Archive for February, 2014

Yike Bike in Ottawa

Yike Bike in OttawaIn March 2013, we wrote a post about the new Yike bike, invented by an engineer in New Zealand.  You can read the full post by clicking on the following link, click here.  We came across another interesting article about this new and unique bike and wanted to post some of the comments that we read and listen to about this bike.

The cost was about $2400 Canadian and it the rider in the city of Ottawa Ontario Canada was turning lots of heads as people saw this bike for the first time.  It is so much different than any other vehicle on the road and many people were wondering what was, operated and what it was like to ride.

Yike Bike in Ottawa

The big question that was posted in this particular article was what kind of vehicle is this new bicycle classed as and would it be allowed to be driven on bicycle paths. The original writer of this latest article asked the question, but a bylaw officer whether this bike would be allowed on bicycle paths in the city of Ottawa.  The answer was quite surprising since this is obviously a two wheeled bicycle with power.

He reviewed all of the bylaws that the city of Ottawa has and came to the conclusion that this place a call is closer to a motorcycle than it is to an actual bicycle.    It is electrically driven, has brakes, lights, signal lights, and can fold up into the size of a small suitcase.  This vehicle was actually closer to a motorcycle that was to bicycle.  Motorcycles are not allowed to be driven on bike paths and therefore this new Yike bicycle would not be allowed on bicycle paths at the present time in the city of Ottawa Ontario Canada.

The city planners are going to have to enact new bylaws for this bike but it will take another year or two of review and assessment before they will get around to doing that. In the meantime this writer will continue to use his bike on the city’s roads, ordering all of the proper safety gear such as a bicycle helmet, and proper clothing.

The neat thing about this bike called the Yike bike is that it folds up into a small suitcase which can be carried in the trunk of your car carried into the office or even onto the train for commuting in another city.  Like all vehicles that do not have protection for the writer, riding in inclement weather may not be the most exciting.  We will keep watching for more posts about this particular invention they came from New Zealand.


Should I close vents in unused rooms

Should I close vents in unused roomsWith the cost of energy going up all of the time, many people are asking the same question. Should I close vents in unused rooms and try to reduce the amount of energy used to heat their homes?  Depending on the method of heating your home shutting off the heating system in a room or closing a vent in a room can decrease the amount of natural gas, heating oil, or electricity that is used through the winter, however there are several items to verify before you take this step.

The first is to make sure that there is nothing in the room that would suffer from not being heated. Any plants should be removed particularly if they are susceptible to the cold.  Some plants are quite sturdy and will go into a dormant state until it warms up again. They take less water as well so you will need to reduce the amount of water you give them.

Should I close vents in unused rooms – Water Pipes?

The other major reason that can be a problem when you shut off the heat is water pipes that could freeze as a result of not having a room heated. Water pipes to bathrooms etc are typically installed inside walls that are on the interior of the home. These pipes are kept warm by both rooms on either side being kept at a reasonable temperature well above freezing. Some water pipes are installed inside exterior walls and are kept from freezing by only the room that they are in. If this happens to be the room that you decide to turn the heat off i.e. close a heating vent or turn off the electrical heating system for that room, there is a real possibility that the pipes located in the exterior wall could freeze solid if the outside temperature goes below 32 degrees.

If the pipes are full of water and they freeze, the water expands as it turns to ice and cracks the pipe allowing water to leak out and damage the walls, floors and rooms below the leak. This can be a major expense in damage if the leak is not dealt with quickly. Some insurance companies will not cover these damages either in situations where the heat has been turned off and the water pipes have not been drained.

Bottom line if you are concerned that frozen water pipes could do a lot of damage in the winter when a room is not heated, do NOT turn the heating system off or close a vent. The damage in dollar terms can be extensive and it is just not worth taking the chance. Your potential savings will be wiped out.

During the summer time, this same room can be left alone and not cooled to save some energy. Closing vents and not cooling the room will not result in any damage. remove any plants which might suffer from higher temperatures.


Temperature sensitive concept tire

Temperature sensitive concept tireWould you purchase a Temperature sensitive concept tire? That has a white rubber sidewall strip that changes color when the temperature gets below 7°C or 44F? Apparently this is the point at which you should consider changing from all season tires or summer tires to winter tires. Some governments have even mandated this change to snow tires for safety reasons.

