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Eco-Updating Our New (Old) Home

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

More than a year after (barely) buying a decrepit house in what are to me, the far reaches of WNC, we have moved in. I say the house is old and worn, but it’s younger than I am, having been built in 1965. You’d think maybe it was as sturdy and versatile as I’ve turned out to be, but no; no insulation, rattling windows, a collapsing ceiling, a weird gas heater stuck to a wall in the hall and staples and ratty plastic sheeting throughout, miserable remnants of previous tenants’ efforts to keep the heat in. Oh, and a water heater that had eaten through the floor with leaks.

Not even a diamond in the rough, but it was ours to make shine. We had envisioned solar panels, radiant heat, a grey water system—the eco works! However, the realities of the pandemic, our finances, the prevailing WNC style of construction and our own personal stuff straightened us out, pdq! Our dream home was never to be. However, we have succeeded in installing a few very important elements that conserve energy and water and we have been able to avoid enviro-nasties as much as possible.

We have a tankless on-demand water heater (on right) that saves space, water and electricity. We got new windows that work much better—no big drafts—and are energy-efficient double paned. We had mini-split heat pumps put in; they save space, are quiet and have the potential to save energy by allowing us to heat specific areas, not the whole house, all the time. And, about the most important part of this—we had the house insulated! The place is so old, that it had not been insulated, at all. So now, we are wrapped on all sides to keep us warmer and to keep our home quieter. Our mid-century rustic is now almost current! It’s not our eco-dream house, but it’s MUCH more efficient and, we’re not done; as soon as the gutters go on, we’ll hook up our rain barrel and start putting in our native plant garden. Doing some stuff is better than doing nothing. Yay!


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