Showing posts with label Energy conservation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Energy conservation. Show all posts

Thursday, April 16, 2015

How Seniors Can Get Help Paying Utility Bills

If you are just getting by and finding it difficult to meet only your monthly bill commitments, there is help out there. Many seniors may find it hard to ask for help or don’t know where to go. 

Low Income Financial Help has provided a great list of how to get help with utilities. In addition, if you are having other financial difficulties that go beyond utilities and can use some money help, there are numerous non-profits and government programs which can help. 

Non-Government Agency Help for Paying Utility Bills

The first place to look is your own utility or heating company. Utility company programs offer payment plans, free conservation measures, and shut off prevention as resources. Heating bill programs are another way of helping pay for utility bills. 

There are a number of Heating bill programs available, depending upon where you live. Non-profits, charities and social service agencies also offer a variety of assistance with utility bills. 

There are organizations such as Dollar Energy Fund, Operation Roundup, Salvation Family Emergency Services, and the National Fuel Funds Network. So before you begin jumping through the government’s hoops; look closer to home for some help with heat.

Four Main Ways to Get Help From the Government

However, there are at least four ways to get help from the government in paying your utility bills: Low Income Home Energy Assistance, the Weatherization Assistance Program, the Home Energy Assistance Program, and the Heating Repair Replacement Program. 

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program allows qualifying residents a one-time benefit during winter months to help pay energy bills. The amount paid depends on income, size of household, fuel type, and geographic location. The Weatherization Assistance Program is designed to help low income homes save fuel and money, while increasing their comfort. 

The Home Energy Assistance Program and Heating Repair Replacement Program are smaller, more specialized programs. All of the programs require paperwork and documentation of participants meeting predetermined criteria.

1. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is broken down state by state at This program is designed to keep heat on in low-income homes during the freezing months of winter. 

In order to apply for the program, you must meet a yearly maximum income level dependent upon the state you live in.

You’ll need to contact a local community action agency and make an appointment in order to apply for the program. 

A person who participates in certain other benefit programs may be automatically eligible for L.I.H.E.A.P (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program Crisis Programs). 

For any low-income family with an emergency, such as an unexpected disconnection or low heating oil or fuel, grants and financial assistance can be paid directly to your electricity or utility companies.

2. Weatherization Assistance Program

The Weatherization Assistance Program for most states has a goal of insulating homes, especially the elderly, disabled, families with children, high energy users and homes with high energy burdens.

In order to apply for the program, you must meet a yearly maximum income level dependent upon the state you live in.

You’ll need to contact a local community action agency and make an appointment in order to apply. A person who participates in certain other benefit programs may be automatically eligible. 

This program focuses more on the long-term savings for low income housing by providing services such as weather-stripping, wall and attic insulation, minor home repairs, and other energy saving measures.

3. Home Energy Assistance Program

The Home Energy Assistance Program will provide financial help to eligible households that need assistance paying heating and/or cooling bills. 

4. Heating Repair Replacement Program

Heating Repair Replacement Programs provide repair or replacement of heating units, appliances, furnaces, and other home upgrades for low-income families to help with heating costs.

So when you get stuck in the cold for one reason or another, don’t be afraid to ask for help, because it is out there. 

For short-term emergencies or long term planning, making your home a comfortable place should be your top priority.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Benefits of Renewable Energy: Your Wallet and Your Community

In this day and age, is is crucial to find ways of protecting the environment and its resources to ensure that future generations can thrive on Earth. Fortunately, using renewable energy does not only help the environment but can ultimately save you money as well. In fact, here is a more detailed look at 4 benefits of renewable energy:

1. Unlimited supply

Strong winds, plant residues, fast-moving water, sunshine, and heat from the planet are all examples of energy sources that are limitless or can be replenished. Such sources can easily supply future populations with the energy they need without worry (with the exception of plant residues and fast-moving water if such resources are not taken care of properly).

