It’s a new year and I’m plotting and scheming and dreaming about all the exciting projects I could work on in 2009. We recently had our home energy audit, which generated a list of projects. I also have some coupons for seeds and plants to improve the yard. And of course there’s a long list of possibilities we identified when we first moved into the house last summer.
Here’s my list of projects, with a rough evaluation of the cost, greenness, and difficulty level. Which would you prioritize?
1. Hook our house to the sewer line. This would be expensive but easy since we would hire it out. The hook-up fee is a few thousand dollars and the actual installation would be a few hundred. I think the city wastewater treatment plant is slightly greener than our current septic system but the main advantage is that we could plant fruit trees and gardens without worrying about impacts to the septic field (or vice versa).
2. Replace our water heater. We currently have an ancient electric water heater that is functional but not very efficient and we fear may croak at any minute. We could change to a gas water heater but it would have to be replumbed to be located on our back porch instead of the crawlspace, probably to the tune of a couple thousand dollars. Another option would be a passive solar water heater but that would still require a back-up electric or gas water heater so we’d be looking at several thousand dollars. Definitely green!
3. Build a passive solar backyard water heater and hot tub. This is a bit of a lark but I’ve been thinking perhaps I should scrounge up materials to put together a ramshackle passive solar water heater in the backyard and hook it up to an old jacuzzi tub so I can have the hot tub I’ve always dreamed of but without the chemicals or electrical usage. Price tag is probably a few hundred dollars, depending on my scrounging skills. Greenness is dubious since it’s totally a luxury and it would use quite a bit of water (like a gigantic bathtub).
4. Insulate our attic. This was the number one recommendation from our home energy audit and he suggested renting a machine to blow in cellulose fiber (about $60/day). Probably a good home project as long as we can do it without putting any holes through the ceiling and as long as I don’t get too claustrophobic, since as the small person I will undoubtedly be the one in the attic. Price tag is probably a few hundred dollars. Greenness is excellent for insulating qualities, pretty good for cellulose.
5. Seal up our crawlspace. This was the number two recommendation from our home energy audit. It would involve less green materials (foam board and sheets of poly plastic) but would have great energy efficiency results. It also sounds like an easy project to do ourselves without huge expense.
6. Build a passive solar air heater. Oh, I really want to build some sort of solar collector and install it on the south side of our house but it sounds intimidating! Still, might be worthwhile in terms of energy efficiency and building handyman skills the down and dirty way.
What do you think? Which project would you do first and why? And how does one successfully recruit one’s father or other local handyman to help out?