1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

January 31, 2008

:031 Tally the Savings

Filed under: :031 Tally the savings — Tags: , , , — John Banta @ 12:01 am

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Suggested Review – All 1:5:10:365 Tips

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:031 Tip:There have now been thirty days worth of 1:5:10:365 Tips. If you have been recording in you journal each day it should now be fairly easy to track how much you have spent and how much you can anticipate saving. Under additional information there will be a listing of the 5:10:365 Tips :001-:030 and suggestions for considering them from the standpoint of costs or savings. By subtracting the costs from the savings each month you will be able to track both financial and environmental progress.

Tomorrow I am going to suggest you invest the 1:5:10:365 savings you accumulate in do-it-yourself carbon credits.

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Additional Information

The following tally is given as an example. Your own numbers will vary – Get them from your journal. For purposes of this tally only dollars will be counted – Of course there are other benefits as well. As an example: what I did will be in ($cost/$saved)

:001 Start a Journal – information benefits ($0/$0)

:002 Log Utility Rates – information benefits  ($0/$0)

:003 Read Power Meter – information benefits  ($0/$0)

:004 Hidden Electric Use – information benefits  ($0/$0)

:005 Watt Use is it? – Cost/Savings – $25 one time cost/savings elsewhere  ($25/$0)

:006 Make Soup – $0 cost/monthly savings  ($0/$20)

:007 Water Leaks – maintenance cost/offset savings  ($35/$2)

:008 Water Meter – information benefits ($0/$0)

:009 Hidden Water Leaks – maintenance costs/offset savings ($0/$0)

:010 Water Damage – maintenance costs/ undetermined ($0/$0)

:011 Gas Meter – information benefits ($0/$0)

:012 Gas Leaks – maintenance cost/offset savings ($0/$0)

:013 Conserving Gas – variable cost/variable savings ($0/$0)

:014 No Shoes – information benefits ($0/$0)

:015 vacuum bags – maintenance  ($0/$0) cost/maintenance savings

:016 HEPA vacuum  – maintenance cost/variable savings ($0/$0)

:017 How to Vacuum – $0/maintenance savings ($0/$0)

:018 Micro-fiber cloth maintenance cost/maintenance savings ($20/$?)

:019 Determine Watt Use –  $0 costs/variable savings  ($0/$0)

:020 Maintenance Cost – information benefits ($0/$0)

:021 Auto-Powerstrips $40 ea cost/variable benefits  ($40/$6)

:022 Refrigerator Energy Use – variable costs/variable savings  ($0/$0)

:023 Clean Frige Coils – variable cost/variable savings  ($0/$3)

:024 Fridge Condensate – information benefits ($0/$0)

:025 EnergyStar Appliances – information benefits ($0/$0)

:026 Frige Replacement Payback – variable cost/vairiable savings ($0/$0)

:027 Eco-Towing – information ($0/$0)

:028 Compact Fluorescent Lights – variable cost/variable savings  ($35/$25)

:029 CFL safe disposal – information benefits ($15/$0)

:030 Mercury clean-up – information benefits ($0/$0)

In my case I spent about $170 in January following my own tips. I am estimating my savings based on these changes to be about $56 each month or $672 a year. That’s a net pretty good payback

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January 30, 2008

:030 Mercury Clean-up

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United Kingdom instructions for cleaning up broken CFLs

Suggested Review – :028, :029

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:030 Tip:  When fluorescent tubes break they release the hazardous heavy metal mercury. The above ten steps are the published recommendations in the United Kingdom. I would add to these ten steps EPAs recommendation to:  Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.

See you tomorrow

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Additional Information

EPA’s information on broken CFL clean-up can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/mercury/spills/index.htm#flourescent 

They have additional mercury clean-up information including for broken thermometers. They state:

What Never to Do with a Mercury Spill

  • Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury (but see the “What to Do if a Fluorescent Light Bulb Breaks” section below for more specific instructions about vacuuming broken fluorescent light bulbs). The vacuum will put mercury into the air and increase exposure. The vacuum appliance will be contaminated and have to be thrown away.
  • Never use a broom to clean up mercury. It will break the mercury into smaller droplets and spread them.
  • Never pour mercury down a drain. It may lodge in the plumbing and cause future problems during plumbing repairs. If discharged, it can cause pollution of the septic tank or sewage treatment plant.
  • Never wash mercury-contaminated items in a washing machine. Mercury may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.
  • Never walk around if your shoes might be contaminated with mercury. Contaminated clothing can also spread mercury around.

Top of page

What to Do if a Fluorescent Light Bulb Breaks

USEPA states: Fluorescent light bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. EPA recommends the following clean-up and disposal guidelines:

  1. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
  2. Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a sealed plastic bag.
    1. Use disposable rubber gloves, if available (i.e., do not use bare hands). Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the plastic bag.
    2. Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
  3. Place all cleanup materials in a second sealed plastic bag.
    1. Place the first bag in a second sealed plastic bag and put it in the outdoor trash container or in another outdoor protected area for the next normal trash disposal.
      Note: Some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken lamps be taken to a local recycling center.
    2. Wash your hands after disposing of the bag.
  4. If a fluorescent bulb breaks on a rug or carpet:
    1. First, remove all materials you can without using a vacuum cleaner, following the steps above. Sticky tape (such as duct tape) can be used to pick up small pieces and powder.
    2. If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the bag or vacuum debris in two sealed plastic bags in the outdoor trash or protected outdoor location for normal disposal.

