I always hated printing confirmation pages from web sites. Printing a piece of paper that’ll end up in the recycle bin in a few weeks is just silly. There are also times that I’m not connected to a printer and I really need to save a copy of something I’m viewing.
My answer for the past few years has been PDFCreator, install it and whenever you print, you can print to a pdf file instead of a printer. This month alone I think I’ve printed one paper page from my printer and about 90 pages to PDF form.
I also used PDF creator to email proof pages for our daughter’s yearbook to teachers. In the past printouts would be made for each teacher, they would mark them up and send them back. I’ve easily saved a ream of paper this year by doing this via email. Not to mention its easier to manage email than paper.
Once installed, just use it like a printer. It will show up as a printer in the print dialog.
From there it will ask you for a title and then a name for your pdf. If you want to make a hardcopy later you can just print the pdf file you created.
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?
Up until a few months ago, all of my bedroom ceiling fans used Compact Florescent bulbs (CFLs). Back in October I bought a Hampton Bay Ceiling fan for Dani’s room and when I installed the light fixture I noticed it had a different socket type. It used Intermediate base bulbs (also known as E17). These bulbs are rare and there is no CFL option. So I went back to Home Depot and sure enough all the manufacturers were starting to use these things. The Home Depot guy suspected it was a conspiracy between the ceiling fan companies and the bulb manufacturer. There is only a single brand of intermediate base bulbs at Home Depot so this made a little sense. They also cost as much as a CFL!
I had no desire to use these bulbs so I started looking into converting my base to use the standard medium base socket. I saw a medium base for a ceiling fan display model at Home Depot but they wouldn’t sell it to me and it was no longer going to be carried. The plot thickened. So I looked on the Lowes website and I found a medium base socket that I figured I could retrofit onto my base. While I was looking for the item at Lowes, I asked a representative of one of the lighting companies (who was restocking) about the intermediate bases and he said it was all part of the 2007 Energy Bill. Huh? How can using a base that doesn’t support CFLs be part of an energy bill? I googled around and it appears this was a loophole to get around the Bill. The bill required ceiling fan manufacturers to ship with CFLs, UNLESS they used candelabra or intermediate base bulbs.
Here is the conversion that I did tonight in about 15 minutes.
DISCLAIMER: Please do no do this unless you are experienced with electrical wiring. Follow these steps at your own risk. There may be typos so use common sense if you do this.
1) Unscrew the existing sockets and cut the wires. Keep track of the original wiring. Save the screws.
2) Remove the mount from the Lowes socket and attach it to the base with the screw from the intermediate base. Twist and bend to get it as close to center.
3) You’ll need to strip the existing wires that were not part of the intermediate bases.
4) Combine your whites and blacks and attach with a twist on electrical wire connector.
Since these sockets are bigger I needed to bend the socket a little before the light covers fit but overall the fixture looks great.
Pictures. yeah close ups are out of focus but hopefully helpful.
This is the bottom of the intermediate bulb base. poor focus. This is where you will find the screw to remove it.
Here is how the medium base (lleft) compares to the intermediate base (right).
The new base had 2 screws. I removed them and used the screw from the intermediate base since I knew it fit the fixture.
And now I have CFL joy.
A few days ago I was having my old AC unit removed and my AC technician noticed that I had a PEPCO Kilowatchers box on my AC Unit. “You won’t be needing that on the new unit” he said. Sure enough they killed the program 3 years ago. These boxes allowed PEPCO to turn off AC units during peak hours to prevent brown outs and help them reduce expenses. In return, people who volunteered to add this box to their AC Unit would get paid each time they were turned off. I think the max was 1 hour per day. So much for trying to get by with fewer power plants.
When I moved into my house in 1998 the power meter was setup for Time of Use (TOU) billing. The off peak rate was about 1/2 the normal rate and the peak rate was a few cents higher than the normal rate. Since my wife and I worked during the day, this saved us money. I kept the AC off during the day and turned it on again when the rates dropped. A few years ago PEPCO changed the off peak rate to be almost the same as the normal rate so I dropped the program. There was no longer incentive to participate.
Just this week I heard that utilites pay 10x more for energy during peak hours. Giving me 50% off my off peak rates seems like a huge win for them and me. I don’t understand why they removed the incentive.
My guess is that since they no longer own any power plants, they are no longer concerned with having to build new plants to keep up with demand. Any increase in peak power can just be passed onto consumers and they profit regardless.
Time of Use programs have the power to reduce the need for more plants and they allow us make better use of our existing infrastructure. Perhaps the government should push for reasonable TOU programs so we can reduce our peak energy usage.