Archive for April, 2014

How can we reduce energy consumption

reduce energy consumptionThere are many ways to reduce energy consumption which in turn reduces our overall cost and decreases the impact on our wallets. Some are very easy to implement. While others will take a bit of work. Some will mean changes in life styles. We will list a number of these in this post. Many people will be able to add others based on their lifestyle and their particular situation.

The real focus is to think of steps that consumers can take that reduces energy consumption without costing a great deal of money to make it happen. For example you may not want to spend a lot of money insulation your home when it will make little difference on the amount of energy you are using to heat your home. If you home is already well insulated then you may not save much by adding more insulation. On the other hand you may save a great deal if your home is not well insulated and a lot of heat is escaping through the walls and ceiling. Take these practical considerations into account before spending money to save money.

How can we reduce energy consumption

Reducing Energy Usage

  • Turn off the lights
  • Convert to fluorescent or LED lights
  • Turn down your thermostat in the winter
  • Turn up your thermostat in the summer
  • Add insulation to walls and attic
  • Increase your window insulation
  • Avoid peak time power usage when rates are charged at the highest levels
  • Shut off TV’s and other electronics when not in use
  • Unplug devices when not in use
  • Drive vehicles that use less gas and cost less to drive
  • Plan trips to combine errands
  • Use the microwave instead of the oven

These are just a sample of the types of things that consumers can do to conserve energy and reduce their overall cost to their wallets. Any money you can save this way will lead to other things that you can purchase or pay for including reducing loans and interest payments. As you reduce your costs and apply the savings to other areas such as loans and interest bearing debt, you will save even more money!

Yearly home maintenance

Yearly home maintenanceAs we travel around the country we see so many homes that are run down and have not been looked after. We also see a lot of homes that are in perfect condition. We wonder what the difference is between people who look after their homes and those that do not.

It does not take a lot of work to maintain your home. Especially if you do it yourself you can control the cost. DYI really keeps your expenses to minimum. Of course you can hire a contractor to maintain your home. These could include lawn care services, shrubbery and flowerbed services. Also basic repairs that are required from time to time. The driveway may need repairs and the house may need to be painted as well, especially around the windows to ensure that the wooden window frames are not exposed and begin to rot.

Yearly home Maintenance

Annual maintenance of a home should include basic outdoor activities as well as indoor activities. You want to make sure that all of the windows are secure, painted and not deteriorating. Also check to make sure that your roof is in good shape and not allowing any water to penetrate. You may also want to check that rodents cannot get in to your attic through the roof. They can cause considerable damage leaving a mess as well and even a strong odor.

Anytime you see any water leaks, it should be repaired immediately to avoid further water damage. Taps that are Dripping, Water underneath Your Sink, and Showers That Are Leaking into the Room or in the Floor below Should Also Be Repaired Immediately. Water damage can be extensive and the mold that usually follows water damage can be detrimental to your health as well. Deal with water leaks promptly to avoid these issues. Better yet repair your roof and windows before water leaks get started.

Water Damage Can Also Leave or Cause Mold to Appear causing health issues for people living in the home. Deal with these issues quickly so that they do not get worse and create thousands of dollars of expensive repairs that will need to be done.

Yearly home Maintenance – Furnace

Your furnace falls into a special category. You may not even realize that there is anything wrong with your furnace until it suddenly stops working.  Worse, if it is producing carbon monoxide, it can kill you and your family. We suggest that you have your furnace checked properly once per year and have any repairs made to it promptly to avoid any  problems that might occur.

While no one wants to have their furnace red flagged, i.e. meaning it must be shut down and repaired before it can be used, this is far better than having it spewing carbon monoxide into your home and possibly killing you and your family. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and cannot be detected without a special monitor. Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home to ensure that you are also protected in this manner as well.

You may also want to have your water heater checked if it is also running on gas or some other kind of fuel other than electricity.


How inefficient is solar energy

How inefficient is solar energyMany people wonder how inefficient is solar energy. However we wanted to take a more positive approach. We wanted to assess how efficient solar energy is compared to some of the other technologies for generating energy. But first some information about the efficiency of solar panels which can be very enlightening.

