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September 2021
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Solar keeps getting better

Utility Dive is a site about energy. this just published.
Rooftop solar is now cheaper than the grid in 42 American cities
Worth the time.

Utility Dive

what is your state doing about energy?

I was reading Clean Technica and ran across this gem.

Tracking Pending US Energy Legislation In One Place

which sent me to the Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker a searchable database of pending legislation around different types of energy bills.
Now you can find out what your legislators are doing about renewables energy and tax credits.

hattip Clean Technica

Closet Office 5

In a previous posting I explained why I built the deck and the support cleats the way I did, I showed the trash shelf side, but didn’t go into detail on the other side.  I cut the deck short on both sides deliberately.

The first reason is it is  a whole lot easier to install it especially when your walls are not square or flat.

Secondly is wire and cable management. Look at your desk right now. You probably have wires all over. If you have pets they are probably getting fuzzy.

Here is the left side of the desk.

At the top center is the DSL modem for the internet. The day before yesterday there was a cable modem and a cable router.

Below that is an 8 port D Link hub for the network wires we added in other areas of the house. Behind the Fax machine is the phone lines for the modem and Fax machine. There are still a lot of business that requires faxes.   Also not shown is the cover plate for the network and CATV cables.

Here is a closer view of the tower and the surge suppressor. Don’t connect electronics without one.

The tower box was built out of leftover material from another project. I attached it to the underside of the deck to keep it off the floor and make it easier to clean around. Plus keeping the cables off the ground. On the left is the surge suppressor,(I use Belkin) which has everything plugged into it. They can reach the plugs if they have to change things as well as adding new stuff.   This has the switch pointed out so that when they are not going to be using the office they can shut down the entire system saving money without having vampire drains on the electric system. You would be surprised how much electricity these things use on standby.

Yes I still need to clean up the cables, but it will be easy. I like easy.

Energy Star or Energy Scam?

The Energy Star program was developed by the US government to certify products that use energy aka electricity to reduce energy usage in homes, businesses and government offices.

From monitors, printers, refrigerators, washers, dryers, and just about every other item that plugs into a wall socket. The theory is that ‘certification’ can help us all make choices to not only improve our lives with smaller electric bills, but to also reduce energy consumption. Some products are even available for tax deductions. Great Idea. A win for consumers and the planet.

Not So Fast.

The Congressional Accountability Office submitted over a dozen bogus products and got them ‘certified’ in an operation lasting 9 months. Like a gasoline powered alarm clock, or heat pumps that only existed on paper.

It’s not like we don’t have enough confusion in selecting and using products that are supposed to be saving us money, or are renewable or in some other reduce our impact on the world in which we live.

Here are a couple of sources for more information:

Daily Tech: Updated: GAO Discovers EnergyStar Program is Incredibly Flawed
NewYork Times: Audit Finds Vulnerability of EnergyStar Program

Here is the Congressional Report [PDF]

CFL’s may not be the bargain as advertised.

The Daily Mail posted an article that

“warns that CFLs lose ‘a significant amount of brightness’ over time.
Even a quality bulb could lose 20 per cent of its light over its 8,000-hour lifespan.”
Read more:

The Institution of Engineering and Technology report is Here

Overall they still save energy, just not as much as advertised.

Lightyear Sunken Bath Episode 14 Done

The LSB is in the history books. Here is a recap.

Here is the view from the doorway into the bath from the master bedroom. Note on the left is the hinged door. In the case where someone might be using the toilet and someone else rushed in, it would give kneecapping a new meaning.6a00d8345237e469e201157245f42f970b-800wi

The tile is tired and the ‘tub’ is a sunken nightmare. Notice the window (single pane double thick tempered) in the back wall that looks out into the storage area that the client had enclosed sometime ago. That outside door faces east and the long wall faces south. It made this room hotter than hell most of the year and cold the rest.


Here is the view from the same spot.
We removed the tile, filled in the sunken tub area, installed a new glass block window, insulated, skim coated, installed a jacuzzi tub, surrounded it with solid surface, installed a Jeeves Heated Towel Bar,(which was the only item not obtained locally in either the Orange or Blue stores) installed grab bars in the shower/tub area, and with the extra space on the front side of the tub created built in shelving and a magazine rack for parking pleasure. Also with the installation of a pocket door, ‘kneecapping’ is a thing of the past. We also installed a tall mirror for last minute inspections. Just to the left of the tall mirror are two switches. These are to shut off the power to the jacuzzi when not in use. The controls are way too  convenient to small children.

Jacuzzi, Solid Surface and New Glass Block.

Jacuzzi, Solid Surface and New Glass Block.

Back wall and storage area


We also had the door to the sort of storage/dog area to address. Since the bathroom had so little storage and we knew early on that we would be installing a water heater for this room and the bath on this end of the house, we decided to parcel this space, insulate, drywall and tile it.


We installed a bi-fold door that closely matched the existing doors in the rest of the house.


Vanity Area Before

The only change to the vanity area was the replacement of the light fixtures, installing new faucets to match the brushed nickle finish of the new shower toys, and replacement of the cabinet pulls.




There it is.

Quote of the Day

 "You can't consume your way to sustainability." 

CFL’s Smart Saving or Snake Oil?

Compact Fluorescent Lights aka CFL's, have made significant inroads into the lighting market touting energy savings and long life. I use them but more for experimentation. I like a little more daylight in my lighting rather than the yellow that most of these bulbs produce.  They have a bumpy road as they each contain 5 milligrams of mercury, which during the initial push was downplayed as being insignificant, despite warnings from the EPA on proceedures on cleanup of broken bulbs.

I am not going to get into an argument about how 'insignficant' 5 milligrams is except to note that mercury's  cumulative effect has been amply demonstrated by  restrictions and recommendations regarding eating seafood at various times in the recent past.

Some companies that sell these bulbs have instituted recycling programs for used CFL's, which on the one hand would seem to be an environmentally responsive thing for a company to do, giving you a warm fuzzy using them, but on the other hand, I see this as more of a PR stunt than a serious attempt to greenwash stores that sell them. On the gripping hand I see this as a liability issue down the road, as the recyclers who are going to be recovering this material, will be left holding the bag when an industrial sized spill happens.

This morning I ran across this article on the NYT website:

which addresses the growing issue of people not getting their money's worth due to premature failure. So not only do you have a disposal problem, but you are not getting the advertised savings. We live in interesting times.

Heating your floor

Heat rises. Heating floors is not a new idea, but is one to be considered in designing or remodeling.
Green by Design has a good article on heating your floor.
Barefoot Dreams in the Dead of Winter

Solar Strategy

I live in Phoenix and get a lot more sunshine than most folks. The idea of sunlight paying for my AC and other electric needs is a powerful one.

I ran across this article this morning, An old engine learns new solar tricks about a company using the Stirling engine for generating power.

Infinia has details on their page here
This is not new as there are a number of companies that are using this technology, but these folks are getting up to 24% conversion and the costs of the units are coming down. Especially in relationship to flat panel and roof mounted units.

Currently they are 15,000.00 bucks. When they get down to around 1500-3000 bucks, it is the sort of thing that will sell a bunch, and drop your electric bill.