When I began a series of home-improvement projects in June to make my 1910 house more energy efficient, I had no idea how much fun I would have doing them. Not only am I making my home more comfortable, no matter the weather, but there is a certain amount of satisfaction I get from each project. Being a home-improvement novice, I had no idea what it was like to finish a project, stand back and appreciate what I had done. I thought this week I would review some of my favorites.
I started fairly simple: I planted a hydrangea bush outside of one of my windows. The one part of this job I will stress is to buy your plant after you call 8-1-1, so it doesn’t wilt before you can plant it. Make sure there are no utilities underground before you get out your shovel. My plant isn’t full grown yet, but it is still alive. I’ve been known to kill plants just by proximity, so I’m ahead of the game there. It also bloomed several times and it’s really beautiful.
I also changed out my old showerhead for a new, low-flow showerhead. This project really surprised me, since it was so easy. If you’ve never changed one before, know this: it’s as easy as changing a lightbulb and takes just as long. The water pressure seems to be just as good as my old inefficient showerhead.
My door sweeps were a lot of fun to install. I could see daylight through the bottom of my door before this, so I’m glad to have taken care of it before the cold weather comes. I no longer need to pile blankets in front of my doors.
The sunshade I installed outside of a southwestern-facing window was perhaps the one project I did that I noticed immediate effects. Yes, I needed the help of a friend to hold the ladder, but once it was installed my living room seemed cooler and during the late afternoons and early evenings, the sunlight blazing into my living room wasn’t nearly as harsh.
I was skeptical about whether or not it would make a difference when I installed insulators in inside the electrical outlets that were on walls to the outside. I have one outlet I walk by that is next to a baseboard heater. Before this project, it felt like someone had turned the baseboard on—I could feel warmer air on my ankles. I even checked to make sure the heater was off every time I walked by. Once installed, I noticed that I wasn’t needing to check the heater anymore. The hot air was coming from outside.
One of the hardest jobs I did was installing fiberglass insulation in my knee walls upstairs. I think once the really cold winter weather comes will I understand the impact this has on keeping my upstairs warm, but I think it will be worth it.
I think the most feedback from friends and family I received on one of these projects was vacuuming my refrigerator coils. Like me, many people didn’t realize their coils were underneath and not in back of their fridge. If you want to keep your refrigerator running efficiently, this is an easy fix.
One thing I’ve noticed, staying cool in the house this year seemed to have been a lot easier than the summer before: we had a lot of extra fans blowing that summer. This winter, I’m planning on more projects to help keep me warm and comfortable that I’m excited to share with you, I hope you’ll follow along.
Lisa, an Avista customer, bought her 1910 house because she loved the old-world character, some of which doesn’t make her house very energy efficient. Lisa is sharing her experience on taking some simple do-it-yourself improvements to inspire others to do the same. You’ll find her stories right here every Tuesday morning.