Canadian tire is partnering with the research and development organization ARTS to introduce a Temperature sensitive concept tire that tells you when it is time to install your snow tires. If the temperature goes below a specific value the walls of your tires will turn white to let you know it is time to install your winter snow tires on your car.

Temperature sensitive concept tire – How it Works

Apparently when it gets but below 7°C it is time to replace your summer tires with winter tires. This is the best time to be prepared for the coming winter season. Many people wait until the first snow fall which usually means it is much colder than 7 degrees. The rubber in your tires is not providing the traction you need for these conditions. In addition you now can avoid the winter rush to have snow tires installed.

As the temperature becomes lower, a tire with hard rubber provides less traction in snow conditions and cold wet conditions. Even though all season tires are designed for all seasons, a car driven with winter tires, which has softer rubber will provide much better traction in winter.

Temperature sensitive concept tire – Still in Research

This tire design is still in the concept stages with the research company and Canadian tire Corporation. Hopefully it will see the market and become part of the standard tire capability on most cars that are driven in cold conditions. Unfortunately, many people prefer not to have white walls on their tires and this may be the one marketing factor that will delay the introduction of this particular concept tire.

Canadian Tire is trying to shift the time that consumers install winter tires on their cars. Most wait until the first snow fall and then rush into the tire shop to make an appointment to have their tires changed. There are usually long wait times, frustrated customers and employees who work more hours than they want along with the overtime costs that must be paid.

In addition, it is already too cold for summer tires to be driven safely. Once it snows and the snow stays on the ground summer tires will not deliver the traction that is needed for winter driving conditions. If Canadian Tire is successful with this concept, not only will they contribute to safer driving for consumers which means fewer accidents overall, they will also even out the workload somewhat. Consumers with tires that change color will get the jump on other consumers and will not have to wait for hours until a mechanic can get to their car and change the tires for them. They can save time and money!


When will Electric Cars be Economic

When will Electric Cars be EconomicThere are two big negatives when it comes to purchasing electric vehicle today. When will electric cars be economic and what are the factors that are controlling the time for payback.  The first and foremost is the cost of the vehicle typically $10,000 more than the same size car in fact even the same model that is gasoline powered.

The other factor that troubles many consumers in addition to the increased cost, is the distance that you can drive an electric vehicle before needing the battery to be recharged. The other issue of course is once the battery is discharged how to charge it and where can you plug it in. These issues are being addressed by the industry through a number of initiatives. One is to decrease the cost of the lithium battery the price of electric vehicles and secondly to install plug-in charging stations on major highways across the country. This post will discuss the changes in prices for lithium batteries.

When will Electric Cars be Economic

Today’s gasoline powered car engine costs about $2000. An electric lithium battery will cost about $600 per kilowatt. A typical electric car will require a 20 kW battery making the cost of the battery about $12,000. This is $10,000 more than what the gasoline powered car engine costs and this is the main reason that electric vehicles are still very expensive compared to gasoline powered vehicles.

It is forecast ed that electric lithium batteries will drop in price from $600 per kilowatt down to approximately $300 per kilowatt in the next few years. This will save roughly six thousand dollars off the cost of an electric vehicle. And make it much more interesting to the consumer.

In the next 10 years by 2020, the expected cost of a lithium battery will drop from $300 per kilowatt down to approximately $100 per kilowatt making it compatible price wise with the $2000 car engine. We expect that by 2020 electric vehicles will be significantly higher sales than they are currently at this point in time due to the drop in cost for lithium batteries and also the fact that the cost of driving an electric vehicle is far cheaper per mile than a gasoline powered vehicle. In addition to enabling electric vehicles, the development and improvements to the lithium battery will have profound impacts on many other industries as well.


Can you shut off vents in unused rooms

Can you shut off vents in unused roomsCan you shut off vents in unused rooms. You can turn off the heat in unused rooms however there are some things that you should consider before taking this step. Turning off the heat can have consequences as well as saving you money in terms of your overall heating costs for the winter. In addition in the summertime you may want to turn off the central air-conditioning distribution to those same rooms to reduce the amount of energy used to cool your house.

No Water Pipes in the Wall

Make sure there are no water pipes in the walls in any room where you shut off the heat. In some cases the water pipes are encased inside the outside wall of your house. Turning off the heat in that room could cause those pipes to become cold and even freeze in cold weather.

