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Share with us your alternative energy ideas and projects. Tell us about your experiments, no matter how far-fetched they may seem.

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DaveyB
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Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 5:12 am
Location: Peoria, AZ

Sat May 21, 2011 5:17 am

We all like to have money to spend, so why throw it away? Here's a couple of tips that I learned as a kid. Sorry, no miracles here, but if you aren't doing this you are wasting money needlessly!

The fridge-freezer. Being single, the fridge holds my current stock of beer and the freezer is rarely used. It is trying to cool air, and as soon as the door is opened, the cold air is gone, so it works really hard to keep the right temperature. The solution for me was to go buy several one gallon jugs of water and put them in the freezer. Add to those the 2 liter bottles of soda, rinsed, filled with tap water and also placed in the freezer.

Once that lot freezes down solid, transfer some of the bottles to the refridgerator and top up the freezer with more bottles. You now have an ice chest full of ice which, on opening the door, is not going to lose its cool! If you buy frozen foods, you can remove bottles to make space for it, then put them back as the items are used, so the fridge never works hard to keep the inside cool!

My local power company (SRP) has a plan where you reduce power useage during the peak hours (3pm to 6pm). I changed the thermostat for a timer version which shuts off the air from 3-6pm (since I'm at work it doesn't affect me). I added timers to the hot water heater and the ice-filled fridge so they have no power then either. This saves me a bundle in electrical costs since all my useage is now at the low off-peak rate. This may not work for everyone since some people are home 24x7, but if it ties into your schedule, it is well worth looking into!

Solar power. A lot has been said on this subject, and there are some great ideas out there for building your own heating panels etc. Just a thought, if you are technically savvy and not so avtive any more, consider recruiting some local youths to assist in making the panels. Perhaps in conjunction with a local school as a project, and make it a charity event helping seniors in the area install heat exchange panels ?? The possibilities are endless, and of course you could also add your own name to the beneficiaries list, but you didn't hear that from me!! ;)

Door mats. Well, a door mat is a door mat - a kinda rug that sits in front of the door, but is yours really doing its job? Forget about the cutie little bits of cloth with the funny messages, get yourself a heavy duty coarse mat that will take the dirt off the bottom of your shoes! Take a look at the entry to your home. the high traffic areas near the entry doors. You see wear on them caused by the stones, gravel, water, pieces of plants, oils, animal droppings and all the rest of the stuff outside the home. That stuff should have been left at the door mat, not trodden through the whole house! Lets face it, it is a darn sight cheaper to replace a welcome mat than it is to recarpet a room or repair a wood floor!

If your home is like mine, and all the AC/heating vents are in the floor. consider closing unneeded vents on a seasonal basis. I live in AZ, and it is warm (!) outside, so I close the vents in the bathroom - I don't need to get out of the shower and stand over a pillar of frigid air, and flipping on the bathroom extractor will quickly remove the humidity once the bathroom door is opened.

In a similar vein, a cold climate would reequire extra heat in the bathroom, but that extractor is going to take your heated air straight out of the home. The answer is to keep that vent closed, and let the heat from the shower or bath warm the space. Don't turn the extractor on until you are ready to leave the bathroom for the heated bedroom, and turn it off as soon as the condensation on the mirror clears! You might consider a time switch for the extractor so it doesn't run full time!

Wow, this far in and I haven't mentioned CFL bulbs. If you aren't using them, then you probably earn so much that you don't need the rest of the advice here either!

I'll add more here as it occurs to me, but other contributions would be more than welcome -put that keyboard to work!

Thanks for reading!

DaveyB
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Greg
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Sat May 21, 2011 4:21 pm

Well Davey, CFLs do save a lot over the old bulbs, But watch out for the new LED bulbs, they use even less electricity. They are gaining in popularity here, the price is still a little high but I'm sure they will drop like the CFLs did.

http://www.earthled.com/evolux-led-light-bulb.html

Greg
"If I can't fix it, I can screw it up so bad no one else can either."

ColoradoGirl42
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:55 pm

Wed May 25, 2011 1:03 pm

Davey, you're a smart man! Thanks for the advice.

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DaveyB
Posts: 85
Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 5:12 am
Location: Peoria, AZ

Sat May 28, 2011 4:04 am

Thanks ColoradoGirl42, but I'm simply posting stuff that I learned from others! :twisted:

Good point on the LEDs Greg, they are starting to look pretty reasonable, and with the latest color mixes available, they could be a good substitute. One thing I haven't seen yet is a CFL or LED bulb to replace the exterior lighting yellow "insect repellant" bulbs. I've seen plain yellow CFLs but they don't seem to have the repellant effect! :(

Another thought was looking at my entry doors - there is definate soiling where hands grab the door above the door handle. Back in the day, they used to sell door plates, which were about 4" x 15" and screwed to the door to absorb these marks. They seem to have disappeared these days, anyone have any ideas on making these? My hands get oily when working on the bike or the car, but I still have to go inside to clean up!
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JD
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Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:56 pm

We have CFLs throughout the house and they do save a lot of energy/cash. I replaced the noisy old fluorescent tube lighting that were in a ceiling box thing around the top of the kitchen cabinets with new truly energy efficient tiny CFL recessed can lighting. We have twice the light at half the wattage. When I was taking stuff apart, I saw that one transformer was actually leaking a little bit. Scary PCBs oozing out!

