Friday, December 31, 2010

Goals for 2011

One of my friends got me started thinking about goals for the new year.  I figured if I was sharing them with friends on email, I might as well share them with you - so I'll be counting on you, dear readers, to keep me honest this year!

I'm even going to go ahead and print my list out and laminate it so it can live long and prosper on my fridge. Taunting me. Goading me.

Goals for 2011

• pay off credit card debt
• read the Ramsey book to keep spending in check and beef up savings for house projects/new car

Personal (ie, the year of the Debbie)
• get back into fighting shape
     o first use personal training sessions
     o then sign up for get fit bootcamp when personal training is done
     o sign up for a 5k and start running again
• make meal plans/grocery lists to help stop eating out for lunch/dinner (will also help with $$$)
• start the baking soda/vingar hair routine
• make a schedule - workouts, cleaning, etc

House Projects
• tear down rotting deck, replace with paver patios
• install baseboard trim upstairs
• clean out and organize pantry
• sew curtains for kitchen and bedroom

• buy new car (new for me)
• start dating
• get another cat

What about you?  Do you have any goals you're making for 2011? House related? Crafting? Personal?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Energy Audit Report

I know everyone was waiting with bated breath. Bated? Baited? At any rate. Click on the Sherlock Holmse-y auditor guy and read my report. (or here: Energy Audit Report)

I am getting attic insulation installed this afternoon - I was quick on the trigger so I could still get the federal energy tax credit. I love me some free money!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Home Energy Audit

In September I had the Home Energy Squad come in and do a few things to save energy in my house - they installed a programmable thermostat, low flow water aerators, and weather stripped the front door.  They told me about a full scale energy audit that I could do, but seeing as I had gotten my two wisdom teeth out that morning and was doped up, I was not really paying attention.

Fast forward to November.  It's getting cold in Minnesota, and my house is getting cold. Especially my 2nd floor.  When you would walk up the stairs to the second floor, you'd get about halfway up and the temperature would drastically change. Brrrr. 

My friend Justin was going to come over and put down some more insulation in the attic, but the Saturday he was going to was our first bad snow/ice storm of the year.  Instead of just having him come and put some down, I decided to go ahead and get a full energy audit.  It was only $100, through Xcel and the NEC and included a blower door test and infrared photos on the walls.

Thursday, December 16. Energy Audit day.  Mark the auditor came over with his van full of equipment.  He measured the outside of the house first, checked the furnace and water heater for age and defect, climbed up into the attic crawl space to look at the insulation situation, then set up the blower door test and measured the drafts and cold air coming through the shell of the house. He also snapped infrared photos at this point as well.  It's going to take maybe 10 days to get my official report back (I'm hoping sooner, since I have a contractor coming out to give an estimate on Tuesday!). 

Here is the brief list of findings I can share now though:

Major Problem: My exisiting attic insulation he measured at about an R19.  For our area of the country, the insulation should measure about an R50. Explains the Brrrr. 

Other problems exist with the attic as well.  First, the existing insulation doesn't extend all the way to the eaves - there's about a 2 foot gap that is a dead cold air zone.  The vents under the roof have to breathe, but there are these handy rafter vents that you can install that lets you insulate all the way to the edge of the floor, while still allowing the fresh air to flow.

Second, there are useless vents cut into the celings of the bedrooms, that aren't connected to any duct work - so I'm essentially sending heat to the second floor that goes right up into the attic. Third, the vent fan in the bathroom just vents into the attic, and is not vented up and out the roof.  These last two problems explain my fourth probelm - frosty ceiling joists. Ruh-roh.  Fifth, I need to weather strip and insulate the attic hatch.

Less Major Problems: I need to air-seal framing gaps and penetration leaks in the basement rim joist from the interior face of the foundation wall to the outer rim. 

This explains why my basement is so cold and why I have so many spiders.  This also includes the scary crawl space, that is dirt floor. So the dirt floor should be poly sheeted and caulked and air sealed.

2nd Less Major Problem: My first floor walls only appear to be insulated to an R5 value.  They should be at least an R14.  The auditor cut a hole in a closet wall and saw that the cavity was only about 1/3 full of insulation.  The two ways to fix this are by taking down ALL the drywall on the first floor and insulating or by cutting a hole in between each stud to stick a hose to blow insulation in. Don't those options sound exciting?

The simplest problems that I can and need to fix are caulking different spots where air is seeping in the house - around window framing, the drywall along the stairs, etc.

Once I get my full report, I'll share the infrared photos and other info, because I bet it's going to be awfully exciting. Plus, it'll show me the cost savings I should expect to see if I address some of the different issues.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dear Santa

Hi Santa, how are you?  I hope Mrs. Claus has been giving you lots of cookies and milk and ice cream.  How are your reindeer?  I like Comet the best.  Do your elves get to go on vacation?  I bet they'd really like to go on vacation to a fun place, but maybe not an amusement park, because they're so short and they might not be able to ride all the cool rides.

I've been a good girl this year.  I always pick up my room and I never fight with my brothers and sisters.  I remember to do all my chores (even cleaning out the cat box!).  I always remember to say please and thank you and I'm even nice to the people I don't like.

Here is my Christmas list.  I hope you can bring me lots of presents from this list because I've been such a good girl this year!

What I Want for Christmas 

  • baseboards for my upstairs.  I need about 140 feet of baseboards.  I'd like pre-finished white that is at least 5 inches tall.  It would be great if I got crown molding too, but I really just need the baseboards

  • I'd really like to get electric outlets and another range of lights in my basement.  I can't plug my freezer in because I only have one outlet for the entire basement right now that the washer and dryer are plugged into.  The basement also only has two lightbulbs, so I can't really see anything by the furnace and water heater or by all the storage stuff.  Sometimes it can get really scary down there, Santa!

  • Merry Maids once a month for a year.  I really don't like doing floors.

  • A personal trainer at the Y for 1-2 times per week.  Maybe for like 3 months?  I think it would really help me get motivated to exercise and be healthy.

  • Zubaz.  I know, they're so not cool, but I really do want a pair. I'd like the maroon and white pair.

  • Chia Pet.  I've always wanted a Chia Pet, but I never had one before. If I got the cat grass, I think Katsa would really like it too.

  • a new car - I'd really like a crossover SUV or a hatchback.  Hauling stuff is so hard in my compact! Plus, it still smokes and smells like something is burning after driving on the freeway.

  • the Dremel Trio looks pretty awesome.  I could cut stuff then.

  • White Interior doors for the 2nd floor. Now that all my trim is painted white, the doors look even worse.
Thank you Santa!  I promise to leave out cookies for you on Christmas Eve.


PS - maybe you could bring some cookies back for Mrs. Claus too.