Archive for July, 2012

Energy Use of Appliances

Energy Use of AppliancesEvery appliance uses energy, some better than others and there are many variables that go into an estimate of the energy use of appliances.  For example, how often do you use an appliance each day, each week or month? Are they used all year round? What capacity is your appliance? What rate are you currently paying to your provider and do they have a peak rate, a medium rate or an off peak rate. Do you use this appliance in these various time frames that correspond to these rates?

With so many variables, how does the average consumer figure out what an appliance is going to cost him or her and do they really care. Perhaps it is not even worth the effort to figure out all of this stuff. Bottom line is that  if you are not using it and have it turned off, the appliance is not going to use energy unless it has a keep warm feature such as TV’s and computers. In this case they use less energy, but they are still using energy.

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How to Reduce Electricity Consumption

Reduce Electricity ConsumptionThis post is about how to reduce electricity consumption and lower your electrical bills. This web site  is all about how to reduce our costs around the home and one of the largest utility bills is the electrical bill.  Consumers living in the southern US use a lot of electricity to cool their homes while consumers in the north will use more to heat their homes , especially if you have electrical heating. Any time you run a motor, turn on a light or use an appliance at home you are consuming electricity. As we move to the so called smart cars and rechargeable cars, it will only get more important to reduce our electrical usage to avoid those huge bills.

I have already reduced our annual bill by over $400 simply by turning off lights, converting to florescent bulbs and only running the AC and the pool pump during hours when the cost of electricity is reduced. In our area, the cheapest electricity is at night after 7 pm until 7 am, so if I have to use electricity for things like the clothes dryer, the AC and the pool, I try to run them at night and avoid the more expensive hours.

How much More Expensive is Electricity

At night we pay 7 cents per kilowatt hour, while during the day at peak times it can be as high as 11.5 cents per kilowatt hour. This is a 65% increase and represents a huge savings opportunity! for example if you regularly run the lights all night, a single 60 watt incandescent  light bulb is going to cost you about $20 for the entire year. Converting to a florescent light bulb that gives off the same amount of light but only takes 8 watts to run is only going to cost a $1.60 a year or $10.40 in savings, which more than pays for the cost of the more expensive bulb.

This is just one bulb in your home. Imagine if you converted all of the bulbs to florescent bulbs ! How much money would you save? Electrical light bulbs are the least expensive to operate. Appliances with motors such as dryers and furnaces or air conditioning units consume far more electricity.

How to reduce electricity consumption: Just Turn it off

This should really be the motto for home owners who are serious about reducing electricity consumption. If you cannot turn it off, at least reduce the usage so that you are reducing your electrical usage. Another example is drying your clothes. If you own a dryer and wash your own clothes, you obviously have to dry them, however by drying them on the weekend or in the evening, you can consume far less electricity. If you are not adverse to hanging your clothes on a clothes line outside, you can also save a great deal of money this way and your clothes will smell really fresh too. For many people this is not really an option so they just have to shift their clothes drying to the non peak hours.

If you are not in the room, turn off your TV. No one is watching it and you are just consuming electricity! There is another benefit as well. TV’s these days have a limited life span. The more you use them the quicker the screen will burn out and have to be replaced. Turn it off when it is not being used to save money in several ways.

Reduce electricity Consumption While on Vacation

Do you need to run the AC while you are on vacation this summer? If not turn it off! Or if you have pets at home at least turn the temperature up a bit to reduce your usage. Set your lights to turn on and off using timers so they are not on all of the time, but still give that lived in look to your home.  If you leave in the winter time, you must leave your furnace running, however you can turn down the temperature a few degrees to save electricity and also heating fuel as well.

A final reminder about how to reduce electricity consumption. If you cannot turn it off , then reduce consumption by using it less. You can also consider shifting your usage into time frames were electrical rates are lower. If you do not know what the prices are call your local electrical utility. Find out what the rates are throughout the day.



Hardwood Floor Refinishing Minneapolis

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Minneapolis – Once your hardwood floor has been in service for 15 to 20 years, it may be time to refinish the floor to return it to it’s pristine look when it was originally installed. This time frame will vary a great deal based on how well you take care of your existing floor and how much the sun shining on your floors has caused the finish to fade. This is when you need Hardwood Floor Refinishing Minneapolis contractors to provide quotes.

