Healthier Living | Child Safety | Eco Friendly Tips

Barbara Staib, President of Safe Home Products, is an expert on child safety, emergency preparedness, pet training and even pest control. She has personally helped thousands of customers since SHP started in 1999. Here you can find Q&A with Barbara to foster safer, healthier and simpler living.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Using Watts Up or Kill A Watt Meters for Home Appliances

Question about the Watts Up and 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) several years ago. I checked the power usage by plugging it into a Watts Up. I learned 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. For data logging, the best choices are the Watts Up units that connect with your computer.

Prices on these power monitors range from about $40 to about $250. Since these units can be used over and over again, your extended family, neighborhood, church, etc. can move the unit from place to place doing your own energy usage audits.

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

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

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

Question about the product: CareCover 3 prong sliding door outlet covers.

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? 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.

I do recommend using either CareCovers or paintable CoverPlugs which fit over existing unused outlets. 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.

Unlike insulating gaskets installed around outlets, CareCovers's gasket is around the exterior of the plate itself. In 1988, a house was tested twice using the Minnesota Blower door test, first with standard outlet covers and then with each outlet covered with a CareCover. (The test uses a large calibrated fan being mounted in a house door to determine amount and location of air leaks.) Air infiltration was reduced 15%. For its energy efficiency, the Care Cover received a Department of Energy Award. On October 4, 1988, The Secretary of Energy announced the Care Cover won the United States Department of Energy, National Award for Energy Innovation.

If you have other questions, please contact us.

Sincerely, Barbara

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

What Size Pond Deicer for A Backyard Fish Pond?

Question about pond deicers for a fish pond.

Q: "What kind of pond deicer is best for a fish pond located in Illinois? I don't understand why I need to heat the pond as long as there is a hole in the ice." Thanks. Roger.

Answer: For under $75, you can forget about checking your fish pond daily in cold weather to keep that hole open in the ice. The pond deicers we sell are thermostatically controlled. The electricity costs are nominal compared to the cost of replacing fish due to gasses trapped under the ice. I recommend that you choose a pond deicer according to the size of your fish pond and the depth of the water. We sell deicers from 500 watts for 50 gallon backyard ponds to 1500 watts. For example, the Allied Precision 1500 watt floating pond heater is quite popular as is the Farm Innovators Heated Pond Saucer for small ponds.

Pond deicers float or sink to the pond bottom. The heat generated keeps a hole open in the ice and lets gasses escape from the pond during freezing weather. If you have Koi in your pond and the population has been constant for years, the fish are unlikely to become victim to Koi herpes virus. If you introduce new fish, remember that this disease can remain latent for long periods of time. The virus becomes active only at temperatures between 15C and 28C. No treatment is available. Mortality in Koi is between 50 per cent and 95 per cent. Pond heaters, that maintain specific temperatures in ponds, should be custom designed by pond experts.

Thanks for your question.

Sincerely, Barbara

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Effective Area for an EVA-DRY Dehumidifier

Question about the MO-EDV500 EVA-DRY EDV500 Dehumidifier

Question about the product: "How big of an area does the EVA-DRY EDV 500 work in"?

Answer: It is difficult to be specific because of the many factors involved that can cause higher or lower humidity.

Some variables include:
  • Location: Is this in Florida or Pennsylvania? Is this in a bathroom, basement or bedroom?
  • Season: Is it summer in Pennsylvania or winter?
  • How well sealed is the area? A safe or a closet with vented doors?
This dehumidifier is made for small areas like a clothes closet, a gun safe, a small travel trailer, a boat or other small enclosed space. The Eva-Dry humidifier adsorbs about 10 ounces of moisture within 3 - 8 weeks depending on humidity level present. Once adsorbed, moisture cannot leak or spill. What adsorbs the moisture is a specially engineered crystallized silica gel that is odorless, non-toxic and completely safe.

What is handy about this unit is that no power is needed during the adsorption of the moisture. When indicator crystals turn pink, flip out the plug and plug the dehumidifier unit into a power outlet in a well-ventilated area (bathroom with extraction fan, garage, outside, etc.). A built-in heater warms the crystals which expand and release the moisture as water vapor into the surrounding air. A renewal cycle takes about 12-14 hours. When completely renewed, the indicator crystals are blue. Replace in closet, drawer or vehicle and the unit is ready to adsorb another 10 ounces of moisture.

