Friday, May 29, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
In advance of our upcoming trip to Korea, we exchanged some US dollars for Korean won. The largest denomination in Korea is 10,000 KRW, which is about $8. So even if you only change a few hundred dollars, you get an impressive looking collection of moolah.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
When you buy a house that was built in 1915, it turns out that it can be a wee bit leaky.
Actually, the house is in remarkably good shape for a 94-year-old building. The wiring is almost all modern. (As best I can tell, we have exactly one knob-and-tube circuit, which powers exactly one power outlet, which is directly above the breaker box. So I think it's about five feet of live knob-and-tube wiring.) Outlets in the bathrooms and kitchen are GFI protected. Most of the windows were replaced relatively recently. And the back room is only about four years old, so it's in great shape.
But some of the rooms are much leakier (like, say, our bedroom), and it just seemed that maybe we could do better. I think we would have stumbled along with bits and pieces of the solution on an ad hoc basis, without knowing whether we were getting the most bang for our buck out of the choices we were making.
And then I happened to hear, on a mailing list for former Google employees, that one former Googler was at Sustainable Spaces, a green retrofitting company. I wasn't sure what that exactly meant, but it sounded interesting, and next thing you know, we had hired them to do an analysis of our house.
They came by, with all sorts of cool gadgets (a door blower to measure how leaky the house is, as well as to assist in finding the leaks themselves; an infrared camera to spot insulation issues; gadgets for measuring floor and ceiling temperatures; etc.), and evaluated our house.
Highlights of the report:
- The few old windows we have in the house are not major sources of heat loss.
- Our house is "balloon framed," which means air can travel from foundation to attic in the walls, which can easily result in us spending money heating our attic.
- Almost none of our exterior walls are insulated.
- Our attic is underinsulated.
- Our furnace is too big. (I didn't realize this was a bad thing, but imagine trying to cook with a welding torch: You would need to cook for a fraction of a second, back off, and so on, and in the process you'd waste a lot of energy. Same issue with a furnace that is too big.)
Today, they came out for the first day of work, doing most of the envelope sealing work.
As the worked, they would use the door blower to measure leakage, so that they could see what sort of improvement they had made.
Let's hope this all pays off...