Thursday, October 29, 2009

Save energy, save money

Whenever I see Consumer Reports, I think of Dad. It was his monthly Bible, and he read it cover to cover. While trying to find a water heater to replace one that is fast fading, I came across these very useful hints. Although most of us probably do a lot of them, I know that I'm negligent of a ignoring few here. Fall is a good time to turn attention to saving energy, especially if you live in inhospitable climates such as Minnesota, or Southern California.
25 simple ways to save
1. Clean the coils behind or underneath your refrigerator with a tapered appliance brush to keep it running efciently. 2. Skip prerinsing dishes. Our tests have found that it’s unnecessary, and you’ll save up to 6,500 gallons of water per year. 3. Opt for the cold-water wash cycle and save about $60 a year. 4. Put your PC to sleep. Save $75 or more by using the system standby or hibernating feature. 5. Plug electronics into a power strip so that you can turn them all of at once. 6. Don’t overload the dryer. Clothes will take longer to dry, and they’ll come out wrinkled. When the weather is warm, line dry. 7. Open blinds and shades on cold days. Solar heat gain can raise interior temperature signifcantly. But close them at night to minimize heat loss. 8. Dust off the slow cooker. You’ll use a lot less energy than cooking a meal across several burners and in the oven. 9. Keep car tires properly inflated. In our tests of a Toyota Camry, fuel efciency dropped 1.3 mpg when the tires were defated by 10 psi. 10. See whether your utility company ofers rebates to customers who replace old appliances with energy-efcient models. Some states hold periodic “tax holidays” for purchases of energy-efcient appliances. 11. Lower the temperature a degree or two before guests arrive. A house full of people generates a lot of body heat. 12. Clean or replace furnace filters monthly during the heating season. Clogged flters force the blower to work longer, raising your electric bills. 13. String LED lights this holiday season. They last longer. Our tests have shown that they can save up to $11 per season. 14. Insulate and seal cracks and gaps in your ducts. That can help reduce energy costs by 30 percent. 15. Lower water-heater temperature to 120 degrees from 130 and insulate hot-water pipes to knock up to 5 percent of your energy bills. 16. Weather-strip old windows and doors. It’s the surest way to close the gaps around openings, reducing heating and cooling costs by 15 to 30 percent. 17. Control outdoor lights with sensors or timers so that fixtures stay of during the day. 18. Install a high-efciency showerhead. It will reduce hot water use by up to 50 percent. 19. Upgrade to a low-fow toilet and save 4,000 gallons per year. 20. Drain a bucket’s worth of water from your water heater a few times a year to remove sediment, which can decrease efciency. 21. Move the thermostat to an inside wall away from windows and doors so that drafts don’t cause the heating system to cycle on unnecessarily. 22. Add insulation. An estimated 80 percent of older homes are underinsulated. Properly insulating and sealing your home can cut your heating and cooling bills by 10 percent. 23. Plant a deciduous shade tree on the west and southwest sides of a house to save energy. 24. Zone heat smartly. A portable heater in a room saves money only if you’re willing to keep the rest of the house chilly. Wood-burning freplaces can suck more heat from your home than they put back in. 25. Call a professional energy auditor. They use a blower door or infrared photography to pinpoint where your home is leaking energy. Some utilities provide free audits; you can also fnd certifed professionals in your area through

Consumer Reports; Oct 2008, Vol. 73 Issue 10, p20-23

Friday, October 23, 2009

Norwalk skyline

This is your chance to have your photography immortalized in Wikipedia. The entry for Norwalk needs an image of the its "skyline," such as it is. It has to be a picture you took yourself, or have clear copyright to. I think the Norwalk Square sign would make a most excellent image. Someone out there must have a photo of it you took yourself. (Is it still there?) If you do have one, you have to fill out a form and submit it with your Wikipedia account, which is very easy to create. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, send me the image and I will post it if you swear on a Bible it is your picture.

I keep an eye on a number of Wikipedia pages so I can add information and protect them from vandals. Among the pages I'm watching are ones for Norwalk, Richmond, Chesterfield, Uniontown, New Salem, Bon Air, VCU, and accordions. It is easy enough to watch a page for changes if you have an account, and is kind of fun if you aren't obsessive.

(If you are curious why I am watching the page for accordions, go take a look at the images and you will see readily enough. It is an image that just appeared one day -- no family member or friend is the culprit. I watch the page to make sure it never goes away. If it does, I can restore it in one click.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crumby picture

I am only Duke Dipping this because I like the picture. You can come too, if you like though.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Waking Casimir

After a long hiatus, I've begun digging into genealogy again. For several reasons, I've had to migrate Casimir's Dream to a new server, hosted by Blogger. Everything isn't done yet, so there are still a lot of missing images and broken links.

As I was working, I came across the song written by Marc for my birthday several years ago. Since I didn't have an easy way to post the mp3, I decided to throw some photos on top of it and create a YouTube video. It really is a lovely song and worth your listen.

I don't have much new content for Casimir's Dream yet, but I'm working on some things, some of which I hope will excite you. Stay tuned.
I want a Dream Lover
so I don't have to dream alone

Please don't make me dream alone
I beg you don't make me dream alone
No, I don't wanna dream alone

Friday, October 2, 2009

Google Photos Blog: Announcing Picasa 3.5, now with name tags, better geotagging and more

I've been playing with the new Picasa 3.5. There are a number of nice features in this edition. The one I like most so far is face identification. The Web version has had it for a while, but the disk application is much slicker. It is also very addictive, as Darien will attest. I've spent hours going through my library, tagging faces. The software does some automatic matching, which can be uncanny in its accuracy, when it is not being funny in its inaccuracy. Evidently Gabriel really does take after Darien.

One unexpected use I will be making of Picasa is help in working with genealogy photos. I can now easily match names to faces, especially in a photo with a number of people. You can see some samples in one of my Picasa Web folders.

Genealogy: Duke

This also points out that you can synchronize your computer and your Web albums, so the work you do in the one can be carried over to the other.

The other big feature in this version is enhancements made to geotagging. I haven't used it much yet, but it promises to make geotagging much faster, since you don' have to open Google Earth to use it. You can read more about these and other featurs on the Google Photos Blog. Now go play.
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