Archive for January, 2015

New Chevrolet Volt

GM announced at CES this year that they will be releasing a major upgrade to the Volt at the Detroit Auto Show. The CES announcement of the new Chevrolet Volt is just the first salvo in the effort to maximize advertising of their latest upgrades and improve sales. GM has not announced all of the changes that are coming with the new Chevrolet Volt. There are rumors of improved range, performance and other refinements. They hope will contribute to increased sales.

New Chevrolet Volt – Features

A new T shaped battery that weighs 30 pounds less and stores 20% more energy. A lower center of gravity to contribute to better stability. Two electric drive motors instead of one large one. Improved aerodynamic styling. A new 1.5 litre four cylinder engine to power the generator. The system should operate 12% more efficiently and weigh 100 pounds less than previous models. No news on improvements to the electric range of 40 miles. There is also an expectation of improved mileage from the current average of 37 mpg. They have a long way to go to catch up to the Toyota Prius which boasts over 50mpg combined.

New Chevrolet Volt – Time to Buy

We recently checked out the Toyota Prius. It turned out that not only could I not buy one, I could not even take one for a drive in our area. They are popular and sell out quickly. The Chevrolet Volt has still some maturing to do. They have only been on the market for 7 years compared to 15 years for the Prius in North America. With one or two more major updates, the Chevrolet Volt might just be the car that wins the day in terms of total sales.

With the combined electric drive, gas powered support and the ability to recharge the batters from the electrical grid, it offers flexibility that other electric cars including the Prius do not. Time will tell. let us know your comments.

Window and Door Screens

Window and Door ScreensIt is a cold day in January and you might wonder why we are writing about window and door screens at this time of year. Turns out this is one of the best times to arrange for new windows and door screens to be installed. If you need a window replaced, the window repair companies are offering great deals at this time of year. They do this to keep their business going during the slower months of the year. You can easily ask for a 10% or more discount. Ask for more discounts because they are hungry for business. Winter time is a slow time of the year for them. They want to keep their people working they are willing to negotiate discounts.

Some consumers are concerned about heat loss while the window is being replaced. Yes you do have some heat loss. However it can be minimized by closing the door to the room that is being worked on. In addition the window is only out of the window opening for 5 or 10 minutes before the new one is in place. The amount of heat you lose and the corresponding cost will be less than $5.00 worth. There is little to be concerned about.

Window and Door Screens

Whether it is new window and door screens, many consumers like to have screens on their windows. Particularly for the warm summer months. Open the windows, let the fresh air inĀ  and keep the bugs out. There are a variety of screens. Some are sliders like the one shown in the picture. While some fit over the window and stay in place when the window is opened. They can be removed to wash them, which should be considered once per year. Washing screens is pretty easy.

All you need to do is remove the screens, take then outside, brush them with soap and water. Then spray them with the garden hose to clean off all of the dirt and soap. Do it on the lawn so the water and soap nourish the lawn. Then just let them dry in the sun for an hour and reinstall them in your window frames. While they are drying you can wash the inside of the windows as well.

Your choice of window screen or door screen will pretty much be determined by the type of window you select. New screens come with new windows. If you are installing a new door, you may want to install a second door with a screen. In all cases make sure that the window screen or door can be locked to prevent access. Even though someone can easily break the screen, it prevents the opportunist from entering your home without actually having to break it. It also alerts you to a break in when they smash through the screen.

For more information about routine maintenance around your home, click here.



New Chevrolet Bolt electric car

General Motors has just released the new Chevrolet bolt electric car at the Detroit auto show. It is supposed to offer an impressive 200 mile range in a compact car on electric battery. This is a significant step forward for those people who need a city car for commuting. But have been reluctant due to the lower distance limitations of most other full electric cars. With a 200 mile range this is really a significant improvement. Commuters in cities and towns can now commute with confidence. They will be able to go to and from work without needing a charge for most commuters. They will need to recharge the batteries once per day over night.

Chevrolet Bolt electric car

It is a pure electric vehicle and at 200 mile range it is very competitive with the other players. It will be a companion car to the Chevrolet volt which is a combination gas-electric vehicle. Since it is a concept car, the vehicle range may improve even further as batter technology improves. There is an incredible amount of focus on developing better battery technology, generation capabilities and efficient power consumption.

The price of the Chevrolet bolt is claimed to be around $30,000 US. However it will be a few years before it hits dealer show rooms. There is no timeline as of yet from General Motors. Although General Motors has promised five new vehicles in 2015.

