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Energy Savings

What light bulb should I buy?

It can be very confusing these days when you go to the hardware store to buy a light bulb.  It used to be you just chose the wattage bulb you needed and put it in the fixture.  I hope the information below helps you find the best bulb for your application.

Read below to understand how each light bulb produces light and check out the table I created below to compare one bulb to the other.

How is the light produced?

 

 

 

Incandescent
An electric current passes through a tungsten filament, heating it to a temperature that produces light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halogen
It is an advanced form of incandescent light. However, the tungsten filament is encased in a quartz envelop which is filled with a halogen gas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CFL (Compact Fluorescent)
An electric current is driven through a tube containing argon and a small amount of mercury vapor. This generates invisible ultraviolet light that excites a fluorescent coating (called phosphor) on the inside of the tube, which then emits visible light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LED (Light Emitting Diode)
An electrical current passes through a microchip, which illuminates the tiny light sources we call LEDs and the result is visible light.

 

 

 

Light Bulb Comparison Chart

*  Did you know that the original Easy Bake Oven used a 100 Watt incandescent bulb to produce the heat required to bake?

 

Free Home Energy Efficiency Workshop

When: Wednesday, February 8, 7-8:30 p.m.
Where: Englewood Civic Center Community Room;
                1000 Englewood Parkway, Englewood 80110

RSVP by Monday, February 6 to Tim Aston at 303-738-7907 or tim.aston@colostate.edu.

LINK TO FLYER

This time of year, the days are getting shorter and the temps are dropping, meaning that you could be wasting a lot of energy and money on inefficient lighting and heating in your home.

Join the cities of Littleton and Englewood, Colorado State University Extension, and Xcel Energy on Wednesday, February 8 for a free interactive workshop focused on making energy efficiency decisions and improvements in your home. Attendees receive a free LED bulb!

You will learn:

  • Tips and strategies to save energy and money at home;
  • How to take advantage of free energy advising and financial resources to see your projects through;
  • How to save up to money on energy efficiency measures through an Xcel Energy Home Energy Squad® visit.

Xcel Energy Home Energy Squad® Demonstration

A technician will walk through what a typical visit from the Home Energy Squad® is like and will be on hand to answer questions about your home. Workshop participants will be entered into a raffle for a free Home Energy Squad® visit.

The cities of Littleton and Englewood, CSU Extension, and Xcel Energy are pleased to work together to achieve our community energy goals.

5 Simple ways to seal drafts in your home

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Time to look for ways to make your home a little more comfortable by sealing up drafts around windows, doors and some other places that may not immediately come to mind.  
Here are 5 simple and relatively inexpensive ways to seal up those drafts now that winter is here:

Seal all of the electrical cover plates on your exterior walls. For less than $5 you can buy foam insulating pads that fit under the cover plates and seal off any drafts coming through the wall cavities.  

Check your fireplace damper and doors.  The fireplace should be completely sealed off when not in use or it can steal a lot of heat from your home.  This draft stopper costs about $50. Be careful and wait for the fireplace to cool off before you install it, but  you will be amazed at how much warmer you room will be with the fireplace sealed off.  Of course you can use insulation or some other material to seal it off but you may find it is not  easy to remove when you are ready to use the fireplace again.   A link to buy on-line  

Caulk around windows and trim.  A tube of caulk is less than $3 and with a good caulk gun and 1 or 2 tubes you should be able to get all your windows caulked.  Check for leaks around the window trim, too,  not just around the windows.  

Stop drafts under door with a door draft stopper.  You can buy one for about $15 and if you’re at all crafty make yourself a cute one like the little dog in the picture.  You can put these on window sills, too. A link to buy on-line here  

Insulate and seal attic access panels.  You can glue a piece of solid insulation foam board to the back and seal around the edges with removable sealant.  Just peel it away when you need to access the attic. A link to buy on-line

 
If you live in the Metro Denver area and would like more information on how to make your home more energy efficient and learn how to do it all yourself check out my weatherization class (it works to keep your home cool in the summer, too!)  You can visit my website at www.workshopforwomen.com  for a complete list of my home improvement classes for women.

Warm Window Shades – Fabricating

This is a short summary of my adventure in making insulated window shades for my home.  I won’t go into a lot of the details that can be found at various websites but I will include a list of links, to which you can refer, at the end of the post.

Choosing the type of shade – There are several types of shades that you can make from a simple square or rectangular cover that is attached to the wall using Velcro to a more traditional side draw shade which requires purchasing special hardware.  I chose something in between, a simple Roman type shade that would be mounted on the outside of the window frame. I wanted something that was easy to open and close  but didn’t require me to remove the vinyl shades already installed.

