Going Green, mustbethrifty house

Invisible pelmets

Waaay back in March 2015, I expressed the need to retrofit pelmets to ‘reduce heat loss/gain from thermal convection’.

Matching fabric pelmets were not an option since the curtains I had purchased were secondhand. I could make my own discreet pelmets but the thought of looking up at a bit of plastic sarking every time I pulled back the curtains gave me the heebie-jeebies. Instead, I’ve held out, putting up with the heat/cold, and stayed on the lookout for a real Harry-Potter-and-the-Deathly-Hallows-style invisible pelmet.

Ecomaster sells a made-to-order invisible pelmet for $16 per metre. Basically, it is a piece of clear plastic which balances on top of the curtain rail/track and window frame.

I’ve bought one to try and am pretty happy with my purchase. My curtains still open and close unimpeded. Looking up, there’s a little bit of reflection and overhang:

invisible plastic pelmets from EcoMaster

And there is some glare above the pelmet:

glare from invisible pelmet
I really am nitpicking however. The pelmet is barely noticeable. And unlike fabric pelmets, it should be easy to keep clean. Yay to mostly invisible pelmets!

Footnote Frivolity***, Gardening on a Budget, Going Green, mustbethrifty house, Second-hand Scavengers

Planning, planting, & waiting for the harvest

While home improvements have limped along at the rate of our mortgage-handicapped savings accounts, the garden around our new home has flourished. Water-tanks are the main bit of hardscaping. However, we have also put in some Colourbond-and-rescued-cypress garden beds, constructed by a local up in Hurstbridge.

DSC00325

And I’ve saved the neighbour’s broken pavers, turning them into a garden path.

DSC00431

More importantly, I’ve been adding as many perennial edibles as I can. It started with turning an ivy-infested patch into a herb garden and ended with me feverishly researching every and any edible plant that might survive in Melbourne. Quandong, anyone?

The plants we have so far includes:

 …almond, apple, artichoke, asparagus, avocado, basil (perennial), beans (runner, and butter), blackberry (thornless), blueberries, cape gooseberry, caper bush, celery (wild), Chilean guava, chives, choko, cranberry, elderberry, fennel, fig, garlic, greenfeast peas, horseradish, kiwiberry, lemon verbena, lemon, lemongrass, lettuce, lime, marjoram, midyim berry, mint (Vietnamese fish, Vietnamese hot, common, and apple), native ginger, nectareze, onion (spring, Egyptian walking), orange, oregano, parsley (curly-leaf), passionfruit, pepino, pepperberry, pomegranate, potato, radishes, rhubarb, rosemary, sage (pineapple, common), salad burnett, samphire, strawberries (alpine and normal), summer squash, tea camellia, thyme, tomatoes…

 Most of these plants are nursery-bought*, a few have come from veggie-swaps. The fig is one of Dad’s strikings.

I’ve tried positioning plants based on their needs. For instance, the orange and the lime has been placed against a north-facing fence**, whilst the cranberry is partly shaded and receiving the occasional deluge from a downpipe. Working with nature, instead of against it, means less watering, fertilising, and need for pest-control. In other words, a garden that is less resource-hungry.

Years will pass before we bring in a decent harvest: the antithesis of today’s have-it-now culture. It’s definitely a bit of wishin’ and hopin’ in a My Best Friends’ WeddingVeggie Garden kind of way.


*Note to self: must learn how to strike cuttings, etc.

*We had to remove a unruly neighbours-be-gone hedge first. I’m looking forward to planting out the rest of our food hedge.

Footnote Frivolity***, Gen DIY-er, Going Green

Going batty: what do you do with one too many insulation batts?

It’s been 2 months since the last post and we’re warming up into spring. Cheap Geek still has not finalised the last bit of roof insulation, though I’m pretty sure we’ve got too many Green Stuf batts. Cheap Geek plans on stowing these above the original layer of insulation, but one batt already has the privilege of being stuffed up our chimney.

According to yourhome.gov.au, ‘heat energy goes up the chimney and large volumes of cold air are drawn into the room to replace it, creating cold draughts or removing heated air from nearby spaces.’ And with chimneys, not only does heated air get replaced by cold air, the resulting draught also makes you feel colder than it actually is.

