Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

We Finally Got Our Heat Replaced November 5, 2019

Filed under: Environment,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 9:34 pm
Tags: , ,

(FYI, this is NOT a sponsored post, but I do reference the Mass Save program and benefits a bunch of times, mostly to make sure folks are aware of programs like this that provide home energy audits for free or for a fee, depending on the state.  These programs also recommend upgrades and other options that may be highly discounted or come with great rebates)

As if spending money on a new car wasn’t enough, we also just got our heat replaced. When we bought our house, the home inspector pointed out that both the furnace for the forced hot water and the water heater were nearing the end of their useful life.  And then when we had our free energy audit through Mass Save a few months into home ownership, we were also told that we should try to get a new, more efficient system.

Well, time got away from us (which tends to happen with one, then two kids), so we kept putting it off.  But then the furnace sprang a leak and flooded our basement, which kicked us back on track.

So, we got a quote from the same company that did the last few minor repairs on our old heating system.  The quote was quite reasonable, and included a few of the rebates available through Mass Save. We probably should have gotten more quotes, but the price was just about what we expected based on estimates from our home inspector, and we did get them to install new programmable thermostats for free.

So, now we have a new, more efficient system for our heat and hot water. Plus with our new thermostats, we can actually program different temperatures for different times/days to save money. Before, only one of our thermostats actually was new enough to be programmed properly.

We’ve scheduled another free energy audit for a few weeks from now (we’re eligible every 2 years) since we want to find out what their newest recommendations are for saving energy.  The last time they came, they replaced our light bulbs with new, more efficient light bulbs, gave us a few free power strips to help us lower “standby” energy use, and gave us some recommendations (along with quotes for those upgrades).  We didn’t end up doing many of their recommendations since we wanted to figure out our heat system first, and some couldn’t be done until after some fixes were made to the heat anyway.  So hopefully they’ll provide us new quotes for adding insulation and sealing up drafts in the house, along with any other good ideas they have for us.

It will be interesting to see just how much we’ll save on our gas bill this winter!

Have you ever done a home energy audit?  Was it worth it for you?  What are the biggest changes you’ve made to save energy in your home?

 

Trying out cloth diapers May 9, 2017

Filed under: baby,Boston,Environment — Stephanie @ 9:42 pm
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As you may have noticed, my blog has taken a turn towards baby topics. The baby (okay, she’s now a 15 month old toddler) is a big focus in my life.

I figure I should let you guys know about a few things we ended up doing, what worked, and what didn’t for us.

One of the many parenting decisions we went through was “cloth vs disposable diapers”.

We had a few reasons we wanted to try out cloth diapers. The idea of throwing away disposable diapers bothered us on both an environmental and financial level. But we also weren’t 100% sure we could keep up with the routine of cloth diapers. Luckily, we had a few friends who had also tried cloth diapers, and they referred us to Diaper Lab in Davis Square. This store offers a few rental programs to try out cloth diapers. Plus they offer classes to prep you for it and other baby care activities.

We opted for their newborn rental program, which allowed us to try out a bunch of different types of cloth diapers, from the cheaper prefolds through to the fanciest all in ones. Also included was a laundry bag, some special detergent, and a wet bag (for storing dirty diapers on the go). We also took their cloth diapering class to help us understand how to use them (diapering, cleaning, etc.)  The rental program was for 3 months, which was just a bit longer than my maternity leave.

We used disposable diapers in the hospital (since they were provided), and that meant we also got to take home all the ones they provided that we didn’t use.  Which was good to have some as backup.  Which was important for me, because as a shiny new mom, my first few nights home, I found trying to do the cloth diapers completely overwhelming. I may or may not have had a meltdown during my first cloth diapering attempt. But we spoke with the folks at diaper labs, and they gave us some pointers on how to make the diapering process easier.  Plus they offered to exchange some of the bigger diapers they gave us for smaller ones, since part of the problem for us was that she was born so small that a lot of cloth diapers were just too big for her!

