Skip to main content

I just moved, in many ways to a better place. The move was a surprise to me, but I found a good new place, thanks to my social network. Now I'm in a place that's less treed, and farther out from the city, but closer to most of my work, and in many ways more suitable to walking/biking/carpooling. So hooray.

There is one thing that's bothering me - energy inefficiency/heat waste. My last place was a complex of 3-story buildings built in the late 40s/early 50s, with brick walls, radiators, and individual AC units. I live in the DC metro area, and work from home, so I do need a relatively hospitable environment. At my last place, I could for the most part get through winters without using the heat, and summers without turning on the AC. I'd dress warm in the winters, and go mostly naked in the summer, taking cold showers to cool down. I had windows on opposite sides, so I could set up a cross-draft for ventilation, and run the ceiling fans as needed.

My new place was built in the 70s, and it's far less energy efficient! It basically requires dependence on external heating/cooling systems. I only have windows on one side, so no cross-draft, the windows and patio doors are the original 70s single-pane energy wasters, and the foyer is open, so there's no energy buffer there. And what's making me crazy is that I haven't found a way to improve the situation yet.

The heating wasn't working the first few days after I moved in, which slowed me down quite a bit. I dressed in layers, but it's still kinda challenging. I don't mind camping and hiking in low temperatures, but it's harder to concentrate on work. The fact that it wasn't much warmer inside than out made it very clear that the windows weren't providing much insulation. It got better when the heat started working, except for the fact that I know I'm just pouring energy out as waste.

I'd only used the radiator a few times this winter at my last place, and often kept windows cracked open (without the heat on) for fresh air. Here, everything's shut, and the furnace kicks in every 20 minutes, to keep holding at 60F. Both places have utilities included (which is a complete disincentivizer for those who would be motivated by financial concerns to waste less energy), but my new place is a condo complex, which means that I'm renting from the owner of my apartment, but the condo complex covers the energy costs.

I could ask the owner to upgrade the windows and patio doors, but they won't see any actual value from that, aside from improving the resale value. I could ask the condo complex, but they have no way of measuring actual value in reduced energy costs by subsidizing improvements to my unit. I could pay for it myself but I get no value from that either.

What makes me crazy here is that we were building better buildings in the 50s, before air-conditioning became ubiquitous, and that even in a building built in the 70s, forty years of awareness of the importance of reducing energy consumption has not resulted in tangible improvements in this apartment. And I, a dedicated environmentalist, have no effective path to a solution, short of going down the "A Pail of Air" path.

I live in a basically progressive county, am connected with a very effective environmental community, and yet I don't have an effective way to address 40 year old windows. Welcome to the tragedy of the commons!

PS, I'm very aware that I'm living in luxury, when many others can't afford to pay for heating, and/or are living in actually challenging situations.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site