Let me introduce myself. I live in the beautiful Toronto, Ontario, where I settled a few years ago coming from Europe. It was quite a change and those who did it too, will probably agree that the lifestyle in America is a lot different than what we left on the other side of the Atlantic.
I consider myself an environmentalist, but not a hardcore one. I have my concerns about the way we use and abuse our land, water and air. But this falls well short of being a green nut. I think I’m part of a lucky generation that could afford a lifestyle our grandparents couldn’t dream about and our grandchildren will only read about. I also know that things will certainly change in the future, and I’m moderately concerned that my grandchildren may not afford traveling to Caribbean beaches or go skiing in Austria. So I’m trying to do my part to give them at least a chance to taste our good life.
After all, it started really easy. I always hated waste! It’s probably because the way I was brought up, I cannot stand dripping faucets, open lights when no one is there, windows open in the winter to compensate for the heaters stuck on max, and so on. So we started with conserving as much as we reasonably could, which seems so normal in Europe but sometimes is considered weird in America.
We currently live in a city house, surrounded by more than 2.5 million people. It’s not a McMansion, just a 1300 sq ft semi-detached – pretty small by American standards, but even so it’s a little more than we needed. And here is where we headed for big adventures. Built 30 years ago, it is not exactly a masterpiece of engineering. After we moved we had our fair share of problems and inconveniences, some of them because of the design (why did they install those water pipes in the exterior walls?) , others caused by the builders cutting corners to finish faster&cheaper, and finally some as a result of the lack of proper maintenance over the years. But now we are finally happy: a new high-efficiency furnace is installed (a third of the power of the original one, and heating better), air sealing around the house, better attic insulation, improved airflow in the attic (I still remember the squirrel skeleton we found in the soffit), dual-flush toilets, new faucets, new roof and better floor insulation in the basement. Thanks God and Steven Harper for the EcoEnergy retrofit grants and HRTC program!
These were the improvements offering us the biggest bang for the buck, and some of the posts in this blog will provide details. But we will also talk about all the other things we considered, but we didn’t do because they didn’t make financial sense for us: tankless water heater, drain water heat recovery pipe, solar air heater, solar water heater, solar photo-voltaic panels and a few more.What bothers me the most is that it’s not obvious that they’re bad ideas: at the first look it’s all nice and dandy, and the sellers pushing them stop you right there, where you can see only the obvious benefits. When (and if) you will realize that you were taken advantage of, it will be too late, anyway. As always, usually the devil is in the fine print.
I’m an engineer by training and obviously I love technology. But this blog is not about emotions, it’s about facts and numbers. I will show you my math and reasoning, and let you evaluate your own situation and decide for yourselves. Under different circumstances, the result may be totally different!
I’m far from considering myself the keeper of the absolute truth, so if you have a different view on any post, please write a comment. Who knows, you may be able to convince me to even give a try to something I previously rejected! As much as I want to make my point, I will never twist the numbers just to prove it.
One last thing: some of the posts are specific to my Toronto, Ontario, location. Even so, the reasoning behind them should be pretty general, and you can replace the really specific parts (e.g. Toronto or Ontario rebates or grants).