Anyone who knows me, knows that I am an avid vegetable gardener. Having been raised amid the fertile soil of Ohio, it seemed foreign to me to not be able to plop plants in the ground and then simply watch them grow. Georgia clay was considered one of my personal enemies until I met the Square Foot Gardener (Mel Bartholomew) or at least read about him and made peace with raised beds. But alas, I jump ahead.

garden-picture

Last spring, upon taking a break from planting my peppers and tomatoes, I sat down to read The $64 Tomato by William Alexander. I never put it down. I read the whole stinking thing from front to back. And then I got really depressed. You see, Mr. Alexander details the trials and tribulations of his “perfect” vegetable garden over years and years and then finally calculates how much his homegrown vegetables actually cost him. Each tomato cost, you guessed it, $64 over the years. He calculated his mistakes, the so-called “professional advice” he received and all the just plain bad decisions in the name of DIY.

tomatoes

What has this got to do with anything, much less heating and air conditioning?

Well, nothing. Except that it pays to do your research. Before embarking on any home improvement project, make sure you’re spending your money wisely, where it makes the most sense. If you have high utility bills, you may have “professionals” telling you to replace your windows but your problem may not be the windows themselves but leaks around your windows (which are easily sealed). How can you know for sure? A Whole House Diagnostic uses science to determine your energy busters and comfort challenges. Then it gives you prioritized solutions so you spend your money where you get the biggest payback. No calculating, ten years later how much those brand new windows didn’t save you.

Yes, I grew my own garlic and spent 3 days drying it and grinding it into powder. It probably cost me $52 for that tin of homemade garlic powder. But I am okay with that. It was fun, dang it.

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