Monthly Archives: October 2008


OK, I am revisiting the parking issue as my thoughts evolve. Some ideas: decrease rents by, say, $25, and charge $25 for a parking spot (if charging for residential parking in Anchorage is legal and doesn’t get me immediately sent to liberal commie jail). No change to car owners, a break for non-car owners. Also perhaps offer bus passes with a years’ lease? (the students downstairs and I don’t need that – we get free bus rides with our university ID) And certainly offer good bike parking. Perhaps in one of the muni-required car slots, if they don’t end up all being filled. The place is very near at least 3 good bus routes, and the neighborhood has a walkability score of 91%, or “walkers paradise”.  Currently, I think all the 6 required parking spots are used (and sometimes there is a 7th car out there with visitation and my temp use of the work truck), but things will evolve with time.  Additions?  Comments?  Other ideas?


The problem with old buildings…

Sigh, the heating of this building is fraught with problems.  Non-insulated floors mean that all the heat rises to the top.  Our upstairs unit is lovely and comfortable at 70 degrees (and we are loving it since we usually choose 65 degrees), BUT we have the heat turned off!  The other upstairs tenant leaves her window open.  I need to talk to her about why and meet her needs (hopefully) another way.  It may be that she is burning up, it may be a ventilation issue.  I’ve been moving and haven’t had the chance.

The urgent issue is that the basement apartment is only getting to 60 to 65 with the thermostat cranked all the way up to 80 or so.  The current tenants moved in in May, so I don’t know if we can find out if this is a long-term problem.  The boiler was serviced before I closed, and at that point it was noted that the heat wasn’t working and some repairs were made (valves?  I can’t read the handwriting on the receipt).  When the plumber came Monday to fix the coin valve in the upstairs unit we had to get to the boiler in the basement and the tenant said the heat was not satisfactory again.  I checked and the baseboard seemed warm enough, but indeed the thermostat was set to 80 and the temperature in the room read about 65 (with sun blazing in through the south windows).  The plumber bled the line and we hoped that would do it.  I talked to the tenant yesterday (or two days ago now?) and he said it was better for a bit, and was better than before, but still wasn’t getting above 65.  Although I might be comfortable at that, I understand the need for perhaps as high as 68, and I think I have to provide up to 68 anyway.  So another call to the plumber I guess. $$.  Even if heat was escaping through poorly insulated walls and windows and rising upstairs, I would expect it to get warmer in there if the system was working right.  The entryway at ground level is plenty warm, and that is a little stick frame room with lots of windows – not a basement set snug in the relatively warm ground with small, closed windows.  By the way, it is 26 degrees outside now, it has been 10 to 15 most of this week.  Not toasty!  The building inspector had said that the boiler was perfectly well sized, in his opinion.  Sigh.  Hope I don’t spend all my money on repairs before I get to the efficiency improvements!

My next green action – lights!

Still moving, so I am taking tiny tiny steps to do anything else, but last night I did change out some lights.  In our apartment I replaced two 60 watt lights in a dimmer with a 24 watt CFL (dimmable – I couldn’t find any 13 watt dimmables 😦 )  I replaced two 60 watts in the kitchen with a single 13 watt CFL (one of the big things I’ve found is that you often don’t need to fill all the spots in a fixture to light a small room).  I took off the fixture enclosure in the bathroom and found that it is a fixture that already holds 13 watt, 4-pin CFLs.  Four of them though!!  But since the ballast is separate from the bulbs, I’m not sure if the fixture works fine with some of the bulbs removed – any help here?  The only other lights in the apartment are a T8 in the kitchen (fluorescent tube) and a little plug in T8 that we use as a reading light near the bed.  And the <2 watt LED bulb I put in the fridge.  Need to find a good place for my other LED bulb – maybe the shed if it is enough light.  I replaced the two 60 watts in the public hallway with a single 13 watt CFL.  There is also a 2-tube fluorescent fixture in the lower hallway.  I need to check what kind it is, and update the fixture to electronic ballast T8 if needed.

Next on the list are photocell fixtures for outside, a motion detecting switch for the public hall lights, and low-flow devices for the faucets and showers (most faucets don’t even have aerators in them at all – horrors!)

