Sunday, February 21, 2010

Humidity Sensing Bathroom Fan!

Broan QTRE100S Ultra Silent Humidity Sensing Fans with Sensaire Technology.

This is my exciting new discovery: Energy Star rated humidity sensing bathroom fan! It turns on automatically when it senses a change in humidity, then turns itself off 5-60 minutes later.

This is huge. In my current house, we didn't run the bathroom fan all the time. It makes a lot of noise and I couldn't hear my daughter while I was in the shower if the fan was on. I noticed a significant difference in the rate that mildew grew in the shower when the fan didn't run!

I also plan to have a roommate in the ground floor of my new house. I've found my first roommate, who is awesome and will most likely be very responsible, but I can't guarantee that future ones will pay as much attention. Since the ground floor is partially below grade, it is extra important that humidity doesn't build up.

I'm putting one of these in the main floor's bathroom too. I have a teenager in my future!

The unit I like best is a low end Broan. This company, who also owns NuTone has a technology that doesn't sense the level of humidity, but rather a change in humidity - this is important because the other fans (with a humidistat) would run all summer in this climate! or I would have to change the settings a few times a year.

The low end models shut off automatically after 20 minutes and are not completely silent. The more expensive models have timers that you can program to run anywhere from 5 - 60 minutes, and are almost silent. I think bathroom fans should have some sound. What else would you use to drown out bathroom sound effects??? The more expensive fans come with lights, night lights, heaters, are recessed, etc.

They all come with a switch to override the automatic settings, which is nice to vent out the room after cleaning it. The reviews that I read about this fan tell me that this fan does a great job of sucking out moisture and fumes.
The fan I like is about $100 more than your basic manual bathroom fan. It may take a while to see the cost redcovery in the electric bill, but avoiding the risk of a serious mold infestation is worth more than $100 to me!

*** UPDATE***

I found a good bathroom fan at ReStore! It looks new and I believe it is an ENERGY STAR model. When I installed it, the fan did buzz a little, but a little adjustment of the fan blades, it now hums quietly. $20. Sweet!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

More Places for Free Stuff!

I got a couple of new suggestions for places to find usable stuff - for free.

1) The town dump.
No, I don't mean for your to go dumpster diving.
That's just gross.
The town dump in my new town has a Swap Shop. In this treasure island, people donate the good stuff they want to get rid of. I don't know how many times I have driven by the swap shop without stopping. I always see a treadmill or a NordicTrack (we have ALL bought one of these at one time or another and ended up dusting it until we came to terms with the fact that we won't use these things at home!)

I happen to live in a college town. A college town full of fairly wealthy college students, whose parents often set them up in a rental, buy all new kitchen gear, only for it to be discarded at the end of the school year. There are also visiting faculty, faculty who move on, etc.

I close on April 5 + school gets out in mid May = JACKPOT!
There is another turnover of rentals in mid August.

2) I was looking for a Mom's group in my new town and scanned the Yahoo! Groups. Not only did I find a Mom's group, I found a Swap group who posts all sorts of free stuff.

I think I can do this! Not only can I get gently used household items, I think I can get most of them for free (my wallet is doing a happy dance now).

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Raised Ranch and the Minivan

I think the raised ranch is very much like the minivan.
Everyone starts out saying they will never, ever own one. Both are the butt of many jokes.
Eventually, some of us come to realize that the inside of these design concepts are really comfortable and very well planned out.
Form follows function.

I love this raised ranch (and yes - the wood paneling with the wildlife vignettes too!)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I was just turned on to the coolest network.
Thanks Ben!

Freecycle is a non-profit group that facilitates people who want to get rid of items that still have life left in them. It keeps stuff out of the landfill.

From the website (
"Welcome! The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,882 groups with 6,950,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on “Browse Groups” above the search box. Have fun!"

I browsed, found a bunch of groups in my state, then clicked on the town closest to me. I was then directed to a Yahoo! group. I joined the group and BAM!

TONS of free stuff! It looks like you have to be quick to get the stuff you want, but there are many, many posts each day. I see furniture, musical instruments, fish tanks, and so on.

The biggest issue I have with this site is that I don't have anywhere to put the stuff right now. I will have to ignore it until I move into my luxury estate.

I will of course offer up the baby gear that my daughter has outgrown as a way to pay it forward.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What do I need?

To my friends and family:
You, yes you can take part in my household experiment. Here are the rules: if you have any extra items that appear on this list, please donate or sell them to me. You MAY NOT buy anything new or use the donation as an excuse to buy anything new for yourself.

Got it???!

As you identify the extra things you have, please add a comment below this post (so I know what's what). Please hold on to these things until April 5, 2010 - my closing date.

I need a few big things and a zillion little things (this list will likely grow as I realize what I need). As my bachelorette boxes (the ones that have been sitting in the basement for the last 3+ years) are unpacked, I will have a better idea of what I need.
I’m happy to give you a few (or many) bucks if you have these things lying around

China Cabinet
Night Stands
Side tables
Bed for guest room (I’ll buy that new if I don’t know where they came from)
Small kids table and little chairs
Bean bag seats
Computer desk
Book shelves
Patio set (table, chairs and umbrella)
A pick up truck to help me get these things from Craig’s List

Yard Stuff
Lawn mower
Snow shovel

Kitchen Stuff
Toaster Oven
Coffee Maker or French Press
Sauce Pans
Crock pot
Pretty much all the kitchen utensils:
Wooden spoons
Rubber scraper spatula thing
Kitchen knives
Serving spoons
Mixing bowls
Measuring cups and spoons
Measuring cup for liquids
Coffee scoop
Electric mixer
Dish towels
Loaf pan
Muffin pan
Cake pan
Plastic tumblers
Wine glasses

Bath mats
BBQ grill
Telphones/Answering machine (one WITH a cord for power failures)
An iron
Bathroom scale
Jig saw
Compound Miter Saw (a girl can dream, right?)

