Tag Archives: energy savings

Free Wood Shed

Well, the gas to get the pallets and the screws might have added some cost, but the concept’s there. By scrounging at a local business, Joe was able to get the okay to take as many pallets as we want, when we want. This has worked out great! Not only were we able to use them for help fence in the gardens, but Joe’s been putting his creative New Media skills to work are created these wood sheds that each hold roughly a cord. Each shed takes eight regular size pallets and some scraps to tie it all together. While right now the roofing is plastic sheeting that we mis-bought this winter, the long term goal will be to get metal on them that will by far outlive the sheds themselves and will be used on the next generation.

We’ll need six of them on the property, but we definitely have the room, so it won’t be a problem. We’re also planning on building a mini one out front, maybe half the size, that we’ll keep stocked up during the winter and that will give us a couple weeks worth of wood at the ready during the cold spells. Hurray for better planning than last season!

Garden Updates and Past-due Electric Information

Let me be the odd duck who flip-flops what I’m going to talk about in my title. Back in January, I posted about how we had added some drying lines to the laundry room in hopes of conserving electricity, on top of using strips and cutting out the amount of lights we use. Needless to say, it seemed to work.

Yes, indeed, you read that correctly. We were able to drop 8 KWHs off from our daily amount and cut our monthly by more than half. This was a full 30 day cycle bill, in one of our harshest winter months, mind you. We did it, though. We cut well more than the target of 2 – 4 KWHs a day. So what was the total cost of the bill for February?

I wish this number had stayed the same for March, but it seems that we loosened up a bit. Granted, March’s bill came to 10 KWHs a day, 280 a month, and only ran us $44.04. I guess there’s really nothing to complain about there! (Last year, for March, we were at 11 KWH a day, 319 a month. It’s nice not having to have lights on…ever.)

On to the gardening update! As of 3/24/2010, we had:

  • Roma tomatoes – 16/16 pots have seedlings!
  • Early girl tomatoes – Nothing yet.
  • Green peppers – 2/12 pots have seedlings!
  • Pumpkins – 9/12 pots have seedlings!
  • Sunflowers – Nothing yet.
  • Herb mixes – Bunches of littles!

We are now up to:

  • Roma tomatoes – 16/16 pots have seedlings!
  • Early girl tomatoes – 16/16 pots have seedlings!
  • Green peppers – 12/12 pots have seedlings!
  • Pumpkins – 12/12 pots have seedlings!
  • Sunflowers – 8/8 pots have seedlings!
  • Herb mixes – Bunches of littles!

Each tomato pot has two plants growing, same with the green peppers. The pumpkins we did three in each pot, not knowing the fail rate.

The best part about this is that, when we weed out the plants, we’re giving those “extras” that survive transplanting to friends and family. My parents had already said that they would take both tomatoes and green peppers, and a couple family friends have also mentioned taking tomatoes, this on top of the fact that we promised some to Joe’s parents as well.

We’ve also done some re-arranging with our set up. (Hopefully a new layout will be drawn up and put into the gardening page soon.) We’ve decided to do a “Three Sisters” garden in one area, giving us much more space. Next year, we’re hoping to try our hand at even more companion planting, but we want to do it a little at a time.

Ford is My Manufacturer of Choice

I’ve always been a fan of Ford’s lineup ever since I was a little kid.  But they have now rocked my world to the extreme.  Not only do they have an amazing lineup of cars, but they are also pushing for energy efficiency in their factories and dealerships. How many large companies are doing that?  Last year Ford started using solar panels and passive solar heating in some of their factories and planted acres and acres of trees in Brazil.  They also started using soy based foam for many of their seat cushions instead of petroleum based foam.

In terms of the cars I was speaking of, Ford has the most fuel efficient mid-size car available for sale in the USA (beating even Toyota and Honda, the previous heads of the pack): The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. Then, Ford decided that wasn’t enough, they want to re-design the way companies think of “trucks.”  And they did.  The new Ford Transit Connect (based off of the Ford Fusion) is a front wheel drive van that can carry 1,600 lbs of cargo and still deliver 25mpg.  The Transit Connect received the 2010 North American Truck of the Year Award!

Ford is also developing an all electric version of the Transit Connect. Where will they stop?  Hard to say.  But it looks like they are going to continue on their path of energy efficiency with the release of the 2011 Ford Fiesta, which gets 40mpg!

It will be interesting to see what they do with their small trucks now.  I love my 2000 Ford Ranger Supercab.  I can seat 5 people, haul 1/4 cord of wood and tow 3,000 lbs and regularly get 20mpg.  It’s pretty much the perfect little truck for me and with only 124,000 miles on it, I’m only maybe half way through it’s useful life.  I plan on keeping it for 10+ years, at that point I will have to check out what is available on the market.  With any luck, Ford with have something similar but with increased fuel economy (like they have done with all of their other vehicles over the last few years).  Diesel Supercab Ranger chassis (so I can add a dump bed) with 2800lb max payload and 6,600lb max towing capacity that gets 25mpg with 154hp/280tq like what Australia gets?  Please?