Hence the need to put a bat(t) up the chimney:

Big Brown Bat perched on chimney by Cotinis
Image courtesy of Cotinis (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Cheap Geek measured up the chimney interior and trimmed the batt to size so that it would fit snugly without being squished*.  Once inserted, it blocked out most (if not all) draughts.

Before putting insulation in your chimney, make sure that it is hypoallergenic. Glass-wool batts, for instance, are not a good idea: they can shed irritant particles. Fires are also not a good idea whilst the insulation is in place.

There are purpose-designed products such as Chimney Sheep or Chimney Balloons that will keep the draughts out and the heat in but they’re nowhere near as fun as roping water bottles together whilst stylin’ in a beat up leather jacket and 80’s hairdo.

Macgyver
Image courtesy of fanpop.com.

*Condensing an entire batt will compromise its ability to insulate.

Footnote Frivolity***, Gen DIY-er, Going Green

Winter has come: bring on the insulation

On Sunday, Melbournians woke up to the coldest morning in 18 years. Thanks to central heating, our Mustbethrifty House was toasty warm throughout the night.

However, if it weren’t for roof insulation, we would have shivered regardless of heating. I know this from our experience a couple of months back when Cheap Geek removed the loose fill insulation from our roof, after he suspected it of triggering off my allergies. It was autumn and the weather was still mild; we had the heating turned up and were huddled together on the couch, wrapped up in blankets.

Installing Green Stuf batts in the roofCheap Geek started laying down Green Stuf, a hypoallergenic* polyester batt. He installed insulation for half of the house**, then took a break for a couple of weeks before finishing off the rest. During those weeks, we noticed the change when moving from one part of the house to the other and the thermometer recorded differences of 0.5 to 1 degrees C.

Like most DIY jobs, the insulation is not 100% installed yet, but it’s enough to keep our heating in.


*While the Green Stuf is hypoallergenic and does not require protective equipment, Cheap Geek developed dermatitis on his arms and hands from coming into contact with residual loose fill. It’s best to wear a mask, gloves and a long-sleeved top when installing batts in the roof.

**No super special tools required: scissors, a couple of good camping lamps/torches and a trusty ladder…

Going Green, mustbethrifty house

It’s time to save water (again)

According to the daily doom and gloom, an El Nino is here to stay. It’s time to start installing water-saving technologies if you haven’t done so already. At the Mustbethrifty House, we’re making the most of the last bit of rain by putting in rainwater tanks.

Plastic water tanks

The tanks are made from plastic. In terms of longevity and disposal, plastic tanks aren’t as environmentally friendly as stainless steel ones but they make the cost of the initial setup much more affordable. I’m hoping that by the time I need to replace my water tank, I’ll have a ‘good job that pays good money’ for good stainless steel water tanks (or a house in Sydney or whatever).

A plumber will be connecting the tanks to our toilet and laundry. According to Melbourne Water, using collected rainwater for toilet and laundry instead of/as well as the garden also helps protects local waterways from excess runoff:

If tank water is used for your garden alone, your tank will remain full and unused during the winter months when your garden does not require watering. With a full tank, your capacity to capture and store the regular winter rainfall and thus benefit the local waterway is significantly reduced.

By plumbing your rainwater tank to your toilet or laundry, your tank water is used consistently all year round allowing rainfall to refill the tank more often especially in winter. This ultimately reduces the volume of stormwater that is delivered to the stream and the quantity of pollutants that are washed with it.

We’re hoping the plumbing gets done before the Living Victorian Rebate Program ends, so that we can claim back a portion of the installation cost. 🙂

Gauge on water tankA water tank is a large economic investment that may not necessarily give much return in dollars and cents. We’re installing these babies more for feel-goodness with the hope that they will add value to our property.

If you want to save money as well as water, you’re better off replacing your showerhead and or toilet with more water-efficient models. The ATA reiterates this in their free report on the economics of water-saving technology and it is a fascinating read for the mustbethrifty. The economic argument for replacing showerheads/toilets is even more persuasive if you factor in the incentives/rebates that are still kicking around from state and local governments. But you’ll have to be quick to make the most of it: June 30 quick that is.