Sunday, January 18, 2009

Warm Feet For February! Solar Radiant Heated Floors For the Winter

Well, we are experiencing some record low temperatures here in Asheville, NC. It has dropped below zero the past couple of nights, and I was walking around in 9 degree weather with a wind chill that made my face feel like it was going to fall off. I am a cold natured person with Caribbean blood, so winters like this are no fun for me. I would be miserable and freezing right now if it weren't for the NC alternative power company installing solor power, green power, wind power, radiant floors and photovoltaic cells that helped me rig up solar heating and solar heated water in my big old house I share with my grandfather. He had the hot water pump set so low I was avoiding showers for weeks and boiling water to wash the dishes- can you say "inefficient"?? We are always concerned about the energy bill, and trying to conserve energy but our old gas powered radiators just weren't doing the trick. I was wearing three pairs of socks last week, but now that I've got solar power, there is ample radiant heat keeping us irie and warm. Now I can move around freely, cooking huevos rancheros and brewing tea in the kitchen instead of hiding out watching Planet Earth all day huddled up in my bed, married to my heated mattress. Perhaps it was the marvelous beauty of nature that BBC captured so well that inspired me to go green. Green power is the hottest new thing- literally! Consider getting solar panels installed, or get up on this radiant floor tip. We love our new radiant floors. It works like this- they embedded special tubing in a thin concrete mixture on top of our wood-framed floors. Heated water (or a food-grade antifreeze mixture), heated by solar power, flows through this tubing, warming the thermal mass of the concrete.

Conventional forced-air systems, wood stoves, or other heating methods produce uneven heat, with the highest air temperatures near the ceilings. Radiant floor heating puts the heat in the floor under your tiny little feet, gently warming your toes, a room or a complete structure. Now it's even warmer and comfier in here, and we are not wasting energy and precious little money on monthly fuel bills. We count our coins now for luxuries like sauerkraut and brandy. I have bad circulation in my hands and feet, and when your feet are as tiny and cold as mine, you fall in love with these heated floors. No longer do I have to have my feet all bound up in a dozen layers of socks! They are happy, bare and getting bigger. Photovoltaics, which is a fancy word for solar panels, are really the way to go. With solar panels, you can get solar hot water!

Consider this. The sun is the biggest source of energy available on earth. For thousands of years humans have depended on solar energy to warm their homes. Back in the day, homes were sited to take advantage of natural solar heating. Since the Industrial Revolution, fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas have been used instead. Fossil fuels are increasingly expensive, dirty, and difficult to extract. The coal industry, specifically, is a dirty business, presently destroying our precious mountains and poisoning our water. But there's hope! Today millions of people throughout the world are using solar energy to heat their homes and water and generate electricity. Viva green power!

Tra la la, a Trolley Tour through Asheville!

I've been hearing a lot about historic trolley tours in Asheville, North Carolina with stops at historic sites including Pack Place, Grove Park Inn, and Asheville River Arts District. There's this totally sweet old school red trolley that cruises through town, it reminds me of the L train in San Francisco. I've never ridden it, but I've certainly harassed the passengers, as all good natured Asheville natives do. We do have quite a reputation to uphold as a weird wild and wonky little town. With the Fringe Festival coming up, it's a perfect time to come on up to Ashevegas and jump on a trolley sightseeing tour.
If it was closer to Halloween I would recommend the Asheville ghost trolley- you're sure to get thrills and chills while exploring the haunted side of this city. But as Valentines Day is approaching, it feels appropriate to mention the event and wedding charters available on these awesome trolleys. Imagine getting married on a crazy red trolley careening through the streets of the coolest town in the south east! Okay, okay do it in a church. But please then imagine at least piling the wedding party guests onto the trolley after the ceremony. Unforgettable! You could plan a rollicking valentine's day party trolley tour or plan an entire trolley vacation tour to be sure to see all of Asheville's historic sights and monuments. There's so much to explore! We've got the historic Montford district with its parks, punk rock parties and Jamaican noodle shops. There's the legendary Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa- this place is a trip! So elegant and decadent. We used to go every year at Christmas to see the gingerbread house contest winners. On your Asheville historic trolley sightseeing tour, you're sure to pass through the Urban Trail of downtown, bursting with Art Decho richness. You'll have a blast in the quaint and quite cute if unbelievably Bourgeois Biltmore Village (the McDonalds has a grand piano in it), or if that's not your cup of tea, you'll revel in the edgy and artsy River Arts District (think wearhouses, artist's studios, train tracks, graffiti, sculpture art). I remember being there on the set of my first ever photo shoot, I was modeling on a cloudy windy day in red silk, climbing the ladder of a broken down train car. We were going for an urban look. I've shot a few times around there, there's always something interesting to serve as a backdrop. Pack Place is another stop you'll be making, where you can check out the art museum and the theater. Take the time to educate yourself about this town. Learn about Asheville’s early settlers, famous citizens and illustrious authors through interesting stories and colorful anecdotes. See for yourself a city rich in architecture, history and the arts... alive and inviting! And don't miss The Thomas Wolfe Memorial. I think the red trolley that runs through town includes free admission. If I were a tourist in Asheville, I would jump on it.