- It hasn’t been art so much as conservation, and as much engineering and common sense as creativity, per se. Two drivers: The drought, and the energy audit. Latter first.
Notes on the experience of making stuff, perhaps
I had an energy audit in the middle of November, 2007, courtesy of the kind folks at Progress Energy who paid most of the fee. I can’t say I was surprised by the answer. On a scale of 0-50, where 0 = good and 3 or less is an EnergyStar rating, my house scored a 25. That compares favorably with a tent. 50 = wide open to the outside. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time remediating the problems that the audit identified, and then also applying the knowledge to my rental property, which happened to come vacant at the turn of the year. Useful work–I’m not done yet, and my energy use has already fallen by 30%. But a bit difficult to accept I’ve been living under these conditions for 11 years and never identified the (many) sources of the problem. Lesson: buy caulk in bulk. I have used at least a case, purchased in 4 and 5 and 6 tube trips to the hardware store.
This area suffered a serious drought last year, and unless we get a hurricane early in the season, it’s probably not going to get any better this year. Time to harvest rainwater. I have six 55-gallon barrels lined up, waiting to be connected to the downspouts, and then we have to figure out how much additional storage to set up and connect to each other. At the reported rate for roof run off, this house should be able to generate more than 700 gallons per inch of rain, but 700 gallons won’t water trees for too awfully long when it’s 95 degrees for two months straight. First things first: figure out how to connect one barrel to one downspout. Also hauled four truckloads of bagged leaves home and spread them around at-risk plants; shaded ground doesn’t dry out as fast. I lost a few trees last year and expect to discover that a few more died if/when they don’t leaf out this year. On one hand, I don’t want a landscape that needs pampering, but on the other, a lot of plants can make it if they get big enough so I’m hoping this extra care is only a temporary thing (and hoping the same for the drought!).
It’s fun, and interesting, and useful, but it’s not art. Too bad.
Originally written February 16, 2008