Sunday, December 14, 2008

Add a Splash of Color to your Backslpash.

Kitchens and bathrooms are very personal places and how they look reflects on the owner. Everyone would like to make a statement about what they like and have the viewer that's entering their home feel the room instead of just see it. I really love the look of ceramic tiles because when you use ceramic it shows you are making a personal taste commitment to your house, unlike paint and paper facades that have no such feel. It can give anyone's home the face lift it needs. Ceramic backsplash tile can also add value on to your home. I have looked at lots of model homes out there and I can honestly say the homes that do have decorative tile and back-splash tile are very eye catching and homey.

Jerusalem Pottery is a family owned and operated ceramic tile studio, hand painting ceramic back-splash tile in Jerusalem since 1922. Their ceramic tiles are used to decorate kitchen back-splashes, bathroom walls and fireplace surrounds, by people who are renovating or building new houses.

They hand paint unique colorful trees of life, peacocks, palm trees, and Birds of paradise on ceramic tiles in our studio. Their back-splash tiles are ready to be installed in kitchen and bathroom walls, creating a beautiful artistic focal point in any room.

Due to the quality of the product written about I have left the information from an expired advertisement. The links and pics have been removed but the content left for FYI purposes.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Boots, Jackets, Gloves and Hats for Winter Weather

I was just thinking as I was out shopping tonight. Out shopping, now there's a scary thought. Well, as I was saying. I was out and about when we started to get a chilly drizzle and it brought back many memories from when I was growing up in the Northeast United States, Boston to be exact. This time of year can kill, believe it or not. Something as simple as a rain shower or wet snowfall can suck the heat right out of your body fast, leaving you weak and tired due to heat loss. Every year people die from exposure to the elements and it doesn't have to be a drastic exposure. The longer you go without retaining and/or obtaining heat to your body the lower your internal temp will get. The remedy to the great majority of these cases is so simple too.

Water resistant BOOTS, warm GLOVES but preferably MITTENS because your hands will generate warmth to all fingers at once, warm, water resistant JACKETS and HATS with ear flaps are advised. The degree of warmth is dependent on what part of the country you live in. I live in Florida and it will dip into the teens where I live and I have seen snow in my county as well, though not for very long. It does go to show you that no area is 100% safe from adverse weather so always check the forcast before you travel and clothe accordingly!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Have a fruit tree, plants, landscaping and young trees? Frost!

I just watched the latest weather update for central Florida and I hope my plants will be alright tonight. The weather forecast is calling for temperatures in the 20's with cold wind chill values from midnight tonight to 9 tomorrow morning. What does this mean to my plants and fruit trees? Tonight, not really that much because it won't be a killing frost coming through. It's hard for a lot of people to believe that Florida can have a killing frost but we do, at least from central Florida up through the panhandle. Tomorrow evening is another story however. Tomorrow night there will be a killing frost coming through. What this means is I'm probably going to have to break the rules and put my irrigation system on about 3 a.m. to place a layer of ice on my plants and fruit trees to protect them. Breaking the rules is in reference to the watering restrictions we have in place in many parts of Florida mainly due to the fact we didn't get any real hurricanes this year and the ones that passed us by also took the regular summertime rain with them to drop somewhere else, just not here. Getting back to the trees and plants, especially the trees. When you wet the fruit on the trees and some fruit bearing plants, what you are in essence doing is putting an overcoat on them to PROTECT them from the cold. Interesting concept huh? Put water on fruit to freeze over to keep them from getting frozen. It works, just ask the Florida strawberry farmers how they protect their investments every year. Home stores sell burlap and other special fabrics that are supposed to keep the bitter cold away but when nature wants to get through it always will. The one thing I recommend that you DO NOT do is use any form of plastic as this can actually transmit the cold to your plants or trees faster than if they had direct exposure to the cold and probably kill the plant faster. I say what doesn't kill the plants will make them stronger AND healthier next year. It's worked so far!

Another reason to let the cold in is that the fruit on the trees will become sweeter after the cold hits them. I have Marsh and Ruby Red grapefruit, navel, Valencia, and Clementine oranges, Persian lime, Meyer lemon, Guava tree, fig trees, banana trees and a few others I'll remember later I'm sure. It's an amazing transformation when the sweet hits the fruit and enjoyable when doing yard work, get thirsty and grab a fresh orange. Mmmm, good!

I will be posting this story on all of my sites as a reminder for the winter and your plants!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Beware of Rogue Widgets and Gadgets!

This is a copy of a story that I wrote for one of my other websites, FYI!

I have had a few run-ins with PayPopUps taking over my websites. I was going insane trying to lock down the cause to the point where I took ALL my widgets and gadgets off 3 of my sites just so my readers could actually get to the reading material without enduring the painful page sized PayPopUps. When I had my third go round with these I started to think outside the box. I knew that the templates were not the cause since I used 3-4 different ones per site without success. I knew there was something on these sites that was very wrong because my fourth site was pop-up free and had been clean since the beginning. I finally found the answer to my problem and was I 'pissed'!

All I can advise you to do before installing any widget or gadget to your website is to 1. who is the author of the widget, 2. what is it going to do, 3. does it have a relationship to the name on the widget, and 4. what are you agreeing to let it do to your site? I never checked 1-4 when I installed a Google Page Rank widget on my 3 sites. That's the one that I trusted to be a Google product and continuously returned to the sites. The 4th site didn't want widgets because it's a business site. I happened to be looking for a newer style of PR widget and went to where I found the last one when I couldn't find the widget on Google gadgets. Come to find out that the Google PR widget was a third party widget that, when you installed it for your rank to show, I agreed to allow a pop-up to take place when the page was opened and advertise a product or service of their choice. I was livid, not so much at them but at myself, for not reading further when I found the widget. I've found similar widgets on other sites that do the same thing this one did.

I have NO Google Page Rank widgets on any of my websites and have had no further incidents like these happen again. My advertisers were getting quite upset when they couldn't gain access to my site to see their adverts. The adverts help defray the costs of these sites but what do they care. Just beware when you grab that 'cool' widget or gadget. Read the whole page for conditions! Happy Motoring!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Can't Find a Part For Your Land Rover? No Problem!

I happened on a web site that caters to Land Rover/Range Rover parts ONLY! I always thought that when you bought the Rover you need not worry about parts. I guess if you have a hard to find item or maybe it's out of circulation at the factory, you were out of luck. Not so, I'm finding out. This place has over 3500 parts in their inventory and how they get them is a story in itself.

