, and instead support local small business owners, thus keeping our dollars in the community as much as possible. (We do love In n Out and make an exception for it.)
Soaker Hoses in the veggie garden, rather than hand watering
I don’t dye my hair with chemicals, well, I just don’t dye my hair and instead am going grey gracefully.
When buying a new car, gas mileage is always at the top of list of our priorities, even 9 years ago when gas was much cheaper. One day we dream of installing solar on the garage and use it to power an electric car. We will have to win the lottery first probably, or have the cost drop dramatically.
Composting kitchen and yard scraps
When the backyard tree is trimmed, I have the debris shredded and use it as mulch in the flower beds.
Re-purpose as much as possible, rather than throwing away