Archive for February, 2008
I hate traffic lights. I hate them even more when they have me stopped unnecessarily. I’m always thinking about the gas being wasted as cars are forced to stop and then idle. Sure, electric cars will recapture energy when you are breaking but there is still energy lost. I suspect 10% of the traffic lights in this country are unnecessary and of the remaining 90%, 50% of those are only useful for about 8 hours a day. Still more aren’t needed on weekends.
As a teenager I was visiting Utica NY and there were stoplights at almost every intersection, despite the fact that Utica was already a ghost town (population was in steady decline since the late 1960s). Was it cheaper to leave them up than to install some stop signs?
What we need is a place where people can report useless stop lights so they can be removed. We also need a way to report enhancements. On my way home I come to a light that I turn right at. There is a right turn lane but no arrow. This results in all cars stopping when the light is red even though the cross traffic runs one way at a time. A turn arrow would easily save 500 cars a day from needing to stop. How much gas would that save? I guess I should write my county government but I’m sure this will be a time consuming and painful process. If people stuck at intersections thought about issues with the intersection and were able to report them easily, think of all the energy (and time) we would save.
Besides removing lights, some municipalities need to work on making their lights facilitate the flow of traffic. You should never be driving down a main road and get stuck at over 50% of the lights. It kills me when I’m stuck at a light and I see the next light in sequence turn green only to be red by the time I get there.
I always loved driving late at night when most of the traffic lights were blinking yellow. I think most lights should do this much earlier and some should do it all weekend.
More traffic circles would also save energy, if only American’s knew how to use them. People are too timid resulting in less than efficient operation. Also you have the confusion made by differing rules. Most states use the same rules as Europe (traffic in circle has right of way) but New Jersey made up their own rules. Even with US circle inefficiencies I suspect traffic circles are a big energy saver.
As an experiment I’m going to see if I can get a right turn arrow put in at that intersection I mentioned. I suspect it won’t happen because there is no incentive. It will cost money to install and will provide the county no benefit. In fact they’ll lose a little tax revenue from gas sales since we’ll be using less.
Of course if everyone was reporting light change suggestions the county could prioritize them by impact. How many cars per day can you stop from stopping would be one measure and idle time reductions would be another. That’s all for now. Let me figure out how to request a light!
Electric clothes dryers are not an efficient way to heat your home, but if you’re using it anyway, you might as well use that heat to warm and humidify your home in the winter. Not only is your dryer heating air and sending it outside, it is constantly pulling warm air out of your house when it is running. What is coming into your house is cold dry air to replace the air the dryer is expelling. There is also the issue of air coming into your dryer vent when the dryer isn’t running. If your outside vent cap doesn’t seal well this can make your laundry room very drafty.
Here’s what I do every fall to help warm my home, increase humidity and lower drafts in my laundry room.
1) I disconnect my dryer hose from the outside and stuff the hole with plastic grocery bags. These make great insulation, just don’t forget to take them out in the spring when you reconnect.
2) I connect a longer dryer hose to my dryer and run it to a lint trap. Try to get the trap as far as possible from the dryer as you want the humid air to dissipate. Depending on your existing setup you may be able to use your existing hose.
Here is my lint trap. Under the sink, next to the washer
Here is the dryer hose running from my dryer and past the washer.
Since I have kids we do a lot of laundry, which in turn results in me never having static electricity issues in the winter as my home is never too dry. These lint traps are pretty common. If you Google “lint trap” you’ll find plenty of places selling them. They are filled with water and they catch most of the lint. Warning, If you let the trap run dry you’ll end up with a linty home.
I know some people use nylon stockings over the end of the hose instead of a trap but if you didn’t clean it often you could damage your dryer or cause a fire. I also have friends who have created larger boxes to capture more lint. Please leave comments or other ideas below.
Warning #1: Only do this in the winter months as you may end up with a mildew problem from excessive humidity and this will work against your air conditioning. We want to expel heat in the summer. Also, the dryer will not be able to dry clothes as fast if it is pulling in excessively humid air. I find this to be a non-issue in the winter because the humid exhaust is quickly evaporated into the relatively dry house air. The further you can get the lint trap from the dryer the better.
Warning #2: Don’t do this if you have a natural gas dryer. You must vent this outside to prevent carbon monoxide buildup in your home.
Warning #3: If you use fabric softeners or home dry clean kits you should probably not do this as you may end up with unhealthy air.
i find that switching over from internal to external venting gives me an excuse to clean lint out of the lines and dryer twice a year. When was the last time you cleaned your vent hose?