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If you are like me you have a real Christmas tree. Real tree! Yes, we cut down a real tree. We go every year to a local Christmas tree farm. As we make the twenty minute drive, we pass many fallowed fields. I don’t feel bad about cutting down the tree because the field would have most likely been fallowed anyway.

What I do with my Christmas tree is the compost pile. You can do the same if you have a compost pile.

Another option, recycle your tree locally. Many cities and towns will come around and pickup your tree at the curb. Others have a drop off location. So what do they do with the tree? They turn them into mulch! This mulch ends up in your parks and recreation areas! Look in your local paper for information about when you can recycle your tree. Or try looking at your trash haulers website. They really don’t want trees mixed with general refuse.

I am still looking to do the live Christmas tree. I did not have much luck this past year finding one. I need to start earlier next year. This would be a perfect solution for me. I have a need for a few trees in my backyard!


Typically, conservation of energy goes hand in hand with conservation of money. Sure, your initial cost most likely will be greater. But, the long term monetary gain almost always offsets that. The additional benefit in buying energy saving appliances is they are usually made more durable. Thus, they last longer and need replaced less often. With that said, they need repaired less too. Most newer electrical appliances come with an energy guide yellow tag. Unless you live next door to me, take the big black dollar figure and double it. Why? Because virtually no one pays 10.65 cents per kilowatt hour that’s why. Indiana has some of the cheapest rates in the nation. We burn Coal! With the continued talk about carbon emissions my rate is going to go up too!

Lets look at a few examples.


Side-by-Side refrigerators always use more electricity than a bottom freezer model. Though the door ice and water uses additional energy too.

HVAC System.

Buy the most efficient model you can afford. The new federal mandate for Air Conditioner is Seer 13. To understand what SEER is have a look at this site.  On the site is a very nice life cycle operating cost chart. If you notice the cost basis for the chart is $0.11/kWh. The life of the equipment is assumed to be 12 years. Where do you think rates will be in twelve years?

Standard Electric Tank Water Heater.

These tank water heaters are virtually all the same. What you need to do is buy a water heater blanket. Lowes sells a R10 for only about $20. The water heater blanket could pay for itself in one year!
What we should be on the lookout for are Hot Water Heat Pumps. As much as I think everyone should have a solar hot water heat, including myself, many of us have home owners association that would not be happy about the “appearance” of them on our roofs. (I have not gone down that road yet. But, I may just give in to the next best thing.)

Clothes Washer

Two words – Front Load. They use a fraction of the water that top loads do. Thus, you have to  heat much less water. They also spin the clothes so fast the cloths come out damp and need half the drying time.

Next time you are in the market for a new major appliance, do a little research. You will find that it can pay hefty dividends years down the road.

Light Bulbs: eBay $70 for 20

Solar Panel: Kaneka 60 Watt (GSA) $250

Solar Controller: BZ Product MPPT 250HV $150

Batteries: Wal-Mart Deep cycle x2 $100

Why did I choose these items. As we calculated from before, I needed a 27 watt panel and 60 amp hours of battery. I over killed it, BIG TIME. Why? I want to have a small back-up solar generator that’s why. Let me explain.

If the power goes out in the summer time, I don’t want my refrigerator food to go bad. It would only take one extended power outage  to pay for the overage. Additionally, the shallower discharge of the batteries will make them last longer. Since they are Wal-Mart cheapos, they will need the extra care. The controller can also handle 3 more solar panels if I decide to add more solar “stuff”. Personally, I think it would be great to have the garage door on solar power. Then if the power goes out I can still open the door. Lastly, the controller is a MPPT type, I just wanted to get one.

Overall, my price has been exceed but I think my satisfaction will be increased as well. FWIW – Version 1.0 of my solar light have been dark for about a week. It has been cloudy and the controller is in Low Voltage Disconnect until the sun shines again. This would not happen with this new design.

Next in the series: My Solar Landscape Lights 2.0 (Installation) -not until the spring-

In an earlier blog I stated that my only hope of finding a “Green Job” was with the automotive industry. Have you watched or read the news lately? I just don’t see the automotive industry doing very well for the foreseeable future. Now what? Well, let me tell you what I have tried so far.

Looking for a local company that does solar already.
You guys in the western states have a much better chance at this then I do. But, in Indiana, there is one small operator. Morton Energy, LLC out of Evansville. They are on my short list to call every few months.

Try being creative with the internet searches. (This search engine farms almost every other site out there) – Search for “Energy” – I have actually found a few good leads this way.

Try looking for large companies in your area.
They maybe large enough to employ an Energy Professional. The local power company may be looking for someone to perform energy audits for its customers. Did you know the some school system employ people to go around and turn off lights and dial back the thermostats at night.

Investigate local trade associations.
You maybe able to partner with, say,  a plumbing company and try to sell solar water heaters. You could try to sell Geothermal systems with a HVAC outfit. You may even find a small electricians company that needs a new niche.

Fantasize about starting your own business.
You could consider the option of starting your own business. I, myself, have thought about this before. (I wanted to be the next New Yankee Workshop.) My new quest could be to blanket the town with solar power roofs and small windmills silently making electricty. I think I will read a book I purchased some time ago. “Starting Your Own Business” A boy can dream can’t he?