I am not a hippie. I consider myself to be green….ish.

I do not buy organic food from the grocery store, but I shop my local farmer’s market. Gas mileage is important to me, but I’ve never considered an electric car. I breastfed for over a year, but did not cloth diaper.

When our house burned up in a fire, we saw the reconstruction as an opportunity to make the house much more energy- and cost-efficient – without crossing the line into composting toilets and solar panels.

We decided to convert the house to natural gas, and bought a gas range, water heater, fireplace logs, and a gas lantern (for the front porch). We also decided to upgrade the old, under-sized HVAC unit for two smaller units with gas furnaces. The City of Tallahassee gave us enough money in rebates to cover the cost of the conversion. Our walls got new insulation, as did our attic space, and we chose a lighter-colored roof to reflect more heat in the summer.

So far, so good.

The only major energy vampire left was the windows – the original, aluminum, single-hung windows. We did not have enough money to replace the windows during the reconstruction, so we started saving our pennies.


This window, in the laundry room, has been duct-taped since we bought the house. We always intended to replace the windows as soon as we could, HONEST.

This is a tell-tale sign that you may need new windows:


In the meantime, I ran an experiment in December. The thermostat for one of the HVAC units is right outside my bedroom door, and registers the temperature near the center of the house. I put a thermometer by the windows in the bedroom, approximately 20 feet away. The register for the heat is about halfway between these two. I noticed a consistent 5- to 8-degree drop in temperature between the hall thermostat and the windows. I’m guessing the difference between the vent (where the heat comes out) and the windows is even greater.


The largest discrepancy I noticed was over the last weekend, when the thermostat was set to 68 and the thermometer read 59.3. My wallet suspects this has….ramifications.


A few years ago, we replaced the windows at our old house, which cut our utility bill in half. IN HALF, I TELL YOU. It was glorious. We used the same company, NRG Industries, to replace the windows at the new house. We chose low-E, argon-gas-filled double hung windows.

I’m a traditionalist, so we chose regular grid windows for most of the openings. This is the living room, halfway done:

IMG_6905 2

In the kids’ rooms, which have giant openings and great views, we went with side-to-side sliders, to maximize ventilation and awesomeness.

IMG_6901 2

This is the window installed (but not sealed) in Tyler’s room:

Window 2

And remember the sad laundry room window? This is what it looks like now:


We are completely thrilled with our windows. I (almost) can’t wait to get my utility bill next month. In addition to energy savings, the windows have reduced the noise in our house considerably. Our bedroom faces the road, and I don’t hear the cars any more. NO CARS.

If you’re looking to reduce your energy costs, I cannot recommend new windows enough.



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2 responses to “Green…..ish

  1. Why would solar panels be crossing a line? When I look at my electricity bill, solar panels look really good.

    • Windy Taylor

      Oh, I’m sure they do. But in a land of finite dollars, one has to make choices. Installing a solar panel system would cost four to five times more than the windows did, and I can’t imagine we’d recoup that investment any time soon – even if the electricity portion of our utility bill dropped to zero. Also, Jason and I don’t finance things that depreciate in value, so taking out a loan to pay for the system would not be an option for us.

      Solar panels and composting toilets, to me, cost more (in terms of money or effort) than they provide in benefit. Composting toilets can run $1500!

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