Water pipes can easily freeze in the wintertime and if you turn the heat off these pipes can freeze causing water leaks. As water turns to ice inside pipes, the ice expands and will break those pipes causing water leaks once the ice thaws.

Your insurance may not be willing to pay for damages if you did not heat the room or turn the water off to those pipes and drain them.

Can you shut off vents in unused rooms and Turn off The Heat

If you do turn the heat off in a room with water pipes you may also want to turn off the water to those rooms and drain the pipes to prevent the pipes breaking if the water where to freeze in the water pipes. Draining individual water pipes in the home is almost impossible unless you could isolate those particular water pipes from all other sources.

Aside from worrying about freezing pipes, consumers can turn the heat off and close the door and not be concerned about the cooler room. They will save some energy costs in that they do not need to heat as much space as normal during the winter. And as we mentioned at the beginning of the post closing off the vents during the summer and not cooling the same room will also save energy by not having to cool that particular room.

If there’s any doubt that there might be water pipes inside the walls of the room that you’re thinking about turning the heat off and not heating that particular room then we suggest that you continue to heat the room during wintertime to avoid any possibility of any kind of accident. Water damage to a room in a home can amount to thousands of dollars in damage. Most people cannot afford this. If nothing else, leave the heat on in the room and just turn down the temperature in that particular room to reduce the cost of heating that particular area.  You also should confirm how much insulation is in the walls that are protecting the water pipes and also insulating your home. You may want to increase the level of insulation in the walls to  reduce your overall heating cost.


Tire Ratings

These are the tire rating codes that you will find on your tires. It is important that you match the right tires with the proper ratings to your vehicle. Check your instruction booklet for the proper tires for your car, truck or SUV ! Using the wrong tires can make your car unstable while driving causing loss of control.

Alternatively, your tire dealer can recommend the proper tires for your car based on speed ratings and manufacturer guidelines. If you chose tires that are not recommended for your car there is a chance of experiencing instability at higher speeds which could lead to an accident. Additionally you may not be able to stop as fast or properly in an extreme breaking situation. Stick with the right tires for your car.

Tire Ratings

  • L 75 mph 120 km/h Off-Road & Light Truck Tires
  • M 81 mph 130 km/h
  • N 87 mph 140km/h Temporary Spare Tires
  • P 93 mph 150 km/h Q 99 mph 160 km/h Studless & Studdable Winter Tires
  • R 106 mph 170 km/h H.D. Light Truck Tires
For higher speeds consider:
  • S 112 mph 180 km/h Family Sedans & Vans
  • T 118 mph 190 km/h Family Sedans & Vans
  • U 124 mph 200 km/h H 130 mph 210 km/h Sport Sedans & Coupes
And even higher speeds, consider:
  • V 149 mph 240 km/h Sport Sedans, Coupes & Sports Cars
  • W 168 mph 270 km/h Exotic Sports Cars
  • Y 186 mph 300 km/h Exotic Sports Cars

I have always wondered about these speed ratings for tires. Who is going to drive at 300 kilometers per hour or 187 miles per hour on North American roads? The roads are not built for these speeds and if you do drive anywhere close to this level, chances are a police car is going to be in hot pursuit. While they may not be able to catch you, they will lay down spike belts somewhere ahead and channel you towards them so that you ruin an extremely expensive set of tires, possibly your car and probably lose your license for a long time or worse end up in jail.

If you happen to be racing on a circuit then yes you need these tires rated for high speeds, but no the average consumer who drives everyday to work or to the corner store for a quart of milk.

Winter Tires

On another topic, consumers also should drive primarily with all season tires in most areas on their vehicles, unless you live in areas were there is a lot of snow, in which case you should plan to install winter tires on your car for the winter. In some jurisdictions, it is a law for residents to have winter tires on their cars during the winter to make it safer for everyone to drive.

The recent winter of 2013 and 2014 has shown what happens when snow and ice hit an area which is not prepared for snow and ice. Everything comes to a standstill and no one can move because they are driving around on bald summer tires, summer tires. If they had all season tires or winter tires, many of these people who are blaming the government for no salt on the roads would have been able to get around much better and would not have been complaining about being on the road for 8 or 10 hours stuck in traffic that could not move. None of the talking heads on the news programs that were reporting these events talked at all about anyone having winter tires on their cars or even anything about tires. You can rest assured that people in the south are not using winter tires no even all season tires on their cars.


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