Cap and will it affect us?

keepitlowJuly 9, 2009

Any estimates on how it will come down?

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Prices on just about everything will go up. We live out in the country and have to drive our DD into town sometimes several times a day for school, dance lessons and other activities. I don't know how we are going to be able to afford the increased cost of gas. The girls will be devastated if we have to cut out their dance lessons, they have been dancing for the last 8 years.

Electric and home heating rates are estimated to double. Everything we buy will cost more due to the extra cost of transporting them to the store, also the stores will have to pass on their higher energy costs. It's gonna be bad.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 11:32PM
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Cap and Trade will be unlike anything we have ever experienced.

We are going to be charged for LOW electric use, so it's darned if we do, and darned if we don't. I heard news on the radio this morning where some electric company was doing just THAT!

Our city water department also jacked-up rates because of all our conservation 2-years ago during a drought, because revenues from water use were drastically lower.

We're in a contest around here with some other towns to see who lowers their electric use the most, so we've been doing some "interesting" things already.

1. COOKING: I cook/bake with Solar Ovens. ZERO utilities. The next best low energy user - a microwave or a microwave/convection oven. Choose a small toaster oven over a regular large oven.

Consider fast cooking methods like stir-fry or quick pan frying. I'll have to put the Watt-a-Meter on a Slow-Cooker to see what it ACTUALLY uses in electricity. Using fast cooking methods may use less electricity than an all-day Slow-Cooker.

I also "COOK" beans, oatmeal, rice and other whole grains, in a Thermos using boiling water and a long overnight soak, as another energy efficient method.

A Cobb Grill that uses very few charcoal briquettes (8-10 briquettes for up to 3-hours of cooking and up to 450F) is another good choice - better than propane grills. Because of their unique style you can cook all kinds of things in them.

2. HOT WATER: We were trying to figure out affordable hot water alternatives and are considering making and installing a solar hot water heater. We are also considering a small Point-Of-Use Instant Hot Water Tank in the bathroom when alternatives don't work (no sun, no hot water...). Our largest use of hot water is for baths/showers, and laundry. Neither soap or detergent work effectively in water below 65°F. "Detergent manufacturers and care labels define cold water as 80-85°F." Hot water is still effective for sanitizing and cleaning heavily soiled clothes....

A little more primitive and very inexpensive... we have two 5-gallon Camp Showers we use for shower water. You fill them with cold tap water and place these black bags in the sun to heat the water. We can get two showers out of 5-gallons. Hubby installed a heavy-duty hook to hang the Camp Shower in our shower stall to hold them securely. Depending on the ambient air temperature and the sun, that will determine how warm/hot the water gets.

Along those same solar-heating lines... I'm going to set a 5-gallon water jug in a black plastic bag and see how hot it gets today, and see if one or two is enough hot water to use in the bathtub. With a forcast of 100°F, it shouldn't take too long to heat. Once heated, in the late afternoon I'll wrap it in a packing quilt to keep it hot until I can figure out another insulated system for keeping it hot until we need to use it.

I can also heat water in my solar ovens.

3. An electric kettle is a MUST in the kitchen. Canadians and Europeans have known this for years. Because the water is in direct contact with the heating element it heats more efficiently and more quickly than a kettle on an electric/gas range. Even faster than a microwave for the larger amounts. The only method of heating water faster is an instant hot water dispenser - not sure how much it would cost to run....

I heat an electric kettle full of water and once it's boiling I place it in Thermos bottles, and other thermal insulated containers, to use throughout the day for hot tea or other hot drinks, and even doing dishes or clean-up after a meal by using a small plastic tub for the wash water. We never use a full sink of water for after-meal clean-up and dishes. We use about 1-gallon TOTAL for washing and rinse. We heat 5-cups of water in the electric kettle for washing dishes, and add about 5-cups of cold water. Use the rest of the gallon for rinsing.

4. Zone heating/air conditioning will become the new option, rather than whole-house heating/air conditioning. So if you are considering changing your units, check out zone use.

We've accomplished this the last 4 years by using a free-standing Sun Cloud Infrared Heating System. When we checked it with a Watt-a-Meter, after running for 543 hours it cost us .02 cents an hour and warmed our living room/dining room/kitchen area in our 1372 sq. foot house. We have another one we put in the master bath and use it as needed. We like the heat it produces much better than our natural gas forced-air furnace. It doesn't dry the air like a regular furnace. With an A-1 Insurance Rating, that means they are safe to use around children and pets and have a zero clearance - you can safely place it next to flamable items like furniture and drapes. It's not your typical space heater....

We are also considering having 2 Fujitsu Mini-Split Ductless Air Conditioners installed. That's enough to cool our living/dining/kitchen and our bedroom.

5. I made multi-layerd window quilts for every window in a townhouse we lived in a few years ago. They worked very well, but we found Bubble Wrap Window Insulation cheaper and more effective.

Actually, every layer of protection you can put on windows will pay off. We have energy-efficient windows, bubble wrap, insulating Levolor blinds, and in our bedroom we have insulating curtains over all of that. We don't heat our bedroom, which is on the north side of our home.

We also cover our entrance doors with insulated curtains year-round.

Be sure to take advantage of passive solar warming from a south window in the winter.