[Note from John Banta: some sources are now stating the area of carpet that came in contact with the mercury should be cut out and thrown away. In any case vacuuming the area as suggested by EPA could release additional mercury vapors into the air of the home. It would be safer if the vacuum cleaner could be set outside or its exhaust directed to the outside where it would be diluted. Still none of this is very comforting.]

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January 29, 2008

:029 CFL Safe Disposal

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:029 Tip: Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) contain an average of 5 milligrams of mercury (older ones may have up to 20 milligrams). They should be recycled to remove and reclaim the mercury to prevent it from contaminating landfills with the hazardous waste. 

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Tomorrow I will talk about what to do if a fluorescent tube breaks.

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Additional Information

href=”https://1510365blog.wordpress.com/2008/01/29/029-cfl-safe-disposal/attachment/108/”>Suggested Review – :028

Every county in the United States is supposed to have a hazardous waste disposal program, but most don’t accept fluorescent bulbs and tubes.

IKEA stores have added mercury recycle/disposal station in its customer service area where they accept used CFLs and batteries at no charge.

Sylvainia corporation has set up a disposal program using the RecyclePac shown above. The pack contains padding material in a shipping box which is sent by to the recyclers. The cost of disposal works out to a little over a dollar a bulb.

Check with www.earth911.org to find other disposal options by entering your zip-code (or call 1-877-EARTH911).

According to the Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers: 

“70.8% of the mercury-lamps used by business and 98% of the lamps used in homes are not being recycled.”

You can obtain a copy of their annual report and additional information at www.lamprecycle.org.

EPA has the following website to help you: Find fluorescent light bulb recycling programs in your area

Finally you should check directly with your local waste management agency for recycling options if they don’t have an easy recycling/disposal process in place in your community, you may choose to lobby them and your local community government to set something up.

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January 28, 2008

:028 Compact Fluorescent Lights

Filed under: :028 CFLs — Tags: , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:01 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

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1:5:10:028 Tip: Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) have come a long way. Presently about 20% of households have switched from the standard incandescent bulbs.

You can get about 60 watts of light for 17 watts of power, but not all compact fluorescent bulbs are created equal. I recommend that you try several different brands and styles. You may like the colors from some better than. Another difference is the speed at which they power up. Some start out dim and attain their full light output over several minutes. This helps extend the life of the bulb for situations where they will be switched on and off repeatedly. If you need and want instant light in an area that you will be switching on and off – you probably won’t get the expected eight years of life from a CFL, but it can still be worth the pay back by reducing the light bill by more than a third. The cost of the bulbs was only $1 each at our local dollar store. I’ve seen them for about the same price at Lowe’s and Home Depot. That means they should pay for themselves with savings in 4 to 6 weeks.

The big downside for all fluorescent is they contain mercury. Tomorrow I will talk about proper disposal of fluorescent and the next day mercury clean-up if a bulb breaks.

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Additional Information –

GE has posted additional facts and benefits for CFLs at: http://www.gelighting.com/na/home_lighting/ask_us/faq_compact.htm

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January 27, 2008

:027 Eco-Towing Business

Suggested Review – none

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:027 Tip: Evaluate your business to see how it can provide eco-benefits. Here’s an example:

Problem: Traffic snarls caused by stalled vehicles blocking lanes wastes gas, ups the carbon ante, and results in frustration from the traffic jams.

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Solution: A company has hit on a “transformer technology” that makes a lot of sense for the the towing industry. This motorcycle towing-vehicle can zip around traffic jams to access a stranded vehicle that’s blocking traffic. 

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Once there it unzips to become a tow vehicle –

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-and gets those idling cars moving again.

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Additional Information: Please share this with your friends and tow truck companies – I would like to see this catch on here. These are the types of innovations that can help on many levels.

I’ve tried to find out more about these mo-tow-cycles without any success. Rumor has it they are manufactured in Sweden. Anyone know?

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January 26, 2008

:026 Replacement Payback

Suggested Review – :022, :023 :025

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

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1:5:10:026 Tip: When you decide to replace your refrigerator – the energy guide will help you determine the amount of money you are likely to save.

You’ve already determined your annual cost to operate your current refrigerator in :022, and :023. Simply compare that to the annual estimated energy use guide (the yellow sticker) posted on the appliance.

Now the bonus: Many public utilities are offering rebates, credits or discount coupons as a bounty to get rid of old energy wasting refrigerators and freezers. Make sure you check with your utility to see if they have one of these programs. They may have limits on what you must buy. 

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Additional Information

EPA has a refrigerator replacement cost calculator at: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=refrig.calculator

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January 25, 2008

:025 EnergyStar Appliances

Suggested Review – none

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

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1:5:10:025 Tip: Today’s action is to check your energy use meter to see how much energy you saved by cleaning the refrigerator coils. Record this in your journal.