2. Availability

One of the best things about using renewable energy is that doing so allows for more local control of energy to best benefit the country and individual communities. Using renewable energy helps everyone to become involved and shape energy use for the future.

It is also believed that energy pricing can be stabilized with the use of renewable energy. Many natural resources, such as uranium and oil, experiences pricing fluctuations based on a number of factors. However, renewable energy will not be affected by the increased costs of international resources and its cost will be mostly related to repaying invested capital. In fact, you can see how much money such a service costs by checking out renewable energy providers through services such as Alberta Energy.

Another important thing to note is that the cost of installing energy efficient systems are decreasing. In fact, the cost of a solar panel has decreased by nearly 60% since 2011 while the cost of generating power from wind has dropped by about 20%. In windy areas such as Texas, wind power can directly compete with the use of fossil fuels.

3. Environmentally friendly

Renewable energy is excellent for the environment due to the fact that the systems produce little to no greenhouse gas emissions while in use. Furthermore, only small amounts of emission is produced during the manufacturing of fuels and equipment. Renewable energy sources also produce fewer water and air pollutants, land disruption, and waste.

4. Job creation

Localizing the use of renewable energy produces jobs all over the country (and world). In fact, according to a fact sheet provided by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), in 2012 alone, over 110,000 green jobs were created.

Fortunately, there are plenty of jobs available dedicated to helping the world become more green. In fact, sectors with energy efficiency include:
  • Public Mass Transit 
  • Energy-saving Building Materials 
  • HVAC and Building Control Systems 
  • Green Architecture and Construction Services 
  • Professional Energy Services 
  • Appliances 
  • Energy-saving Consumer Products 
  • Battery Technologies 
  • Smart Grid 
  • Electric Vehicle Technologies 
  • Lighting 
  • Water Efficient Products 
As you can see, there are many benefits for using renewable energy. With vigilance, you can do your part to help the world and also put more money back into your wallet.

Dale Hooper has worked as an electrical engineer in Both the US and Canada, where his wife is from. He also enjoys sharing his knowledge on the topic online.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Five Ways To Save Money On Your Utility Bills

English: Series of air conditioners at UNC-CH.
English: Series of air conditioners at UNC-CH. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
No matter how strong, or how weak, the economy is, the one constant seems to be the constant increases in utility costs. Every homeowner is always on the lookout for ways to save some money every month, and we will share with you some solid, effective ways to do so. Savings add up, month to month, and any changes made will soon pay for themselves.

Heating And Cooling

Heating and cooling a home is one of the biggest energy costs today, and actually one of the easiest to fix. The first thing to do is to have an inspector come out to check for possible leak points. The more air that escapes through ill fitting vents and gaps in walls or floors, the more dollars that get wasted on heating and cooling costs.

Shade trees behind, and on sides of the home will help reduce the need for high air conditioning costs in the summer. The added insulation from the sun’s rays will keep indoor temperatures down, and the AC kicking in less. Sealing the windows with plastic sheeting will do the same with heating in the winter.


Dimmer switches will help to reduce the amount of lighting needed to illuminate the home. The brighter the light, the more energy is expended. If you will only be occupying a smaller area, use task lighting like overhead track lights instead of lighting up the entire room. Switch out light bulbs for energy savers in every room that sees a lot of traffic. Design the placement of furniture to take advantage of natural lighting, near windows, whenever possible.

Using Home Electronics

Research has shown that 60 percent of the power that each piece of home electronics uses daily is eaten up by continually sitting on standby. Don’t just turn the volume down, or leave that green light blinking, turn it off completely. To be honest, plugging them all into a surge protector power strips will not only preserve them from storms, it will also make it easier to turn them all off at once.


Make sure that you keep all of the appliances in the home in good repair, especially items like hot water heaters, dishwashers, and washer-dryers. A machine like these that is damaged will work twice as hard to perform, using twice the energy. Upgrade to Energy Star rated appliances, if possible, which use less energy. With washers, dryers and dishwashers, consolidate loads whenever possible. If you have an appliance you no longer use, unplug it and take it away. One empty refrigerator alone will waste up to 160 dollars of energy costs.

