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Amazon.com has quite a few review on this product. Most are very good. Only a few are 1 star. So I thought I would give it a try. Since I have a front load washer. One box should last for 160 loads. At the rate I do laundry, one box will last half a year.

How does it measure up? Well, I notice no difference at all. So in my book, that is a good thing. I took a risk buying it because I got four boxes. That would last almost 2 years. I figured if I did not like it I could sell it on eBay. For me, I just add it to the dispenser. The machine adds water and the mixture does not go on the clothes. It goes into the tub. This is good because the powerful mixture can ruin clothes. I’m safe!

Seventh Generation Claim

I can’t find any info about Country Save not using petroleum, but it is a powder!

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It is a 25 Watt replacement. A15 bulb style. (normal bulbs are A19) This one is going into the freezer.

Here is a picture of a 40 Watt incandescent.

Original 40 Watt incandescent

Original 40 Watt incandescent

Here is a picture of the “25 Watt” LED replacement.

"25 Watt" replacement LED

"25 Watt" replacement LED

These are without flash and the same shutter speed. As you can see the LED is dimmer but it is also rated lower. The LED light is also directed out the front of the bulb. How does it look in the freezer? It looks just fine and the wife has not complained. Perfect!

First assumption is that you will throw away the CFL instead of recycling it. I am not going to do that and most likely neither are you. Let say you did. The biggest difference is that the mercury would be in a landfill and not in the air. Then after it rain it gets into the water way and …

While googling I found a great mercury coal resource for Indiana. I mean perfectly wonderful. The average amount of mercury in Indiana Coal is 0.11 mg/kg.

How much energy is in one kg of coal? According to Wikipedia. 2kW hours / kg.

If a CFL lasts 10,000 hours and it is a 23 Watt (100W incandescent), you would have to burn;

CFL >> 10,000 x 23 Watts = 230 kW hours

Incandescent >> 10,000 x 100 = 1000 kW hours

Difference of >> 770 kW hours or 770 kW hours / 2 kW per kg x 0.11 mg

42 mg of mercury

That seems to jive with what ours have calculated. Basically, it is better to use a CFL for reducing mercury then to stick with an incandescent. It is even better when you recycle the spent CFL.

I think if people used more gas appliances in their homes they could make “going solar” much easier. My last months bill was for 800 kW hours. I know that 100 kW hours is from my hot water heat pump. (If I had a resistive water heater it would have been at least three times that much) I also know that by removing some loads I have reduced my daily usage by about another 3 kW hours. That is almost another 100 kW hours. That would put me at 600 kW hours.

I have been running my gas furnace for over a week now. The furnace fan does not use as much wattage as I  feared. Somewhere around 600 Watts. This has kept my daily usage well below 20 kW hours for this billing cycle. (below 600 kW hours for the month)  If I could stay below the 600 kW hours mark during the winter, maybe that could help with the summer AC demands. (A new AC unit would really help that. Also a nicer blower fan too.)

I know that my electric stove uses around 2 kW hours a day to cook with. That is another 60 kW hours. (down to 540 kW hours) Now If I had a new fridge and dishwasher I bet I could reduce even more. Say 20 kW hours a month. (down to 520 kW hours) Now I would be really close to my 500kW hour goal.

If I could keep my month average to about 700 kW hours. I could get away with a 6 kW system. Still very expensive and not really doable. Even with prices on solar panels coming down, it would still cost at least $7 a watt installed, or $42,000. Minus the 30% incentive, $30,000.

What about gas assist solar air conditioning. That would be another blog.

I looked but I can not find one anywhere. So I made my own. I had an extra roll of R-13 insulation. I cut the roll into strips and taped the end together. Looks okay, but you have to remember this is in the utility room anyway.

Not Pretty, but not an issue.

Not Pretty, but not an issue.

I will have to watch the kill-a-watt and see if I get any better? Now with winter coming maybe my kw hrs won’t go up that much.

I heard on NPR the other day that purchases of CFLs are down again this year. They peaked in 2007. Some say that there needs to be more incentives for CFLs so more people will buy them. I say no. Why, you ask? Because I just replaced my second CFL in six years inside my house. (Notice I said inside) I have CFLs in just about everything. I mean everything. I just purchased some Cold Cathode CFLs for the refrigerator.  (More on the later) The only fixtures that don’t have a CFL are the oven (on brainer!) Dryer, (again no brainer), and above the stove (Still working on that one). In all that time I have replaced two. So yes, I have purchased less this year and last year. Because I am not replacing burnt out ones!