Monday, February 8, 2010

The house and the insulation

Here are some pictures of the house I am in the process of buying. Notice the vintage wood paneling with the wildlife scenes - you can't find that material anymore! And yes, that is a built in mini fridge. This room will be known as "Richard's Lounge" after the previous owner, who built this home for his wife 34 years ago. I am keeping that wood paneling and will shop for vintage furnishings here. DYNOMITE!

The ground level has no insulation. The attic has about 2 inches of insulation (fiberglass). I have no idea what the main floor's walls have. I have been reading and reading about insulation: fiberglass, cellulose, rigid foam, wool bats, spray in, recycled blue jeans..... most articles list advantages and disadvantages, but don't clearly state what is best for any particular installation.

I have pieced together that blown in cellulose insulation in the attic is probably the best place to start. I hear that Home Depot and Lowes will lend buyers the blower if they buy enough material.
To break down all the info I read:

The new fancy insulation is great - high R rating per inch, groovy technology, but it is EXPENSIVE! The cost recovery time is long and much of it would require that I rip out the drywall to expose the studs.

The two options that are cheapest and have the fastest cost recovery are Fiberglass and Blown in Cellulose. Green contractors call fiberglass "filter-glass" because it needs a solid surface behind it to block drafts - otherwise it just filters cold air. Some fiberglass comes in rolls with paper backing specifically for this purpose. Fiberglass makes you itchy when installed and there are conflicting reports about wheather it causes lasting respatory issues or not.

Blown in Cellulose is made up of recycled newspapers. It is treated with chemicals to make it flame resistant. As a result of the treatment, it also deters mice and insects. This house has evidence of mice, and since I don't like the idea of poisoning or snapping them to death, a mouse repellent sounds great! There isn't any conclusive evidence one way or another if it off-gasses and if the fumes pose a health hazard. Cellulose can compact, losing it's R rating, and it has to be blown in pretty thick to provide a high R rating, but it is cheap. It is great for attic space that is useless for other purposes (my attic has a low ceiling and just a small scuttle that I can barely fit through for access).

So I will squeeze my butt and a cellulose blower up in there and get to it! I won't forget eye protection and a resporator!

There is a state sponsored program administered from the local electricity utility to do a home energy audits for free. They offer grants that may pay up to $3,000 of energy efficiency improvements if the home owner ponies up $1,000. I plan to apply for the audit after I beef up the attic insulation (all the articles I read say to hit the attic first, which makes sense - heat rises).

Saturday, February 6, 2010

An Ode to Craig's List

Oh Craig's List how I love you so

I have bought so much from you, ya know

The baby stuff, I got great deals

A crib! A swing! A bug on wheels!

I sold my things way back when

From Craig's list, I'll buy them back again.

Craig's List score of the week: a LazyBoy couch. I checked the website and found this whole setup retails for $4800. I got it slightly used for just a few hundred dollars.
Did I keep this couch out of a landfill?
Probably not. But I did avoid purchasing brand new, avoiding the use of new resources and energy used in production, shipping and holding.
I also avoided the 'new couch smell'.

I'm trying not to be one of those tree-huggy freaks that have unrealistic views of how harmful various household chemicals are, but I work at a major research university and I have seen scientific studies conducted on negative health effects from flame retardents and stain repellents. With a pre-owned piece of furniture, the initial chemical burst has already been off-gassed.

I also scored a Pack and Play for $10. It looks like it has never been used!

For those of you who don't already know, Craig's List is
I heard a rumor that Ebay bought the site, but it is still free (for now).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What Does 'Kelly Goes Green' mean anyway?

Hello world. This is my first blog.

Call me crazy, but I love moving. There is something liberating about down sizing and having very few material posessions. Right now, I don't own much and am planning on moving. My new house sister suggested I blog about it.

Here is my experiment... I am buying a 1976 raised ranch (yes the Cadillac of architecture from a period known for its lasting beauty!) I want to furnish this house with nothing new. I also want to make it energy efficient and environmentally friendly. So every piece of furniture, every spoon, every towel will be reused - mostly from my very generous and loving family and friends (some of them don't know it yet).

I reserve one exeption to this rule: beds.

Did you know that most mattresses weigh 20 lbs more when they are discarded than when they were new? I'm sure you are asking yourself why... until... you realize.

Dead skin cells,
Dead dust mites who ate those dead skin cells,
Dead dust mite poop,
and TWENTY POUNDS of it!

I will, however, search out the best organic mattress. Many of them are naturally dust mite repelling, which is great because I am allergic to dust mites. The natural beds also don't have the chemical flame retardants in them. I don't care how much I ingest, but I want my daughter to be kept away from as much of that stuff as possible.

So off I go on my adventure into the land of green. I'm sure I'll make some mistakes, learn some tough lessons and end up cleaning A LOT, but that's what makes life interesting!