Go On A Budget

A lot of municipal energy providers offer what is termed a ‘budget plan’ for cost conscious consumers. You will pay the same amount of money every month, regardless of what your meter says. On months that you do not use that much energy, the overage that you paid in will go into credit, which you can then use during months when you will need more energy, like summer.

About Author: Alisa Martin is a proficient author and writes articles on finance. She regularly contributes for the website

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Improve Your Home Energy Efficiency with the Green Deal

Wind Energy
 (Photo credit: janie.hernandez55)
Unless you are lucky enough to have purchased a relatively new build, eco-friendlier property, it is likely that your home isn’t as energy efficient as it could be. There are several reasons that this is important, the first of which is it increases your carbon footprint if your home isn’t energy efficient. The second is a by-product of using less energy - it costs much less to run an ‘A’ energy efficiency rating home than a ‘G’. In our economic climate, saving money has never been so important, which is why government-backed initiatives such as the British Gas green deal that aim to improve the energy efficiency of homes in the UK, are much needed.

Although the government has not yet committed to a target to decarbonise the UK’s power sector yet, this scheme is certainly a step in the right direction. Saving money on your household expenditure can only ever be a good thing, so here’s how it works.

To start with you will need to arrange an appointment with a Green Deal assessor, who will do a thorough inspection of the current energy efficiency of your home. They will also review how you use energy in your house. Once this assessment has been carried out you will get a Green Deal Advice Report which contains the results of the assessment including an Energy Performance Certificate, which gives you your energy efficiency rating between A to G and your environmental impact rating, also between A to G. The report will also explain how you use energy such as heating, hot water, appliances and lighting, and compare your usage to a typical similar household.

English: A part of the „Demonstration Project ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With the Green Deal assessor’s valuable experience in improving the energy efficiency of homes across the UK, an individual recommendation will be made as to what you could have done to your home to improve its energy efficiency, and how the occupants of your household could save money by being more efficient with energy. If you would then like to proceed, they can form a Green Deal plan and arrange the installation of the recommended improvements to your home.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Learning To Make Better Financial Decisions

Whether you value material things or you simply like knowing your bills are paid, money matters. Dedicate the necessary time to find out as much as you can about finance, so that you can remain in control and avoid stress. The information in this article is designed to help you understand and effectively manage your personal finances.

Review your income as well as how much you spend so that you can then formulate a budget. Figuring out how much money you make in a month is where you should start. Include second jobs and other sources of money in your income calculations. The foundation of any budget is ensuring that you spend less than you earn every month.

Home Expenses & Loans

Now, you should write down all of your expenses. You will want to include everything you pay on a quarterly and annual basis too. This would be things like insurance, vehicle maintenance, or regular household upkeep. Included in your list should be incidentals such as entertainment, food, and even the cost of hiring a babysitter. Try to make a very through list to ensure you are aware of absolutely everything you spend.

You should be able to establish a budget now so that you know exactly how much income you can generate. Look over all your regular purchases and decide what is and isn't necessary. For instance, instead of spending money by eating out, you could easily cook something at home, and save money. Examine your spending patterns in search of other ideas to trim costs and keep your money in your pocket.

There are things around the house that you can repair or upgrade that will help reduce your utility bills. A brand-new, energy-efficient dishwasher or washing machine can save you a load of money on your water and electric bills each month. An excellent replacement for a tank heater is a water heater that is either on-demand or in-line. This will decrease your water bill. In addition, you should look for leaky pipes, because they could be causing your water bills to be higher than they should be.

Think about buying energy efficient appliances to take the place of your current models. It will save you a lot of money if you use appliances that use up less energy. Also remember to unplug any appliances that have a constant light going whenever you are not using it. These little lights can really use electrical power.

