Browsing the blog archives for September, 2008.


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    Bundle up your house to save money and save energy this winter

    energy, Uncategorized

    Now is the time to bundle up your house to save money and save energy this winter. Watching the national weather this morning I noticed how unseasonably warm it is around the country. Yet the reality is that tomorrow brings in a new, colder month. Stores are already selling for Thanksgiving and Christmas yet we have not even handed out Halloween candy. But the stores are right; we need to start preparing for winter now.

    This is the time to remove window air conditioners. Do it while it is still warm enough to leave windows open and get some new fresh air in your house. Can’t take the air conditioner out? First, clean the air conditioner thoroughly. Then, if accessible, wrap the outside with plastic sheeting, duct tape it securely, and duct tape an air conditioner cover over it. On the inside of the house, I cover the air conditioner with some insulation and a decorative quilt and then I use plastic shrink wrap for windows to keep it air tight.

    So you haven’t had time or money to replace those old windows? Plastic shrink wrap them. Henkel, the duct tape company, has a complete selection of weather proofing products. I love their channels that can be used year after year to hold the plastic in place. Outdoor kits are also available if inside application is not an option. These products are clear and easy to clean.

    Check doors for leaks. Even with storm doors, if you can see daylight around your door that means you have a draft. Weather stripping and door sweeps can safe you money and keep you comfortable this winter.

    Change the filter on your furnace; mark the calendar to change it on a regular basis. If you have oil heat, get your furnace serviced. This will help keep your furnace running problem free all winter. Adding eeFuel to your tank will help save money and save fuel this winter.

    A family weekend of small projects can save you money and save energy this winter. For more information about performing your own home energy audit visit the U.S. Department of Energy website.

    Stay comfortable this winter while saving money, saving energy and saving fuel.

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    Teaching Children to Save Energy

    energy, Uncategorized

    I came across on interesting web site the other day called, www.LoseYourExcuse.gov. This is a U.S. Department of Energy tool to teach “tweens” about saving energy.

    The site consists of a game that, while fun, actually does nothing but teach eye-hand coordination. But the rest of the site does teach children specific examples of how they can save energy around the house. It gives examples that mean something to children such as turning off the Xbox, not leaving their phone charger plugged in and how and why smart power strips are important.

    The site also includes links to other energy saving web sites designed for children such as http://www.eere.energy.gov/kids/, and downloads to help them remember to turn things off. It also features advice for teachers with lesson plans (K-12) on saving energy and renewable energy.

    The bottom line is that your battle to save energy in the home cannot be won if you are being sabotaged by your children. It is best to teach them early to save energy in a fun atmosphere with out the nagging (my specialty).

    Obviously my sixteen year old son is no longer a “tween”; he thought the site should be more for 6 to 10 year olds, not 10 to 15 year olds. But later that day I caught him remembering to turn off his Xbox without me yelling at him, so the point got across.

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    Choosing to convert from oil to natural gas

    energy, heating options, Uncategorized

    I apologize for my abscence. This is not my full time job and life is not always as forgiving as we would like it to be. Enough of pleasentries.

    I wish to update you on my mission to find options for my parents heating dilemas. I can update this in a single phrase….sticker price shock! It seems in this world of forclosures, out of control oil prices, job losses and banks “feeing” us to death, among other things, we are caught in a “catch-22” situation. My goal of this blog is to highlight ideas and products that won’t cost an arm and a leg upfront to save energy, save fuel and save money in a reasonalbe amount of time.

    The bottom line is that both of my parents have oil heat and I wanted to look into converting them to natural gas heat. My father lives alone has gas already piped to his house but has old fashion steam radiators and only about 900 sq.ft. My mother has four adults living in her house, doesn’t have gas piped to her house but has more modern baseboard system and about 1500 sq.ft. Amazingly enough both estimates where within a few dollars of each other. It would cost approximately $5,500 to convert each house. This includes the fuel efficient furnace and a new energy star hot water heater. Wow, that floored me. Both of my parents are on fixed incomes and can hardly afford to shell out this kind of money. But can they afford not to?

    I found a area of National Grid’s (our local natural gas provider) web site that gave a conversion rate from oil to natural gas. According to National Grid, if you multiply your oil consumption in gallons by 1.385 you will get your approximate gas consumption in cubic feet. Each of my parents used about 700 gallons of oil in the last physical year. 700 gallons of oil x 1.385=969.5ccf of natural gas. Using $4/gallon for oil and the composite rate for gas in Aug. 2008 of $1.7725/ccf,  the annual savings would be around $1080/year. They would be breaking even on their investment within five years, if the current rates applied. Overall not a bad investment when a conventional solar system is not anticipated to break even for 10 to 20 years. But more on solar another time. 

    In Massachusetts, were I live, there is a program for low cost or no cost loans for heating improvents at http://www.masssave.com/about/heat_loan.php. This will allow many people who cannot come up with the cost of converting up front. Please check your individual states and utility companies for information on fuel assistance, tax incentives, discount utility rates and loan programs.

    In the case of my parents…. I think my mother will convert to natural gas. She plans on being in her house for more than five years and her income is not getting any larger. Natural gas is plentiful in North America and is not reliant on foreign suppliers. Weighing the odds we both feel gas will be the more reliable and cheaper way to go. We are not sure my father will be in his house for five years and he gets fuel assistance so he probably will not convert. I guess I will be putting eeFuel in his tank and pray oil prices don’t go through the roof this winter. 

     

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