Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wrapping it up

On Monday a plumber and I replaced an ailing hot water tank with a new electric tank, and super-wrapped it.

No, it wasn't a Christmas gift, although the money the homeowner will save will be enough to add a gift or two under the tree every year.

What we did was to make that new tank significantly more energy efficient, especially compared to the old tank. In fact research reveals that super-insulating a tank will make it nearly as efficient as a "water-on-demand" heater! Not only is this method considerably less expensive than a water-on-demand heater one does not need natural gas or propane, thus reducing pollution, greenhouse gases, and the expense and danger associated with gas.

The most neglected part of insulating a hot water tank is that many of them sit on uninsulated, cold (and often damp) basement floors. Heat from the tank radiates in all directions, including down into that slab and, beyond it, mother earth. We put an R-10 barrier underneath the new tank, resulting in considerable energy savings right there. And the cost to do so was only about $15.

We finished off the project by insulating both the hot and cold water pipes going into the tank since those pipes otherwise radiate a lot of heat.

The total cost of super-wrapping a tank is only $200, including labour. Smart homeowners and renters can do it for half this price, saving that cost, and more, every year.

Wrapping it up. A great gift to oneself, and the planet!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Transportation is key

I have just returned from a week of cycling around a few of our beautiful Gulf Islands, a great way to holiday! Here I get to slow down, ponder, reflect, experience nature, see far more than do people in automobiles, and get into shape!

While on Salt Spring Island I took public transportation to Victoria and back so that I could do a little business. It was a snap, and I was able to read a book en-route.

A writer to a local newspaper by the name of "J. Sharpe" keeps on advocating a complete reliance on automobiles, claiming that it costs too much to repair the railway and that bicycles and public transportation are not "viable."

Sadly we, through our governments, pay a very heavy price for the convenience of the private automobile -not only through taxes that subsidise the roads, hospitals, environmental destruction and even the extraction of fossil fuels(!), but we also pay hugely through greatly reduced physical and social well-being.

I have come to the conclusion that our collective and individual addiction to convenience, the "easy life", avoidance of nature (why is rain such a terrible thing to avoid?) and the consuming of the planet is quickly leading us to a premature death -individually and collectively.

If we plan on staying on this planetary home for much longer it is high time we moved away from the private automobile except whenever necessary (car pooling and car time-sharing are but two alternatives).

Dedicated bicycle paths have made a huge difference in Victoria, where the percentage of commuters travelling by bicycle is more than 20 times that of Nanaimo and other communities north of the Malahat.

Denser populations make car sharing, car pooling, public transportation, walking and cycling much more doable.

We need to collectively push our governments into more sustainable, livable, and affordable ways of living and travelling.

And we need to lead by example.