Blog Action Day – Climate Change

Today is Blog Action Day and the topic is climate change.   While it would seem that motivations on being green are a tree hugging oblivious ideals, they are simple savings both with money and resources.   Things such as insulating one’s home, purchasing energy efficient products and simply changing one’s wasteful behavior will make much more impact with minimal impact on freedom.  The risk when asking the government to become involved we loose our freedom to make choices. Regardless of the benefit of any laws to lessen human climate change, the fact is that the ability for an individual to choose will be impacted.  The idiom of think globally act locally has a better impact than having our “trustworthy” politicians leading by “example

We need to take individual responsibility and if we each do the little things they will add up.  Walking and biking,  changing light bulbs,  insulating, and turning down the thermostat not only help your bills but also the alleged impact of your existence on the planet.

Not in My Backyard

I strongly believe that the centralized energy production and distribution in our country is a detriment to citizens.  We’ve seen issues with oil refineries being unable to meet demand due to production issues and electrical distribution systems that are unable to provide adequate power to meet demands.  This is where local generation can be a large benefit.  However, there are many who do not want this in their backyard in spite of the benefits. Continue reading

Power Costs to stay steady we hope

Recently the an amendment to the contract to purchase power from AMP-Ohio was extended from 2012 to 2015. While this SHOULD keep prices steady the idea of being locked into a specific supplier is rather scary. In this town we are only able to purchase power from the municipality and this reduces competition which is always bad for business.

Weatherly is one of 15 municipalities that purchase power from AMP-Ohio.

The most recent municipality to approve this amendment is Royalton Borough

Town going green?

In my small town with about 2,600 residents may be going green.  This year our electric rates were raised by 10% and we were upset but what are we to do?  Just pay the new rates and reduce our consumption.  

Then something came up on my radar. 

My town Weatherly, PA has applied for preliminary permits to see if we can put in a hydroelectric plant that would generate 1,000 times the amount of electricity that the town uses.  The excess would be sold to a local utility. 

WOW WOW WOW!  This would be MULTIPLE WINS in my book.  Reduce reliance on outside power sources, reduce electric rates and with the latter stimulate business in town and increase the tax base.  ALL AROUND A WIN. 

Granted this is a 30 year old idea and that it’s only in the preliminary stages but not to bad for an old quiet northeastern PA town!I’m going to try and get ahold of Harold over at the borough for more comments.  

Some info about these changes, and more about the plant, and some more about this green solution.

Extension Cord Safety

With all the fans and air conditioners around it’s a good idea to quickly go over some cord safety.  Often we just plug our cords in and don’t give them a second thought but they can be dangerous and a fire is a LOT bigger worry than saving a few bucks on a proper extension cord.

  • For any cord (either the one from the appliance or an extension cord) look for cracks or holes in the insulator from one end of the cord to another.  Since some of these cords haven’t been used since last summer a quick inspection can find problems before they turn tragic.
  • Make sure that the prongs are straight and in good condition.  Bent, broken or loose prongs can start a fire or cause your breaker to blow.  Also make sure that the third prong isn’t bent or cut off.
  • Make sure you have the right sized cords. We all have those two wire cords lying around the house that we usually end up plugging our lamps into.  Which is what they were designed for and not much more.  A small table fan or phone recharger is all that you should really be plugging into these cords.  Overloading them by stringing them together or putting something to heavy on them is a recipe for disaster.
  • While they may be MORE expensive the heavy duty appliance cords are worth their price for the safety they bring.  It’s a good rule of thumb for AC units to not use an extension cord greater than 6 feet.  Better yet plug the appliance directly into the wall.   You can usually find these heavy duty appliance cords at your local hardware store.  They will have 3 prongs and have a rating on them in watts.  If you have a doubt ask for some help.
  • Finally don’t plug your AC into a power strip.  Not only can you overload the power strip you could destroy the other components on the strip.

While these tips may not save electricity that much they DO make your house a LOT safer in the long run.  So take a few minutes to make sure that your cords are all in good condition.

It’s getting hotter almost time to think about your AC

Ok today is hot here. Not as in HOLY MOLY WE ARE FRYING EGGS HOT… but rather if it’s this hot now LOOK OUT. The subject of air conditioners has come about. I don’t have central air so I’m reduced at the moment to use window mounted air conditioners.

Last year it was NOT FUN! We had to shell out a LOT of dollars to keep our house a little cooler. This year I want to cool more and spend less. So I’ve done my homework and found a few ways to reduce my electric bill and still keep my cool.

  • Right size my AC – this is IMPORTANT. Too small and it will run itself ragged and chew up your bill and you’ll STILL be hot. There is a pretty detailed calculator over at Consumer Reports on how to select the right size air conditioner. My guess is that mine are a bit small. Also note that oversizing doesn’t work better either. If you want a quick estimate take a look at the Energy Star Properly Sized Room Air Conditioner Chart which will help you decide on the correct size. It’s not as detailed as the calculator but it gets you in the ballpark.
  • Install correctly – Not only keeing the unit from falling out also put it in the shade and if possible north facing. This will let it cool the easiest. Keep branches and leaves away from it as they can reduce the efficiency.
  • Clean the Filter – check the manual for your unit and while it’s unplugged clean the air filter and other pieces. This will help airflow AND reduce allergens and other contaminents in your air. I’d recommend cleaning the air filter a couple of times each season and if you really want replace it yearly. This will keep you cool and healthy.
  • Clean the condenser coils – these are the metal fins on the outside of the unit. These help expend the heat outside in order to cool your house. You can vacum these out and even hose them out Make sure water does not hit the inside portion of the unit and any electronics or motors.
  • Straighten cooling fins – these are the metal pieces that often get bent really easily. They can also cut your fingers really quick also. SO BE CAREFUL. They do have a coil fin comb at many hardware stores that you use to do this job properly. Check to see how many ‘fins per inch’ your unit has as the combs do come in various sizes.
  • Power your unit properly – try NOT to use extension cords or overload your circuit. If you HAVE to use an extension cord, look for a grounded(three prong) appliance cord that is rated to handle a bit more than the load your AC will use. Pulling to much power through and extension cord is recipe for disaster.

Well I’m off to clean my AC units before it get too hot. In a bit I’ll tell you how to keep that electric bill a bit smaller with a few cooling techniques.

Your home heat health

Ok it’s spring where I’m at and and while the kids are waiting for school to let out and we’re shedding the heavy coats of winter, it’s a GREAT time to start thinking about tuning up your furnace.  Why now?  Well since it’s warm having your heat off for a day won’t freeze you out and many heating engineers are right now beginning to get busy with the summer heat on the way. So getting good inspection and cleaning will not be an emergency later on.

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