The Heat is On

In our continuing effort to cut the temperature in the house and reduce our electricity usage rate, we’ve added a new tool: the solar screen. The basic concept is similar to the reflective film, in that the idea is to reduce the amount of sunlight and heat that get into the house in the first place, making less need for air conditioning.

Instead of a film that is applied to the inside of the window, however, this is a tight mesh screen that goes on the outside.

It blocks your view a bit; it’s easier to see in than out, at least during the day, but let’s face it–you’re looking through a screen. Also, in the winter, we’d actually like the heat to come in.

So John’s solution was to build a removable frame with the screen stretched over it. That way we can install it when the weather is hot and remove it when it isn’t.

Verdict? Both work, but the solar screens don’t have that cheesy reflective coating. The screen material we bought at Home Depot wasn’t wide enough to cover the entire bay window, so right now it’s sporting a seam where two sections overlap. We’ll order a custom size later, but first we need to get the other windows covered.

More frame-building seems to be in John’s future.

Reflections on Summer Heat

July is definitely here–it’s 102 in the shade again today. Our house faces west, which means that as the day goes on, our living room gets pretty warm. And our electric bill just arrived, and it’s pretty high.

While we do plan to replace the cheap mini-blinds that cover many of the windows–we’ve already done this in one room, and it makes a huge difference–our first step is to install reflective film in the windows to push some of that heat back before it gets into the house. The idea is that if the house doesn’t get as hot to begin with, the air conditioning doesn’t have to work as hard to cool it down. Reflective film is a pretty affordable way to tackle this, and it’s not that hard to install.

One of these days we’ll put in that solar unit we keep talking about, but first things first.

Keep Your Cool

Since today it hit 102 in the shade at our place, it seemed like a good time to revisit this green LA girl post about staying cool (or at least less hot) without air conditioning. (Full disclosure: we’ve run ours like crazy since we got home–it really is 102 in the shade–but we’re taking steps toward mitigating both the need for and the cost of our a/c.)

In the meantime, it’s a great day for washing and drying pillows.

Reuse

Sometimes it’s not just about us reusing. Sometimes it’s about helping other people reuse, as well. Goodwill has started The Donate Movement, which encourages people to think of donating used items as green–which it is. If items are being used multiple times, then fewer of them need to be created for single owners. And since Goodwill also provides job training, the calculator on the site lets you see how your donations affect the services they offer.

The vast majority of the furniture in our home is either from thrift stores or from family members who no longer need particular items. Similarly, a lot of our daughter’s clothing is from thrift stores, or hand-me-downs from friends with slightly older children. The new things we’ve gotten are great, but we’re also happy to be getting more use out of perfectly good baby items that simply have been worn before.

I’ve got several bags of clothing ready to go to Goodwill. While I’m there, I’m going to start looking for a bookcase for the nursery. She’s got lots of books and nowhere to keep them, and a used bookcase will hold them just as well as a brand new one. We’ll benefit–less stuff, more organization–and hopefully others will as well.

Diaper Round-up

So we all know about the disposable diapers sold by Pampers, Huggies, and Luvs. Enough said. Or not. In the interests of thoroughness (and dryness), we have tried all of them. The Pampers Sensitives seem to be the winners of this bunch; they’re softer and have a stripe indicating when the diaper is wet. On the other hand, the baby tells us when she’s wet by screaming, so we really have an automatic sensor of our own here. Pampers in general are the most absorbent of the lot; unfortunately they are alleged to have caused rashes and chemical burns on some babies.

Hopefully those babies will be fine, and whatever the cause of their injuries is will be fixed. Even if these incidents are unrelated to Pampers, though, the fact remains that the mainstream brands are chock full of chemicals.

I’ve already reviewed gDiapers, which we continue to use. In addition to the problems we’ve had with dirty diapers (a gDiaper would never have stood up to this morning’s episode, but then neither did the diaper she was in), the gDiaper covers seem to chafe her. We’re going to try fastening them a bit more loosely to see how that works.

Seventh Generation diapers were a bust. They fit well, but didn’t seem to absorb much. We had to change them all the time. Mind you, I’m not advocating letting a baby sit around in her own pee for long periods of time, but when you have a newborn you change a lot of diapers. Too many, when it came to Seventh Generation. I did like that they even looked unbleached, though.

Now we’re trying Whole Foods 365 disposables*. These seem enormous; the labeling says that they’re for babies weighing between 6 and 15 pounds, but I think a 6-lb. baby would appear to be sitting in a boat in one of these. However, they are soft and absorbent, and made without chlorine.

If the resource you really want to save is money, though, buy Kirkland diapers at Costco.

*Update: I can’t find these on the Whole Foods website, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them in stores recently.

gDiapers

Good with the pee. The poop gets everywhere. So we have gDiapers in the mix, but they’re not our sole diaper product. Because believe me, there is poop.

Stork Delivery

The baby has arrived! She is now 12 days old and possessed of a healthy set of lungs.

Also, Seventh Generation diapers fit her pretty well. Unfortunately, they aren’t terribly absorbent. That means we go through a lot of them, and I’m not sure how green that can be. (I know, I know, cloth diapers–but we’re already doing so much laundry! And by “we,” I mean John.)