Consumers can avoid the costly expense and work of refinishing a hardwood floor if they take of the floor and avoid walking on the floor with their outdoor shoes. This will extend the life of your floor for many years and avoid the costly expense of refinishing your floors.

Avoiding Hardwood Floor Refinishing Minneapolis Contractors

The best way to prolong the finish on your floor is to follow these steps or rules:

  • Do not wear your outdoor shoes inside the house
  • Remove all outdoor shoes as soon as you enter the home
  • Vacuum at least once a week or more often especially around the entrance to catch any grit that may find its way onto the floor
  • Damp mop your floor on a regular basis as well. Timing will depend on the shine of your floor. Starting to look dull, vacuum and then damp mop
  • Avoid using anything abrasive on the floor to clean it
  • Avoid allowing toys or other sharp objects on the floor
  • Wipe up spills immediately
  • Use furniture pads to protect your floor from grooves from the furniture legs

Many people are worried about removing too much wood when they sand the floors. Progressive sanding can leave little or no wood and cause a wholesale replacement of the floor. Sometimes depending on the existing finish a light sanding will suffice, to remove all surface scratches and then a new coat of var-ethane or urethane can be placed  on the wood.

Wood floors with deep scratches and marks will have to be sanded down to the bare wood to remove the scratch and to make the floor look uniform. This can remove more wood from the surface than desired, so care should be taken when using a power sander to remove too much wood.

Remove all of the Dust

Once all of the existing finish has been removed and the scratches are gone, give the floor a light sanding with a fine sand paper and thorough clean with a vacuum before using tack cloth to remove all remaining small particles of dust. you will want a perfectly clean room with no remaining dust to gain that perfectly shiny floor. Your Hardwood Floor Refinishing Minneapolis should follow this approach to avoid getting a lot of dust into your home.

The picture above shows a sander that is labeled as a dustless floor sanding machine.  These machines work well and will remove a great deal of the dust from your home and most important from the room that you are doing your sanding in. It is important to remove all dust to ensure that you have a very clean room prior to applying your final finish to your floor.

Even when using a sanding machine, you are still going to have to do some hand sanding in the corners and areas that you just cannot get to with a larger machine. You will need to make sure that you do not sand across the grain. Always and with the grain and never use an orbital sander. it will eave small circles which will show up on your floor when you apply to finish to your floor.

We also recommend removing the baseboard so that you can get in close to the edge of the walls and avoid  having to do more sanding by hand. In most cases you will also have to sand and paint the baseboards since they are older as well. In some cases it is just easier to replace the baseboards with brand new base boards. They will need to be primed and then painted. All nail holes will also need to be filled in and sanded.


How Do We Use Energy

How Do We Use EnergyIn today’s modern world we use energy in so many ways that we now take almost all of it for granted. How Do We Use Energy does not concern most people. Just about everything we do from morning to-night when we go to bed, involves using energy and in fact we use energy even when we are asleep. Most of this energy use is electrical usage.

Our ancestors used energy too but not at the same rate that today’s modern civilization does today. For example, our ancestors probably had a fire going to keep them warm. The fire burned wood to generate the heat. They used a very small amount of energy compared to us today.

We consume natural gas, oil or coal to heat our homes, we consume electricity to also heat our homes and run just about everything in it. All of the things we have in our home consumed energy when it was manufactured including electricity, oil, gas and raw materials. Our cars run on gasoline and it takes huge quantities of energy to make these cars. Even if we take mass transport to get to and from work we are consuming energy as well, although it is much more efficient.

How Do We Use Energy More Efficiently

We are never going to back to the caveman approach with regards to energy. The real question is how do we become more efficient and use less energy per person each day to conserve our raw materials and decrease the hit on our pocket book?

Using energy efficiently must become part of our every day life. Something we think about each time we consume energy and each time we waste it.  If all of us could reduce our consumption by at least 10%, there would be a huge impact on the environment, our cost to ourselves and a general improvement to our overall lifestyle.

Ten percent is not a huge objective and for most people could be easy to achieve. We are going to list a number of things that all of us can do to conserve energy. If you are already doing some of these great, there is always more you can save. If your are just getting started, you will see that it is easy to achieve 10% savings. And it will hit you right in the pocket book, with reduced cost to you and your family. If we missed some, leave us a comment and we will be happy to include your item on the list.

