Green Rascal Design

"365 Days with Nest. Meet the only thermostat that improves with time The Nest Learning Thermostat programs itself in a week and turns itself down when you’re away. Nest helps you understand how your home uses energy so you can save more." -
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I dig smart thermostats. And I dig clean looking home technologies. This Nest thermostat is affordable and sexy. (Yes, I said it's sexy.) It reminds me of the first iPod...

Now, I spent a short amount of time [6 months] recently, and then a semester back in grad school focusing on home technologies and what they can do. So I know a little bit about this stuff. There are lots of programmable thermostats... some learn, some you can control with your computer, etc.  and some do both... They're not affordable and sexy. Not in my opinion at least.
This IS. I mean, just look at it!
All these images are from their website, by the way.... which I've pinned on pinterest - and others have re-pinned! So I think they'll be successful.
Some specs: 3.20 inches in diameter, projection 1.44 inches from face of wall.
24 bit color display. WiFi connectivity!!! 5 year warranty. compatible with most HVAC systems - this is important. link multiple thermostats together for zoning. made of green stuff! (PVC free) rechargeable lithium ion battery.
They didn't pay me for being excited and posting this about them, and I haven't gotten any gifts. (though I wouldn't turn one down) I just wanted to be a little bit more well-rounded (no pun intended) than simply pinning on pinterest. Hopefully lots of people will consider changing to smarter home technologies if I keep sharing them!

as you were.
This outline was the basis of my webinar with Ladies Going Green on Vokle yesterday, 4-17-12... and I'm sharing it here because I wanted there to be a text to go with the video. Also, I'm not sure if the audio on the video was working...
Why is it important to improve the indoor environment?
  • Indoor air can often be more polluted than outdoors with things like pollen, mold, dust, dirt and chemical scents and cleaners. Typically air changes don't eliminate these things enough.

  • The things that make up our homes emit gasses from surface finishes like paints and sealants and glues that bond materials and pieces together.

  • We typically spend most of our time indoors, and so we're constantly being exposed to these gasses and microbes.
What can you do now to green your kitchen?

Faucet aerators reduce your water usage immediately for a few dollars
  1. screw on main faucet aerator is $2
  2. spray hose reduces water usage and increases pressure which cleans faster

Water filters provide cleaner, safer drinking water at a fraction of bottled cost
  1. pitcher types are very inexpensive, however try to find a glass one as plastics offgass
  2. 10 stage filters are best, $100 for countertop model or more for under-counter mount

Drain strainers prevent clogs, and associated harsh chemical use
  1. straining the food out of the water that goes down your drain keeps drains clean
  2. that stuff that gets stuck in your drain can attract molds and pollute your air
  3. the food you strain out can be put to good use, which will be covered later

Greener cleaning products and detergents reduce household chemicals
  1. 90% of the cleaning products in your house contain formaldehyde, which causes cancer
  2. products based on natural ingredients such as tea tree oil are just as effective and cheaper


the Cold House


We haven't turned on our oil heat yet, and it's all this guy's fault. Ok, maybe not ALL his fault. Hubby started reading the Cold House Journal earlier this year. And normally each year the oil company shows up around mid November to end of November to deliver a full tank of oil or roughly there abouts.  Last year they gave us 195 gallons in November.  This year that would cost $653 because oil is $3.35-$3.50 a gallon, but when they showed up they could only pump in $35 in oil!

We did this by, first of all, using the heat pump we installed for much of our needs. In November it cost us all of $30 to run. It keeps the kitchen, office, bathroom, dining room and master bedroom warm enough to be tolerable in that order. I accept this performance. Given that we have a hundred year old house and no insulation, it's fine with me.

The only other warming appliance we have turned on is the space heater in the family room when we go to watch our couple hours of tv a night after dinner. It's electric and costs us about 15 cents per hour I think. It's not bad. And I feel like we shouldn't have to punish ourselves or work ourselves to the bone and abstain from all tv watching. Plus, Peet, the little dove, is in there and I'm sure he appreciates the company.

Secondly, we've employed the Smart Wool technique. That is to say we're always wearing it. This is new for 2011 for us. We spent $329 on smartwool. We started with the light weight wool, and now we've upgraded to mid weight, and we're still not planning on turning the oil heat on until well into January. Smart Wool has accessories too, so we got big fat wool socks from them and are happy as clams. 

Thirdly, we re-employed the bubble wrap window technique. In some cases the windows are actually WARMER than the walls are now because I added some of that shrink wrap they sell in big box retail stores. It wasn't too terribly difficult to put up, and looks surprisingly okay.

Also it has been a pretty mild fall and winter so far. We're really surprised.

So all in all we saved about $300 off heating so far.  Of course that would be with a 1 year amortization of our wool.  I'm sure our wool will last more than 1 year. The oil company was projecting that we would need roughly $3000 worth of oil to make it through the winter this year.  Unless it turns brutally cold in Jan-Feb I fail to see how we're going to use anywhere near that amount of oil.  Each gallon of heating oil not burned has saved 22 lbs of carbon dioxide being released!

Go us!

Also, if you check out the Cold House Journal you'll see a good argument for keeping it cooler in the winter in terms of humidity. We have found it to be much more humid - and therefore tolerable - in here this year than it was last year when we kept it warmer. Thanks CHJ!
Here's hubby with John Lindtner (the guy with the hat) from Building Preservation Services, "working" one one of our window stops. John kindly agreed to come up here from West Grove PA and show Chris how to service our old windows. Of course we still paid him for his time and materials, but his goal is to help as many homeowners take proper care of their homes as possible. I happen to think this is AWESOME, so I'd like to introduce John's work here and help him get more.

Our Water Damage


So for Hurricane Irene we got a nice present. A very small amount of water came in through the bilco door to the basement. It traveled around the wall of the basement past the area where we don't care about and got into the area where the previous owners of our house had installed some carpet. Once it reached the carpet, capillary action sucked all the moisture into the pad and carpet fibers, and everything sitting on the carpet began to grow mold. Since we were cheapskates and didn't invest in shelving to hold all our junk when we moved in, we had a LOT of junk sitting on that carpet. And here is the result:
The moral of the story:
Here's what my hubby has been doing on his vacation. Yes, he's been home from work since Wednesday working on the furniture he's building, the garden and this mini split heat pump installation. In turn, I have gotten almost nothing done! But this is a shout out to my father-in-law who came here today (when he could've otherwise been making money with real clients) to help drill this hole through our wall.

Here you can see the plumbing and electrical wires going from the kitchen through my office and into the closet. Isn't this a lovely view? It is not at all good for feng shui, but I have decided to put up a shelf or something to block the view and correct the situation. The brick wall is double brick thickness, so the boys had to rent a giant saw from The Home Depot. It worked pretty well, all things considered.

This is inside the closet. Wasn't it nice of the previous owners to leave the ceiling in the closet open like that for us to use? I think it was pretty sweet.

Here you can see the services spewing out of the office past the bathroom window. We have some downspout to encase everything and attach it to the wall. It will look much better when all is said and done, I have been promised.

And here is the unit which I was talking about in a previous post. (you can see the evil oil access just to the left of it) Now we need to have an electrician and a plumber out to check everything out and do the hookups. I did mention that this is all my husband's doing. You would think that I had more input, but I didn't really. I just decided where to put the units, not how to hook them up. We did a whole test using white sage, and I think it will supplement the oil heat well.