November 4, 2011

Save Money by Insulating Your House

Winter is upon us and some nights are dipping below freezing. One task on my mind is to improve the insulation of our house for better energy efficiency and comfort. Currently, I am focused on the garage. Although the garage is usually considered an unheated space and not insulated, this is not completely true in our case. We have a raised ranch house with the bottom floor being the 2 car garage, laundry room, and family room. The 3 bedrooms we have are above the garage, and the rest of the upper floor is the living room, bathroom, and kitchen. The floor of our master bedroom is often cold, and I suspect that the insulation between the floor and the garage below is not very good. Heat also leaks from the family room and laundry room into the garage through a thin wall. To make matter worse, the north side of the garage exterior wall is currently not insulated. It is just 2x4 wood studs with exterior sheathing and wood siding, on top of 9" concrete block foundation. The insulation R-value of this wall construction is about 2, which is pretty low.

We can calculate how much heat is being lost to the outside by measuring the temperatures on the two sides of this wall. I used a hand-held infrared thermometer to measure the temperature at 9PM on November 3rd, 2011. The outside temperature was 39.4°F; the inside of the exterior wall was 53.3°F; the temperature inside the garage was 57.6°F. With these 3 temperature readings, I can calculate the R-value of the concrete foundation to be 2.9, and the wood stud wall above it has a temperature reading of 51°F and a corresponding R-value of 1.9. Based on a rough area estimate, the heat loss is about 1000 BTU/hr in this mildly chilly night. We use a 95% efficient natural gas furnace for heat, so this amounts to about $10 a month in heat that’s lost. If I add the heat lost through the 2 garage overhead doors and the concrete floor, it’s about $30 a month in heat loss!

November 2, 2011

Parenting 101

Ever wish there were training classes on how to be parents? How about take classes, get a degree, and then getting to know everything there is to know on how to be perfect a parent? If only that were true...

While no class can possibly prepare you for every situation, having some basic framework and skills sure help! Our good friends recommended some fantastic parenting material that's a joy to go through. We will share them here with you! Keep in mind, we are still working through these so we will be coming back with updates often. Also, we would be interested to hear about your reactions to the material and any recommendations you'd like to share. So please leave comments!

The Village Church Parenting Class - The series is divided up to 6 one hour sections, and taught by Jeff and Jennifer Wilkin of The Village Church in Texas. The class is based on the Christian faith, but you don't have to be Christian to appreciate the learning points. Applicable to children ages 9 months to ~15 years old.

Care Group - Various lecturers from the Xenos Christian Fellowship.  The goal is to provide relevant teachings on parenting using biblical principles from experienced, mature Christian parents.  Topics include: "Boys and Girls: Developing and Nurturing Each One" and "Understanding your Child's Personality"
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