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Healthier Living | Child Safety | Eco Friendly Tips

Kill A Watt Power Monitors Help You Reduce Electric Bills

by Barbara 23. February 2014 11:57

Question about the Kill a Watt Electricity Usage Monitors.

Q: "Electric costs in Florida are to increase up to 30% this next year. What advice do you have about deciding which electrical appliances I should replace with more energy efficient ones? How can I measure current usage without going to a lot of expense?

Answer: I suggest you begin checking power usage on appliances with compressors, i.e. refrigerators, freezers, window air conditioners and dehumidifiers. Most appliances over 8 to 10 years old are energy hogs. I replaced my old manual defrost freezer (circa 1971, much in need of a new gasket) about 10 years ago, I checked the power usage  and was horrified: a new unit would pay for itself in less than 2 years just in energy savings!

If you want to check the power usage of a system such as your TV, DVD, speakers, etc, the easiest choice is by using a Kill A Watt Power Strip with Surge Protection


Currently, there are several models of Kill A Watt meters available:


Thanks for your questions. Remember that there are some electric company rebates on Energy Star appliances.
Sincerely, Barbara

Stop Barking Dogs Next Door If Clear Line of Sight Exists for Bark Free Ultrasonic Devices

by Barbara 18. February 2014 09:50

Q: "Will the Super Bark Stop (ES-VT-BC16G) work through a fence?"

Answer: Not if the fence is a solid one. How to get a dog to stop barking requires either an ultrasonic device within range of the dog's ears, a persistent trainer or a persistent trainer using a hand-held ultrasonic device such as the Dog Dazer or Pet Agree.

The effective ultrasonic sound devices are similar to the Victor ultrasonic rodent repellers but tuned to the frequencies that dogs hear. Ultrasound behaves more like a light beam than sound that you hear. If the fence is a cyclone fence or the Barkstop is placed in the open space between the fence posts, some of the ultrasonic waves will go through to the adjoining yard.

Some customers install this unit in a birdhouse enclosure and aim it down over the fence. This will limit the area of coverage, however. Others have mounted the unit to their house or to a tree. The closer the unit or similar units are to the animal, the more effective it is. The maximum range is about 35 feet.

Lentek/Koolatron now offers three other units:

If your neighbor is a friendly one, he or she may be willing to install the unit on his/her side of a solid fence. There are other repellers that work but these sound a loud blast signal when a dog barks. These can be hung in a tree or on a post. The sound may annoy your neighbor and certainly will annoy you.

Most town have barking ordinances: most people try to avoid calling the police especially if their neighbors feel their dogs' barking is "natural." So I have found in my neighborhood where 5 yards touch and two of the neighbors have dogs that bark almost continuously when anyone or our Bostons go outside and they are out. Summers are so hot in Iowa that we and our dogs prefer the AC. And these neighbors are quite pleasant except when you mention their dogs barking. And the range of the bark stopping devices is insufficient due to the size of the yards.

Please contact us if you have more questions.

Sincerely, Barbara

Sensaphone Passive InfraRed Motion Detectors Interface with Most Sensaphone Units

by Barbara 12. February 2014 07:47

Question about the Passive Infra Red Motion Detector.

Q:"How does the Sensaphone Motion Detector work? How units do I need to protect my office? What Sensaphone models work with this unit?" Thanks. George

Answer: Remember that this is a wired unit. First, measure your office. Next, determine if you need more than one unit along each long wall. If you have more than one door, consider installing one aimed at each door.  All Sensaphone unit that have a normally closed dry contact can interface with this unit. That includes a wide variety of FSG models.

PIR motion sensor uses infrared to monitor movement of warm bodies in a specific area. Once movement is detected, the sensor activates a call from your Sensaphone remote monitoring system. The passive infrared motion detection sensor can be used with all Sensaphone models. Range of detection is approximately forty feet of area. Multiple sensors can be wired in series to a single output.