I ultimately made and installed 4 shades of different dimensions.  Here is a list of what I did right and what I would do differently next time.



Planning
Did it right – I measured, figured and measured again before I bought a single piece of material.

Do Differently –  I did all the planning about 2 weeks before I went to the fabric store.  I should have reviewed my notes before I went but fortunately the woman helping me at Denver Fabrics, saved me from making a big mistake and wasting money.  The warm window fabric is quite expensive so you don’t want to buy more than you need.

Cover Fabric
Did it right – Found a cover fabric I liked and chose a light weight cotton that was easy to work with.

Do Differently – All my future shades will be solid colors or patterns that repeat often enough to make piecing together easier.  I had to  piece together fabric for 2 of the windows and had to by 2 more yards to make it work.

Sewing vs Non-Sewing
Did it right – Decided not to use my sewing machine and instead used ‘steam-a-seam” for all of the connections and hems.
Did it right – Hand stitched the cord rings.
 

Do Differently – Sew on the Velcro rather than using the self adhesive kind.  I have several edges that are not sticking and I can’t just remove the blind without re-string the cord to fix the problem.  If you use the self adhesive Velcro at least hand stitch it to the fabric and staple it to the support especially on the edges.
 

Fabricating the shades

Did it right

  • Set up a large table right in the room where the shades would be installed to do the work.
  • Double checked my measurements as I was working.
  • Used a framing square to make my warm window fabric cuts and place my cord rings
  • Took the time and spent the extra money to allow me to piece the cover fabric together correctly
  • Scotch guarded the cover fabric to make on-going cleaning easier.


Do Differently

  • Make my shades at least 2 inches wider on each side rather than the 1 inch I used.  2 inches would have left room for inconsistencies in the window dimensions and installation issues.
  • Where possible plan ahead to use full widths of the cover fabric rather than worrying about the exact length of the blind.  It would not be noticeable in my room if one blind was hung at a different height above the window than the others.
  • Spray the scotch guard on the blinds before you install them  I learned this after the first one.

Links:
www.warmcompany.com
www.solar-components.com/quilts.htm 

Do It Yourself Energy Audit

You can easily conduct a home energy audit yourself. With a simple thorough walk-through, you can spot many problems in any type of house. When auditing your home, keep a checklist of areas you have inspected and problems found. This will help you prioritize your task list.

I. Identify Potential Air Leaks

The potential energy savings draft reduction may range from 5% to 30% per year, and the home is generally much more comfortable afterward.

Make a list of common indoor and outdoor air leak locations some examples are: Windows and doors, baseboards, electrical outlets and switch plates, fireplaces, attic access panels, wall or window mounted A/C units or evaporative (swamp) coolers, outdoor faucets (hose bibs), penetrations through exterior walls such as: electrical, plumbing, phone and cable lines, dryer vents, etc.

II. Locate Air Leaks

Simple

Using a stick of burning incense or the dampened back of your hand check each of the locations you noted on your list. Cold air will make the smoke from the incense waver or you will be able to feel the cold air on the back of your hand.

Alternative

If you’re having trouble finding leaks you can do a simple ‘pressurization’ test by using the following steps.

1. Close all exterior doors, windows, and fireplace flues.

2. Turn OFF all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters, gas fireplaces, etc. (Remember to turn them back on when you are done with the test.)

3. Turn on all exhaust fans (generally located in the kitchen and bathrooms) or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms. This increases infiltration through cracks and leaks, making them easier to detect.

4. Use a burning incense stick or your damp hand to locate these leaks. Moving air causes the smoke to waver, and you will feel a draft when it cools your hand.

High Tech

If you want a high tech way to check for leaks check out this Thermal Leak Detector from Black and Decker (http://www.blackanddecker.com/ProductGuide/Product-Details.aspx?ProductID=20626) available at Ace Hardware Alameda Station

Ace Hardware – Alameda Station

417 South Broadway

Denver, Colorado 80209-1517 USA

Phone: (303) 733-3200

Hours of operation:

Monday through Saturday 8:00am to 8:00pm

Sunday 9:00am to 6:00pm

III. Locate Other Air Leaks

Windows and Doors – If doors or windows rattle or are loose in their frames you can expect air leakage. If you can see daylight around door and window frames, then the door or window leaks.

Out side – On the outside of your house, inspect all areas where two different building materials meet. For example: inspect all exterior corners; where siding and chimneys meet; and areas where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet.

A future post will discuss various methods for sealing different types of leaks.

Fireplace Safety Tips

One of the best things about winter and cold weather may be snuggling up in front of a warm fireplace. Proper maintenance and safety practices are essential to prevent a tragedy, please be careful this winter.