What these guys do is purchase existing Rovers and completely dismantle them to the ground. They only deal in the parts, not the whole. You'd naturally think they would generate a high profit from reselling the vehicle 'fixed up' to good running condition, but no! Reverse engineering is the name of the game here and the game is parts! All kinds of parts! If it was on a Rover machine they, most likely, will have it in their vast inventory. They even have Land Rover Discovery parts in stock here as well. Up until the Hummer came on the scene the Rover machines were king, and as far as I'm concerned still are king. The Hummer is too big for normal use and is a gas pig, the Rovers are not and are street friendly, as well as off road masters!

It's a forgone conclusion that the Rover products will be around for a very long time which makes parts all the more necessary to have available. Until now, if the dealer didn't have a part you needed your last choice was to contact Rover clubs. After-market sellers often have lesser quality replacements that just about fit. I went through this with my brake rotor that was after-market. Two split rotors later I went to the dealer and bought perfect fit rotors. I can't stress enough the need for exact fit parts and the only ones that are exact came from the Rover factory. If you would like to see this cutting edge parts facility to see the range of Land Rover, Range Rover,Discovery, and LR3 parts just visit their website! All their parts are guaranteed and are part of their online catalog. Parts are low mileage and this company has over 30 years in the parts business.

Audio Bone Reinvents the Ear Bud!

It goes without fail, every few years a company puts out a revolutionary product that makes us take pause and say “Damn, that’s awesome!”. Well, Audio Bone has done just that with their unique, waterproof Audio Bone 1.0 headphones.

So what makes these headphones so unique and different? Well, you don’t use them like conventional headphones or ear buds. They don’t go in your ear. You wear it outside your ears. Audio Bone transmits audio through your bones directly to your inner ear, so you can still hear everything around you.

I’m sure we’ve all seen people not paying attention to their surroundings, or being completely oblivious to traffic. The Audio Bone makes that a non issue. You can now hear quality audio, while being safe and alert. Your salvaged eardrums will thank you.

This article is courtesy of J&R Music. I saw the product and it reminded my of the Bone Phone from many years ago that vibrated the sound through your collar bone.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cold Weather Posts

I'll try to update this site with the cold weather advisories I put up on my other site. I can glean out the regular issues from the winter issues more easily on here for you to reference.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What To Do About Pricey Home Repairs? Easy!

When you have a nail sticking out of the wall and it may catch on someone, what do you do? Why, grab a hammer and nail it flush, of course! The knob on the kitchen drawer is getting wobbly, now what? Why, grab a screwdriver and tighten the screw, of course! See, you thought you weren't a home repair-person, but you really are. Most people don't give themselves enough, if any, credit for what they can accomplish in their home or apartment when they want or need to. There is one boldly stated situation that most of us currently face, and that's a very poor economy. We are required to either put off or completely do without things we wanted or needed to do. Maybe you wanted to put in a new ceiling fan but now you don't have the extra money for an electrician. Could be you wanted an new light switch, or a new faucet in the kitchen sink, or even to replace a couple of rotten boards on your porch! No money for a contractor? So What!

The name of this site is DIY (Do It Yourself) Environmental (your home office, etc.) and that's what I preach here. If you can hammer a nail or screw in a knob, ever drilled a hole for a screw or spray painted a chair then you can D I Y! The only thing you may need to do is get stocked on the basic necessity power tools for the proper performance of your 'space'! I prefer to do this on-line when I buy power equipment. Why is that you say? It's because I'm an impulse buyer when I go into big box home stores. I go in for screws and come out with a fountain for the yard. I can no longer afford to do this kind of shopping. Times are tighter than before so I needed to find a better way and that was the internet.

Let me give you an example of a situation I was recently in. I looked at my stucco house and it looked wrong to me. After looking at different angles I finally put my finger on what was wrong, the paint was fading. The problem was it was fading in blotches and was stucco! That was a double problem because I never painted stucco before and I found out there was a series of steps that were required to make a decent job a great one. The first advice I was given was to get a paint sprayer that could handle various thicknesses of paint and sealers. Sounds kind of easy I thought, but even if I found one I had no idea how to use it! I learned from a good reference and was one my way. Fortunately, Florida temperatures are relatively good all year long for drying, except during hurricane season, and the procedure went better than expected. I did end up with a couple of funny colored bushes however!

I didn't mind the expense of purchasing a power spray painter because the way the sun bleaches out things in Florida I knew they were going to be other things like lawn chairs, trim, garage and shed issues that were going to come up later. Speaking of shed issues, I have to pick out a circular saw, another big question, to replace the floor of the shed. A carpenter quoted me $450 to do the job and I know I can trim at least $350 off the cost doing it myself! Saving money and gaining the personal satisfaction of doing it yourself. It is a spirit booster we can all use right now!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

rssHugger Offers Blog Exposure

I was trying to find an appropriate way to bring my web site to the web public and I found many poor sites that promised the world, so long as you could pay that much for the world. I happened to come across one web site that stated that I could get my web site exposure with minimal effort and a simple, easy to use, interface. rssHugger was a winner for me. I had no issues understanding what I needed to do as well as what they would do for me. Now I know your probably saying to yourself that it must have a price tag involved. Your right there is a price tag. You can review their site and make an honest, no holds barred review and post it like I'm doing here, or make a small donation and skip the review. The free by review listing lasts for 10 years. How can you go wrong with that? You can't, unless your that skeptical and if you were you wouldn't have read this far. Give them a look see and decide for yourself. What do you have to lose? Nothing! What do you have to gain? You know the answer!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Holidays are Coming Up Fast - Are You Ready?

The Christmas holidays are, for me at least, the most stressful of the holidays. It seems that no matter what you go out and buy there is always the chance that your thoughtful gift may be ridiculed or outright rejected by the recipient. Why is this? Lack of adequate details on the desired item. Oh yes, I grant you that probably the majority of your purchases will be greatly appreciated but what do you always say as they are opening the gift? "I hope you like it" and "I hope it's what you wanted". Just the words to get you ready for the let down that may never happen, but if it does your ready. That is so stupid!

The internet is loaded with merchants who are ready, willing, and able to provide you with almost anything you may want for your gift giving in any shape, color, size, and style. I use a handful of places every year like Amazon, Buy, and Shop because they have virtually everything on my list to get. I am kind of partial to because they have a better and bigger selection of many types of things where and are more specialized. The best part of Shop is that I can compare the other sites to them for best price and best 'perks'. One of the perks I look for are the free shipping offers. I know Shop usually has a good offer and I think that's why I tend to order more from them so I can save the extra cash for my present to 'ME'! I really think more people should make the effort to buy and wrap themselves their own present to open at Christmas, kind of like a job well done 'reward' for not losing your mind at Christmas, again!