6. If you have multiple refrigerator/freezers and free-standing freezers, especially those old "energy hogs" sitting in a hot garage or shed, you may want to start using up the contents and eliminate them. The electricity they use will quickly off-set the bargains you fill them with if electricity doubles. I made that decision 3 years ago and watched our utility bill drop drastically after giving away our 3/4-size free-standing freezer.

If Cap and Trade passes, we will be replacing our side-by-side refrigerator/freezer with a small, energy efficient model, similar to those used in Europe. We already priced them and have the money set aside for it. Avoid refrigerators with ice makers and water dispensers and side-by-side models. They use more electricity than a basic model.

7. Create an air lock. We enter and leave our house through our laundry room, which makes a nice little air lock. The door to the kitchen is closed at all times, and we close the garage door before we open the door to the kitchen. Air locks can also be built-in at the outside entrance of a home, or a tiny closet-like room after you come into the house. If you don't use a contained area, you'll break the "envelope" of air temperature allowing hot or cold air to enter your home and whatever you are using to heat/cool the home will have to start-up. Use an air-lock and maintain the envelope.

8. SHADE: Install some home-grown sunshields on the west side of your house by adding some vines on trellis, especially if you don't have mature trees to shade that area of your home. I once read about the benefits of covering your entire home with vines on some kind of structure over the entire house.

Make awnings or window shutters. Apply solar film to windows. Change regular screens with screening that cuts 80% (or higher) of the UV rays (available at Lowe's). Shutter windows indoors in the winter with sheets of rigid insulation, cut to fit the window. Cover them with fabric or contact paper to make them pleasant looking. Use them at night.

9. Outdoor clothes line and a drying room set up in the basement - we don't use a dryer.

  1. LIGHTS: We've used CFL since they became available, but recently we've found two different (affordable) styles of LED bulbs at Sam's Club. We've replaced our recessed CFL in several areas of the house with LEDs and have mixed CFL with LEDs in our bathrooms and some overhead lights in bedrooms. LEDs use a lot less electricity than CFL - unfortunately they don't provide as much light as CFL, which is why we've mixed them. They are also a good choice where a bulb could accidently break (lamp/child's room) because they don't contain mercury.

No windows in our bathrooms and laundry room (aka air lock). We've installed large LED motion detector nightlights in these rooms, which stay on for 90-seconds. Instead of turning on 7 lights in the master bath to spend 1-minute in there doing my business, the nightlight provides more than enough light to get the job done and to wash hands. It also saves on those CFL. They burn out quickly if they are turned on/off for brief periods of time.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 11:31AM
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Despite the scare tactics used on talk radio and the like, the CBO estimates cap and trade would cost 48 cents per day per household.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 3:21PM
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AHHHH, the CBO! This is the same CBO that claimed Medicare would only cost 500 million dollars a year over 50 years. They were only 1000 times off!


    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 4:30PM
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if the governments behind it, it`s a screwed up mess b-4 its started.uncle sam can and does screw up everything it gets into.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 1:10AM
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Great tips GL.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 8:11AM
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Cap & trade is sham that will not significantly reduce carbon emissions.

It will not cause inflation; inflation is happening NOW without cap & trade.

Furthermore, corporations are behind cap & trade, which they tout as a 'market-based' system (the same 'market-based' system that has brought us the current dire economic situation) to solving the problem of global warming.

Grainlady, the problem is not with Medicare itself, it's with the privatization of Medicare, and the fact that Medicare is not universal (which it should be) is also a serious folly. Everyone who lives in the U.S. should have Medicare & it should remain public, NOT private.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 12:34PM
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GL, I looked for a 'kill a watt' meter and could find none locally. Do you think it is worth it to keep looking? Can you let me know some examples of how your meter helped you out? someone told me a computer costs only s few cents a year to leave plugged in so it is not worth the trouble of unplugging every day. Was wondering if most home electronics are this way?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 4:44PM
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keepitlow -

I couldn't find a Kill-A-Watt meter in town either (even asked the electric provider if they had them to beg/buy/borrow - NO), so I ordered one from, along with the book - The Home Energy Diet - by Paul Scheckel (check your local library for a copy). I was curious about "real" numbers for several things around the house, especially the Sun Cloud Infrared Heater. I've argued on this message board it's more efficient, but others put it in the same category as an inefficient "space heater" people use under their desks to keep their toes warm. We heat our living/dining/kitchen area with one.

It runs more efficiently because it heats with 6 infrared light bulbs, and the TYPE of heat is more comfortable than our whole-house furnace. Our lower utility bills have shown it's energy efficient over the last few years, compared to the neighbors utility bills, but the proof was in the meter.

-Sun Cloud heater - 2-cents an hour, this is our primary source of heat.

-Home (1-gallon) water distiller was - 21-cents/gallon while it would cost 35-39-cents purchasing fill-it-yourself reverse osmosis water.

-Refrigerator (3-yr. old side-by-side) - a surprising LOW 7-cents a DAY (after checking it for 507 hours) - no ice maker or water dispenser. (No kids getting in and out of it either...LOL)

-Dehumidifier (a must-have in the basement 6-months out of the year) - 18-cents/day.

-I have a power strip on my computer and click it off at the end of the day. We also have 2 TVs on power strips and turn them off when not in use.

You might enjoy some of the information located at the link below.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 8:29AM
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Thanks GL. Will study up the book, my library has it.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 7:01PM
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