June 11, 2012

The Stuff Beast

Attic Before

We are participating in a City of Madison program to improve the energy efficiency of our home, called Green Madison. So far we’ve had the initial energy assessment. I wish I’d taken pictures during the assessment, since there was a big blower door installed in our front door and lots of use of a heat gun camera. Geeky fun and a chance to learn more about our house.

What we found, no surprise, is that our house has no insulation in the walls or basement and minimum insulation in the attic. The next step is to add insulation to all three locations. I’ve been busy gathering quotes on the work but the looming immediate next step is dealing with our stuff.

After we moved into the house, the attic, basement and garage became general holding places for loosely organized items like sports gear, winter clothes and crafting supplies. Mostly it is stuff that we want to keep and generally it is already grouped together, however our house did not come with many shelves for organizing. Last summer we tackled the garage and now it is on to the attic and basement.

The attic is going to be filled with fluffy insulation and while we are going to build a storage platform, there will be much less space for storing things up there. While all the work is going on, including removing the chimney, our attic needs to be empty. Where is it all going? To the basement!

The basement has its own set of challenges and its own set of stuff. The photos here are the before shots of the attic and basement. For the past few weeks we’ve started work on the basement, including buying shelving from Ikea, sealing the shelving, ripping out the carpet and installing a sub-floor. We are tackling the basement in three phases so that stuff in one part can be shuffled to the finished part without having to be removed.

Late yesterday I really started wishing we could be on one of those magic home improvement shows, where over the course of one weekend your room is transformed and everyone remains beautiful, clean and well rested. Instead SB and I keep chugging along, slowly bringing order to our house and hopefully, in the end, a lower energy bill.

Basement Before


  1. I’ve been thinking of getting an energy audit here but I’m hesitant to do so. We rent so there’s not much we can do, and I get the vibe that our landlord isn’t really interested in spending much either. But if there’s something easy/cheap we can do…

    Houses here are terribly built. You’d think that a place that relies on AC as much as Texas wouldn’t have houses with single pane windows all over the place, and unsealed door gaps. I’m not sanguine about insulation in our attic either.

    Comment by Jeff — June 11, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

  2. Good to hear from you Jeff! Being a renter is tough and I’m not surprised to hear that Texas houses are lacking in insulation and sealing. I’ve found that weather stripping around doors and windows and adding heavy curtains can make a big difference in energy usage as a renter. I also recently saw a piece about buying a cheap, energy efficient refrigerator as a renter and how much of a difference that can make in your energy bill. You can get a electrical meter from the public library to test how much electricity various appliances use.

    Comment by Marijka — June 12, 2012 @ 8:04 am

  3. We did have to buy a fridge when we moved into the place, which was an unpleasant surprise. I’m too used to large appliances being included with rentals! We just had to go with the cheapest we could find (and still technically couldn’t afford it). We’re not sure if it’s going to move with us next time or if we’ll try to sell it back to the landlord.

    A/C is definitely the biggest $$ sucker. Energy prices are much cheaper here per kwh but we’re using more volume. My brother actually works for a company that analyzes energy usage in homes for people writing building codes. He suggested the weather stripping stuff for us too, as our big problem seems to be outside air infiltration. We’ve had to set our thermostat lower than our previous (much better insulated) house to be comfortable due to humidity creeping in.

    The best solution is for us to just move back to the midwest! We’re cold weather people. We lived in Rhode Island last fall and felt more at home there after only a week than we ever have here in Austin.

    Comment by Jeff — June 12, 2012 @ 8:57 am

  4. I’m sorry to hear Texas isn’t working out for you. It is not fun to live somewhere that just doesn’t feel right. I know the mid-west would welcome you back! Here’s hoping you find a way to move soon.

    Comment by Marijka — June 13, 2012 @ 10:40 am

  5. It is fun seeing the before shots… I can’t wait to see the during and after views. Glad you’re tackling this big project. It will be so nice when it’s done!

    Also seeing all of your bins and boxes makes me feel better about all the stuff we have piling up here during the packing process. I think you still have more. ;-)

    Oh and did I mention I sold 28 books on Amazon?! Thanks for suggesting that!

    Comment by Arielle — June 13, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

  6. Arielle- Wait until you have a house, then the stuff will really start accumulating! I’ve already reduced our big bin count by 4, while filling the car with Goodwill donations. Congrats on your Amazon sales, nicely done!

    Comment by Marijka — June 13, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

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