I also like to be on the lookout for money off or coupon offers. These are so overlooked at the holidays and they should be the first things you look for. I like the Daily Double of coupons and free shipping, ahh sweet nectar! I have a link for a coupon offer I'll pass along if you happen to go there to look around. It doesn't cost a thing to look and maybe you'll like them too. I start looking through the site and I feel like I'm at a mall, only smaller and in my house! The last thing you want to look out for are the prizes. With the economy the way it is your going to find merchants are really reaching out to get your business and that means 'Win, Win' for us. I entered a contest for an iPod Touch this week and next week there will be a TomTom GPS giveaway I'll be entering. The contests will be running until Dec. 14th. I used to be skeptical until I started winning things from a few sites like a high end Panasonic CD player with megabass headphones, collectible china pieces, collectible marble domino game set, several gift cards and high value coupons. I never used to win anything until I entered internet prize offers and I only enter from reputable sites that I know. If you do a search and can't find anything on a site, don't enter any offers in case it's a spam trick. Good luck and Happy Hunting for the holidays!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's That Time Again....

It is that time again and I can't put it off any longer. It's time to trim the holly bushes. I spent 2 days last spring outside with my mother-in-law cutting out the thicker branches of my holly bushes which hurt quite a bit! These are the one that have the sharp spines on them but I feel the pain was well worth the effort. You see these bushes, at 6 feet high and three feet deep, are my security blanket on the lesser used side of my house. The only other planting I have on the property with more stopping power is my Spanish Bayonet plant. This fast growing plant got it's name from a genius because it means exactly what the plant is, a bayonet! If you get too close you will bleed easily, and it will take out an eye without the slightest movement of the plant. I have to go around this plant every 3 months and clip off the needle point tips so I don't end up looking like I came out of a George Romero movie, as a victim. Let me explain one thing about this plant. When I moved in it was 3 feet tall and 4 feet across. The last time I trimmed it the dimensions were 7 feet tall and 8 feet across with at least 2-3 hundred bayonets on it. I use the trimmings in an area where people like to cut throught my yard as a natural fence. It works great for that and actually will start growing there as well. I wouldn't want to walk into that some night. The holly's are a lesser hurt, but a hurt none the less, that make a great deterrent to the criminally idle who may want to gain entrance. There will be lots of DNA all over the place. Holly makes a great property border so long as it is kept trimmed correctly, otherwise you will have some unhappy neighbors. If you buy holly make sure you don't get a dwarf variety or the best height you'll see is probably about 3 feet. I already made that mistake in the backyard, only 2 of them fortunately.

Trimming tip for the holly bushes. Once a year trim out the larger branches without leaving massive holes in the bushes. I find spring the best time since the growing will start sooner. In the fall I just use the hedge trimmer and shape the hedges to the desired height and depth. Hope this helps!

The top picture is the American holly which I have the most of and is what I have along the house. You can see the multiple spines on each leaf. The birds adore the red berries that grow but take warning - they should NEVER be eaten by people! The picture below is the Foster holly of which I have a few along the house, 2 or 3, and they still have a sharp center spine.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Organically Manage Weeds

So how do you know if that plant you are looking at is really a weed? Pull it up. If it comes out easily, it wasn't a weed!

Although that's not really the true definition, it seems to be the case, more often than not. So just what is a weed anyway? The most widely accepted definition is simply "a plant out of place."

First, the best defense is a good offense. Take lawns for example. Other than manual methods, such as hand-pulling, once weeds are present, organic controls are unavailable to selectively eliminate the weeds. Promoting the health and vigor of the lawn is the best way to starve off, shade out and out-compete the weeds.

When you're ready to manage weeds with organic controls, there are several options. The following is a listing of some of the most popular eco-friendly choices.

Manual Controls

* Hand-pulling. This, to me, has an element of satisfaction that no other weed-control method can offer. It's also one of the few ways for selective control. Hand weeding is easiest after a soaking rain. With tap-rooted weeds, make sure to get the entire root! Otherwise, any remaining piece will provide sufficient energy for it to regenerate a new plant.

* Mulch. A layer of mulch two to four inches thick is a very effective organic means of preventing most weeds from germinating.

If you want to know that the bagged mulch you buy is free of potentially harmful contaminates such as arsenic from treated wood, be sure each bag has the certification seal of the Mulch and Soil Council. (

Sprays and Drenches

These methods affect plants on contact by burning or desiccating the cell structure. As a contact herbicide, they are most effective on young annual weeds.

* Boiling Water. This works well at killing most weeds with one application. Some weeds, especially those with tap roots such as dandelions may need multiple applications. Use caution, keep the water as close to the weed as possible to avoid splashing yourself or other desirable plants.

* Acetic Acid (vinegar). Works, but common household vinegar is not effective for mature weeds. Minimum concentrations above 7 percent are needed to manage tougher weeds, and multiple applications may be necessary with tap-rooted weeds. Use caution when using acetic acid, as it can burn skin and eyes on contact. Approved sources for herbicide use can be found online or at farm-supply stores.

* Plant-based ingredients such as citric oil, clove oil and garlic are non-selective post-emergent herbicides. Use caution, as they will injure or kill all vegetation they touch. Tougher weeds usually require multiple applications for complete control. Ready-to-use products are available through organic gardening-supply sources online and in some garden centers.

Granular Pre-emergent

* Corn Gluten is a granular corn-based product that is used as an organic pre-emergent control in lawns. Although effective, it takes several seasons for results comparable to synthetic options. Corn gluten has the added benefit of containing 10 percent nitrogen by volume for natural fertilization as well. It is becoming more popular but is not yet widely available in retail garden centers. It is readily available online.

* Flame weeders are devices that use the intense heat of a concentrated flame to destroy the cell structure of the plant. Typically powered by a propane canister, they are portable and effective. Simply pass the flame over the weed for several seconds. It is not necessary to visibly burn the weed. A few seconds of intense heat is all that is necessary.

Like the other methods listed above, because the roots are unaffected, the toughest weeds may require multiple applications. Use extreme caution when working with this tool.

Prevention is the best way to reduce the weeds from spreading next year. Although they will still come into your yard through other means, eliminating weeds on your property before they go to seed or have a chance to spread will save you many hours of work next year and beyond.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Vehicle Repairs at Your Fingertips!