But that does bring up a concern. The CFLs do have a tiny amount of lead in them, something I learned about in my recent federally mandated RRP Rule class and certification for contractors. It is a very tiny amount and breaking a bulb is not a concern. Breaking a dozen bulbs is not a concern. But how long will we be using CFLs? Lead is a heavy metal and it does not go away. Never. Every bulb, every bit of paint (made pre 2009 sometime) or ceramic tile that is sanded, cut or demo'd as well as other household sources add to the lead level. Still, I am not worried for myself. I am old enough not to worry about additional lead intake from normal sources. But for grandkids, kids of future owners of this house, it could be devastating. At 200lbs, I can take a bit of lead, smaller than .22 .32 .357 7mm or 9mm anyways. But the little ones are 1/10th my weight and are on the floor where the lead is, putting stuff in their mouths. That is the main concern of lead in homes. Ingestion or inhaling lead by children and pregnant women.

I am not saying not to use CFLs. They are our present and immediate future. I would recommend that people learn about household sources of lead and how to create the best safeguards. Recycle properly. Be open to the next wave, like the LEDs Greg mentioned.
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All information and advice given is for entertainment and informational purposes only. The person doing the work is solely responsible to insure that their work complies with their local building code and OSHA safety regulations.


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JD
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Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:33 pm

A little info regarding the mention of lead in paint in my above post. Lead Based Paints had huge percentages of lead and were outlawed in 1978 for residential and commercial use. But almost all paints still had a much smaller amount of lead in it until 2009 sometime. Lead based paints have high amounts of lead. In 1978, the lead amount was reduced to 0.06% (a trace amount). Then in 2009, it was reduced to 0.009%. But it was not eliminated. I have seen the dates of 1977 and 2008 too. Maybe there was a delay from the ban to the elimination of shelf product.

Furthermore, the ban does not include industrial use paint. How often do they paint the Golden Gate Bridge? 365 days a year. There might be some holidays off, I dunno. The guys paint until they reach the end and immediately start painting the other end. Perpetual use of lead based paint, the old high percentage stuff, like before 1978. Close your car windows, turn on the AC, especially on the faded end! I am not sure that works. Don the P100 hepa masks! Actually, I would think that they know the public is safe. The govt wouldn't actually lie or cover up would they?

While the subject was lightbulbs, paint is the number one source of household lead is paint. While a homeowner is not included in the RRP Rule for safe renovations, it would be a good idea to learn the same lead safe practices mandated to all contractors. Old paint that is in good condition can be made safer by painting it again with a newly manufactured paint. They call it "encapsulating", similar to the way they handle asbestos.

Another just so you know.... Ceramic tile is not included in the RRP rule, even though all ceramic tile contain scary amount of lead. Learn how to remove it properly. Here are some links to learn more about lead in households.

http://www.epa.gov/lead/
http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5054.html
☯JD♫
Today is PERFECT!

All information and advice given is for entertainment and informational purposes only. The person doing the work is solely responsible to insure that their work complies with their local building code and OSHA safety regulations.

jpingram5
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Location: Orefield, PA
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Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:32 am

Here's some basic things that can help save a few dollars too. A lot this can be done for almost free and you would be surprised how much savings you will see.

WATER HEATER

- Insulate your water heater with at least R-4 rated material. Please ask for help or professional advice before doing so especially if you have a gas water heater. But insulating the water heater can help up big. I personally used a R-6 graded material.

http://www.energyvanguard.com/Portals/8 ... e-wrap.jpg

- Flush your water heater every 6 months. This is done by shutting off the main water supply and hooking up a hose to the bottom drain on the water heater. Simply open up a hot water faucet and the pressure relief valve on the water heater and drain it done completely. This will help with sediment build ups. For those of us looking to get a little nutsy with it. You can try what this guy did. I tried it because my water is very hard and i had a lot of scale build up for a 1 year old water heater. Worked great!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pt1M7qO6Lh8

- Adjust your thermostat on the water heater. I think most come set around 120 - 125 degrees. I turned mine back to 115 degrees. There are adjustable thermostats on the access panel on the water heater usually. Google it to find a good solid guide and please make sure you turn off the circuit breaker before doing this. Also, some say that anything under 120 degrees can be dangerous cause bacteria may form? Research it and you decide. I have my water tested once a year and its perfectly safe for me a 115 degrees.


HEATING & COOLING


- Clean your coils indoor and outdoor. A dusty/dirty coil will lead lead to shorter life and bigger bills. Look at your local hardware store for evaporator coil cleaner.

- Have a professional check your systems at least once a year. Having your A/C or H/P Freon charge off by just a little can make a big impact on your operating costs.

- For oil, have your once a year service done. Cleaning, nozzle, filter, treatment etc...

- For gas, well there's really not much to service as far as gas goes. Maybe have your combustion analyzed to see if air/pressure adjustments are needed.

- Change your filters. Dirty filters will make your system work harder passing the buck on to you.

- Inspect duct work if possible. This may be a bastard of a process but if you leaking a lot your basically throwing money out the door.


MISC THINGS

- Use heavy curtains on your windows. This will help block sun light and heat from seeping in through your windows and do the opposite in the winter time. Just make sure if your vents are like mine along the walls and under the windows that the curtain hangs inside or not too low or else the vent just blows the air up and under the curtain. So your basically wasting it then.

- Weather strip around doors and windows to help seal air leakage. Or use caulk where you can such as dryer vents. Mine was cut bigger than the 4" pipe and they just put some metal plate around the pipe. There was about a 1" gap around the pipe going outside that was allowing leakage. So I filled that with caulk inside and outside.

- Wash with cold water and hang clothes outside to dry if you can. Dryers can use a lot of electric especially if you have a farm of kids like I do. Make sure you inspect the cent also once a year as it can get clogged which could lead to a dangerous fire hazard.

- Keep as many appliances and misc items unplugged when not in use if you can. Even though you have the power button off on the TV, if it's plugged in it is possible to still be using power.

That's all i got for now. Good luck and keep the ideas coming!
2009 Skyline Sunwood Premier 14 x 80

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