A good percentage of the heat lost in your home is through the walls and ceiling. Avoid high utility bills by making sure these areas of your home are well insulated. Spending a little money now will save you lots of cash down the road.

Follow these tips to establish a good budget. This will help you save money. Reduce your utility bills with new Energy Star qualified appliances. You will have better control of your finances by doing this.

For more information about home or car loans , please visit:

Monday, December 31, 2012

Knock a Zero Off of Your Energy Bills: A Practical Guide

Look for this logo when considering your new r...
Look for this logo when considering your new roofing materials (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Let’s face facts, energy is not getting any cheaper, and we use more of it now than ever before. From modern appliances to keeping your home warm through the winter, almost everything you rely on for a comfortable life at home uses energy. It is no surprise that energy bills can become one of your biggest outgoings each month, but they really do not have to be as big as they are. There are so many different ways that you can use energy more efficiently, and in the process money. Some may be obvious, some not so much, but by putting some tried and tested methods into effect you could easily knock a zero off of your energy bills. An average family in the United States spends around $2,000 or more on energy bills each year, but by following some energy saving guidelines you could reduce this amount by up to 25%.

In the Kitchen

Let’s start with the refrigerator. Your refrigerator is on 24/7, and is probably using somewhere in the region of 20% of your household’s daily energy consumption. You may have never looked at or changed the settings of your refrigerator, and if not now is the time. Switch your refrigerator temperature to 37 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer to 3 degrees Fahrenheit, which are widely regarded as being the most energy efficient settings, use the power saver mode if your refrigerator has one, and you will make a considerable saving.

When it comes to cooking, use some common sense to save cash. Use correct sized pans and pots, keep the lids on when you are cooking to retain the heat inside, and measure water you need so you do not waste energy heating more than you will use. Also, for washing machines and dishwashers, always wait until you have a full load and run them at a low temperature. Don’t use drying cycles unless you really have too, instead let dishes air dry in a rack and put clothes out on the line to dry.

Heating and Lighting

Many water heaters are set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but you can easily knock that down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and it would be hard to notice the difference. The Department of Energy claims you can save between 3 to 5 percent off you energy bills for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit you lower your water heater by, so knock it down a few more notched for extra savings! Also, take a short shower instead of a bath to save money, and attach a low-flow showerhead to save more.

Choosing the right temperature to heat and cool you home really depends on where you live, but try not to overheat or over cool your house. Research has shown that the most efficient setting for thermostats is 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer, 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter days, and 55 degrees Fahrenheit on the winter nights. Make sure you don’t leave windows or doors open when you are heating or cooling your home, because you are literally letting cash blow way into the wind.

An obvious one perhaps, but you really should have switched all your incandescent light bulbs for energy saving bulbs by now. You can save up to 75 percent on energy used for lighting by using energy efficient bulbs, so do it now if you have not.

Appliances and Gadgets

Leaving TVs, DVD players, laptops, computers, mobile phones, and pretty much anything else plugged into a wall socket means that it will be sucking juice out of the socket whether you are using it or not. Plug all your home electronic into multi-socket power strips, which can be turned off quickly so you don’t have to unplug or switch off everything from the wall socket. Appliances left of standby still use power, so get out of the habit of doing that too.

Shop Around

Don’t be afraid to switch energy providers if you think you are paying too much or an introductory offer will save you money. This is your right as a consumer, so anything you can do to save cash, do it. Also, when you by new appliances, no matter what it is, check to see if it has an ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR products meet energy efficiency guidelines set out by the Department of Energy. To knock some dollars off your energy bills you should try to upgrade all your appliances so that they meet ENERGY STAR guidelines when you need to replace them. All of the tips included in this article can be easily done, and most cost nothing to do, so put them in action and watch your energy bills drop!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Five Benefits of Having Natural Daylight in your Offices

office setup
office setup (Photo credit: Rob 'n' Rae)
If you walk through the office after lunch and notice that your staff seems a bit sluggish and maybe even drowsy, it might not be the lunch they just ate. Take a look around the room; are there blinds on the windows? The problem with the lack of energy and therefore the lack of productivity could be the fact that they are sitting under artificial lights. 