I don't know if your like me at all but I hate to feel like I'm at the mercy of an auto mechanic. You take your car or truck into the shop and your told "what's your number, we'll call you when we know". I hate that! I know they, in their own way, are like doctors where as one symptom may actually be something out in left field. How are you or they going to know till it's checked out? How do you know your getting the straight line, a fair price, a reputable mechanic, and honest advice? I happened to find a place on the internet where I could get car repair estimates that fit the bill for me. I did an experiment to see how good this system was. I selected my car on the website with year, model, etc and setup a front brake job with rotor replacement and got a price between $273 to $454, depending on what auto repair shops did the repair. It even told me who the better rated shops were, as well as the lower or unrated shops. Whether you have a Honda Civic or a Ford F150, common problems and repair prices are at your fingertips!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Are Your Lawn and Garden Ready for the Chill? part 2

Fall is an ideal time for fertilizing your lawn. Remove fallen leaves by raking and composting them or mulch them with a mulching lawn mower.

Whether you have a pond made of a flexible vinyl or a pre-formed plastic liner, there are steps you should take to winterize a water feature. Cut back hardy and tender aquatic plants. Bring tender plants indoors and store in a shallow container filled with a few inches of water near a sunny window. Because some plants like tropical water lilies can be somewhat difficult to overwinter indoors, it may be best to treat some tender plants as annuals. Remove tender floaters, like water lettuce or water hyacinth, that won't survive the winter indoors or outdoors. If your pond is less than about two feet deep, gather fish into plastic bags filled with pond water and bring to an indoor aquarium. Sink plastic bags containing the fish into the aquarium and allow time for the water to come to a temperature equilibrium before dumping the fish into the aquarium. If fish are kept outside during the winter, stop feeding them as their metabolism slows down. Remove leaf litter or other debris from the water.

Turn off water to irrigation systems and set automatic timers to the "off" mode. You may not want to turn the controller box off completely so you don't lose the watering schedule and have to reprogram it next season. It may be necessary to drain or blow the water out of the pipes. Consult your local irrigation specialist on recommendations. If any pipes, valves or the backflow preventer are above ground and exposed to the elements, wrap them with protective insulation, like insulator tape, to keep them from freezing. But don't insulate or block air vents or the pump motor.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Are Your Lawn and Garden Ready for the Chill? part 1

Is your garden ready for winter? Here are some tips to help you get prepared.

Garden chores
Move terra-cotta and ceramic containers to a protected location like a garden shed or garage. Clean clay pots to remove the excess salt or algae build-up and repair damaged ones.

Bring tender plants, such as tropicals and containerized plants, inside for overwintering. Replant in pots if necessary and place them in a garage, heated garden shed or indoor room. Take cuttings of annuals, such as coleus, and begin propagating new plants for next season.

Dig and store tender summer- and fall-flowering bulbs, such as dahlias. Plant spring-flowering bulbs like daffodils and tulips. Plant bulbs with their roots down. If the bulb has a sprout at the top, it can still be planted.

Avoid heavy pruning of trees and shrubs going into the winter months, but do prune away broken branches. Touch up mulch at the base of plants once temperatures are consistently cold.

In the perennial border, touch up mulch around plants for added winter protection. A layer of mulch about two to four inches deep is ideal. Unless you prefer otherwise, it is fine to leave foliage that has died back as it will help provide additional protection at the crown of plants. Leave ornamental grasses intact without cutting them back to discourage new growth during warm spells and encourage birds to visit.

Extend the harvest of cool season veggies like lettuce and spinach by constructing a cold frame around them.

Remove spent plants from the vegetable garden and add them to the compost pile. Discard diseased plants in the trash. Turn over the soil with a garden fork (or till) to expose underground pests to cold temperatures. Caution: don't work soil when it's wet! Planting a cover crop can help reduce soil erosion, capture nutrients, reduce weeds and enrich the soil for spring.

Depending on where you live, there are different methods to winterizing roses. A good rule of thumb is to remove the foliage from on and around the base of rose plants; this keeps foliar diseases from overwintering and coming back next growing season. Prune away branches that show signs of decay or insect infestation; also cut long stems that can whip around in the wind. Throw away diseased foliage and cut branches in the trash, instead of composting it. Spray roses and the soil immediately surrounding them with a fungicide to protect plants through winter and hopefully keep disease from overwintering. A generous layer of mulch, topsoil or compost heaped around the graft union can also help protect it against the cold. More on overwintering potted roses and readying roses for winter in prior post.

Winterize the compost bin by covering it with a tarp; this will help to keep the composting process going through the cold season. Occasionally soak the pile with water to keep it moist. Add an insulation of leaves or straw on the top and the sides of the pile.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Are Your Roses Ready For Winter?

Depending on where you live, there are different methods to winterizing roses. A good rule of thumb is to remove the foliage from on and around the base of rose plants; this keeps foliar diseases from overwintering and coming back next growing season. Prune away branches that show signs of decay or insect infestation; also cut long stems that can whip around in the wind. Throw away diseased foliage and cut branches in the trash, instead of composting it. Spray roses and the soil immediately surrounding them with a fungicide to protect plants through winter and hopefully keep disease from overwintering. A generous layer of mulch, topsoil or compost heaped around the graft union can also help protect it against the cold.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Clean Chimney is a Happy Chimney

I am rerunning this article since we are getting much closer to fireplace season than when I ran the original article. This is not a paid advertisement but more of a public service announcement.

The weather is starting to cool, albeit slowly but more so in the north central states. People are starting to think ahead to turkeys, decorated trees, high holidays and one other thing if they have one. Sitting by a nice warm fire in the fireplace. Sounds nice and cozy doesn't it? It does to me because I have a fireplace. My fireplace is as clean now as when the house was built because I have never had a burned anything in it, mostly because I live in Florida and the fireplace came with the house. If I built the house it would not have had a fireplace. I've heard too many stories from public safety officers in my family about fireplaces and people losing their houses, or worse. For those of you who have one, or a wood burning stove, that you will be using ,the rest of this post is for you.

