Monday, March 28, 2011

Green, Greener, Greenest!

We've gone veg, I've been taking my own bags to the grocery for years, we have fluorescent light bulbs, (and can't wait for the new LED bulbs since they don't have mercury), we recycle, we have a veggie garden, and now we've taken two more steps toward green. We finally made it to our local bait shop and we have actual, real live WORMS in our worm bin, and, most momentous of all, our new energy efficient windows and doors are going in!! Half of them went in today and the rest will go in tomorrow.

It's a huge expense but we invested for a lot of reasons. First of all, the windows we had were original to the house so they were sub par "builder's specials". The house is over 20 years old and they haven't held up to time at all. Secondly, there's the energy efficiency factor. Even if the glass was OK, efficiency-wise, which it wasn't, the old windows were of such poor quality that there were gaps where the windows were supposed to meet in the middle. Even our sliding glass doors (that we're changing for french doors) had big gaps you could see through, and not in places where you could easily repair them. We were air conditioning the world with those windows! Then over the past few winters, which have been unusually cold, the heater was completely ineffective. It would be stuffy for the length of time the heat would kick on, then once it went off it would freeze again. It was really miserable. Third, they were hard to open and close; not very safe if there was a fire and the kids had to get out on their own.

We've been in this house for 6 years so we've needed the windows for a long time, but good golly, they are pricey. We not only invested in energy efficient, we got impact windows since we are in a hurricane prone area. Which is the fourth reason we invested- impact windows are going to help on our insurance and protect our house just that much more in the event of a storm. (And we kept our shutters, which we'll also use.)

We finally managed to follow recommendations about choosing a contractor and I think it paid off based on the work they've done so far. We got 3 bids and went with the company that had a decent price along with good references. In fact, this company did work for a neighbor and for The Eldest's math tutor. They were both happy with this company which made our choice pretty clear cut. We've had bad luck with contractors in the past so this is a refreshing change, especially for the money we're putting into these things.

It's a large pain in the neck to have the work done- everything has to be cleared out of the way of the windows and several of the rooms in the house are a disaster (like the kids' rooms) so that is no fun. Then there's the waking up 4 hours earlier than we're used to thing, and having the house all in a shambles with strangers tromping through. Very nice strangers, but still. It's going to be worth it when it's all done, though. There won't be much difference aesthetically except for the french doors but there should be a huge difference in our electricity bill, the noise level from outside, and our worry level if we get a hurricane this summer.

As for our green, greener, greenest level, we're probably at greener. There is still a lot more we could do but we're plugging away as time and our resources allow. The windows are a HUGE leap for us. The next step is a hybrid mini van, but since they don't make those yet we have a few more years to go on that one. (A bigger step would be moving somewhere with good public transportation, but that's for way off in the future!)

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