Friday, April 22, 2011

Stupid, stupid designs

For a while now, Shane and I have talked about buying a house. Of course, this is really just a dream right now. (Update: he got a job! But it's on-call, and might not even end up being part-time. We'll see, though.) Still, dreaming, I look on Craigslist every once in a while to see what's out there. And I'm constantly struck by the stupid designs that I see. By this, I don't mean that the architect designed the interior of the home poorly, rather that the placement seems poor. This is true for our apartment, too.
In Fairbanks, with our super cold winters, nice double- or triple-paned windows will, at best, even out on the heat loss or gain. If they're south-facing that is. North facing? You're losing tons and tons of heat. And yet, so few houses around here are oriented to the south. Or in any way built to maximize the window usage for lighting and/or heat. Take our apartment: The biggest windows (other than the sliding glass door) are all on the north side. Our kitchen, which is on the south side, has no window in it. Even in the middle of summer, when it's always light, to do anything in the kitchen we have to turn on a light. It drives me crazy. With a little more thought and planning into how light, windows, and walls are used, this house could have been pretty efficient. As it is, I'm certain the landlord loses a lot in paying for the heat during the winter, and our electric bills are through the roof. ($100+/month in the wintertime is the norm. Constant darkness + really high cost of electricity = way too much money spent on lights.)
It also leaves me with very few options for my plants. They're all gathered in our little dining room (I did mention that the squashes are on the dining table) because that's the only place where they'll get enough light to survive. Even then, there's a wall that blocks out the morning sun, so they're only getting about half of what they otherwise would. Our bedroom has the only other south facing windows and I've toyed with the idea of putting a plant or two in there, but I'm not sure where they would go. It's a very tiny bedroom and super cramped as it is. The ceiling is tiled and wouldn't be able to support a hanging plant. So, for now, our dining room tends to look like a jungle in the summer.
The only real upside to all of this is that, when we do buy a house, I know exactly what to look for and what to avoid. Because it would drive me nuts to live in a house that's as poorly designed as our apartment is.

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