PIR Motion Detector FGD-0007 Specifications: 
  • Compatible with all Sensaphone models except IMS. Note: There is a PIR motion sensor specifically designed for the IMS
  • Dimensions:     4″ x 6″ x 11/2″
  • Housing:     White plastic
  • Normality:     Normally closed
  • Range:     Approximately 40′
  • Battery Life:     3-5 years
  • Compatibility:   All Sensaphone models
Package Contents: 
  • (x1) Infra-Red Motion Detector
  • (x2) AA batteries
  • (x1) Installation Instructions
  • Detects body heat.&
  • Causes a dial-out if motion is detected.
  • Range of detection covers approximately 50 ft. of area.
  • Multiple sensors can be wired in series to a single input.
  • Range: Approximately 40 feet, with 75° of coverage.
  • Dimensions: 4" x 6" x 1.5"
  • Warranty: 1 year limited manufacturer's warranty.

Thank you for your questions.

Sincerely,

Barbara

Practical Ideas to Reduce Heating and Cooling Bills Now and In the Future

by Barbara 4. February 2014 06:37

Question about how to reduce my energy bills without spending a lot of money.

Q: "My gas bills this winter almost doubled with the very cold weather. Can you give me some ideas about how to reduce my bills without being cold? Thanks. Phil"

Answer: First, contact your gas company to learn if they have a one time free energy audit available to customers. If not, I suggest you contact several insulation contractors in your area to give you their opinions about the R values in your attic and side walls. You may choose not to add additional insulation. With some rebates available in some areas, adding insulation may not be as expensive as you believe.

Next, check for air leakage from your unused electrical outlets that are on the outside walls of your home. Safe Home sells a variety of plugs and covers to reduce the leakage. For examples, look at the electrical outlet covers and sliding door outlet covers such as CoverPlug Duplex Outlet Cover for Electric Outlets, the Plug Guard Energy Saving Safety Outlet Cover, the IVORY STD 3-Prg 1 Screw Outlet Cover,6/PK, the Kiddy Cop Outlet Covers, Leviton 12777, 12/Box, or the Sockit Lockets.  We installed the Care Cover outlet covers one bitterly cold January years ago and learned how much cold air was blocked from entering our home.

If you choose outlet plugs, I suggest you purchase insulating covers that install behind each electrical outlet. To install, remove your current outlet cover, push the insulation around the plugs and replace the liner and the outlet plugs.

Use insulating foam around all water lines into your home. Make sure the "flaps" seal tightly on exhausts from clothes dryers.

Purchase a set back thermostat for your furnace. Many utility companies have a rebate to help pay for this unit.  Do remember that setting the temperature back means that time is required to get the temperature to a comfortable level. We learned in June 2013 that our original furnace was undersized: the new one comes up to daytime temperatures much faster. We keep our nightime temperature set at 68 degrees and daytime at 72 degrees. The natural gas fireplace keeps the family room comfortable on the below zero days and nights.

Change your furnace filters regularly. Choose a MERV rating that works with your furnace. Too high of a MERV rating means you'll not get much air through your filter. Safe Home filters have two layers of filtration. When the white layer gets gray, it is time to change the filter. The second layer filters out odors and chemicals; the first, dirt, dust and pollen. Safe Home filters come in one inch sizes that are self-sealing due to an internal frame and in 4 inch filters that have a self-sealing perimeter.

Use supplemental electric heaters where you need them. We suggest the ECO SAVE Ceramic Heater that is compact and efficient and used only 750 watts of electricity. If your feet get cold while the rest of you feels comfortable, then consider the Toasty Toes Heated Footrest.

If you have the money and your furnace is 15 or more years old, consider replacing the furnace. Make sure you get at least three bids. If the BTU ratings vary a lot, get another bid or two. YOu don't want an oversized furnace nor an undersized one (like the one we had for over 20 years).

We replaced both AC and the main furnace this summer with next to the highest efficiency units. (Total cost was $5400 less the rebates.) The new furnace is two stage, i.e. two blower speeds. We got rebates from both the gas and electric companies. Also we did not choose the most expensive units available. Sometimes you have to choose between a few thousand dollars and paying your HVAC person annual AC and heating tune-ups.

This past month we did use an electric ceramic heater set at 65 degrees F in our tiled bathroom and another one in the kitchen (ceramic flooring). That took the chill off in those rooms. Unfortunately, our new kitten has yet to learn to keep his claws in. So the insulated window shades remain up even in the cold weather. (A toss up between ripped shades and more insulation or keeping Buddy from climbing them.)

If you have other questions, please contact us.

Sincerely, Barbara