Monday, February 16, 2009

Greening My World

There is a school of thought that says working on your own home with your own hands is a source of deep satisfaction and manliness. For me it has been a source of deep seated physical pain and discomfort.We decided a while back to install some insulation underneath our home, and this was a very good idea. It probably would have stayed an embryonic idea had it not been for some firm pushing by our friends Lisa and Josh who want to do the same thing on their larger house. So our's was the guinea pig, as it were, the 700 square foot (65 square meter) home which because it was built in 1987 is lower to the ground than Josh and Lisa's newer 1,000 square foot stilt home. Ours may be only eight feet above flood plain but installing strips of fiber glass matting still requires holding one's head back and stretching out one's arms.Eight hours of this crap yesterday with bits of prickly insulation spilling all over oneself can put quite a dent in the notion of how uplifting home improvement really is. We spent about a thousand dollars on strips of fiberglass in 6 and 3 inch depths, we spent some of that money on staple guns and staples, masks gloves and goggles and we hope this attempt to make our home "greener" will reduce our already modest electricity bills. We generally pay about two hundred dollars a month in summer with the air conditioning and less than fifty a month in winter so it will take a while to enjoy the benefits of reduced costs. The benefits of reduced heat and noise are immediate.Plus there is the satisfaction in knowing we've done what we can to make our home more energy efficient and that offsets to some degree the absolute agony of my joints and my burning, aching feet.

I decided to hire some help and Roberto made it all possible with his wiry Cuban frame tirelessly bending and lifting and stapling like an automaton. It was all we could do, Josh and I, to keep up. I have to say we were lucky with the weather. This bizarre fog has been hanging around a bit longer than usual so the early morning was cool and damp and even as the sun came out it never got really hot under the house. Nevertheless we were sweating, and even though we had calorie-less cola on hand, Roberto sucked it up like he was a pansy sugar-free gringo, until our wives showed up loaded with cafe con leche for the troops:We took wads of the cotton candy and stuffed them between the wooden joists overhead:Then we took the thinner strips of insulation and tacked them up underneath the six inch deep insulation strips:The last step will be completed by a pro who is supposed to show up at some point and tack weather -proof sheeting over the cotton candy to finish the job. It will be brilliant I am sure, and even I think we were all aching by the end of was a worthwhile job well done. On another note the greening of our windows was much easier to deal with. Captain Jeffrey, the most talkative window tinter in the Keys, came by and with a splash of soapy water and a few quick slices of his box cutters stuck some really remarkable silver tint on the south and west facing windows and doors. From the outside the effect was astonishing, a pure mirror reflecting almost all of the sun's heat:From the inside the effect of the silver coating is to give the view a polarized look which is actually quite pleasant:Additionally Jeffrey added some very dark tint to the sliding doors and the window in the bedroom so now I have a very cool, dark, refreshing place to sleep during daylight hours. It was a nice job, swiftly and efficiently done for $600 by the smiling Captain:I suggested to Lisa and Josh they might want to do the same to their windows because we all know energy costs are going to go back up and we all want to be ready for the summer heat this year. I can hardly wait to prance around sticking insulation under their house. The purity of self sufficiency has to be enjoyed to be understood.