REFLECTION: Insulation – a practical implementation of Laudato Si’

reeseHeadshotWebby Thomas Reese, S.J., NCR

Having written extensively on Laudato Si’, I decided it was time to see how I could implement it in my life. I decided to start with the house I live in, an old three-story building with 15 bedrooms dating from the end of the 19th century. If I could make it more energy efficient, I would be reducing our carbon footprint as well as saving money for my community.

do908 laudato siMy guess is that many family homes, to say nothing of churches and other church buildings, could also benefit from such an examination so I am sharing my experience with you.

Luckily, a major improvement at our house was completed in the fall with the purchase of an efficient gas-powered hot-water heating system to replace the ancient oil-fired furnace. Natural gas is cheaper and has a smaller carbon footprint than an oil furnace. In addition, a constant gas supply is more convenient than depending on trucks for delivering oil.

The windows were also undergoing a major upgrade. Thus two of the most expensive improvements were already taken care of. It was my job to look for the simpler, cheaper ways of making our house more energy efficient.

I started in the basement where I noticed that some of the pipes around the new furnace were not insulated. A hot-water heating system works by heating water in a furnace and then circulating it with an electric pump through radiators in the building, with the water then returning to the furnace to be reheated before circulating again

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One response to “REFLECTION: Insulation – a practical implementation of Laudato Si’

  1. At http://www.coolcongregations.org/ is information about what different faith based communities have accomplished in reducing their carbon foot prints. Very impressive. Yet there is a lot of discussion about the potential adverse impacts on the poor of government mandated action, citing that not all are like Fr. Reese and others who could afford the changes they made. The comments illustrate that “sloganeering” is not a substitute for in-depth study of not only the effects of mandated change, but also the consequences of inaction. I live in a metropolitan area in Iowa, yet public transportation is far less than adequate for reaching work, school, doctors–at present ridership levels. A tax as used in London and other places on driving would place an economic burden on those with little income. Yet inaction would require increased costs of maintaining automobiles, taxes for creation and maintenance of every larger streets and parking areas, adverse impacts on health from pollution, and probably creating a local environment that would drive away businesses and jobs. It would also create ridership that would make public transportation more adequate. Study is required, and a balance difficult to achieve. Many are forced to live primarily in the “now.” How to assure that moving forward does not drop some by the wayside is tough, but that must be part of the effort. Even those that are not forced to live in the “now” think in those terms.