Wood Burning Fireplaces

  • Before you use your fireplace each season take the time to visually inspect the fireplace. Using a strong flashlight look into your chimney to check for cracks, obstructions (such as bird’s nests and debris) and creosote buildup. Creosote is created during the burning of wood, it starts out as a liquid and condenses on the inner walls of the chimney or flue, as it dries it hardens. Failing to remove creosote can cause chimney fires. Contact a professional chimney sweep to have your chimney serviced and cleaned if you see any potential problems.
  • Use dry wood. It is best to split wood and let it dry for a year before you use it. Dried wood creates less smoke and burns more evenly. If you’ve ever built a campfire with wet wood and had the smoke burn your eyes, this suggestion will make sense.
  • Never use painted or pressure-treated wood or particle board. These woods are treated with chemicals which could be released into the air.
  • Place a screen in front of the fireplace to stop sparks from entering the room.
  • Make sure the damper is open before staring the fire and keep it open.
  • A fireplace requires a large amount of fresh air to burn properly. If there is not enough fresh air it could create a reverse draft which could draw carbon monoxide fumes from furnaces or other gas fired appliance such as water heaters into the house.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep a fire extinguisher handy.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Be sure no embers are still burning when disposing of ashes. Put the ashes in a fireproof (metal) container with a lid and store them on a non-combustible (concrete) floor away from anything that might catch on fire.

For more detailed information about fire safety visit the US Fire Administration Website.
http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/citizens/all_citizens/home_fire_prev/heating/fireplace.shtm


Gas Fireplaces

  • There is no reason you should smell gas. If you do, immediately shut off the gas valve leading to the fireplace and have your fireplace serviced.
  • Know where the gas shut off valve is located and verify that it works.
  • Annual servicing of a gas fireplace is recommended especially for units 5 years or older. Be sure that servicing includes a gas leak and carbon monoxide test.
  • Any discoloration around walls or mantels of the unit indicates a safety problem.
  • Any discoloration of glass indicates a problem.
  • Never operate a sealed unit without the glass securely in place
  • If your pilot continually goes out, there is a reason! Have it serviced.
  • Always check the manufacturer’s manual for specifics about log placement, secondary air, and termination.
  • Never make alterations to the burner tube, pan or firebox without direct permission from the manufacturer.
  • Never turn up gas pressure to get a better flame.
  • Never replace your gas fireplace logs without first calling the manufacturer.

Cleaning & Money Saving Tips for Summer

Here are some simple things you can do yourself to get ready for summer entertaining and also save a little money along the way.

1. Install a programmable thermostat
According to Energy Star the average household can save $180 each year in energy costs by installing a programmable thermostat and setting it to 70 degrees for 6 hours a day and 62 degrees for the remainder. Programmable thermostat prices range from $25 -$100 dollars http://www.energystar.gov/

2. Install motion sensor switches.
Do you keep your porch light on for safety reasons? What if the kids leave the basement light on for days at a time? In Denver a light bulb costs about 7 cents a day to stay lit, it may not seem like much but it can add up quickly. Buy a simple conversion switch that will fit in any light socket for as little as $10

3. Turn down the temperature on your water heater
According to the US Department of Energy you can save from 3 – 5% on your energy bill by simply turning the temperature on your water heater down to 120 degrees and it costs you NOTHING! http://www.energysavers.gov/

4. Clean your outdoor furniture
Whether you’re getting your outdoor furniture out of storage or you’ve left it out all winter it probably needs a good cleaning. I recommend you use a product specifically designed for outdoor furniture. I like the CLR brand of outdoor furniture cleaner (http://www.jelmar.com/CLRoutdoor.htm). It can be used on everything from wood, to vinyl, to rattan and wrought iron. It can also be used to clean your cushions and covers. It also has UV protectants which will protect your furniture from the fading and discoloration caused by the sun.

5. Organize your garage
If you’re spending more time looking for things in your garage than you are using them it’s probably time to get organize. Before you dive in go through all your items and sort them by category. Some suggestions are: Auto Care, Painting, Lawn & Garden, Sporting Equipment & Tools (plumbing, electrical, etc.). Once you have everything in a category put small items in a clear storage tote and label. When storing your items be sure you store all the items in a category together. Be sure items you need to access frequently are easy to get to. You’ll be ready to go for your next project. Take all the items you no longer need and donate them to your local Habitat for Humanity Home Improvement Outlet. http://www.habitatoutlet.org/

6. Fix those leaky faucets.
A faucet that is leaking just 5 drops every 30 seconds wastes 300 gallons of water a year. Currently a gallon of water in Denver costs $1.91 that’s $573 a year or $47.75 a month! A complete faucet repair kit at Ace Hardware is under $15.00.

