Condo Blues

Monday, April 28, 2008

Grub Resistant Gardening

I am allergic to anything green. Spending a lot of time digging in a garden guarantees me a welt-covered body. So when we found out that The Condo came with “low maintenance landscaping” I was all for condo living!


Unfortunately, within two years of owning The Condo three of the seven low maintenance bushes that came new with The Condo were dead.


Friday, April 18, 2008

How Make an Ironing Board Cover

The cover on my ironing board was stained. It never stayed on the ironing board when I was trying to iron something. I needed a replacement but never remembered to buy one. That was until I saw some flaming skull fabric at Joann Fabrics. "Hey!"says I, "I could make a new ironing board cover out of that fabric using my old ironing board cover as a pattern." So I did.


Here's how I made my ironing board cover.

Monday, April 14, 2008

How to Make a Compost Bin from a Trash Can

Any plant unlucky enough to be stuck in my yard with it’s nothing but clay and zippo topsoil is destined for a slow painful death. I needed do something to enrich my so-called soil. Compost was the answer. However Condo Association mows our lawn. They won’t allow us to have freestanding doo-dads like sheds, playhouses, or compost bins that the lawn people have to circumnavigate with their mowers. So what to do about my desire to make compost? Easy. I decided make a Covert Composting Bin out of a COA-allowable garbage can.

How to Make a Compost Bin Out of a Garbage Can

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How Energy Efficient Light Bulbs Save Money

According to Energy Star, lighting accounts for up to 20% of the average home’s electric bill. Yowza!

They say if I switch out at least 25 % of  my incandescent light bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) it is an easy peasy way for me to be on my merry way of reducing my energy usage this by 20% this year. Just by the simple act of changing a light bulb? Lazy environmentalism. Sweet. Just the way I like it.

For giggles, I counted the number of light bulbs in the house so I could calculate my current household percentage of eco-bulbs before The Great Light Bulb Switch. It took me awhile to get an accurate number because my initial count forgot the light bulbs in fixtures I don’t use very often or think about like in various closets, the back porch, and the utility room. 

I have 58 light bulbs. Seems like a lot, but some of my light fixtures use more than one light bulb. Twenty five of these light bulbs are some form of energy efficient light bulb: a combination of fluorescent, compact florescent (CFL), halogen, and Verilux Full Spectrum Light Bulbs

Expense yes, but the Verilux Full Spectrum Light Bulbs are supposed to use less energy and show colors more accurately than a standard incandescent light bulb, which is important when I’m designing something. They are also supposed to make me happy during those gray Ohio days and save me from putting a bid on the colossally expensive Happy House.

Now that I have the numbers, what’s my percentage of energy saving light bulbs? Let’s do some math and calculate this puppy. Well, actually, we’re about to calculate a percentage of numbers. If you want to calculate a puppy, I suggest you go to your local animal shelter or rescue group and adopt.

25 eco-bulbs divided by 58 total household light bulbs = 43% of our light bulbs are energy efficient.


...and yet why isn’t my 43% of energy efficient lighting goodness reflected on my not-yet-lower electric bill? Time to switch out more light bulbs even before the suckers burn out. I'll make the financial hit a little less by buying one three pack of CFLs every time I go grocery shopping. It may take me a little longer to do the switchover, but at least it I wont' have to put up an extra $200 all at once to do it.

Looking for more energy efficient light bulb ideas? Check out the following options - and more! - below!

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

How to Search for Air Leaks and Drafts

PhotobucketIt’s a sad fact of life that every home has air leaks in its walls, windows, foundation, and attic. Even a newly built home like mine. How much your home leaks air will vary depending upon the design and construction of the home, where you live, what you do, and how you do it. .

Air leaks make your heating and cooling system use more energy and work harder to do the job you want it to do. This can cost you money. Big money.  In fact, experts say that if you don't seal all of the little air leaks in your home, you might as well keep a window open during the winter.

Don't worry. It's easy as pie o find those little and sometimes big air leaks in our home. Once you find them, seal them. Then put that extra money to good use, celebrate by buying yourself a pie. Nom....pie...

How to Find Exterior Air Leaks and Drafts

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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