If you have an electrical outlet and want more capacity, I suggest you purchase the Eva-Dry Petite Electric Dehumidifier. We have one running from April through October in our main office. It keeps the printer paper dry so we don't have paper jams. And the water collected keeps the plants watered. It is silent. The capacity is 2 cups and we empty it every other day.

Thanks for your question.
Sincerely, Barbara

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

How Big a Solar Panel Will This Mount Hold?

Question about the Go Power Universal Solar Panel Tilt Mount Kit:Item Code ARM-UNI

Q: "Will this hold a 200 watt solar panel or what size of panel does it hold?"

Answer: The solar panels we typically sell for this Tilt Mount Kit range from 5 watts to the more popular 10 watt and 20 watt panels. For those who plan on extended stays in wilderness areas and want the convenience of electricity without a noisy generator, we also sell solar panels up to the 110 watt solar panel that comes with a digital voltage regulator.

We contacted our Go Power distributor for the answer to using this with such a large solar panel. Here is his response"

" The tilt mount kit will hold a panel that large. However, remember that if the wind catches that panel, the panel will pull the mount off whatever it is attached to. This kit is designed to fold flat against an RV, boat, motor home, trailer, etc."

Specifications on this Tilt Mount Kit are as follows:

  • Lightweight: 0.7 kg / 1.55 lbs
  • Easy and quick to install
  • Ideal for boats, trucks, motor homes and trailers
  • Adjusts from 0-75 degrees
  • Tilting can increase performance up to 70%
  • Adjustable without tools
  • Dimensions 15.5 inches x 2 inches x 1 inch.
Thanks for your question.

Sincerely,
Barbara

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Monday, July 9, 2007

About Sliding Door Child Safety Outlet Covers

Q:"Do you sell any non-grounded Decora style sliding door outlet covers?"
Answer: No, we only sell 2 prong sliding door outlet covers in the standard, ungrounded style style.
Comment from Customer: "A grounded outlet has three prongs, two "knife" blade ones of two lengths and a rounded grouping prong. So do you have ungrounded or not?"
Answer: The only ungrounded outlet covers we sell are the ones that work only on standard outlets with two oval outlets with two plug slots. The Decora style have the two plug outlets in a rectangular shape and have the grounding hole as well.

Comment: The Carecover sliding door outlet covers we sell are the originals, made in the USA. They are only available in duplex covers for a set of two outlets. Each outlet is covered by a spring loaded sliding door that remains closed until an electrical device is plugged in. Each cover also has a foam strip around the outside. Both the doors and the foam keep air from leaking in or out around the outlet, saving energy as well as fingers from shocks. Color choices: white, off-white (cream), ivory (almond), brown and red in the standard 3 prong. Decora and 2 prong are available in white, ivory and brown.

If you have other questions, please contact us.

Sincerely, Barbara

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Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Using Super Footwarmer Mat in a Bathroom

Q: "Hi, Can I use this mat (ES-CZP-FWB Cozy Super Footwarmer Floor Mat) in a bathroom? Thanks, --Ron"
Answer: Good question. No one has asked this one before. This is a sealed unit. Heavy rubber, fully sealed and waterproof. Is this going to warm feet while seated on the throne at night? Or in front of the mirror while you shave? Just curious. If you have ground fault interrupters in your bathroom and the unit is unlikely to fall into the tub, shower, or stool, it should be safe. Wet feet shouldn't be an issue since it is rubber and sealed. These are used in warehouses and for drying out boots.I'll shoot this one to the manufacturer and see what their response is. Okay?Barbara
3/19/2004 Answer: The official word is yes, that it can be used in a bathroom. I am not sure how much heat would be generated through a bath rug. Some have rubberized backs. This unit come with a two prong plug. I am not enough of an electrician to know if you could replace the plug with a grounded one. It does take this unit about 25 minutes to reach 125 degrees. I guess it depends how long your shower lasts! Sincerely, Barbara

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