ecoexist store

Yet another anti-Vista article

Posted by admin on May 28th, 2008
May 28

I know, I know. Everyone is bashing Vista these days, but it is starting to die down a little. I personally don’t use Windows but I did find this article somewhat interesting. It’s definitely biased, but I’m putting it here in hopes that others might consider their own computers energy consumption: How Windows XP Wasted $25 Billion of Energy.

Things to consider when selecting computers –

  1. laptops are more efficient than desktops (link)
  2. lcd monitors are more efficient than CRT monitors (link)
  3. select hardware for your computer based on what you really need it for. For example, do you need 4 gigs of memory to surf the web? Probably not, that much is usually better suited for servers and will only consume more power.

Here’s a useful link from the Australian Energy Star program that lays out step-by-step instructions for enabling Energy Star settings on your computer.

May 17

At 105 degrees, today is one of the hottest days so far this year for us in the San Fernando Valley. Some of the things we have done to try to keep our home as cool as possible is to close all of the doors to rooms that we don’t use during the day – bedrooms, bathrooms, the office, the kitchen. That pretty much leaves the livingroom for the most part. In the living room we set up a portable 10,000BTU AC unit that I had sitting around with a “booster” box fan to help circulate the air better. We have to have the portable AC unit on full time, but it’s better than having the main unit on all day, which I’m sure would be the case otherwise. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s adequite and it keeps things comfortable. The biggest downside is the noise from the fans.

Indication that the changes we’ve made are working

Posted by admin on May 9th, 2008
May 9

One of the biggest things I’ve been focusing on initially is trying to make changes that ultimately reduce our electricity usage. We also do things to reduce water usage as well, but we don’t use a lot of water anyway so I feel that’s pretty well under control at this point. My hope is to not only to do good things for my son’s future planet, but also to save money. Let’s face it – moving from Washington State to Southern California and buying a house on the downward turn of the housing frenzy of the last few years was not a great financial decision. Now I’m trying to mitigate the depreciation of our home by saving in other ways. Utilities.

Has it been working? Well, we just got our latest utility bill and I see a definite improvement from a year ago. Last year at this time, our electricity cost us $215, this years bill it cost us $185 – approximately a 16% drop. That’s with adjusting the AC thermostat up three degrees around the beginning of April (the last month of the billing cycle), blowing in insulation – which was done with eight days left of the billing cycle, and with contractors here for the last week of April using power tools to pressure wash/sand/paint the outside of the house for eight plus hours a day. So not really big differences, and the changes we made weren’t fully realized on this bill, and extra electricity used by the on-site contractors, but still a 1/6th drop in the bill from a year ago.

I’m betting the next electric bill will be even more noticeably lower than last years bill from the same time period. We’re heading into the hot time of the year so the bills are only going to get bigger, but we can control how much bigger if we continue to make just a few minor, and relatively inexpensive, changes.

Corn resin water bottle with its own filter

Posted by admin on May 3rd, 2008
May 3

I’m not sure where I heard about it, possibly on HGTV or on TreeHugger, but we decided to see what the environmentally friendly corn resin water bottles with built in water filters were all about. They were a bit pricey in relation to your standard water bottle, but we found them for under $7 each. They can be re-used 90 or so times and can be filled with regular tap water which then filters the chlorine and other chemicals out through the carbon filter. If you consider that at $7 a bottle, used 90 times, that makes the cost of each use approximately eight cents! Maybe nine cents when you include the water. Of course, that doesn’t factor in tax and shipping since that will vary, but it’s still going to be much less than buying a bottle of water at (usually) around a dollar each.

There were two main reasons we wanted to try them out. First is the chemicals that I’ve been reading about that can leach from regular water bottles, usually due to sunlight exposure (or heat) I’ve read. Here’s a good article that explains it a little. My employer provides water bottles for us at work, and since they buy them in bulk they are usually sitting in the break room next to the windows in the sunlight. Now knowing that chemicals are most likely leaching into that water, I have a hard time drinking it. That’s why I wanted to try out the corn resin refillable bottle. The other reason I wanted the bottle was because almost everywhere I’ve tasted the tap water in the Los Angeles area, it has had a strong chlorine taste to it. Since these bottles are designed to filter out the chlorine, as well as other chemicals and “organic material”, it only made sense to get one.

If you are inclined to try one out, the best deal I’ve found so far was at Lucky Vitamin. Most places I found that sold the bottles were selling in the $9-$10 range, but at Lucky Vitamin they were below $7 at the time I purchased mine. Let me know if you find them someplace for cheaper.

One other thing to note about the bottles is that they can’t be used like the traditional water bottle. That was something we had to learn the hard way. You can’t squeeze them to get the water out because the caps have vents in them to allow air to replace the water being consumed. It makes sense – if they were designed without the holes then water would be forced through the filter on its way out, then air would be forced into the filter when it tried to return to its original shape again. That would cause the filter to most likely fail quicker than it was intended to. Anyway, just remember it can’t be squeezed, just think of it more as a straw – that’ll help save you from looking like you just drank out of a dribble cup 😉 It doesn’t leak though when the cap is closed, so its safe to transport in a bag or backpack.

We all really like ours, and will probably buy them again when ours have reached their life expectancy. If you try one out, then let us know what you think.