Going Green at

24 Long Creek Road

Austin, Texas

 

We have always been concerned for the environment, and have tried to be as environmentally friendly as possible. We did quite a bit in our

previous home in Houston and are attempting to do as much as practical here in the Austin area too.

 

Solar. I am told there is a 14 year payback for solar. In Houston, we only had solar for about 5 years before we sold, but the increase price we got for the house because of the solar panels more than made up for the cost of the installation. Here, we have 36 panels, and are off the grid on electrical cost. Some months, we generate more power than we use, and that difference is credited to our account by the power company. Then, during the months that we use more than generated, that credit is applied.

Solar Powered Apparel Dehydrator. I won't go into the physics of it, but basically, you hang clothes on a taut line and let the sun dry them. The clothes come out very dry, wrinkle free, and smell fresh.

 

The electrical saving is 100%.

Compost Pile I have two compost piles. One that I'm still filling, and one that I'm letting mature. I don't put things in that will attract wild animals or smelly stuff, but I do put in leftover vegetables, coffee grounds, leaves, dead garden plants, etc.
Rainwater Harvesting In Houston, we had rainwater harvesting for potable water (use in house). Economically, it was probably a break even venture because of the expensive U/V filter needed The water did taste much better, though. In Austin, the lack of rain doesn't justify full rainwater harvesting. However, we do capture rainwater in a whiskey barrel to water the house plants. Four goldfish in the barrel keep the mosquito larvae in check.
Recycle Garbage I don't understand why everbody who has garbage pickup doesn't use the recycling cans for reusable garbage. It doubles your capacity and is good for the environment.

Organic Garden In the Hill Country, the ground is solid rock 2" below the surface. So, raised beds are a must. Homegrown organic vegetables taste so much better (so my wife says) and it is economical. One thing I learned on the farm, you should plant 3 times as much as you want to eat .... one for the birds, one for the insects, and one for you. I really like canning food, so when the tomatoes and jalapenos are ripe, I can enough to last until next season.

 

To see a picture of one day's harvest, click here.

 

 

(Notice the high fence. No deer allowed in the garden).

Chickens I love my chickens. Most of them let me pick them up, although I'm not sure they like it too much. I feed them non-GMO and non-Soy feed, but more importantly, I let them free range most of the day. I have lost lots of chickens to foxes and coyotes, but I haven't lost any in a couple of months. The eggs are much better than those you buy in the store. I have been told that store bought eggs are at least 41 days old.
Smarthome We've installed Ecobee thermostats that communicate with Apple Homekit. This lets us create a schedule so that temperature is adjusted during sleeping and waking hours. Also, we have Philips Hue LED smart bulbs. Communication is through Siri on our iPhones. When leaving the house, I can tell Siri to cut off both thermostats or set them to any temperature and turn all the lights off. In addition, I can also tell Siri to change the settings on all (or individual) lights to any percentage of brightness.
Deer I don't know if this is considered being green or not, but I enjoy feeding the deer. Mostly, it is deer corn that I buy at the grocery store, but also table scraps.
Environmentally friendly products Not always possible.
Reusable grocery bags I do get some plastic throwaway bags from the grocery store now and then to keep shrimp shells frozen until garbage day, for picking up dog poop, etc.
Bird Feeders Another one of those topics that may not be "green", but it's caring for our feathered friends, which is in harmony with nature. For a look at some of the birds that come to our feeders, click here.
Bat House A bat will eat 600 mosquitoes per hour. My bat house is a 3 chamber, and will house about 300 bats. There are certain requirements for a successful bat house, such as being at least 15 feet high, within 10 to 15 feet of tree cover (to escape from predators) and within 1500 feet of a water source. My bat house passes all of those requirements, and I am waiting for the new residents to move in.
Garden Lights. Although my garden lights are low voltage and LED, I have them on a timer so that they come on around dusk and turn off around 10:30.