Straw Bale Construction for Sustainable Building

SustainableA friend sent me a link on some Straw Bale construction being done in the UK. It’s a quite interesting idea. Building with straw has been around since Paleolithic times, so it’s not exactly a new idea. But now there is increasing research being done, and it’s beginning to look like straw bale construction has a place in both Green and Sustainable building.

But like any construction technique, there are good things, and a few issues to carefully consider.

On the plus side, it’s about as sustainable as you can get. Straw is an agricultural by-product, the dry stalks of cereal grains such as corn, wheat, barley, oats or rice. Besides being used as a building material, it’s used as animal feed and fuel. (more…)

Don’t Let the Air Conditioning Bill Break the Bank


With this whole reinventing my lifestyle thing going on, I’m experimenting with all kinds of small changes. The theory is that it’s better to try ideas before making a lifetime commitment. Keeping cool and comfortable in a hot and humid climate, while keeping the air conditioning bill reasonable, can be a challenge.

The easy solution is to turn the thermostat down to 70 degrees. In my leaky and inefficient house, that would likely cost $200 a month. In this case, easy equals expensive. The more correct course of action would be a major insulation makeover. But I’m trying to downsize, so not much logic in a major investment in a house I won’t be living in. The immediate need is for an interim solution. Lessons learned will be applied to the next project. (more…)

Planning For Disaster


Humans are not good at planning for disasters or other rare events. It’s easy to procrastinate. Why worry about something that may not happen for years, maybe not in your lifetime.

Even if you do decide to plan for rare, but potentially devastating, events, it’s difficult to assess the level of risk. And even more problematic is the decision about how much hard earned cash to spend. How much are you prepared to spend for a little peace of mind?