The tip is about the Environmental Protection Agencies EnergyStar Program.

According to EPA “ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.” Whenever you purchase a new major appliance – this program can help you choose one that will use less energy.

When you make a new appliance purchase, there are two costs:

1.) the initial purchase price

2.) the ongoing electricity use

Both should be considered – and the EnergyStar Program can help. One important savings that is provided by EnergyStar approved products is a very low trickle current use when in standby mode.

Tomorrow I will talk about calculating the payback period for replacing your refrigerator. This same calculation can be used for any appliance.

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Additional Information

The EnergyStar website http://www.energystar.gov/ is the starting place for researching which appliance models are the most efficient. It also serves as a good reference for tax credit information and other energy saving programs.

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January 24, 2008

:024 Fridge Condensate

Suggested Review – :005, :019, :022, :023

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

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http://www.american-appliance.com/catalog/newsdesk_info.php?newsPath=14&newsdesk_id=39

1:5:10:024 Tip: Yesterday I told you how to clean your refrigerators cooling coils. At the same time you should plan on cleaning the condensate pan.

The condensate pan is used to collect water that drains from the refrigerator during the defrost cycle. The water is collected in a collection pan and then evaporates into the room air. The pan can become quite dirty and support bacteria and mold growth. If you can remove the pan for cleaning, it should be taken outside so that any mold growth it has won’t release spores into the house. Clean the condensate pan frequently enough so that microorganisms don’t have a chance to become established and released indoors.

Don’t forget to record the energy use in your journal before you clean the coils and condensate pan.

Tomorrow you will be recording the clean coil energy use, so you can compare the before and after values. I will also talk about the Energy Star Appliance program.

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Additional Information

In order to clean the condensate pan and cooling coils you may need to remove a protective grill or panel. It is best to check the owners manual for detailed instructions.

When you reinsert the pan, make sure the drain line is unobstructed and is positioned properly to drain into the pan – otherwise the water may drain out onto the floor, or back up in the unit.

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January 23, 2008

:023 Clean Fridge Coils

Suggested Review – :005, :019, :022

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

images-refrig.jpg  graphic source: www.hometips.com/content/refrigerators_ef.html

1:5:10:023 Tip: Yesterday you began monitoring your refrigerator for 24 hours to see how much electricity it uses. Today you should record the electric use and learn to clean the cooling coils. Once the coils have been cleaned you can see how much energy is saved by monitoring for another 24 hours. Manufactures and energy conservation experts are recommending the coils be cleaned twice a year. Even more often if you have indoor pets like dogs or cats since their hair tends to dirty up the coils faster. When the coils are dirty, heat builds up and more energy is used to keep your foods cold or frozen. The extra heat will also shorten the life of the refrigerator. Some estimates indicate that dirty coils can add up to $150 dollars a year to your energy bill. Spending ten minutes twice a year to clean the coils can really pay off. When I checked it with my energy use meter, I determined dirty coils would add an extra $3 dollars a month to my electric bill.

Record in your journal the energy use and let the monitor run for another day to see if it is fairly constant. While your cleaning the coils, it is a good time to also clean and check the condensate pan. Tomorrow I will tell you how.

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Additional Information

According to Whirlpool: “the cooling coils for your refrigerator and freezer look like thin tubes, sometimes with connecting fins like a radiator on your car. Some coils are mounted at the rear of the refrigerator. Other are located below the refrigerator, where a fan moves air across the coil. When you stand next to the refrigerator in the winter and feel a warm breeze at your feet, it means the condenser coil and fans are working.”

“If the exterior condenser coils become dirty, they are less efficient at transferring heat into the air around the refrigerator. To clean the coils, you can carefully vacuum them or remove stubborn dust with a condenser cleaning brush”.

 If your refrigerator has coils and a fan below the refrigerator, you will need to remove some access panels to reach the coils. We suggest that you follow the specific instructions for your refrigerator and unplug the unit before you attempt to clean the coils.”

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January 22, 2008

:022 Frige Energy Use

Suggested Review – :005, :019

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

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1:5:10:022 Tip: In comparison to other appliances the refrigerator uses more electricity – for example – five times as much as a typical television set, but of course the refrigerator must be kept operating 24/7. To find out your refrigerator’s energy use, plug it into your watt monitoring meter and let it run for 24 hours. Also check how many watts of electricity are being used when the door is open versus closed, and when the compressor is running versus off. If your door seal has a heater to prevent condensation at the door gasket, switch it on and check its electricity use as well as when the refrigerator is going through its defrost cycle – if you can catch it. Depending on your unit, it may be time to consider replacing it with a more energy efficient model.

Our refrigerator is about 5 years old and is using about 1.6 kilowatts per day. That’s not too bad considering an older energy hog model may use 5 or more kilowatts each day. At that rate, it may be time to buy a new refrigerator. But before you buy a new model, you will probably want to consider the 1:5:10:365 tips for the next few days.

Tomorrow we will find out how much energy our refrigerator can save by cleaning the cooling coils.

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Additional Information

Make sure you record your refrigerator’s kilowatt use in your journal.

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