Category Archives: green home

Energy Evaluation

The crisp autumn weather has made us feel cozier than ever in our newly insulated home.  Last spring I shared a three part series ( 1 , 2 , 3 ) on our participation in the pilot phase of the Clean Energy Works program. I wasn’t planning a final evaluation until after a winter’s worth of energy bills, but I feel like I need to defend the program after a pretty critical article in the Tribune.

The Portland Tribune criticized the program and concluded that it was shy on results. While I agree with some points, we are still among the many satisfied customers of the program. I know that our family would have dipped into our emergency fund in order finance the home improvement, and we were glad to take out a micro loan that will be paid off mostly through improved home efficiency.

Here’s the skinny so far from a finance perspective:

  • We’ve been paying $49.24 extra since the loan was processed (Our previous average was $97, and went up to $146.24 in April)
  • When the annual average was reevaluated, we received a $3.90 credit in September
  • We’re on an equal pay bill plan, but it easy to see that our bill will go down further
  • And that’s even after signing up for the Smart Energy program.

We first turned on the heat on October 15th, and we’ve all felt too hot at night at 67 degrees! Yes, we used to turn off our heat at night, but with radiant heating it’s more efficient to keep the temp relatively constant. But it does feel strange not to feel the wind inside any longer 😉  Insulating your home is really a smart investment, and probably the one that will give your family the most comfort for your buck.

Have you been satisfied with Clean Energy Works?
Do you wish it were available nationwide?

The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Green Housing

We’re not in the market for housing, and are  just doing our best to keep our 1904 Victorian sustainable in this century. B ut I want to plug the upcoming Build It Green Home Tour here in Portland, even if you just check out the info virtual there is plenty of inspiration. I’ll be there, will report back on any new insights.

While I’m on the topic, what do you think of modular housing and the “house of the future“? Could you see your family thriving in a modern home?

Personally I really like the idea of flexibility over time, but I’m not sure how they would look plunked in the middle of existing neighborhoods. Perhaps the solution for the suburb of the future, but I thought the suburbs and malls were on their way out. 

On a related note, we just got our first power bill since our new green refrigerator and I’m looking forward to sharing more once we have a few to compare, there is a slight savings!

Would you pay more for an energy/water efficient house? 
Would you live in a green modular?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Shaker Dreams

Creating your own personal abundance is all about living within your means, defining your priorities, and still remembering to dream.

I’ve shared about our “personal story of stuff” before, but was just reminded of this story:

When Hubby and I moved in together 10 years ago we had a futon and a card table with folding chairs for furniture. I owned more house plants than pieces of furniture. Our apartment was literally a converted 3-bay garage in Ladd’s Addition, so we didn’t have much room anyway.

Around the same time we first came across the Joinery, which makes gorgeously simple handcrafted furniture made from certified wood. So  we promised each other that we wouldn’t buy cheap/unsustainable furniture. We deepened our pact to not buy a headboard until we could afford one from the Joinery. So to this day, we still have no headboard, and one remains on our home wish list.

I have no doubt that when there will be a time when we will enjoy it’s artful functionality.  The  Shaker bed happens to be my personal favorite!  BTW  both the kids do, somehow they   do   take priority!

What are you dreaming of?
How are you going to make that dream a reality?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.


Some people are treehuggers, but I’m a genuine riverlover. So, I was excited to learn about a new “Love Your River” campaign, and will keep you posted about any family finance related actions.

I know not all of you are from Portland, but I want to share about “Treebates” that are available to plant trees: small $10, medium $20, large $50. This is a great incentive to plant trees to shade your home and watch grow with your family. As the saying goes, “the best time to plant a year was twenty years ago, the second best time is now!”

Here’s a fun little video about “50 Ways to Love Your River:”

How do you love your river?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Melting Down

Soon after I wrote about our friendly debate about home improvement priorities, a higher priority need caught our attention. Our refrigerator is experiencing glacial meltdown at a faster rate than the planet! It no longer keeps homemade Popsicles totally frozen, and I hope we’ll manage to replace it before it becomes an emergency. 

When we moved into our home almost exactly two years ago, we instantly wanted to upgrade the fridge. It’s a Kenmore from the 80s and is on the smaller side. It’s had issues with general uneven cooling, and we’ve wondered from time to time why the sour cream was half frozen. Yet, replacing the vintage stove with manual pilot was a higher priority.  Then insulating our home trumped splurging on a big ticket appliance. Tack on having another baby and keeping our little family boat afloat, and you can see why we have procrastinated for so long.

With a little research it’s easy to see why purchasing an  Energy Star refrigerator will actually save us in energy bills. We’re likely to save $100 per year.  The Energy Trust of Oregon offers $50 cash incentives, and the state offers up to $90 tax credit. Plus, you can get $50 for recycling your old fridge, talk about a bonus! All told, we stand to save $190 on our new fridge, and that’s not counting the energy saving.

We are still researching models, so if you have any tips, I would love them!

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.