Archive for the ‘New writers’ Category
By Erin Lubien
There is a show on the DIY Network that my husband and I relate to far too much for any sane person’s comfort – “Renovation Realities”. If you’re not familiar with this show, it follows a homeowner (and oftentimes very loved ones who are generous/naive enough to help) as he/she undertakes a home renovation (i.e., demo to install of a new kitchen, turning a front step and a picture window in the front of a house into a front porch and more prestigious entrance). Most of these homeowners feel as if they’ve planned thoughtfully and are fully prepared for the renovation they embark upon, but all of them become overwhelmed and show that they are inept at something they thought was so simple. We laugh because we are them. Honestly, Renovation Realities could have followed us for three years so far and still have many episodes ahead.
We bought our 1920s 2-family home in 2007 with the thought that we would simply change the entrance to the 2nd floor unit and open up the living room. We basically wanted to create an open concept in an old home that had too many compartments. Well, we suffer from the syndrome, “while we’re here” and took on more than 2 DINKS (double-income, no kids) with no discernible home repair experience should ever consider. This “simple” home renovation project led to the obvious – repairing ceiling, hardwood floor and wall; but it also led to some surprises – findings of faulty wiring, the unorthodox use of cardboard boxes as drywall, and our own ability (or lack thereof) to become home renovators.
The “while we’re here” syndrome played out into a fully gutted kitchen, oil-to-gas conversion for heat and hot water, and, in out utter wisdom since we hadn’t really finished all of our renovations, we hired a contractor to blow in insulation from top to bottom. We now live with some rooms completed and beautiful and some rooms that have no window/door moldings and/or bare plaster waiting to be painted. All of our renovations cost us more than we planned, hence the similarities to the Renovation Reality stars, but some are paying dividends. We had hoped to make less of an impact on our living space and decrease our personal dependence on oil by converting to gas systems, which we are very happy about but have since discovered that the impact is net neutral given that we discarded our old oil tanks and that with an efficient system, oil is as clean as gas for heat and hot water.
Long story short, the true test of whether we did the right thing by converting to gas came when our gas bill came after the harsh New England winter. The local gas company now measures each home’s gas usage against other homes in the neighborhood. Not only had we cut our heating bills in half, even after adding a gas stove and dryer in each unit, but we also are one of the most efficient homes in terms of gas usage. Given that we added to our usage and had increased the temperature in our house all winter long, we are quite pleased with the results and our more efficient use of natural resources.
So for those of you who are considering changing the way you do something to be more environmentally friendly or undertaking home reno while being eco-friendly, let me be one certifiable crazy renovator who commends you and would love to know your renovation reality and measurable results!
I remember the first time someone uttered the words, “you should really eat organic” and thinking that no one on a less-than-1-million-dollar salary could afford to only eat organic and that this would be a fading trend. Now 8 years from that recommendation from a neighbor, I am about on step 2-1/2 of what I coin as the 12-step program of being green. This is my experience and journey through choosing to make less of an impact on our environment.
A mother of one 14-month old daughter and two pets, and wife of one very frugal economist, I live in the Boston area in an old home we bought three years ago today. Recycling entered my life in my early childhood, as my parents didn’t have the funds to buy many new things so hand-me-downs and buying second-hand was almost always our first option. As a young adult, I remember my (too many) years smoking and being so conscience of throwing the cigarette butts out into the trash and being angry with smokers who would just flick them anywhere. [Don't worry - I quit smoking years ago, but am still frustrated with littering smokers!] These early tendencies led me to the life I lead now, while not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, is filled with decisions that are increasingly environmentally responsible.
In future posts, I hope to share my journey of becoming more “green”, including our never-ending home renovation and the enhancements we have made (and are making) that are environmentally-friendly; the cleaning, hair and skin-care products we use and their positive effects on everything from having more beautiful locks to stopping seasonal allergies; and our decisions about food and its impact on everyone – from babies to animals to just about everyone! Hoping you find my blog insightful and entertaining.