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Healthier Living | Child Safety | Eco Friendly Tips

Replacing Standard Incandescent Light Bulbs with LED Light Bulbs

by Barbara 14. April 2014 07:31

Question about when, where and how to replace incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs.

Question: "How do I know what bulbs to purchase for replacements? Are there any places that I should not use an LED light bulb? They are certainly more expensive now that stores are selling 60 watt incandescent bulbs, 6 bulbs for $2.00. Thanks. Tim."

Answer: First, as many bloggers have noted, you have to see these bulbs as investments. You won't save hundreds of dollars in a year or two on your electric bill unless you have a huge building that needs all its lights replaced. The savings comes over time and with convenience, the convenience of not having to replace light bulbs in rooms where lamps or ceiling fixtures are on for many hours per day or year. LED stands for "light emitting diodes."

Second, you must make sure that replacement bulbs are dimmable ones for lamps or fixtures that have that feature. And there are no "3 way" bulbs like 50/100/150 available as yet.

Third, there are no 60 watt, 75 watt, etc. bulbs. Every bulb is rated in lumens. Lumens are the amount of light that is produced when a bulb is powered on.

Here is a basic chart that should help:

Incandescent Bulb Wattage             Lumens           LED Bulb Watt Equivalent

25 watt                                          250                4-9 Watts

40 watt                                          450                9-13

60 watt                                          800                13-15

75 watt                                          1100              18-25

100 watt                                        1600              23-30

125 watt                                        2000              22-40

150 watt                                        2600              40-45

Warm white is the preferred color for most people in their homes.  2,700 and 3,500 Kelvin are what you are looking to purchase for home use.

So remember that lumens are what you are looking for, not wattage.

Here is an A19 LED 60 watt equivalent bulb that Safe Home now sells. Equvalent to a 40-60 watt incandescent bulb yet uses only 8 watts of electricity. Epistar LED chip. Warm white color. Short neck. Not dimmable. 3000K. 180 degree beam angle.

As Safe Home continues to add LED bulbs, I'll be adding them to this blog.

Thanks for your question.

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

Reduce Home Air Leaks, Save Money with Sliding Door Outlet Covers.

by Barbara 1. November 2008 15:39

Question about 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.

Q: "What kind of energy savings am I likely to have if I replace my standard outlet covers with the ones that slide open and closed? Is it enough to insert those round plugs? Or should I put complete covers such as the CoverPlug onto outlets I am not using? I've noticed cold air coming in through the unused outlets in cold weather."--Jerry

Answer: Reducing air leakage would immediately improve your comfort. To get a dollars and cents number, you'd need to figure in costs of natural or propane gas, oil, etc. Get a professional energy audit: you may need more than outlet covers for significant savings. CareCovers will reduce leakage, though, as I personally learned.

The best and easiest way to childproof and reduce air leaks are to install the sliding door outlet covers, the Plug Guard Energy Saving Safety Outlet Cover, the CareCover probably in warm white or similar sliding door units. The PlugGuard outlet covers fit only standard three prong outlets and come only in white. The CareCover come in cream, brown, white, ivory and sometimes red depending upon if the duplex unit is a Decora or standard outlet. Carecovers also come in non-grounded two prong covers. These units insulate not only the plug holes but the outlet itself as each unit has a foam strip around the exterior to keep air leaks around the exterior of the cover, too.

The CoverPlugs fit over existing unused outlets. They can be painted or wallpapered. When you need the outlet, just pull out the cover as the original outlet is there.

The advantages of the Levitron units is that they are UL listed.  The PlugGuard doors move up and down while the other sliding door covers move from side to side. A less expensive option that is more difficult for kids to remove are the Sockit Lockets. CareCovers were tested using the Minnesota Blower Door Test that showed a 15% decrease in air leakage with Carecovers. Family Handyman magazine in 2008 recommended CoverPlugs.

I quickly installed CareCovers on all my exterior wall outlets several years ago when I felt cold air coming through outlet holes one January day. (My house was built in 1990 with insulation updated in 1994). There was an immediate increase in comfort without raising the thermostat.

All these units will save on energy just by blocking unused outlet holes. If you use the round plug inserts, remember to install foam gaskets behind each outlet cover.

If you have other questions, please contact us.

Sincerely, Barbara