First night

We are not totally done moving, but all the big stuff is over, and we spent the first night last night. It was good! Beautiful view of the Chugach range through our east window. Quiet and warm. Sunshine through our south windows during the day. We slept great and are feeling comfortable there. Gotta move the kitchen over tonight…

Our old apartment is being shown and will probably be let by the 1st, negating my need to pay more rent there – which is good.

The plumber came today and changed the coin valve on the baseboard pipe. $3 part, $105 for 1 hour labor – a bargain I think, but I do think if I had any clue I could have easily handled it myself. But I have no clue. I meant to watch how he drained the system and refilled it and all, but the same thing happened that always happened when I tried to watch my dad work to learn – I kept zoning out and following my own thoughts. I think I’ll learn well by reading.


Yes, I should have given 24 hours notice to the downstairs tenants (who encase the boiler) that I needed access. Instead the plumber has to come back Monday, and charge me for his transit today. Live and learn. I posted the notice, and this gives me time to check and make sure I have the keys to their unit this weekend – I don’t see the correct label on my honkin big rack o’ keys.

We are going to attempt to totally move in this weekend. Last nights moving was a bit tense. There is a bit of a depressing feeling about moving to a smaller place, that hopefully we can counteract with some cool studio furnishing solutions, like a loft bed or some such? Also, I think we are all hyper-sensitive about disturbing the other tenants with noise, so we kept telling Osh to be quiet, like it was a library or something. Moving is always so stressful. I usually cry, my first night in a new place. It will all get easier!

People have put some stuff in the recycling bins, and taken 5 of the CFLs I left out, but there is room for tons of improvement in the infrastructure and behavioral efficiency!

Home Energy Rebates

So Alaska has 3 programs to help homeowners make their homes more efficient. One is the Weatherization Program for lowish income homeowners or renters. One is the Energy Rebate program for homeowners, and one is just a loan program to borrow money for weatherization. the weatherization program does the work for you for free, the energy rebate allows credits to get a home energy audit and get some money back on the work you have done based on that audit, and based on how much you improve your home’s energy efficiency.

As a 4-plex owner who, with rental income, will make above the weatherization income limits I was sorta falling between the cracks. I emailed the program administrators (AHFC) two times, and finally got the good news that I will qualify for the energy rebate program, but if they have to do multiple blower door tests, I have to pay for the extra. I think they can do just one since all apartments open off a common area. I put my name on the waiting list. It is a long one, because the program is very popular, and there are not enough qualified home energy raters. They are training more, but it takes a while to train someone to this. Hope the program doesn’t run out of money first!! Now the question is – do I go buy the extra fiberglass insulation and roll it out in my attic now, before it gets really cold, or do I wait for the audit (till who knows when) to get some money back? Actually, a bigger problem than attic insulation is between floors insulation – the upstairs apartments roast with no heat on, because it all seeps up from down below. And that is harder to do right with tenants in place.

Moving is going slowly. Hopefully we’ll be substantially in this weekend.

My first green action

I just set up recycling for the tenants. It will take a bit of recycling, though, to make up for the 3 new plastic bins I bought. I got one used at Bishop’s Attic, but I needed a space-miserly, easy to use, big system for the common area, so I ended up buying 3 stackable, lidded, 18 gallon bins from Fred Meyers for the cans, glass, and plastic. The used bin is for mixed paper. I cut holes in the lids for easy can placement, and labeled them with a gold paint pen. I meant to take a picture, but forgot the camera, so check back later and I’ll add it. Freddy’s had 98% recycled plastic bins, but not in the “usable when stacked” form, so I had to get the bad ones. And I’ve been using a big ‘ol work truck to move and get set up, so there’s some more fossil fuel down the drain, but I guess there is always some set-up cost to these things. I will not obsess 🙂 It is a beautiful set up, I think! And pretty novel for this city, to have recycling provided at an apartment. Also, I set out some compact fluorescents for people to change out their incandescents with. I need to purchase some of the spiffy new 60watt equivalent LED’s too. They are expensive, but very handy for buildings with old circuits. The LED lights can tolerate that, unlike the fluorescents. Plus the LEDs put up with cold temps (outdoors or in fridges) and are virtually unbreakable. And last forever. And no mercury.

It’s weird, I’m still feeling like a trespasser when I enter the property. I think it’ll help when we’re all moved in. I have a hard time changing around things, because it doesn’t feel like mine. I’m slowly getting over that. I can’t believe I own a whole building!!