It turns out that solar panels have a large range. They can range from a theoretical maximum of 55% efficient all the way down to 25% efficient. There are a lot of factors that go into determining how efficient and solar panel installation actually is. We will discuss some of the factors that go into determining some of the real issues.

How inefficient is solar energy

With sunlight shining directly on a solar panel at a 90 degree angle to the surface, the efficiency is going to be a maximum of 55%. This is due to the inherent capabilities of a solar panel. Next the angle that the sun strikes the panel is going to further determine the efficiency. It will change during the day. If the panel is not tracking the sun then the efficiency is going to drop as the sun moves off the 90 degree angle. In addition even with tracking, as the sun sets, there is more air and pollutants for the suns rays to pass through. This drops the efficiency further.

Next it depends on whether you have a sunny day or a cloudy day. On cloudy days or days with snow or rain the efficiency is really going to drop off drastically. Perhaps even below the 25% level on a particularly dark day during the winter. Don’t forget that in the winter in the northern climates there are less hours for the solar panels to generate electricity. Over all the average efficiency can drop to 25% or even lower. It really depends on the time of the year, the time of the day and the type of weather that is being experienced.

Other Types of Electrical Power Generation

It turns out that electrical generation by coal, gas, nuclear or wind plants are also around the 30% to 40% range based on current technologies. The major difference between solar power and some of the others is that all of these power generation techniques are using non-renewable energy sources while solar power is generating power from renewable resources such as sunlight.

Electricity generated by water flowing through turbines is probably the most efficient power generation of all and it is using renewable resources. Efficiencies approaching 90% are possible and far surpass all of the other types of electrical power generation solutions.  Some countries are fortunate to have lots of water and lots of potential water power driven generation solutions. They do not need to rely on other fuels and minimizes the use of non renewable resources.

We know that the coal and natural gas solutions are pretty much mature technologies, while solar and wind technologies are just getting started so their efficiency will no doubt improve over time.

General home maintenance

General home maintenanceAnyone who owns a home knows that they really need to spend time on general home maintenance almost every month of the year. Consequently your home is one of your largest assets and at sometime you may want to sell it. Any buyer is looking for a well maintained home that does not need major repairs. The best way to avoid major repairs regardless of how long you plan to live in your home is to keep up with general home maintenance. Always nake sure that repairs are completed quickly to avoid further damage. Even if you have to pay someone to do the work for you, it is definitely worth it to maintain your home. Your home will decline in value if you need to sell it.

Also savvy home buyers are going with home inspections and they are going to pick up on all of the little things as well as the major items that you may have ignored. If you want full price for your home keep up with maintenance.

What General Home Maintenance Is Needed

The following is a general list of maintenance steps that all homeowners should consider. Your home may have specific items that are needed and you may want to add this to this list.

  • Check, caulk and paint all windows
  • Paint your garage door
  • Tighten all bolts on your garage door
  • Ensure that water drainage is guiding water away from your home to avoid leaks
  • Empty all eaves troughs of leaves and debris in spring and fall
  • Maintain your lawn and shrubs
  • Ensure your fence if you have one is will maintained
  • Seal your driveway if it is asphalt
  • Repair and seal your interlock driveway
  • Repair all leaking taps in sinks
  • Check your roof on a regular basis
  • Paint and update rooms in your home to keep it looking fresh
  • Clean all floors and complete repairs especially for hardwood floors

While this is not a complete list, it does cover all of the major items that most home owners need to be aware of. Also you may want to do an inspection if you have not been maintaining your home properly to determine what is required immediately to avoid any damage. Your roof and windows are good examples of something that should be checked. If there are leaks of any kind, water damage can cause a great deal of damage and add mold to your home which can be harmful to anyone sensitive to mold.

Walls can be damaged, floors can be damaged by water leaks from the window leaks. In addition your home is not going to look great if your windows are not painted and looking great.



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