7. Replace the caulk around your tubs and showers
The caulk around your tub and shower prevents water from leaking and damaging the walls and floors. Often you won’t become aware of a problem until the damage is extensive. A decent caulk gun and tube of caulk will cost you less the $20 but a call to a plumber to figure out the problem and a handywoman to repair the damage can easily add up to $200 or more.
Learn to do all this yourself!

Learn to repair your faucet in our upcoming Plumbing 101 class, offered Tuesday June 16th from 9 am – Noon and again on Wednesday June 17th from 6 pm – 9 pm. Learn how to install a motion detector switch in our Electrical Basics class, offered 2 Tuesdays June 9th & 23rd from 9 am – Noon and again on 2 Wednesdays, June 10th & 24th from 6 pm – 9 pm.

Workshop for Women, LLC, Workshop for Women offers fun hands-on classes in basic home improvement skills especially designed for women. If you’d like register for a class or more about our other classes give Judy a call at, 303-284-6354 or visit our website http://www.workshopforwomen.com/.

Evaporative (Swamp) Cooler Rebates from Xcel

This post was copied directly from the Xcel Energy Website

Evaporative Cooling

With up to $500 cash back, Evaporative Cooling Rebates from Xcel Energy help make purchasing a high-efficiency evaporative cooler (a.k.a. swamp cooler) more affordable! You’ll increase your home’s energy efficiency and stay cool and comfortable all summer long.

Rebates available

Option 1
ISR Air FlowRating = 2,500 CFM
Rebate Up to $200*
* Purchase and install a qualified Evaporative Cooling unit from our $200 rebate list with a minimum airflow of 2,500 CFM to receive a rebate of $200 or the purchase price of the evaporative cooling unit, whichever is less.

Option 2
Media Saturation Effectiveness > 85%
Rebate $500**
**Purchase and install a qualified Evaporative Cooling unit from our $500 rebate list with a media saturation effectiveness of 85% or higher, with remote thermostat control and periodic purge water control to receive a rebate of $500.
List of qualifying Evaporative Cooling units.

Program Requirements
Purchase a qualifying unit from a participating evaporative cooling retailer between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009***. We will only rebate according to the current approved list. Please be sure to check our qualifying unit lists prior to submitting your rebate to ensure your Evaporative Cooling rebate eligibility.

You may download an application or call 1-800-895-4999 to request rebate form #1524. Either way, please be sure to keep a copy for your records. Limit one rebate per household. You must purchase and install your evaporative cooling unit prior to submitting the rebate application. Look for your rebate check approximately six to eight weeks after we receive your completed application.

*** Customers are not required to purchase a qualifying unit from a participating evaporative cooling retailer or dealer to be eligible for a rebate. However, participating dealers are familiar with program requirements and typically have rebate applications available.
Please note: Rebates are not offered for ancillary equipment such as hoses, drain pans, etc. Xcel Energy reserves the right to end this program or withdraw this rebate offer at any time.
Questions?
Call our Customer Contact Center at 1-800-895-4999

Spend $100 and Save $1000

5 Simple Money Saving Tips


Here are 5 simple things you can do yourself that can save you $1000 a year. That’s the best return on investment any of us will see this year, don’t you think?

1. Fix those leaky faucets. Spend $15—-Save $600

A faucet that is leaking just 5 drops every 30 seconds wastes 300 gallons of water a year. Currently a gallon of water in Denver costs $1.91 that’s $573 a year or $47.75 a month! A complete faucet repair kit at Ace Hardware is under $15.00.

2. Install a programmable thermostat – Spend $50—- Save $180

According to Energy Star the average household can save $180 each year in energy costs by installing a programmable thermostat and setting it to 70 degrees for 6 hours a day and 62 degrees for the remainder. Programmable thermostat prices range from $25 -$100 dollars www.energystar.gov

3. Install motion sensor switches. Spend $10—- Save $26

Do you keep your porch light on for safety reasons? What if the kids leave the basement light on for days at a time? In Denver a light bulb costs about 7 cents a day to stay lit, it may not seem like much but it can add up quickly. Buy a simple conversion switch that will fit in any light socket for as little as $10

4. Turn down the temperature on your water heater Spend $0—- Save $40

According to the US Department of Energy you can save from 3 – 5% on your energy bill by simply turning the temperature on your water heater down to 120 degrees and it costs you NOTHING! www.energysavers.gov

5. Replace the caulk around your tubs and showers Spend $20—- Save $200 or more!

The caulk around your tub and shower prevents water from leaking and damaging the walls and floors. Often you won’t become aware of a problem until the damage is extensive. A decent caulk gun and tube of caulk will cost you less the $20 but a call to a plumber to figure out the problem and a handywoman to repair the damage can easily add up to $200 or more.

What are you waiting for?
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