Can This Home Be Greened? An East Side Austin Home

Achieve energy efficiency with creativity and green materials.

| March/April 2005

  • Abe Louise Young loves her house in Austin’s East Side despite all its faults.
    Photo By Marc Richmond
  • Outgasing carpet is affecting indoor air quality.
    Photo By Marc Richmond
  • Inefficient cooling is costing the homeowner.
    Photo By Marc Richmond
  • Mold has a foothold in nooks and crannies.
    Photo By Marc Richmond
  • Abe Louise Young loves her house in Austin’s East Side despite all its faults.
    Photo By Marc Richmond

Although she loves her home and feels grateful for the abundance in her life, Abe wants to make some improvements. Creative materials and thrift are important to her, as well as a sense of calm and sacredness.

Ode to insulation

PROBLEM: Abe’s home is hot and humid in the summer. While her front rooms stay cool, her back rooms—made of wood studs—get hot through the walls and ceilings. The main culprit is radiant heat entering through the roof.

SOLUTION: Installing radiant reflective sheeting to the roof’s underside can block this and protect the air conditioning system and ductwork. Reinsulating the walls isn’t an option on Abe’s budget, but she can plant trees on the south side of her home to shade the walls, and she can augment the attic’s small, ineffective gable vents with a continuous ridge vent and clear air pathways for the existing soffit vents. I also suggested she make an insulated box out of foam board and reseal the weather stripping to reduce heat entering through the attic’s pull-down stairway. Fortunately, Abe can take advantage of Austin Energy’s low-income energy audit, weatherization, and rebate programs to pay for additional attic insulation, leaking duct repair, caulking and weather stripping, solar window screens, compact fluorescent bulbs, and carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

Sonnet to stingers and squirrels

PROBLEM: A wasp nest near Abe’s back door threatens her as well as the neighborhood children.

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