Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

It's St. Patrick's Day. A day to wear green, raise a glass of your favorite Irish Stout (in my case that’s Guinness ) and count down how many more minutes the corned beef has to cook in the crock pot before dinner is ready to serve.

In honor of the green wearin' day Blitzkrieg served as the inspiration for a little St. Patrick's Day haiku.

Happy St. Patty's
can't see my hip green collar
I am too fluffy

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Climate Cha-cha-cha-changes: You Can Stop It Any Time Mother Nature, Really. You Can.

Here's what greeted me when I opened my front door Saturday morning.


Oh, Mother Nature, you evil woman. Last weekend you tempted me with Springlike temperatures in the high 60 degrees (F) leading me on into believing that Spring was just around the corner. But oh no, you cruelly slap me back into Winter the following weekend with 20 inches of snow.

We got more snow than a Pekingese is tall!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

My Gas and Electric Energy Savings Action Plan


In Part 1, prompted by a high natural gas bill, I used the Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick to determine my home’s Energy Performance. I originally thought that our electric usage was normal to low and that our natural gas usage was a little too high. Turns out that it was my home’s electrical usage was the shocker.

For the past 12 months, my electricity usage didn’t fluctuate with the seasons like my natural gas usage. Oh no. Last year my home used an average of 702 KWh of electricity a month. Surprising because I didn’t think that our use of electricity was so excessive. Could our dog being throwing some sort of energy wasting parties for the neighborhood dogs behind our backs? Hmmm… I wonder….

As part of my energy saving action plan I need to do the following:

1. Conduct a search and destroy mission to find and seal home drafts and air leaks

2. Examine our heating and cooling equipment and practices

3. Examine our home insulation levels 

4. Examine the efficiency our lighting fixtures, light bulbs, and practices

5. Examine the efficiency of our home electronics and practices

6. Examine the efficiency of our major appliances and practices

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How to Conduct a DIY Home Energy Audit

It started innocently enough when I saw the gas bill on the kitchen table and opened the envelope. We used 108 CCF (centum cubic feet) of natural gas last month for heating and hot water?! We’re two people in a new build, 1500 square foot, freestanding condominium (looks like a house, acts like a condo.) We don’t crank the heat up to tropical heat levels in winter or set the air conditioning to polar cold in summer. We have a programmable thermostat; surely, it is supposed to protect us from high heating bills?

It’s not as if we can’t afford to pay the gas bill, we can. But honestly, if I’m going to pay for something that is in the hundreds of dollars I’d much rather buy a Nelson bubble lamp than something that’s here today and gone tomorrow like heat. Yes, I know heating is important and that you can die without it during the winter. However I wanted to know what was going on with the higher utility bills when our home is supposed to be energy efficient. I decided to conduct a home energy audit.

Unlike some areas of the United States, my local gas and electric companies do not offer free home energy audits to their customers. After much digging on the customer unfriendly Columbia Gas Website, I found a link to the Energy Star Website that allowed me to conduct my own DIY home energy audit using their Home Energy Yardstick . Best of all this service is free. I like free. Free is good.

How to Do a Free Home Energy Audit