The number 1 thing you can do to prevent a serious loss of property and/or life is to make sure your chimney is clean. I don't mean dust or dirt, those things aren't the issue. Over the course of time dangerous substances such as creosote build up in the chimney that when in significant concentration can ignite. Anyone who uses oil for their home heating is familiar with the oil man coming to the house in the fall and inspecting the furnace for proper combustion. Well the same needs to be done for your chimney on the fireplace AND wood burning stoves. Not everyone is a seasoned veteran when it comes to using the 'right kind of seasoned wood' in their firebox. In a pinch I have seen people grab fresh pine branches to burn which are full of creosote. Yes, that's right, the same stuff that builds up in the chimney along with ash which begins to cake up in the stack. While at your house, sometimes the technician may encounter birds which nest inside your chimney. These federally protected birds are called chimney swifts. These birds, which look like bats, form nests which can produce dangerous situations that might cause a chimney fire. Flammable elements like soot, creosote, leaves and bird nests can catch fire. The Chimney Safety Institute of America, C.S.I.A. and the National Chimney Sweep Guild, has a wealth of information concerning the importance of fire safety. These sites discuss the venting hazards of carbon monoxide and that leaking smoke above masonry dampers can cause potential fire hazards. This is a great reason for waterproofing your chimney and installing screens or chimney caps*. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of holiday cheer.

Crystal Clear Headlights!

Back in the day we had glass headlights that stayed crystal clear for practically the life of the car. The only drawback to the glass headlights was the breakage that often occurred from a collision, vandalism, improper handling or a rock thrown up from a truck. We all know how dangerous broken glass is, as do the auto manufacturers and insurance companies. The solution to the problem was a lens cover made of plastic with a polycarbonate layer bonded to the front. Polycarbonate is most widely known as the material safety eyeglasses are made of, very high impact resistant material. This is the plus side! The minus side is that over a not too long period of time the effects of dirt, debris, stones, pollution and UV rays build up to the point where the lens cover looks like a frosted piece of glass. This effect severely limits the brightness of your headlights but also makes your car look like junk. There are now do-it-yourself kits available for about $20 that can be found at most auto accessory stores and big box mega stores. I know the W mart stores carry them and at the auto dept they may still offer to do it for you for a small fee, it was an offered service there. In my opinion it's well worth the small fee to have them do it, the job can be messy. The only other alternative is to spend a few hundred dollars and get a new replacement lens assembly. No, that would be wasteful, we like to save money here! Happy Motoring!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Beware of Lawn Care Extras!

I recently got an interesting phone call from my lawn care provider. I will call them TG, to protect the innocent and all that. Well, I received the call just before dinner and TG stated he wanted to do the annual aeration and pot ash treatment to ensure my lawn looked good and was healthy. He also said the St. Augustine floratam grass I have needed this treatment yearly. I told him that I neither wanted or could afford the $155 price for said treatment. TG told me that if he went to $150 did I want to do it then? I gave him the same answer. I was told my lawn would suffer without this treatment since it has been a few years since it's been done. I have never had this done and he has been my provider for 2 of the last 7 years I've lived here. Hmm, must be a psychic! Two years ago when they called with this pitch the price was $99, I guess pot ash went up in price. He finally said, when I told him I did not have extra money for this, that he would call back next week and see if things have changed. That would be nice but I have more important bills than lawn poking! I have been told every month by the TG company tech that my lawn is very green and healthy. According to the guy one the phone it should be on the verge of a brown death! The bottom line is that you do not really need this treatment and if your lawn care professional tries to pressure you into getting it done just tell them you don't appreciate being pressured after saying no and that you may need to reevaluate your lawn care if this is how a good customer is treated. You will get an apology faster than a dog chasing a stick. They can't afford the loss of a monthly customer just for a once a year treatment. Oh, and watch out for the Red Ant treatment deal as well, that phone call comes in the springtime. I never get that one either and it's about the same price. Put that money towards a real bill or a vacation instead! Enjoy your new savings!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Caring for your Septic System 101

Your septic system, specifically a septic tank, must be cared for if it is to work trouble free. When trouble does arise it does so in a very expensive and ugly way. Mistreatment of your tank can lead to a very costly replacement tank, a torn up yard and destroyed lawn. When a tank goes bad the first signs are subtle, drains move more slowly, toilets don't completely flush and your yard gets soggy where the tank has been overflowing underground. Put these tips to use for a clean and trouble-free septic system.

Don't Overload the Septic Tank and Drain field

* Check faucets and toilets for leaks; make repairs if necessary.
* Use aerators and flow reducer nozzles on showers to lower water consumption.
* Reduce water levels for small loads of laundry.
* Wait until the dishwasher is full to run it.
* Use a displacer to reduce the amount of water needed to flush the toilet.

Keep Trees Away from the Septic System

* Keep trees and roots at least 100 feet away from the septic system.
* Trees with very aggressive roots should be even farther away from the system.

The Toilet Isn't a Garbage Disposal

* Never flush cat litter, disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, tampons, paper towels, facial tissues, coffee grounds, or cigarette butts and filters. They'll clog your septic tank in less time than you might imagine.

Use Garbage Disposals Wisely - I don't think they should be paired at all!

Minimize Heavy Duty Cleaners - they can and will kill useful bacteria needed!

Do Not Pour Grease Down the Drain - it will clog your drain field and fail!

Perform Regular Maintenance - have it pumped every 3-5 years depending on the number of people living in the house. The fewer people the longer you can go.

Never attempt to open a septic tank yourself. Gases and bacteria in it are dangerous.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Home Environmental Improvement Tips 6-10

These informational tips have allowed me to saves hundreds of dollars in home repairs and improvements and I'd like to share some of these tips with you to get you into the mood to do 'stuff' around your home!

#6 Hardboard or Simulated Rain Forest Wood Doors - High performance alternatives that maximize wood alternatives.

#7 Whole House Attic Fans - I wrote about these before.They are an energy saver that also increases comfort.

#8 High R-Value Attic Insulation - The higher the R-Value the greater the insulating performance.

#9 Light Colored Roof Shingles - Reflects radiant solar heat. Energy saver in most climates except in areas with long cold spells. Darker colors are preferred there to bring heat into the house from the sun.

#10 Low U-Factor Windows - Look for this measure of glass performance.. The lower the U-Factor, the greater the heat transmission savings.

Every so often I will bring some more of these valuable tips for you to read and enjoy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's No Good in the Dark!