After getting used to the diapering, as well as the laundering, it wasn’t too difficult.  When we traveled a few weekends to visit family, we brought disposable diapers because the idea of lugging around a weekend’s worth of dirty diapers did not appeal to us.

So, what did we end up doing at the end of the Newborn Rental Program?  We returned all the items, and didn’t end up going forward with cloth diapers.   There were a few reasons:

  • I was going back to work.  This meant less time to do the diaper laundry (on top of all the other laundry).  This also meant daycare, and while they told us they’d be fine with cloth, it really was going to make things a lot trickier, including picking up a bag full of soiled diapers every night.
  • We knew things would change once she was on solids.  Even though we didn’t introduce solids until around the 6 month mark, we’d heard that things got trickier after that….having to spray the “solids” into the toilet before laundering, etc. etc.  YEAH….that was a lot of extra work
  • Overall laziness.  On top of the extra laundry, we just found the disposable diapers easier to deal with, travel with, get onto a squirming child, etc.  Plus it was easier to get family/friends to help with diaper changes since they were all more familiar with disposables.

We definitely were hopeful that cloth would work for us, since, especially if we want to have more kids down the line, we could reuse the cloth diapers, and get more bang for our buck.  I think it was a useful experience, and I’d recommend this type of program if it’s offered in your area (or if you ask a cloth-diapering friend if you could borrow their set of newborn sized cloth diapers).

What have you all done about the cloth vs disposable decision?  What pushed you in one direction vs the other?  Do you have any questions for me on our experience?

[As a note, this is not a sponsored post by Diaper Lab!  They’re just who we went through for this program!]

 

In honor of Blog Action Day October 15, 2007

Filed under: Environment — Stephanie @ 8:23 pm
Tags: , ,

In honor of Blog Action Day I figured I’d post a little thought or two about environmentalism, going green, the eco-movement, etc.

I’d like to first discuss my stance on being eco-friendly and everything. I’ve always been into recycling. In fact, I was involved with recycling in my college dorm, and was actually recycling chair for a year or so. My friends all knew me as the recycling queen of sorts, grabbing recyclables off the top of trash cans (if it wasn’t too gross). I was always hounding people to do it. It just seemed so easy to recycle, since bins were never far away. Actually, one time a friend of mine threw a recyclable bottle in the trash just to spite me!

For the most part, I’m eco-friendly because it seems like a good idea. We’re polluting, and we don’t have to. Most actions you can take are relatively easy!

I realized that one problem with the green movement (as with almost any movement) is that you can get pretty extreme if you want to, which can sometimes make things worse. Being all militant is crazy! Just have fun with it!

One of the problems with going to extreme with things is that people start ignoring you, which makes your message less effective. Take, for example, the whole issue with global warning. Some people, like my late Grandpa (rest his soul) said he didn’t believe in global warming, that the earth has always been getting hotter and colder. A few days ago, after the announcement about Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize, a friend of mine said the same thing. And this is where my issue lies: who cares what you believe! Even if it’s too late, as some people say, or that it doesn’t change the temperature, you can help the earth! And most of the eco-ideas out there are just helpful on their own! By reducing your gas usage in your car (by driving a more efficient car, driving less often, etc.) you also save money! And if you are driving less by walking or biking, you’re getting exercise! I am always going around our apartment turning off lights and turning down the heat…partially because I’m thinking about the environment, but also partially because I hate wasting money! If you’ve read any of my past posts, you’ll know I’m still nicely in debt from going to dear old MIT, so saving a couple bucks here and there always helps! I walk and take public transportation, too, which also cuts down a lot on my expenses!

Some earth-friendly stuff is just happiness-friendly, too! Planting a tree, keeping a waterway clean, they just make things look (and smell, taste, etc.) better!

And buying locally? You’ll taste the best tasting fruit and vegetables if you get them fresh and in season!

Well, I suppose this can cover me for now for Blog Action Day (seeing as it’s almost over!) but it’s got me all fired up! So hopefully I’ll post again soon about some environmental issues. This blog is still a work in progress!

 

 
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