Condo Blues

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How to Conduct a DIY Home Energy Audit

It started innocently enough when I saw the gas bill on the kitchen table and opened the envelope. We used 108 CCF (centum cubic feet) of natural gas last month for heating and hot water?! We’re two people in a new build, 1500 square foot, freestanding condominium (looks like a house, acts like a condo.) We don’t crank the heat up to tropical heat levels in winter or set the air conditioning to polar cold in summer. We have a programmable thermostat; surely, it is supposed to protect us from high heating bills?

It’s not as if we can’t afford to pay the gas bill, we can. But honestly, if I’m going to pay for something that is in the hundreds of dollars I’d much rather buy a Nelson bubble lamp than something that’s here today and gone tomorrow like heat. Yes, I know heating is important and that you can die without it during the winter. However I wanted to know what was going on with the higher utility bills when our home is supposed to be energy efficient. I decided to conduct a home energy audit.

Unlike some areas of the United States, my local gas and electric companies do not offer free home energy audits to their customers. After much digging on the customer unfriendly Columbia Gas Website, I found a link to the Energy Star Website that allowed me to conduct my own DIY home energy audit using their Home Energy Yardstick . Best of all this service is free. I like free. Free is good.

How to Do a Free Home Energy Audit 

Monday, February 4, 2008

If I Had a Hammer, I Would Bodge the World

Now that I own a condominium, I realize more and more that homeownership is a mixed bag of:
  • The good - finally I can live in a place where the walls can be something other than Ugly Renter Beige.
  • The not so good - if something breaks, I have to fix it, or it stays broken forever.
This leads me to today’s favorite tool: the rubber mallet. With a rubber mallet, you can fix pretty much anything in a quick and careless manner*. Well, almost anything. A rubber mallet is not the tool to use when you are trying to break into your own house.

But that's a story for a different day.

Anyhoo, today I pressed the button on the garage door opener. The door made its usual, "Wrrrr, wrrr" noise as it moved down, down and stopped when it hit the driveway with a strange, "ka-chunk!" Whereby the garage door decided it didn't want to stay in its down, upright, and locked position and moved in an upward fashion. Weird.

Because I can be rather thick, I play push-the button-and-hope-the-door-closes about three or four more times before giving up and actually walking into the garage to investigate why the door wouldn’t close. Turns out one of the wheels on the side of the garage door jumped the door track. A couple of whacks with my trusty rubber mallet were all it took to quickly reset the wheel into the garage door track and allow the garage door to close properly. Easy peasy.

I love my rubber mallet.

* AKA "bodging" (for those of you who weren't into Scrapheap Challengeor >Junkyard Wars back in the day.)

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