There are numerous benefits of letting the sunshine in through the windows or skylights. Maximizing natural light in the workplace will result in more productivity and efficiency. Let’s have a look at some of these benefits. 

Increased Productivity

When you have the sun streaming in through the windows, the serotonin levels of your workers will be on the higher side. This will put them in a better mood, making them more active and keep the workforce bustling with energy. It might become a little noisier in there, but you shouldn’t mind that as long as they are accomplishing more.

Health Benefits

Your company probably loses a good amount of money and production when people call out sick. Having natural sunlight in the office will increase the production of Vitamin D. This will increase everyone’s immune system and have them at their desks instead of at home. Recent studies have shown a 15 percent decline in absenteeism when employees worked under natural light conditions instead of artificial lighting. So, by just “keeping the blinds open” (hypothetically speaking), your employees get better health and you get more work done. Need I say more? 

A Better Atmosphere

People are just happier when they have the sun shining on them, especially in the relatively cold regions or weathers. It means, everyone feels good about coming to work. They show up on time, don’t take too long on breaks and do not jump up at exactly 5 o clock. Remember, if you are keeping your shades drawn, your employees are not getting much daylight at all. They do not have a chance to get out during the day to soak up the energy. This can make them grumpy at work, and just as a smile is contagious, so is grumpiness. Who wants to go to a workplace, where everyone seems to be in a sour mood? 

Increased Sales

If your staff is some kind of a marketing or salesroom, having natural light will increase their creativity and salesmanship. Because they are more chipper, it will help them with customer service, lead generation, or sales. Not to forget that if your showroom has a lot of sunlight, even your customers will be in high spirits, hence more likely to do business with you. Sunlight has dual benefits when customers and sales are involved. 

Financial Benefits

Any time you use natural daylight to light up your office, and avoid having overhead lights on, you are saving money on your electricity bill. But that’s just one of the many financial benefits. As earlier mentioned, lower absence rate will mean you’ll not be paying for temporary help while also paying for an employee’s sick day, giving you more savings. Not to forget that an increase in production, and eventually in sales will also improve your bottom line.

When you consider all the advantages of using natural light in your offices, you will wonder why you didn’t think of it before. You may think it is the lower power bills, increased production and better sales that have you feeling so happy, but in reality, it is just the talk of extra sunshine that has you feeling great.

Scott Ryan is a home and office interior design expert, follow him on twitter.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Winter Energy Saving In The Office

During the coldest season of the year business energy costs are rising though less comfort is enjoyed because some simply can’t afford it. How does winter impact your energy bills? 

Heating the office in winter

When heating systems are performing at or close to their rated maximum capacity, their efficiency decreases while the amount of energy utilised is growing. In other words, more electricity is used to provide less comfort. This is exactly why your energy bills are getting higher in winter. 

What happens?

Considerable temperature swings outside the building make you use heating equipment for longer periods, which requires more electricity. In fact, just a few days of extreme temperatures can cause your bill to get much higher.
During periods of extreme weather portable heating devices are among the major sources of energy demand. However, devices working much harder to heat your office may still not be able to provide the temperature level you have set. 

