Archive for June, 2010

It’s that time of year again, when the sun’s heat comes beating down and my air conditioner works 24/7.  I’m researching options to help make my HVAC run more efficiently.  One product I’m interested in is called radiant barrier, a type of attic insulation.  Here’s a little video that explains some about how all that heat gets into your house to start with:

Feels like we have done a dive bomb straight from winter into summer this year. Spring? What spring? We skipped right over that season and have gone from using our furnaces to turning on the air conditioning in just a couple short weeks. Too warm in the evening to open windows and the days have been pushing 90 degrees already.

Here in Iowa we were spoiled last year, we had an extremely seasonal summer, several evenings we were in jackets or under blankets watching the kids play ball. Windows remained open and our energy bills reflected the lack of using our air conditioning. This year is going to be quite the opposite. We’ve not completed May and we’re running the air-conditioning non-stop. I cringe to see this month’s electric bill.

It might be easier to swallow if the second story in my two-story home were actually cool. The difference in temperatures from the first level to the second is quite disappointing. This being said I have begun the pursuit of a remedy without closing the downstairs vents and turning the temperature even colder. When I “Googled” my situation, I began reading about insulation in my attic (which I had blown in when it was built and there is more than the “recommended” amount). What I have found is a lot of information about radiant barrier insulation and attic foil. This is the process by which energy (heat) is reflected rather than absorbed by insulation. I’m still learning about emissivity and wavelengths. Seems as though NASA has been using this technology since 1954 and it is just now that it is becoming available to civilians.

I am still in the process of measuring my square footage, investigating the scientific concepts behind the process, and deciding upon the correct product. The enticing factor is a cooler second story without the pain of the out of control electric bill both in the summer with reflecting the summer’s heat in the attic and the increased warmth in the winter when it would be another barrier from allowing my heat to permeate through the attic keeping my second story warmer. As I continue to ponder the decision between the initial investment of the barrier and the double seasonal use of winter and summer worth versus continually increasing energy bills my decision is beginning to weigh in the direction of installing the barrier. I know we can install it ourselves in a weekend and hopefully, according to the testimonials I have read, enjoy the lower electric bills and increased comfort in our home.

Right now there’s extensive media coverage on the Deepwater Horizon issue.  One of the best resources I’ve found has been Fast Company for their use of many different reporters each approaching the issue from different angles.

I imagine for those unfamiliar with the Gulf Coast region of the USA it may be difficult to really imagine the colossal impact this global tragedy will have for the people of Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas.  The issue may even seem somewhat remote in comparison with other national topics like health care reform, the economy, and joblessness.

The reality is, whether you live in North Dakota or Louisiana, everyone will feel the effects of the oil spill for decades to come. The downstream effects of an ecological and biological disaster of this proportion have monumental impact on our lives beyond comprehension.

Send a heartfelt “thank you” to the generous people donating their time and potentially their future health to help combat the oil spill.