Sunday, November 01, 2009

Six baths in seven minutes

There’s only so long you can go on recycling cardboard boxes and composting vegetable peelings and pretending you are sorting out the environment. Eventually there comes a time where you either need to get your photo in The Guardian by getting arrested at a power station protest, or back your green aspirations up with some hard cash. I decide on the latter. Prison wouldn’t suit me.

Carbonlite is pleased. He’s been keen to push some money into greening up the house for years. The first thing is he does is call in Boilerman to find out his views about the latest in energy efficient water and heating systems. We’re talking combi-boilers and zoning. But Boilerman has his own ideas, “A fantastic system that will let you have three baths, then after just seven minutes another three baths! It’s new, it’s beautiful looking and I can install immediately.” My mother, who has joined us for a cup of tea, snorts into her Princess Diana mug, “Even the Radox Queen here would struggle to have six baths in one day!” I try to shush her, but Boilerman isn’t listening, he’s busy describing the sexy curves of the new tank he’d install to facilitate the six baths in seven minutes.

Fed up with going round in circles on the subject of boilers, we turn our attention to the attic. A new roof several years ago left us with little insulation in the loft. Greening it up will be a substantial job. But can we find a builder to even come and give us a quote? Not until the spring, it seems. “Perhaps I’ll do it myself? ” wonders Carbonlite. The re-pointing job to plug the gaps in the exterior wall notches up a similar level of enthusiasm from the building community, and the chances of getting a workman down to view our cellar-with-a-stream-running-through-it are now seeming rather remote.

We move on to the windows: the sash windows that we looked at replacing in the spring. They’re still rotten, but if we can’t get them double glazed, is there any point in paying a thousand pounds a window for their non-efficient replacements? I stamp my feet. “I want to pay someone to make the house more environmentally friendly, and the planet is crying out for people to save energy. Why won’t anyone take our money?” Carbonlite goes online. “I know how we can spend some cash,” he says.

Two days later a special delivery arrives. A very, very long ladder. One by one, Carbonlite rebuilds the sash windows. We have to go with single glazing, but at least some of the gaps are plugged. Boilerman mark II can source the exact system we need. And we look at materials to insulate the attic and consider clearing it out for the first time in eight years. OK, I admit it’s not going to stop a polar bear from falling off his perch of melting ice, but at least it’s a start. Six baths in seven minutes? Clean, but not green; and we can do better than that.