Sunday, August 31, 2008

Do you need a green lawn?

Do you really need to water your lawn? In Halifax, we are very accustomed to seeing rainstorms or rain showers after days of dryness. We often see people running outside to water their lawns during these dry days only to see that the rains come several days later. It's a waste of water and it uses up a precious resource.

We just water are flowers (using baby bath water) and wait for the rain to come water the lawn. We don't really mind a yellow lawn because it never stays yellow for long.

Of course, you can xeriscape and avoid all of this!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Half Rule

This is something that is very interesting and could potentially alter your habits.

The Half Rule is essentially a rule were a mental game - depending on how you see it- whereby you try to cut back to 1/2 of what you just consumed or did.

That is....

- Could I have washed clothes on half that amount of detergent?
- Could I've only eaten half of that?
- Can I shower for half as long?
- Can I use half as much hairspray?

Try to challenge yourself on that.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Kill A Watt-updates

Television - uses 44W on standby! 200W when powered on.

If you leave it on all year....

44/1000*.115*365*24= $44/year

Our computers and server had wattages of between 130 and 103W when running, and around 5-12W on standby. We replaced both of their power supplies with ultra-efficient 80Plus ones, and are now running between 93 and 69W respectively. The server is on all year, 24x7 and we will save approximately 30W - around $30/year. The power supply costed around $50, so in a year and a half, it will have paid for itself. That is good return on investment, especially since the power supply will be much more reliable.

Everything else was fairly standard in terms of energy consumption. The microwave used some phantom powerand has now been put on a power bar.

So, it is definitely very interesting to see how much goes to waste inside your home when you have things plugged in and think that they are not using any energy whatsoever. Go to the library and get yourself one of these energy measuring devices because it will save yourself and your family a lot of money.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Phantom Power + Kill A Watt Meter - free from Library!

Check this out:!1526125~!3100001~!3100043&aspect=subtab431&menu=search&ri=3&source=~!horizon&term=Energy+saving+meter+Compteur+pour+%C3%A9conomies+d%27%C3%A9nergie.&index=ALLTITL

This is from Conserve Nova Scotia. You can get this power meter (Kill-A-Watt) from the library for free. It'll tell you how much energy is running through those appliances even though they're turned off!

Try it! We'll publish our results in a later blog posting, probably.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Open source software

Do you need something to write PDF documents?

Do you need something to encrypt a partition on your hard drive or USB flash drive?

Do you need a lean operating system to run your file or storage server?

Why not try open source software?

Just type "open source PDF document creator" or "open source" anything, and you may find software that is suitable for your needs but is absolutely free. Caveat emptor: open source software is constantly in evolution by its development community, so the bugs may not be 100% worked out. Most software in production also has bugs, so it really isn't much different.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

If you're running the water to get hot water....

There is a Chinese saying that "water is money". Well, that is true in many ways. For those of you with water meters, you see that your consumption of water relates directly to your water bill. In developing nations, water is a sacred resource and clean water is moreso.

When hot water sits in your tap for a little while, it can get cold. If you need hot water, often you run the tap (i.e. your dishwasher needs hot water to help it clean; babies need warm water for cleaning bums) until the cold water in the hot water tap goes warm or hot.

That amount of water, we've measured, amounts to a two litres or four depending on how far away the tap is from the hot water source. The water, nonetheless, is just water.

So, what do we do? We run the cold water in the hot line into a Brita water jug and we use it for drinking or cooking. Conversely, you can save this water for watering plants around the house.

Clean bathtubs with dish detergent powder

We've found another use for powdered dish detergent. You can use it to clean bath tubs (try at your own risk though). We simply wet a cloth, use a light sprinkling of the stuff and then wipe until you hear no noise (i.e. bathtub scum makes noise, as it is rough - once the surface is smooth, it should not make any sound). Then just rinse.

How does it work? We think it's primarily enzymatic in nature (dish detergent contains enzymes) and works on the scum you leave behind (which is primarily protein - skin cells). The other stuff serves to make things shiny.

Careful that you don't get any into your eyes. If you get it onto your skin, flush with water. The enzymes will dissolve your skin somewhat and give you a very slippery feeling.

Good luck

Friday, August 15, 2008

Passports for Kids <1, and replacing it before 3 (in Canada)

We had to get a passport for our son last year and he was very young (<1 year old). You can replace that passport, at no charge, until age 3. Some countries require that passports be somewhat up to date for travel with very young kids.

Here's an excerpt from the Passport Canada Website:

"Children who have been issued a passport in their first year of life (between birth and 364 days) are entitled to a one-time gratis replacement passport. This is in recognition of the rapid change in the features of children of this age. However, the applicant must submit:

  • a new application completed in full and signed by an eligible guarantor,
  • new photographs taken within one month of the date the request for the gratis replacement is received,
  • an original proof of Canadian citizenship,
  • custody documents, if applicable, and
  • the original passport.

The maximum validity period of the replacement passport is three years from the date of issue of the original passport."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sun shields for cars - save on AC

If you ever park your car outside on a hot sunny day, you'll know that their dashboards and rear parcel shelves get quite hot. Invest in a few sunshades and make the heat a little more bearable.

That way, you won't have to turn on the AC for as long to cool down the car, as the car is not as hot as it would normally be.

Good luck!