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Reduce Utility Bills

May 24, 2007

11 Basics Energy Saving Ideas

Filed under: Helpful Hints — Jan @ 2:46 pm

Some of the ideas below will require an initial investment, others are low cost. Here are the 11 ideas:

  1. Have shrubs and deciduous trees on the south side of home to provide shade to reduce cooling costs. During the winter cut back to take advantage of the heat from the sun and reduce heating costs.
  2. Unplug appliances and chargers when not in use. Power strips or extension cords can make this quick and convenient.
  3. Seal and insulate heating and cooling ducts. Costs can be reduced by 30%. Use the foil faced tape, “duct” tape will dry and crack over time.
  4. When purchasing new appliances buy energy efficient ones. Replace older energy consuming models while they are still working. They can be resold and that money can be put towards the new appliance.
  5. In an attic with exposed floor joists, add more insulation. 12- 15 inches will achieve an R-38 rating to keep cool air in the house and hot air out in the summer. It will do the reverse in the winter.
  6. Insulate hot water heater and the pipes. As much as 25% of energy costs can be consumed by a hot water heater. Insulation may allow you to lower the temperature by 10 degrees without reducing hot water availability.
  7. Upgrade furnace and air conditioners when possible. If you cannot upgrade, be sure to keep the furnace and air conditioner properly maintained to increase efficiency.
  8. This one is easy and affordable, exchange incandescent bulbs with fluorescents. They tend to be brighter so a reduced watt bulb may be able to be used. Buy a couple at first to try out. Check which sockets the fluorescent bulbs will fit. Some lamp designs are not compatible with the fluorescent bulb size difference.
  9. Keeping the temperature higher (in the summer) and lower (in the winter) when no one is home manually or with a programmable thermostat will reduce energy use and bills. Do not turn off air conditioners or heaters completely because it may cause them to work too hard to reach a comfortable temperature when you are home.
  10. Ventilating will allow hot air to escape.  putting one or two on a roof ventelators will allow the hot air (which rises) to escape. During the winter, these can be covered so that the warm air will remain on the roof.
  11. Wearing less or more clothing, adding a blanket, or taking a cool shower to maintain body temperature can help to allow for a 5 degree (higher in summer, lower in winter) difference in thermostat settings while maintaining  comfort.

Saving energy is good for the environment and good for the pocketbook!

May 22, 2007

What I’ve Been Doing

Filed under: Miscelaneous, Electricity — Jan @ 4:42 am

My water bill will probably be a little high, because it is hard to dig in this rock hard sun baked AZ ground if it isn’t soaked! I have been digging a well (sunken in area) around my trees.

Some of my compost was ready to use so I moved it over to the Aloe Vera bed. I have huge clumps of Aloe Vera, so I am separating them so they will have room to grow. In the fall I would like to go to farmer’s markets and let the girls sell them in homemade pots made from recycled material. They grow and reproduce so very fast!

I have the homemade evap cooler working well enough to keep the room cool enough to work in. This saves electricity.

A friend gave me some railroad ties, so have them in the backyard near the fence.

I still can’t get over how good clothes smell off the line. They sure dry fast right now. We have been keeping up on using the clothes line. I didn’t do my son’s load this week because my overnight at work was rough and I was exhausted.

I researched on some homemade solar ovens. I think it’ll be fun to make one with the girls. I want to take advantage of the intense summer heat for cooking. I’ll need to cook things that I don’t have to stand and watch over because I will end up cooked if in the sun too long! (I guess the aloe vera will come in handy!)

May 20, 2007

Homemade Evaporative Cooling

Filed under: Water, Electricity — Jan @ 5:24 am

Well my back room where the computer is has no vents so it has been hot. This is the first summer I had my office back here. Well I made my own evap cooler in a window. It could proudly be put into any redneck yard! For most homes, this wouldn’t work, but it is a back room so looks weren’t too important. I was very excited that it worked. Since I have to manually plug in the water pump, it uses minimal electricity.

It costs about $45 (the water pump was $15) instead of $100 or more for a portable evap cooler or a window air conditioner. Plus both of those would use up electricity. The air conditioner would need installing.

I made my cooler 2 x 4’s , pvc pipe, chicken wire, cooler tubing, and a 5 gallon bucket. I have part of the pad covered with part of a grass mat because it was drying out too fast. It took a little work to balance it so enough was uncovered to provide air to circulate.

It works good enough that I can work back here. I had an old box fan so I put it in front of my homemade cooler to pull in the cooled air. I ran the plug from the pump into the house and I plug it in for half a second 2-3 times when the pad is dry. I can’t just let it stayed plugged-in because the water starts leaking in the house and water runs all over outside. It needs a little fine tuning, but I got it to work well enough that I can work back here.

It would work well in a workshop, playhouse, or outdoor room. I found these directions on how to make one that looks way better than mine! (Scroll down to #4)

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