The Long And Winding Road

As many of you may know, our home is an on-going project (who’s isn’t?).  And we are planning on adding a wood boiler into the mix to supply most of our heating needs during the year.  However, even with the freebie Memco MW100 Tasha’s inlaws are giving us, it will require a couple grand to install it ourselves.

So, I’ve made some steps to get us there.  There are several things more important than the boiler (even though at times I try to put the wood burning at the top of the list).

Step 1:

– Fix dip in living room ceiling
– Regrade land around foundation for better drainage
– Basement
– – – – Install new 150 gallon oil tank
– – – – Remove old 220 gallon oil tank
– – – – Inspect/Repair as necessary all floor joists
– – – – Jack up and support dip near basement stairs
– Install new light in upstairs bathroom
– Pay off Discover Card
– Add more insulation to old side of attic
– Install drop-down attic stairs
– Repair all wonky outlets (some of our 110v outlets aren’t mounted well)
– Develop all 35mm film (we have 15+ rolls undeveloped, some 10+ years old)

Step 2:

– Have foundation inspected (and repaired if necessary)
– Finish digging sump pit in basement
– Wire in separate gfci outlet with it’s own switch for sump pump
– Rewire phone jacks (add jack in kitchen and master bedroom)
– Install whole-house water filter

Step 3:

– Build shed, install wood boiler
– Have wood boiler run two “Kickspace heaters” downstairs (need to keep the wood and oil systems separate so we don’t loose our service contract on the old oil boiler).  Each boiler will have it’s own thermostat, the oil will be turned down so that if the wood heat goes out or the kickspace heaters can’t keep up with demand, the oil will kick on and run the normal baseboards.

Step 4:

– Add 300 gallons of thermal storage to the wood system (100,000 btu/hr at 40F delta T, enough to run the house heat for 6 hours on a 0F winter day, 24 hours in the spring and fall or provide domestic hot water for 10 DAYS in the summer)
– Switch domestic hot water from oil to wood heat (leave oil boiler’s dhw coil hooked up, plumbed in so we can manually switch back to oil dhw if necessary)

Step 5:

– Swap oil and wood zones.  The oil will now be regular backup, only supplying heat to the kickspace heaters.  The regular baseboard will be in everyday use again but now by the wood instead of the oil.  The oil will kick on if the wood and storage run out of heat and the house get’s below 62F (need to keep it relatively warm because of our Lovebird).

So, that’s the plan.  It might take 3-5 years to get all the way to Step 5, and something may throw a wrench in the plans as it seems that happens a lot.  But at least things are looking good for now.

Changes in Laundry

In order to break even late on with the outdoor woodboiler we plan on eventually installing, we need to try to cut 2 – 4 kWhs a day. Seeing how we only use 13 kWhs/day in the winter and 9 kWhs/day in the summer (the average household uses 30 kWhs/day average), we do fairly well. BUT we’d like to stay within these numbers, if not make them smaller so that they balance back to what we have now when we have little ones.

Over the past couple weeks, one of our mini-projects has been coming up with even more ideas on how to save electricity. I stepped in and came up with a couple ideas for the laundry around the house.

While we already had the drying rack, it’s a small one that doesn’t hold much. We decided that the laundry room would be a perfect place to add a couple clothes lines. Using some cup hooks I had bought for another project and help rope from my crafting stash, I rigged the first one up and then realized that with a second one I could get a full load of laundry on the lines and rack. Instead of using the dryer for every load, we now use it maybe once every five loads or so. It does take a little over a day for the clothes to dry, but that’s fine by us!

As a reminder to not use the dryer when it’s not necessary, I made a quaint little cover for it.

(Keep in mind, I’m not a seamstress and this cover could have been much more appealing. On the plus side, I made it with fabric I got free from work.)

The three sachets in front of the last picture are dryer sachets that I made. In between realizing that a chunk of chemicals in dryer sheets are cancerous, some cause anxiety attacks, and other are animal based, I decided to give making my own sachets a try. They’re cotton cloth filled with rice and lavender. The scent seems strong, but when you pull the laundry out, there’s just enough to make it smell fresh. The lavender I bought on Etsy for $8.00 total. I have enough for roughly 12 sachets. The fabric was left over from a earlier project years ago. Over all, when you figure out the cost, each sachet is only pennies. The plus side of all of this is that we no longer have to worry about what we use causing havoc with my psoriasis.