05 December 2010

Status Sunday: Exercise Room (Part 3)

Yesterday we had some neighbors over to see the house and check out its green features, so of course last week consisted of lots of organizing. It really paid off, and we are finally able to see the floor of the exercise room (where we put all of the boxes when we first moved in):


There is just a small stack of boxes remaining:



(But it would be wrong to let you believe that those are all of the boxes that are left. Phase 1 of the unpacking process ends when we distribute those boxes to the proper rooms. Phase 2 will consist of organizing everything in each room, much of which is still in boxes. For example, the exercise room closet is full of training and racing gear that needs to be organized. Phase 1 has taken approximately six months; I expect phase 2 to take about as long.)

But back to the neighbors. We put up signs we got from Austin Energy's green building program to direct attention to what was green about each space. For instance, all of the bathrooms have vent fans that exhaust to the outside (many houses vent to the attic space, which is a bad idea because of the moisture problems it creates), and most of the fans, including the front bath, are on timers so they will run for a specified amount of time before automatically shutting off.



The two fans that aren't on timers -- the master bathroom and the mudroom -- have humidistats (humidity sensors) to turn on and off automatically as the humidity level necessitates. There was a different sign in the master bathroom for that.

The point of tour wasn't just to show off the fancy things we did in our new home. We hope that, as our neighbors maintain and update their 50-year-old homes, they will incorporate some of the newer, greener products. Replacing regular vent fan switches with timers is as simple as swapping out a light switch (turn off the breaker, double-check that the power is really off, and disconnect the the wires then reconnect them to the timer switch*). And here's another easy green upgrade that I hope anyone redoing a bathroom will opt for:



But I'd be lying if I said we weren't also excited about showing off the fancy things in the house. The fireplace was a little of both. The stone, which is the same as the exterior stone but assembled without mortar lines, looks great and is considered a green product because it didn't take as much energy to bring to our house as if we had gotten stone from out-of-state or beyond (referred to in green circles as "embodied energy").



That's just a small selection of the signs we had on display.

While we didn't have as many guests as we expected, those who did come (six or seven neighbors/families, most of whom we had already met) seemed to enjoy the tour and were amazed by the utility bills we set out. Some also brought gifts -- a poinsettia, a bottle of wine, and a gift certificate to the shop that made our stolen soup -- and perhaps the best part was meeting a great couple down the street, one of whom even agreed (after it came up in a roundabout way in our conversation) to run the last six miles of the marathon with me.

* As simple as changing light switch may be, please, PLEASE don't take on any home improvement project -- especially an electrical project -- if you are not 100% certain that you can do it safely. I can't afford to lose any readers!

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