What you should do

  • Install a programmable thermostat. Set the thermostat to lower temperatures at night and weekends when there’s nobody in the office. 
  • Ensure the thermostat is installed and operating properly as it only saves energy when programmed. 
  • Make sure the thermostat is located in the right place as it should be able to sense the average temperature in the office. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight or near a heat source. 
  • Remember that lowering your thermostat by just one degree results in 3% energy savings. Encourage employees to wear long sleeved jackets inside the office if necessary. 
  • Get a humidifier. The air in the office can be too dry for employees to feel comfortable. Moister air feels warmer, and it can contribute to overall employee comfort if you set the thermostat lower. 
  • Keep the doors and windows closed yet make sure that the air in the office is not too stuffy by airing the rooms in the morning before the working day starts. 
  • Close window curtains and blinds at night to keep the heat in and open south-facing window curtains and blinds during the day. 
  • Check window frames and fill them with silicone caulk if there are cracks in them. Replace any broken window panes. 
  • Remember to turn off the lights when leaving the office, especially before the weekend. Try not to use lights for more than six hours a day to keep your energy use down. 
  • Turn to professionals for a developed energy saving campaign tailored specifically for your business needs. Energy efficiency tips and solutions can help you achieve 35% savings on energy bills within a year. 

Although winter is taking its toll on energy bills, there are ways to reduce energy consumption and spending without compromising on comfort in the office.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Angus Reed, Prudentia, Dubai and Renewable Energy

Vestas wind turbine, Dithmarschen.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Solar energy and renewable energy are two technologies we have at our disposal that can be a part of the solution, for our future energy needs. All of our non-renewable fossil fuel energy sources are coming close to a plateau in supply. While demand continues to rise every year renewable energy sources are becoming the only solution to our energy needs.

Currently wind and solar energy have gone to the top of the list as sources for cheap renewable energy. The technology has become more readily available and manufacturing costs has reached a greater affordability level.

Angus Reed, Australian businessman, has taken the lead into making renewable energy a part of everyday life. Angus Reed, Director of Prudentia Investments, leads one of Australia's most respected integrated property and investment management group. Through his experience in real estate development across the globe including Australia, Dubai ,and other countries he has made early investments in renewable energy and his efforts are bearing fruit. 

Angus Reed's dedication to renewable energy has moved Prudentia into the lead of Australia’s growing sustainable energy industry with its investiture in solar company Nu Energy. Under Angus Reed’s guidance, Prudentia is using its expertise in alternative energy supplies around Australia for other projects. These projects include the planned, "The Range at Croydon", a groundbreaking housing development in eastern Melbourne and "Hutton Rise", a modern housing project in Prospect Launceston. 

Angus Reed and Prudentia have also built Cambridge Park in Tasmania. This project includes Tasmania’s first incorporated homemaker center and Hydro Tasmania Conference Center, which won a 5-Star Green Star Office Design award from the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).

Angus Reed's most recent success has been Melbourne's new Wyndham Harbor project. This new project includes attractively priced apartments, a 1,400 ship harbor, and a modern shopping area. This new development will mean more jobs, residences, and tax income for Melbourne and surrounding area.

More companies are putting money into research and development of renewable energy technology everyday, eventually it will makes its way into more homes and the overall demand for oil and coal will decline thus helping the environment. With government regulation and incentives encouraging sustainable energy development and the application of these technologies toward the countries energy needs, we will see the demand of non-renewable energy sources decline. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Saving Money and Energy The Old Fashion Way

3020 The SolarAir 2008Image by bsabarnowl via FlickrEverybody is looking for ways to save money and energy. There are energy saving appliances, bulbs, and automobiles all ready to help in our goal. We are told to lower our carbon footprint and use less energy. Today we want to use less and waste less. We look to the future to find gadgets and machines that can do this for us. I say don't look forward to find solutions, look back!

Depending how old you are, if you want to be money and energy savers, go talk to your parents or grandparents. These people grew up in a day when they used less water, less fuel, created less waste and imported fewer goods than we do today. They took these actions out of necessity as opposed to our modern-day desire to help the planet, but the ecological impact is just as powerful. Here are seven lessons we can borrow from our elders that are easy on the wallet, and have significant environmental impact. Perhaps more importantly, they are easy to implement and relevant to our modern lifestyles.

Bottled water.
Believe it or not I grew up in a day when you didn't buy bottled water. Not because there wasn't any but because you would be thought of as foolish to buy something you basically could get for free from your faucet.

I remember keeping a pitcher of cold water in the refrigerator whenever we wanted a cold drink.