Here is our list:

  • Turn off the lights as we leave the room
  • Turn off  all electronics when not in use e.g. TV’s, radios, computers
  • Turn off the power bars to fully shut down all electronics
  • Set your temperature lower if your heating your home
  • Set your temperature higher if your cooling your home
  • Use the microwave to heat or cook your food
  • Turn the oven off as soon you remove the food from it
  • Turn up the temperature on the fridge by 1 degree
  • Use a manual mower to cut your lawn instead of gas or electric
  • Run pool pumps for a few hours each day instead of all day
  • Run SPA pumps for a few hours each day instead of all day
  • Use a solar blanket to heat your pool instead of a gas or electric heater
  • Walk to work
  • Use mass transit
  • Use a more efficient vehicle
  • Avoid jack rabbit driving – fast starts and stops
  • Keep your car properly tuned
  • Keep your tires properly inflated
  • Bike or walk  to the corner store
  • Avoid sitting in coffee lines with your car idling
  • Plan your car trips to do all errands at the same time
  • Convert all lights from incandescent to fluorescent or LED
  • Upgrade your furnace to a more efficient model
  • Install solar power systems
  • Recycle your bottles, paper, cans
  • Use the sun to dry your clothes
  • Run appliances such as dryers on non peak rate hours
  • Have a shower instead of a bath
  • Convert all faucets and showers to water efficient types
  • Convert all toilets to water efficient models
  • Increase the insulation in your home
  • Change your windows to a better insulated window
  • Install barrels at the down pipes from your eaves trough to reuse the water
  • Water your lawn in the evening to minimize evaporation

The list can go on and on. Send us your items and we will be happy to add to the list to help everyone conserve energy. Remember how we use energy contributes to our overall cost to ourselves as well as the environment.

For more posts about energy use and how to reduce the energy you use, click here.



How I Reduced My Electricity Use

How I Reduced My Electricity UseLast year for the month of July I really did not pay attention to how much electricity we were using. I received a big shock when I received the final bill for the year which is at the end of July. During the previous year we used 88Kwh of power and my bill for the month of July alone was $388! I also had a final adjustment for the year  that required  me to pay an additional $605! We are on an equal billing plan and were not paying enough each month. My total bill for the year was $1881  to run the pool pump, the AC and the regular lights and the furnace fan etc. This post is about how I reduced my electricity use.

Need less to say I was shocked and upset, so from that time on I resolved to manage our electrical usage more carefully.  We are on the smart meter program so if we can avoid using power during the day we save 5 cents / kilowat / hour. If we do not use the power at all, we obviously save money too.

Well this year our final bill total for the year was $1467 compared to $1881 , a savings of $414! Our equal billing plan was raised because of the previous year so we paid more each month and now the hydro company owes us money! One last point, the rates we pay for power also went up as well, so our savings are even greater. Sometimes it takes a shock to get you focused on reducing the use of electricity. Hopefully this post will help you before it hits your wallet.

How I Reduced My Electricity Use

Here is a list of things that we did to reduce our electrical usage and make use of non peak rates which run from 7pm to 7am during the week and all weekend.

  • Run the clothes dryer at night after 7 pm
  • Turn the lights on after 7pm, although they really do not use much power
  • Convert to fluorescent lights and LED’s throughout your home
  • Run the dishwasher after 7pm
  • Run the pool pump for 4 hours at night, beginning at 7pm and off at 11pm
  • Run the pool pump from 7am  in the morning until 10am
  • Turned up the AC during the day and down at night for sleeping
  • Turned off the AC as much as possible
  • Set the furnace fan to auto instead of always on

What are the Big Power Users?

The big power users are things that have motors and heaters such as the dryer and the washing machine, the dish washer, the furnace, the air conditioner, the pool pump and the jacuzzi. There may be others, however these are the main culprits for high energy use. If you can avoid using them or shift their use  to between 7pm and 7am you are going to reduce your energy bill and your energy foot print.

Obviously turning lights off also helps, however once you convert to fluorescent lights or LED’s the savings will be less significant.  Running things such as multiple TV’s, multiple refrigerators and freezers also contribute to power usage. Turning of any and all of these devices or at least turning up the temperature a bit will always save energy can cut down on your electrical costs.