I just thought about a big item that will go unattended by everyone until the timing is terrible. Your outdoor lighting and how you'll replace a bad bulb in below freezing conditions during a snow storm when you need to be shoveling but you can't see anything. Sound like something that ever happened to you? It sounds too familiar to me, that's one of the reasons I live in Florida now! :) I know it's not a thrifty thing to do but I'd do it anyways, just in case you end up in this situation, but I'd replace all your outside bulbs, especially the hard to reach ones that will be impossible when the ice is in place. Keep the old bulbs as spares you can always have on hand for the warmer months if they are needed, or even in the house for regular bulbs. Like I said, I know it's not the cheap thing to do but have you ever tried to shovel snow with a flashlight? Also, metal enclosures are easier to handle with bare hands when they're above freezing temps!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Home Improvement Construction Tips 1-5

These informational tips have allowed me to saves hundreds of dollars in home repairs and improvements and I'd like to share some of these tips with you to get you into the mood to do 'stuff' around your home!

#1 Pressure Treated lumber - Chemical preservatives help to prolong the life of the wood. Remember to cut this wood outside, wash your hands after handling, and do no burn!

#2 Engineered Lumber - Maximizes wood resources, often is recycled wood content.

#3 Steel studs - Alternative building material with recycled steel content.

#4 Roof windows and skylights - Natural light saves on lighting costs; roof windows provide ventilation and light.

#5 High-efficiency fireplace inserts - The most efficient air quality and heating alternative to wood, wax or gas logs. Fan log stands can add several degrees of heat to your room as heat blows out through tubes.

Every so often I will bring some more of these valuable tips for you to read and enjoy.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Keep Those Pests Away!

The colder weather is coming and you'll be closing up your windows and doors soon. You'll also be closing in those summer time pests that managed to get themselves into your house as well. There are some simple steps that can keep some of the peskier pests at bay. The one pest I'm thinking of is the spider. There are many spiders that are very beneficial to have around that eat all those other nasty bugs that still roam around. Unfortunately, they have to leave the house because you also have the risk of the nastier spiders that you don't want in your house AT ALL!! Three such spiders are the Black Widow, Brown Widow and the worst one of them, the Brown Recluse (pictures from left to right). I was raised in the Northeastern United States and had only heard of the Black Widow. Since moving to Florida I have heard the stories of the Brown Widow and Brown Recluse (aka Fiddleback). The Brown Recluse can cause Necrosis of the flesh which is a deadening of the flesh which must be removed or it will get worse, up to and including death. I want to state that these three spiders are small in size. It seems as though the smaller they are the more deadly they are. Aside from a professional pest control company coming in to your house and spraying (spiders walk on to of the pesticide and are killed only by a direct hit) the best method of prevention is to never leave any area of your house unmoved. That's right, unmoved. By keeping your house vacuumed and clutter to a minimum the only thing left to do is to move boxes and bags frequently from spot to spot. Spiders do not like movement and will seek solace elsewhere, preferably outside! Keep an open eye out in porch areas and garages. If you have below house/porch access be very careful there as well. Spiders are very resilient and are able to survive many environments and as I stated earlier, most are beneficial to have around!

Friday, September 26, 2008

More Winter Tips!

Since I'm on a roll here with the winterization of your house I figured I'd touch on a few overlooked items to be aware of. Let's touch upon lawn and garden items, shall we? First off, it's not a no brainer but, make sure you drain your garden hose completely before bringing it indoors to either your basement or garage. Removing the water will ensure no ice will form inside the hose to potentially rip it open if it's against a frigid wall in an unheated area (ie: garage, shed). Next, if you have a plastic hose cart or reel I would bring that in also to avoid cracking if accidentally hit by something hard in freezing temps. Hey, maybe one of those icicles might hit it! Give all your garden tools that are metal a light spray of WD40 to help fight rusting for a few months of non-use. Store long handle tools handle side down on some kind of barrier to keep out moisture from wooden handles if you are unable to hang them up. If you keep the tool end up it is less likely to acquire moisture from the floor or deck. This is also a good time to clean out that shed or garage. The cool temps make this job easier than in the summer.
Once all the leaves are taken care of you should put all your tools away as I have shown, you won't be using them for months. Put your snow shovel in a convenient location but not under foot. Keep it where, if you get a bad sudden storm, you can dig your way out of the house. A shovel in the shed is no good if you can't get to it. Lastly, your gas powered yard tools. Your lawnmower, string trimmer, power washer, etc. These need to be winterized. The lawnmower, trimmer and stored gasoline just need a fuel saver to keep out moisture during the long period of non-use, the power washer also needs this treatment as well as a moisture resistant flush of the pump system. This treatment can be obtained at any Sears store in the Lawn & Garden area, it's not cheap but it will prevent hard water damage that could kill your washer while standing for a long time unused and that means lots of money saved. You can get a few treatments out of one can. Lastly, keep rock salt or pellet melters in an easy to get to location to eliminate ice during snow removal and to keep stairs ice free. Hospitals cost LOTS of money, avoid at all costs! Also, if you store items in a shed make sure you remove ALL cardboard, paper, rags, bags, etc. Field mice and rats like to burrow up into sheds for protection during the winter(I know first hand) and they look for bedding material from these items. Without these items the critters may look elsewhere for a winter home and take their droppings with them.
One last thing, for people who own one, make sure you can start your snow blower. If for some reason it will not operate, now is the time to get it to a repair station. I'm sure there will be more to follow!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Barbeque Safety part 1

I don't know about you but I love to bar-be-que in all seasons as well as smoke meats. I don't use the standard method of cooking because I don't think, after several close calls, they're all that safe. What I mean by standard method is propane. I don't trust it, I never will and I don't like the way it cooks. I am a purist who uses hardwood charcoal pieces, not briquettes because they're full of paraffin and other 'things' that I don't want in my food or taste buds. Cowboy Coals is one of the few brands I have found that I can buy easily at Lowes but not Home Depot. I don't know why. Wal Mart used to sell it until it didn't make enough profit for them. That's what the manager told me! This was supposed to be a safety tip for propane and I got side tracked again. Sorry! There are a few things you need to be aware of to safely use and maintain a propane BBQ. The first thing is the valve. The handle on the valve must be the three sided style and not the five sided. The three sided is the current fire safety code version and it was changed for a reason, don't debate it just upgrade the tank. Most refilling stations will not refill the older style anyhow, it's illegal to do it. Next you want to check your hoses and connections under the grill. All you need is a soft brush and a small bucket of very soapy water. Just brush the solution all over the tubing and connectors with the gas valve open and the grill knobs OFF! The pressure in the line will make bubbles if the line has a leak. If there is a leak just shut the valve, open the grill knob to expel the gas in the line and replace the damaged part. Check burners for metal scaling from prolonged heat which can damage lesser expensive units and cause seams to open up creating another safety issue while working over an unstable fire. REPLACE DAMAGED PARTS! It's cheaper than skin grafts. Lastly, if you use your grill in the winter where it gets snow and ice, make sure you cover the grill well so ice doesn't build up on the rubber hoses or bind up the valve from turning easily. I'll talk about the amazing benefits of using charred hardwood in another post! Enjoy and grill safely!