Clothes dryer.
Many homes never had a clothes dryer. Hanging your clothes outside in the fresh air was the only way to dry them. The clothes washer was a common device in a home as far back as the the early 1900's. The first electric one was invented in 1910.

Before the clothes dryer became a standard appliance in every American household, your grandmother simply took advantage of a sunny day, some rope or cord, clothespins. No cost, no maintenance, no carbon footprint. Clothes dryers have come a long way in energy efficiency over recent years, but the average home clothes dryer has a carbon footprint of about 4.4 lbs. of carbon dioxide per load of laundry. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, “the biggest way to cut the environmental impact of cleaning clothes is to stop using a clothes dryer.”

Vegetable garden.
The home garden was common place many years ago. It was easy to do and a money saver even when fruits and vegetables were fairly inexpensive. When you bought a home, you would look for one that had a nice yard for growing vegtables and perferably many fruit trees. It was normal to go outside your home and be able to see an orange or apple tree in your back yard.

When the Obama Family decided to plant a garden it was seen as odd by the younger generation but made perfect sense to the over 50 crowd. My grandfather always grew vegetables out in the back yard, it would of been odd for him not to.

Saving rain water.
Rainwater is free, why not collect it? You can use it to water your garden or lawn. You can wash a car or the dog with it. You can pick up a few plastic drums free someplace and save money and water. Just channel your rain gutter system into it and have gallons of free water.

Pack your lunch for work.
Back when, most people brown bagged their lunch. Taking a box lunch when you would be out all day, for work, or the kids school lunch was normal. Eating out used to be an occasional event for older generations, often reserved for birthdays or anniversaries. Nowadays, the average American eats out about four times a week and spends nearly $3,000 yearly in take-out food.

The waste created by take-out packaging alone is enough to make you think twice. The money you can save by eating at home or by bringing your own lunch to work or school — in a reusable container, of course would make grandma very proud.

Home entertainment.
When our grandparents were younger, playing card games or board games was a popular form of entertainment. As a little boy, I remember spending hours playing gin rummy in my grandmother's kitchen, with my handful of cards.

Compared to today, we have electronic gaming systems like Wii, Nintendo or Xbox; cards and board games provided hours of entertainment with little impact on the environment or the wallet.

Spend less.
Anytime you buy something, you (and the environment) are paying way more for it than just the sticker price. There is the cost of resources used to make it, advertise it, transport it, maintain it, and inevitably, to dispose of it. The amount of stuff our grandparents bought on a regular basis pales in comparison to the overindulgent spending habits of our generation.

These ways to save money aren't just a common sense way to save money and energy, they demonstrate a mindset, a way of thinking that was ingrained in the over 50 crowd. Today we have a barrage of advertisers showing us ways to make life easier. All we have to do is hand our money over for so called better life. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Simple Light Bulb Just Got A Lot More Complicated

Compact fluorescent light bulbImage via WikipediaWhen I needed a light bulb I would either use a 40 or 60 watt bulb and I was done. But those days are over. Thanks to regulations, taking effect in January, under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, shopping for light bulbs is fast becoming akin to choosing a new car. The upside is the new fangled light bulbs may last longer than you do.

I was worried because I heard some rumors that people were going to stockpile the old incandescent bulbs because they would not be manufactured anymore. But this is just wrong.

Starting in January, any bulb that can generate the amount of light produced by a conventional 100-watt bulb, but do so with roughly 30 percent less energy, will be eligible for the market. The new law is gradual — in 2013, the rule will be extended to 75-watt bulbs, followed, in 2014, by 60- and 40-watt bulbs — but the point is that nothing is outlawed if it meets the new mandated efficiencies.

What’s more, the looming rules have triggered rapid advances in a number of lighting technologies. Halogens, a type of incandescent that delivers light the way Edison intended, with a tungsten filament, are now available in the standard bulb shape. Compact fluorescent lights, or C.F.L.’s, have gotten better at delivering good light quickly, and without the buzzing and flickering for which they were known. And some bulbs with light-emitting diodes, or L.E.D.’s, now cast their light in all directions, not just one.

