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When I was young, my sister and I decided that if popcorn came from dried corn kernels, surely putting rice in the air-popper would give us puffed rice.

We were wrong.

Later we watched in sorrow as the popcorn-popper was dumped into the trash bin.

Some things don’t turn out the way we may imagine despite our best desires. Like choosing a home. It seems either we get a great view, the best alignment with the sun, or we choose the one with a big bathtub and lots of cupboards.

I am fascinated with homes that are aligned with the sun. My friend designed her home that way. For example, ideally, in the north, public rooms face south, with lots of windows that allow the sun in. “Cave rooms” (bedrooms etc.) are on the north side of the house with small windows.

My house is oriented in reverse with all the big windows and public rooms to the north. The good news is it stays cool in the summer and I don’t have to run the AC until late afternoons.

Someday I’m going to have a smart, green, “off the grid” house. And an air-popper that also puffs rice.

Until then, here are five things that help, no matter which way my house faces.

1. Work with the house. Pull blinds to block the sun, open windows for fresh breezes. In the winter, close up rooms. I’ve heard the arguments that blocking forced heating vents causes them to work harder and is counter-productive, but everyone I know who gave it a try again, found shutting off unused rooms really did lower their heating costs, which means less energy used.
2. Make the house more inviting by painting south and west rooms cool colors and north and east room warm colors. I’m not sure how this is a “green thing” (unless you use low VOC paints). However, it’s like how I don’t wear yellow—some colors just don’t look right on some people / rooms. The color works pschologically to help us feel warmer or cooler.
3. Add insulation to the attic / space beneath the roof. We were surprised how much more our house needed.
4. Add weather stripping around the garage door. This alone raised the garage temps at least 20º in the winter, which in turn, makes heating the rooms next to it easier.
5. Spend warm evenings outside and cool evenings in bed. Take someone you love with you.

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
– E. E. Cummings

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