Rev Up Your Ride!

I just wanted to put my two cents into the mix today since I filled my gas tank this morning for $3.999 per gallon and by the time I got home this afternoon it was already $3.659 per gallon. You know, it was a crap shoot when I filled up as to whether the price would go up or go down. I needed the gas so I bit the bullet. I spent about $4.00 more for the fill-up than if I was able to wait. Who knew! Well, just a couple of reminders for saving your gas money. This seems somewhat ironic but if you want to save money on gas you should spend some money on oil, fresh engine oil that is. In fact, if you haven't already done so I HIGHLY recommend the use of synthetic oil. I've been using Castrol synthetic oil since my cars first oil change in 1998 and I have over 156k on my car. With the increased age and mileage I have upgraded the 10W40 to 20W50 for the extra, high mileage, protection. Using synthetic also allows you to go a longer time between oil changes, which makes up for the higher cost of the synthetic. I also recommend a very good oil filter and I know Fram has some great high performance oil filters. Another two things you want to do to keep the friction to a minimum. The first is to get a 4 wheel alignment done at least once a year. If your a high mileage driver, or drive on not so great roads, I would do it at least twice a year. Straight driving puts less wear, which equals drag, on your tires which will increase miles per gallon. The second thing is purely optional but recommended. Maintaining the proper inflation of your tires is critical BUT you can go a step further by replacing the air in your tires with nitrogen gas, which is inert and does not heat up like regular air and is not combustible. Many auto tire dealers and Shell Express Lubes offer this service for a nominal fee somewhere around $5.00 per tire. Less heat on your tires means less wear and for $20.00 it's worth it!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Weeds, Weeds and More Weeds!

Carpet, Dollar & Sedge. If you know what these are that means you’ve probably had, or worse, have them. For those of you who aren't yet familiar with these names they're weeds. They are very invasive weeds that we see in the warm southeast United States. Many of us have taken up arms against them with little success, inevitably seeking out the professional lawn service companies such as Chem-Lawn Truegreen and Scotts, to name but two. I, in the past, sought out the pros to dispose of many lawn and garden weeds. I will point out that my lawn variety is St. Augustine floratam, a very water hungry variety. There are three weed types I'd like to address.

NUTSEDGE! I hate this weed with a passion. The lawn service assured me they could kill it all. They used chemicals know by the names Image and Manor, products that state they kill Nutsedge. Maybe they kill Nutsedge in Argentina during the cold months, but not here! I did some homework and talked with my local chemical supply store (DIY weed and bug killing) and was directed to only one chemical that guaranteed it would kill the dreaded sedge, Basagran! Basagran used in conjunction with an herbicidal oil, used to allow chemical to stick to the weed, would be successful. You can substitute vegetable oil for herbicidal oil with the same result. You know what? It worked just as I was told it would. The sedge browned out in a couple of days, killing the roots as well. All I needed to do was harvest the dead sedge.

DOLLAR WEED! This weed has such a long root system that you cannot dig all of it up to eliminate it, aside from tearing up your entire lawn and/or garden. It gets everywhere and the best you can accomplish is to control it when it surfaces. The chemical of choice here is Atrizine and only Atrizine! Why? Because it works, that's why. Here we go again, Image and Manor will kill Dollar Weed in ....yada, yada, yada! Due to the fact that too many people overapplied Atrizine in the concentrated form(if 1 oz is good then 3 oz will be really good!- NOT good) the EPA banned it. You may only buy it in the diluted gallon jug because people used it stupidly and did not follow the specific mixing instructions. Don't use Atrizine if it will be raining within a couple of days. The chemical works best when allowed to absorb into the leaf and when it's dry the leaf will absorb this moisture and hasten it's departure. To a lesser extent it will kill some of the root system if the area remains dry for several days. FYI! If you use a zoned sprinkler system try to direct spray away from moist or shaded areas as Dollar Weed loves moist soil to grow faster. Do Not over-water your yard as this will encourage weed growth and migration.

CARPET GRASS! This is a real pain in the butt! There is no chemical, that is still legal, you can use to kill carpet grass. People know this weed who have planted plugs or sodded a lawn. It creeps in and starts to take over the lawn voraciously. The only remedy I know for this, and I've had partial success with it, is 20 Mule Team Borax laundry booster. Yes, that's right, a laundry additive. Just sprinkle over the carpet grass and wait for it to yellow before pulling it out. When removed use Preen, or similar product, to ensure it won't return. Do Not over-apply the Borax as it can damage your lawn if it has poor drainage(ie: clay or tight soil).Borax can also be used on Dollar Weed but is not as effective as Atrizine.

Be smart when applying any killing agent to your property. Overuse will create collateral botanical damage, pet illness/poisoning and human health issues from contaminated shoes and clothing inside the house from the yard. When handling herbicides, and pesticides, always remember to WASH YOUR HANDS and change your clothes before lounging. When using powdered or misting chemicals always wear a breathing shield(doctors mask), gloves and eye protection. In concentration these chemicals are harmful to humans and animals as well as weeds! At the very least make sure your shield your eyes, as chemicals enter the bloodstream VERY FAST through the eye tissue.

Note: The treatments listed above are NOT a permanent fix. These weeds will come back/ The important thing to remember is not to stress out because it is treatable.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I don't care sun, it's getting warm in here!