Keeping Our Old Chest Freezer

We have an old chest freezer for example which we only use at Christmas time. We have more food in the house and there are more things that we need to freeze so we plug it in and use if for a month or two. It is obviously an energy hog, however the cost to buy a new more efficient freezer is far more expensive than the money we would have by getting rid of it. So we will continue to run our 35 year old freezer until it does not work any longer. We only use the freezer for 1 to 2 months of the year so it makes sense for us.

How Much Money Will We Save this Year on Electrical Charges?

The rates have gone up again so if we run everything exactly the same as last year we are likely going to pay more in electrical costs. The next best thing would be to generate our own power which I would like to look into as a means of reducing our electrical costs this year and in future years.

We saved over $400 last year compared to the previous year. We are unlikely to get the same thing this year, however even if we break even, it will demonstrate a reduction since rates have increased. Why not try this out and see how much you can save.


Hardwood Floor Refinishing Denver

Hardwood Floor RefinishingHardwood floors have been installed in homes all over the world for thousands of years. The finish on hardwood floors has changed and improved a great deal in the last 20 years making them even more popular and increasing the number of homes that have installed hardwood floors. For the past 30 years there was a trend towards carpeted flooring, however now increasingly consumers are opting for hardwood flooring in new homes as well as part of renovation projects that are being undertaken. They prefer hardwood to carpet because of the nice clean finished look that hardwood provides and they last for many years if properly taken care of.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing

There are many types of hardwoods that are used and there are many finishes as well, however they can be grouped into three main categories:

  • Natural shellacs, lacquers and varnishes
  • Oiled floors
  • Polyurethane floors

More Detail About Floor Finishes

We will describe each of these floor finishes and then how to refinish each flooring type. Whether you are in Denver or some other city, hardwood floor refinishing projects can make your home much more beautiful and increase the overall look of an otherwise tired looking hardwood floor.

Natural shellacs, lacquers and varnishes – they were used in the past along with waxes and provide a protective coating on the flooring. In order to refinish a floor with this kind of finish on it, all of the existing finish must be removed and sanded smooth. Only then can you add a new finish onto the floor to protect.

Oiled floors – this is the most common type of flooring finishing agent. It is used throughout the world and also should not be confused with petroleum oils. Most are vegetable oils and are naturally drying on the flooring

Polyurethane floors – this finishing product became available after the 1940’s and is sold under various brand names as a urethane or a varnish. Again with an existing floor, you must sand off all of the current finish down to the bare wood and then re-coat the wood with the finish agent that you plan to use.

Most new homes that have installed hardwood floors will not need to refinish their floors for many years unless they are particularly hard on their floors. Maintaining them and keeping them clean will help to maintain the shine of the floors for a very long time. For example, never wear your shoes inside the home. shoes track in dirt and grit which over time will scratch your floors and dull the finish.

Vacuum often and damp mop to maintain your floors. Do not use soaps especially oil based soaps. Talk to your flooring company to find out the recommended cleaning products for your floor.

One of the huge advantages of a wood floor is that it does not accumulate dust and hidden grit or odors. It sits right on top of the floor and that is why you need to vacuum often to avoid tarnishing the finish.

Refinishing Your Hardwood Floor

Sand with the grain and never across the grain. Use and inline sander that does not orbit the sandpaper, other wise you will have tiny concentric circles throughout your floor. Sand all of the existing finish off the floor using progressively finer levels of sand paper until you a nice smooth finish. Once the floor is fully sanded, you can then apply the finish of choice to your floor. You will have a brand new floor that looks like it was just installed.

Most hardwood floors are of a standard thickness with lots of room for sanding off the old finish. In some situations such as an older floor which has been sanded many times, there will be less and less wood available for sanding before you wear completely through the hardwood floor. be careful to not take too much of the unfinished wood off the floor to avoid this problem. Otherwise you may have to replace the entire floor.

Refinishing a hardwood floor is a lot of work, but very rewarding as well. Take your time if you are doing it yourself and avoid those frustrating mistakes we all make when we are in a hurry. Otherwise hire a professional in the Denver area for hardwood floor refinishing work.


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