Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Being home is expensive

Some people may think that staying home is a low expense entertainment, but I know otherwise. Staying at home gives you time to see all the stuff that needs to get done. And some of that stuff costs lots of money.
This weekend we did some "home improvement" shopping. We had talked about it for a year, but the time had come as we sat in our cold house, rain tumbling outside. We went shopping for a fuel efficient fireplace insert.
Background is important here. We have a regular furnace in the attic. It is the forced air type. But I can't stand the smell and dust it blows about. So it has never been turned on. I don't see any point in trying to cut off rooms with inefficient vents, then heating the ceiling. Most SoCal housing it not designed for fuel efficiency or effective heat and cool control. The weather is mild and utilities used to be cheap.
The weather is still mild.
So, we decided (or I did) that an efficient fireplace would make the living area warm and friendly for three months a year, and the other rooms could be heated with small electric space heaters. Then we could sleep in the coolness I like. I am still working on warming up Eduard in the mornings. I may put a small electric heater on a timer so that he can get dressed without shivering.
So for the living room fireplace we bought a wood burning fireplace insert- which is a free standing firebox that is fuel efficient and meets the epa standards for emissions. It has a blower to warm the room and seals off the draft from the chimney. The door closes so there is no CO2/Co or smell blowback. It is recessed into the fireplace so that little hands have a harder time touching it (even though we don't have any little hands). It recycles its exhaust until it is thoroughly burned so there is no smoke blowing out the chimney. It costs $3000 installed. Ow.
And that's not all.
We agreed on new windows- double pane. One side is a bay window with seating, and the other is a sliding door into the garden. Fluffy approves of quick access to the garden.
But that is not all.
Books cases. Yes, built in bookcases and entertainment unit. All around the window will be bookcases and the entertainment unit so that we can sit on the couch and see the fire, window, and TV. The other wall will be floor to 12ft ceiling bookcases with a rolling ladder.
But that is not all.
Carpet. We may finally get new carpet in that room. It was the only carpet we saved from the original purchase of the house. Coarse and bumpy stuff that wears like steel. Much of the house is tile floor, but the floors we crawl around on are carpeted. I like to crawl around in front of the fire.
And one more thing, the old brick around the fireplace might have to go- we are still thinking about this. I kind of like the brick, but not the plaster facade that goes with it. There is no mantel either. I have always wanted a mantel, but I don't know why.
At this point I have identified about $25,000 worth of work- on one room.
Did I mention we also went car shopping?
Fluffy needs the spring now! I must get back to the dirt so that I quit spending money. Seeds are cheap compared to staying home.