With all this new technology, how can you know what would be an equivalent to the old fashion 60 watt bulb?

Home Depot and Lowe’s are working to simplify shopping, with better merchandising and displays with samples of the forthcoming bulbs. Sylvania, Philips and General Electric, are already putting “lighting facts” labels on at least a few bulbs, even though new labeling requirements do not take effect until January.

The new packaging will describe the new bulbs by their lumens, the measure of light produced. But don't be discouraged, the package will also describe the bulb in "watt equivalents".

Does this mean I have to go out and buy all new bulbs? 

No but it does mean you will have to do a little more shopping and comparing to get what you want. Remember these new bulbs will be energy savers and have a working life, longer than maybe the fixture they are in.

So don't panic, like every government program to help us, this one will also take years to phase in. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you finally go bulb shopping.

  • When you feel like you want to stick a toe into the waters of these new bulbs, just wade in. If you don't want them you still will be able to buy the old reliable one for many years to come. As we wait for the new bulbs to pop up in stores you will see many commercials and magazine articles touting their effectiveness. You will be shown what types of bulbs work best for what lamps you have in your home. So only replace bulbs as needed and when you understand what you are purchasing.
  • At first the new bulbs will be sold only by your usual bulb manufactures like GE, Sylvania, and others. Stick with these because we will be seeing cheap overseas knockoffs coming soon.
  • Consult sources like, energysavers.govand, which offers a video tutorial on the new law.
  • Try the new bulbs in different lamps and fixtures in your home to see which work best in that location.
  • Remember these new bulbs are going to save you money in the long run.

I remember when  the compact florescent bulbs came out years ago. They were very expensive and didn't shine a very attractive light. But the price eventually came down and the quality came up. This will also happen with the new lights coming. In the long run, we will have better and longer lasting bulbs

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Energy Rebates on Appliances, Especially Hot Water Heaters

Seal of the United States Department of Energy.Image via Wikipedia
Utilizing $300 million in stimulus-funded rebates on energy-efficient appliances, consumers have bought more than half a million washers, dryers, refrigerators and other appliances. Yet despite rebates of up to $425 offered, less than 3% of those consumers bought water heaters, often considered the second-largest energy hog in the home.

That's one reason the rebate program isn't meeting the US Department of Energy's projected energy savings. Only 88% of the rebates have been spent, generating $27.5 million in annual fuel and water savings – substantially less than the projected $84 million.

The government originally projected that 19% of energy savings would come from water heater replacements, but by June 30, that number was only 5%. The national program ends in February 2012, although it has already closed in 24 states. Experts offer a number of explanations for the low numbers so far:

Weather. In most states, the rebate program launched in March or April, giving a boost to sales of cooling appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners. The Department of Energy notes that climate is a driving factor in appliance purchases.

Visibility. Most people don't think about their water heaters – until they break down. Unless there's a puddle on the floor, a new water heater isn't a consideration for most consumers. Homeowner awareness of the warning signs of a failing water heater could help to drive the purchase of more energy-efficient appliances, before disasters strike.

Distribution. Most people directly purchase their refrigerators, washers, dryers, and dishwashers from retail stores. However, replacement water heaters are often chosen by plumbers. As individual states study the best ways to make use of remaining funds, many are communicating more actively with plumbing contractors.

State rules. The federal government allowed each state to craft its own rules for the program, based on local needs. Of all states and territories, only 29 offered specific rebates on water heaters.

The $814 billion stimulus program was designed with multiple goals, of which energy savings were just one. If you plan to purchase a new appliance – especially a water heater – prior to the program's 2012 expiration, research the costs and benefits of various energy-efficient machines. If your state is still participating, there are big savings to be reaped if you avail yourself of the Department of Energy's rebate program.

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