Monday, July 18, 2011

Go Green or Go Broke

I should never be allowed to answer the phone. About a week ago I received a sales call. You know the ones. The kind where you answer one question and before you know it you've agreed to buy God knows what at some ridiculous price and you hang up wondering what the hell happened. Yeah. Like that. Only this time, I managed to agree to let a solar consultant come into my home and help us "Go Green Now!" with no money out of pocket. Riiiiiiiight.

So the consultant came. He explained the products. He showed us a badly edited video about the company. Hauled a fish tank stuffed with insulation into my kitchen to demonstrate what radiant heat can do. He went over all the state and federal incentives for making energy efficient upgrades to your home. What I thought would be a 45 minute product demo turned into a two and a half hour ordeal. Not only did it suck up an evening but the guy kept asking for water and used my bathroom....twice.

Needless to say, we did NOT buy any of their products. I really did want a solar water heater though, which was one of the three things he was trying to sell, but even with his  "killer deals" the system was out of our price range. But all was not lost. He made some other suggestions on how to green up the homestead without making a big investment.

  • Insulate Our Freezers-We have two chest freezers in the garage. Yes, it would be more energy efficient not have them at all but we butcher most of our own meat and we need them. He showed us a thermal insulating material that can be bought at most home improvement stores. It looks kind of like those silver sun shades you put up in your cars. Anyhoo, you just wrap it around your freezer and secure it with duct tape.

  • Insulate the Garage Door- You can use the same material on the back of the garage door to keep out radiant heat. Simply cut it to fit the panels, screw into the metal and you can lower the temperature in the garage by nearly 10 degrees.
  • Heat Barrier in the Attic-This was actually one of the services the consultant was pedaling. Basically, they go up in the attic and staple gun a radiant heat barrier to the underside of the roof. It reflects the heatout of the house in the summer, and reflects is back down toward the home in the winter. The material looks a bit like a fancy  aluminum foil with little holes for ventilation. They wanted $400 for the job. We can do it for $150. When summer is over and it's not 130 degrees (this is not an really is upwards of 130 degrees in our attic) the hubby is crawling on up with a staple gun and going to town.

Not only are these solutions inexpensive, they are innovative as well. Never in a million years would have thought to wrap my freezers in metallic bubble wrap. The "green" industry is just like all the others....they gotta make money. Sure. It would be fantastic to have a complete photovoltaic system, a solar water heater, low E windows and so on a so forth. But it's nice to know you don't have to spend a fortune to lower your utilities and help the planet in the process.




  1. Also, you can get foam insulators to put behind your light switches & outlets. It's a small thing but it really does help.

    We still need to get a blanket for the water heater, too. We did the foam insulators, added insulated curtains, window shrinkwrap, and put up an 'airlock' by the front door last December. We had a colder winter, and the heating bill still dropped!

  2. Plus, they're priitttty and shiiiiiny! Heehee! I know our freezers suck up so much energy...will wrap them this year! Also, wrapping your hot-water heater is a huge energy saver, as well as weather-stripping doors and windows...