Outside, I have replaced my two garage lights three times. This is because they are one all night averaging 12 hours per night. The first thing I did when I moved in was replace them with CFLs.

I know that having the CFLs is saving me money. I like the fact that it takes a few seconds to come to full brightness. I still have the problem with what to do with the good used incandescent light bulbs. Maybe in a few years they will be worth money since you won’t be able to buy them.

That is my new rule of thumb. What made me think about it? I have a UPS (Uninterpretable Power Supply) for my computer. Because this one was plugged into a difficult outlet I have not checked it with my kill-a-watt meter. Today I made time to check it out. When I first plugged it in, I got 15 Watts. Not too good or too bad. Then about 15 minutes later it went up to 45 Watts. Not good. Now, two hours later, it reads 30 Watts. Not good either. Now I am thinking about just getting a plain old surge protector strip and calling it good. I don’t need a smart strip because when the computer is off the monitor uses only 1 Watt and the printer uses about the same.

At 30 Watts, for 24 hours. That is equal to 720 Watts. From my last blog, I know that this is about equal to 7% of the minimum daily usage. Sadly, this is equal to 22kW hours a month. Two things to note, the unit is off, and it only trips on about three times a year during thunderstorms. Power strip, here I come.

I went out-of-town this past weekend. The house was all by itself doing nothing. No lights, no dishwasher running, clothes washing, TV, computers, or anything really. I used about 11 kW hours on Saturday for nothing! That means my house will eat over 300 kW hours every month regardless if I am home or not!

I just want to say that is stinks. As it has been my goal for many months, I need to reduce my “standby usage”. What is really bad (or good) for the last couple of weeks I have noticed my daily usage staying around the 16 to 17 kW hour range. This means with the family in the house, we only add 5 or 6 kW hours to the “problem”. (note: No AC or heat running!!!)

With this new “minimum usage” I am going to map out what is going on. (24 hour usages) This will help me to pin point where to look next.

I say real because I foolishly thought I could make one with real high end stuff. When I say “High End” you should read High Power requirements. I also wanted it to do too much. What the plan is now;

1. DVR functions.

2. Network data storage.

None of the other functions I had envisioned. (Original thought about a Green DVR. Did I say a week or two. I should have said a few months.)

What I built. I just used the green computer I made earlier. It uses about 50 Watts now. But the key thing is that it only runs for about 8 hours a day and not 24 hours. In the end it is very easy to do. The DVR software I have will bring the computer out of standby to start a recording. I then have it go back into standby after 10 minutes.

I have Wake-on-LAN enabled to allow for remote computers to access shows and any data. If you do any research on “Wake-on-LAN” I am not using the “Magic Packet” since I have a switch only traffic that needs to go to the DVR makes it. If the DVR is in standby, then it wakes up and starts working. So far everything works as it should. I do need to run the Kill-a-watt for longer then a day to get more accurate numbers. But I am below the target of 500 Watts.

I know that this all seems at bit much for an alternative energy focused blog but I feel that computer’s account for a significant portion of my monthly energy bill. Just how much? The old DVR used 90 Watts.

24 hours x 0.090 kilowatts = 2.16 kilowatts

The new one uses 50 Watts for only 8 hours.

8 hours x 0.050 kilowatts + 16 hours x 0.005 kilowatts = 0.480 kilowatts.

The savings is about 1.68 kilowatts per day. Almost 50 kW hours a month. (8% of my total monthly. Don’t forget I have an office PC, netbook, and my wife’s Laptop.)

So if I used the Green PC for the DVR what am I using for my office computer then. Don’t worry, in all the creating of the DVR I made a desktop computer that uses even less. The only reason I did not use it for the DVR is that it does not have enough processing power.

I never wanted a house in the middle of nowhere. I also did not want a house where my neighbors were 30 feet on either side of me. But I do like my neighbors.

What I would like is about 5 acres. Half of it would be woods and the other half split between a small pond and flat open grassy area. (right now I have 0.5 acres and four trees.)

Ideally the house would be shaded by the woods and the solar array would be pole mounted away from the house.

As much as I like having a big yard I don’t like to mow it. I have read some on buffalo grass. Only needs mowed once a month and does not need to be watered. It is a native grass to North America.

Since we built this house nine years ago with our future children in mind, we will not be moving anytime soon. The dream will have to wait until the kids move out. (They are 5 and 2 right now)