Attempting to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle in St. Louis

Environmentally friendly decisions are tough

Assessing cold/hot spots in your house December 23, 2009

Filed under: Energy Efficiency,Green Rehab — budint @ 10:16 pm
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Last winter I was frustrated by what felt like pockets of cold air in various parts of my house.  Sometimes it was easy to confirm (like if there was a breeze), other times it might have been my mind going crazy.   This year I ordered the kintrex infrared thermometer instead of going to the psychologist and boy has it made a difference.

Use Case #1:  Take the closet in an older part of our house where the exterior wall is brick. The closet is always cold, some of which i attributed to being cut-off from heat vents.  After shooting the wall and seeing that its temperature was 15 degrees colder than an insulated wall in a different closet I immediately picked up some rigid insulation.  With the rigid installed over the brick closet wall the temp was 10 degrees warmer.

Use Case #2: a long, long duct run in my basement supplies heat to our great room.  Shooting the duct near the furnace showed the metal was around 90 degrees,  however 35 feet down the run toward the great room the duct metal was only 72 degrees.   So clearly i’m able to quantify the heat loss from the long run in the colder basement and thus this is motivating me to insulate the duct.   I’ll post the update after i do the project, but the point is that i would never have known the heat loss was so great without this device.  (see pic below)

kintrex If you’re paranoid about energy efficiency in your house and need to validate your paranoia for yourself or a loved one this is the tool. Runs about $50.

 

St Louis garbage collection problem

Filed under: St Louis — budint @ 9:39 pm
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Managing a densely populated urban environment requires that city governments approach challenges with creative solutions.   Doing so can save the city money and increase the quality of life for its residents.  Consider the curb-side recycling program, the 27 drop-off recycling locations and operation brightside; all good programs that help make this a better place to live.

One of St Louis’ recent challenges however is that twice a week garbage pick-up has become too costly and thus they’re trying once a week service.  The motivation makes sense: save money by reducing fuel costs, truck use and city employee hours.  This approach however doesn’t make sense and has resulted in health and quality of life issues. (see picture)

Alternatives could be:

1) An education and awareness program that gets citizens to think about their trash differently. For example, the above picture shows a lot of boxes and other bulky items that could be broken down or recycled.

2) A study could be done to see what alleys or neighborhoods produce the most trash and specifically target those.

3) Maybe specific dumpsters could be upgraded to larger ones and that would take the load off.

In any case, the refuse department should be thinking more creatively than just cutting pick-ups in half.  Lest the cuts lead to increased litter and decreased community pride, which then takes neighborhoods into downwards spirals when no one cares anymore.

I’m sure the folks at Good Magazine have seen some new unique approaches that cities have used.  Just need the people running our city services to look outside the box.