I know, it's a corny title but appropriate for my energy tip today. This may sound somewhat simplistic but have you ever thought about how much money goes out of your house by CLOSED windows? Think about it, have you gone over to a window that is facing the current sunny side of the house and felt the warmth? I know if you live in a cold winter state, or country, you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. You feel all warm and toasty and all that cold outside is just that-outside! Right? WRONG! There is an old adage that says 'HEAT TO COLD', which simply means that the hot area is going to migrate to the colder area in the quest of seeking neutrality of temperatures. Now the reality of this using your windows. Allowing the sun into your house is allowing the suns radiant heat into your house. In wintertime your helping your heater warm the house, of course when the sun moves away your house will try to heat the outdoors. In a hot climate it is cooler indoors but the heat radiating indoors is taxing your air conditioning to try to maintain coolness as the heat tries to achieve a parity indoors.
There are many steps you can take to reduce heat/cold loss in your house. The simplest is just watch your windows and adjust the shades to the sun depending on what you want from it. Hot climate? Shade the sunny side and open shades on the shady, non-sunny sides. Cold climate? Open those sunny side shades and close the colder sides till the sun gets there. The goal is to save as much money as you can without spending anything.
I hope this tip will be helpful, even to just one person.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Money Saving Tip

I got this tip from my electrical cooperative in Florida and I had mixed feelings about it when I read it. The article said that you can turn up your thermostat to between 76 and 78 degrees in the house while running your ceiling fans and still feel like it's cooler than the actual temperature. To say the least I was skeptical! Well, I was proven wrong, it did seem cooler! It really felt like it was 3-5 degrees cooler, without the addition of the air conditioner working as much. Considering the rising fuel adjustments to the electric bills, anything to save a few dollars is a good thing! I thought I'd pass that along to everyone with central air. If you have window units, like the colder northern states, I would still set the unit at a higher temp and use your fans to direct the air, especially if you only have oscillating fans. Do Not do this with window fans for obvious reasons! Got a tip of your own? Drop me a comment and I'll try to feature it and credit you for the idea!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Your Not The Only One Who Breathes In The House!

During the summer months when the mechanically sweet smell of manufactured cold air is wafting through the house we often forget one important thing - air filters! Just like all living creatures on this planet, your central air conditioner needs to breathe too. It is a wise idea to check all removable filters that pull air through your house to be cooled in your , in most cases, attic and delivered back into the house. When filters start to have dust build-up there is a major issue brewing. The a/c unit must pull enough air through the system to remain healthy. When excess build-up occurs the unit begins to over-work as it tries to get the temperature down resulting in longer run times, which equals higher electric costs and excess wear on the mechanical components that can lead to unit failure, which equals a very expensive repair or replacement. I know the latter part too well. When I bought my house the previous owner didn't bother to keep regular maintenance going and I had to buy a new central a/c when mine died during a hot spell, which if it's going to fail there is no time better than a hot spell when it's working the hardest.
Filters are cheap and new a/c's aren't! Keep enough on-hand or do like I did. I bought an Electrostatic house filter that can be cut to size and just gets a hose off to clean. These can be found at your local building mega-store that starts with the letter L.
Also, do your car a favor and do the same for it!

Unlimited Hot Water with Lower Cost.

The days of the water heater tank in the basement or in the garage could be heading for oblivion. The day of the tankless water heater is upon us! Or is it? I first started hearing about these devices about 12 years ago when I was in England. The flats are so compact over there that they needed to do something like this for space sake if not just for efficiency. I thought that this was a great idea since this seemed like it would be great for my house by freeing up space in the garage, thus allowing me to store more 'stuff' where the tank was. I never got around to it until just this past year. I spoke to several plumbers about tankless heaters and I got the same response from all of them, "how much hot water do you need for how many people at once" and "do you plan on running your dishwasher or washing machine while you shower?". Odd questions I thought but I pursued it further and was told that the concept was good, it's just that the pipes need to be larger in the house than it was built with to get the needed 'gallons per minute' from the unit. Oh well, maybe another time.

The tankless water heater works by electrically heating the water while it's still in the pipe and delivers it to where the demand is. No demand means the unit is off until hot water is needed again.

The Upside - hot water on-demand without having run down of stored hot water, since none is stored. Uses electricity ONLY when water is required, thus lowering electrical costs. Small unit mounts on wall thereby eliminating a bulky tank.
Units can run from $200-$500 USD, not including installation which is reasonable for long term cost savings.

The Downside - unless your home was/is designed for this system during construction the pipe size and flow rate will diminish with multiple calls for heated water. A home with 2 adults not washing clothes would be appropriate for this system, not for families.

Recommended with reservations noted above.

Disclaimer: The unit shown above is for example purposes only and does not reflect any judgement on this units abilities or performance.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Protect Your Wiring!

This is appropriate for anyone who lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, or any other lightning rich area, in the summer months. Those of you who enjoy the snap, crackle and pop of a good lightning storm (like me)would enjoy the sky-ripping bolts of pure electricity steaking across the sky and also striking the land. Now for the sober side of lightning. When it hits buildings, at the very least, the power goes out and the very worst is the building is destroyed. Several things happen when lightning hits near your home or power sub-station. The electricity may fluctuate and stay on, it may go off for a short while or a long while, the current may surge and destroy non protected devices, it may follow a metallic pipe or line and bring the power into the house causing a fire, plumbing fixtures may be destroyed and worst of all it could cause human or pet casualties. There isn't too much you can do to stop a bolt of lightning and yes, I know what your going to say "but I have lightning rods on my roof to protect me". Okay, I see! You have metal rods on your roof to attract lightning to your house! Hmmm! I will continue to something you do have control over. Everyone has appliances (ie: washer, dryer, fridge, tv, pc), to some extent, that could be adversely effected by an electrical surge. Most plug-in surge suppressors cannot handle a direct hit from lightning. Once the current gets into the house it will fan out across any wiring it can find. What can you do? Simple. Contact your local electric company and ask if they can provide a surge suppressor for your outside meter. My provider is Withlacoochee River Electric Co-op. I pay a very small monthly fee (<$7) and this gets me the surge stopper installed on the meter AS WELL AS full insurance coverage for any major appliance in the house that is damaged by a surge that manages to get through. I don't know about you but I know I could never afford to replace more than 1 appliance at any one time. The Upside - very low cost whole house 'lightning through the wires' protection.

The Downside - not all electric companies offer this service. Ask Them To!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Upgrading Those Lightbulbs.

I found, after receiving a bigger than usual electric bill, that I had a hole in the air I was pouring electric light into. This is similar to swimming pools that are a hole in the ground you pour money into. In Florida houses are lit up most of the time and 99% are using incandescent light bulbs. This is one of the biggest invisible expenses on your bill. I selected this item to be my first cost cutter in the house. I now have 75% of my lighting with these tube bulbs. They use 30 watts of electricity to produce 60 watts of light and in two of my rooms I found the light to be brighter than the old lights and was able to eliminate secondary lights altogether.

The Upside - good lighting with lower operating cost. Try home stores like Lowes or Home Depot for larger multi packs (I got mine cheaper there than at that BIG retailer).

The Downside - do not use fluorescents with security lighting as the response time is inadequate for instant lighting. These bulbs get full brightness after 2-3 seconds.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


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