When gasoline prices were high, driven by high oil prices in the $100 range, there was a lot of motivation to get electric cars on the roads to control gas expense and pollution. With recent declines in oil prices to less than $50, many consumers will lose their interest in electric vehicles. The savings will not be as great and it will take longer for the electric vehicles to pay for themselves. There will have to be continued pressure on car manufacturers to improve gasoline driven cars and to also drive electric vehicles to a level that appeals to consumers.

Unfortunately from a pollution perspective, this recent decline in oil prices is not going to help those organizations meet their objectives and goals. It will be up to government to drive everyone to better more efficient cars etc.

Chevrolet Volt Outsells Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius has been around since the year 2000, while the first generation Chevrolet Volt has only been around since 2007. There are various categories of electric cars. Some you can plug in to charge, some that only run on electricity. There are cars that run on a combination of electric systems and gas powered engines.

The Chevrolet Volt is somewhere in between all of these and may just hit the right combination. You can plug it in to recharge the battery, you can drive up to 61 kilometers or just over 30 miles on battery alone, or over 300 miles with a combination battery and gas engine. But the gas engine does not drive the vehicle, rather it powers a generator which provides electricity to recharge the battery and run the electric motors. This combination provides independence as well as gas savings especially in stop and go traffic situations in the city.

Chevrolet Volt – Regenerative braking System

In addition, when you apply the brakes the regenerative system will also recharge the battery. Recharging can also be accomplished by the standard 110 volt system or a specialized 220 volt recharger in much shorter time. This is one area that the Toyota Prius cannot claim as a feature at the present time.

While the Chevrolet Volt outsells all other plugin cars, it has a ways to go yet to catch up to the Toyota Prius. GM is making major changes for their 2016 models. There are updates to the battery systems, distance that can be traveled along with other features. GM allowed reporters to look at the new model at CES. However they were short on details preferring to wait until the Detroit Auto show to really take advantage of the press associated with the show.

GM has sold 70,000 of these cars and results from consumers ranked the car number 12 in affordable small cars with an MSRP price of $34,345. The volt gets poor marks for a cramped rear seat area and a small cargo area. However it did well in terms of nimble handling, seamless transition from battery to gas power. What will the 2016 model bring? What are the rumors for the latest model upgrade for the Chevrolet Volt from GM? Will it finally overtake the Toyota Prius? Stay tuned for our next post!

Stain Removal from Fences & Decks

Stain Removal from FencesIt has been a few years since the stain on your deck was applied and now it is beginning to crack and chip away. In addition the sun as begun to change the color causing fading. You also may want to change the color as well to fit with your new lawn furniture and other decor. It is time to remove the old stain and apply new stain to improve the overall look of your home. This is an easy do it yourself project and does not require many tools. In fact many people will already have what is needed and if not the money you are saving by doing this work yourself will more than pay for the tools you need. For example a garden hose with a high pressure nozzle will do the trick, but you may want to use a pressure sprayer instead. A pressure sprayer can be used for all kinds of little jobs so why not purchase one with the money you are saving on this job! They also help with stain removal from fences as well.

Steps for Stain Removal from Fences & Decks

Here are the steps to follow and we will add a few comments at the end to emphasize some of the steps in more detail.

  • Move furniture away from the work area
  • Remove debris such as leaves and dirt
  • Remove all loose paint or stain
  • Protect any areas such as walls and shrubbery
  • Apply stain remover
  • Allow to soak for 5 to 45 minutes
  • Remove old stain by washing with a garden hose or pressure washer
  • Scrape any remaining loose stain
  • Re-apply stain remover and wash again if needed
  • Allow to dry for at least 24 hours
  • Sand exposed wood to remove any roughness, splinters etc
  • Apply new stain as needed.

If you decide to use a pressure washer, hold the end of the nozzle at least one foot away and adjust the sprayer to its widest setting to avoid gauging the wood and causing more damage. A pressure washer can do a lot of damage quickly so experiment on a test piece first if this is the first time you are using one.

Allow the deck to dry at least 24 hours after cleaning. You want the wood nice and dry prior to sanding. Sand all of the rough edges and the flooring to ensure that it is smooth and there is no chance of slivers for anyone walking across it on bare feet. Once you have competed this stop you are ready to apply the new stain. Ensure that you have dry weather for another 24 hours to allow the new stain to dry properly.



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