Prepping, homesteading and living the simple, green, independent life.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Ultimate Extreme Clothes Dryer Vent!

The other day my wife noticed that the floor around our clothes dryer was really cold. We had always noticed that the air in our dryer was always a bit cooler but this was really colder than usual and winter isn't even here yet!

I'd been considering changing our dryer vent to a better quality model that would prevent cold air from entering for a while now but kept putting it off. With the cold entering like that I couldn't put off any longer so I made a trip to my local Home Hardware store.

I'd seen energy efficient vents before at Home Hardware and had a particular model in mind. Strangely I couldn't find any energy efficient models at either Canadian Tire or Walmart.

There were only two models at the store but I picked a model by Broan. The other vent was not only more expensive but came across as a gimmicky "as seen on TV" product. Broan is a well known brand and it looked more like a regular vent only larger.

Basically instead of vent flaps that open and close it has a styrofoam ball that rolls forward and up when hot air is exiting. It rolls back and seals the vent when the dryer stops. The vent cover is also well insulated with the walls made of 2 inch thick foam.
By replacing the vent I was also able to see what was inside my exterior walls: straw. My house was built in the 1930 and straw was a common insulator back then but unfortunately it doesn't insulate very well. If we weren't planning on moving in less than 5 years I'd remove the interior drywall and put in spray insulation with a high R-Value but it probably isn't worth the effort.

Hopefully this will help a bit with heating and with a new basement door also coming soon, whoever buys this house is gonna be getting a pretty energy efficient home! 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Raking Leaves is for Suckers!

I hate raking leaves.  In fact, I usually don't rake them at all or do the minimum necessary to make the yard look half-decent.

We have two large maples which dump a lot of leaves on our small 20 x 30 back yard so I felt very smart when it occurred to me that I could just use the lawnmower to turn the leaves into mulch.  No more raking ever again!  I felt very smart to have figured that out all by myself but that didn't last because I quickly realized that a lot of people do this.

The weather was nice today so my wife and I decided to get the yard ready for winter and I broke out the lawnmower for my anti-raking experiment.  I set the blades a little higher than normal because I didn't want to harm the grass.  Result: I'm pretty impressed!

As you can see in the pictures the mower really did a good job of breaking down the leaves.  Where you'd see nothing but leaves at first you'd see mostly green after the mower went over them.

It also occurred to me that when making compost the guides always say to include a good mix of greens (nitrogen) and browns (carbon).  It just happens that a good source of greens and browns are grass clippings and dry leaves respectively.  By mulching these leaves they'll have the winter and spring to break down and turn into natural compost.  I guess there's a reason mother nature doesn't rake the leaves eh?