The attitude of some out in the blogosphere has been that since I am a ‘poor’ preservationist, I have no right to be making declarative statements on historic preservation and green initiatives.
Since I have lived in Newburyport for over two decades, I have had my share in both actions.
When I first moved into our ‘historic’ house, if it was 32 degrees outside, it was 32 degrees inside. The furnace during the winter ran continuously. If it had the nerve to stop, the temperature in the house would go back to the ambient temperature outside.
These are just some of the actions taken:
We had MassSave come and give a free analysis of our home’s efficiency. This service is still free through National Grid and I encourage everyone to use this service. They actually insulated for free a section of my attic and basement, sealed our heat pipes and provided a limited number of low-energy lights with discounts for more. They offered a 50% savings in blown insulation for our walls which we used. It normally would have cost $3,000 plus and we ended up paying half of that expense. They gave us a long list of more actions that we could take.
We attended seminars and workshops that the City hosted or other environmental and historic preservation goups held.
We sprayed foam into all the cracks.
We replaced all our lights interior and exterior with low-energy fixtures and put cages around them because of their toxic nature in the attic and basement.
We put an insulated blanket around our water heater.
We put insulated tubing around our water pipes.
We removed and disposed of asbestos in our house.
We stripped and removed all lead paint.
We had masons come and use lime mortar to firm up and protect our field-stone foundation and brick chimneys.
We had an insulated rubber barrier put on our roof when we had it re-roofed. The attic used to be blazing hot in the summer and freezing in the winter and now the temperatures rarely fluxuate throughout the year.
We use storm windows purchased from Lunt & Kelly and used v-shaped tape and Malachite to seal windows for winter.
We learned how to do plastering and saved our plaster walls – our ceiling was horse-hair plaster and was fine for years until the City did construction work on our street – we have put drywall up on the ceiling wedging the plaster which is still up there.
We have foam molding around our front door.
We use low-volume faucet and shower attachments.
We use a low-volume toilet.
We turn off lights when not in the room.
We have reduced our paper consumption.
We recycle and if we didn’t have cats (kitty litter), the amount of trash going out to the curb would only fill a small grocery bag every two weeks.
We mostly don’t use chemicals in our yard . I used to put a little sign out saying I was pesticide free but the carpenter ants forced me to take it down.
No leaves ever go to the curb. I keep a very deep compost pile in the corner of my property that goes down six feet and I keep a pvc pipe with drilled holes down its length for air and decomposition. Plant materials, leaves and kitchen scraps producerich compost that I spread back out on my garden twice a year. Neighbors spend thousands to enrich their yards and I spend nothing.
I could go on further but I’ll stop. I would love to install solar cells but my extremely low electric bill won’t justify the expense. My gas bill is low. My water bill is low. I dare say that our carbon-footprint is very low. The biggest fuss I have right now is getting rid of windows that are ‘modern’ and disintegrating and repairing the water damage that one modern window caused.
The moral of this story is, just because you may not have lots of money, energy-saving and historic preservation can be done. It takes discipline and time and I might add, a lot of research to avoid making too many mistakes.