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Winter heating tip

Posted by silver2 (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 26, 08 at 4:22

Hi,
I have been checking out tips on saving heat on the net. One is window heat collectors, which you can make at home. A site to visit is bellaonline or search for window heat collector. Another idea is to do your own energy audit to see where you are loosing heat or can reduce your heating expense. We are at the mercy of oil prices, gas, and electricity, but how we use it is another story. Surge protectors are another way to reduce your energy costs, as if you shut off all the gadgets that are drawing even when they are off, like the TV, microwave, etc. with the surge protector, you will conserve on your electric.
Some little things make a difference. I put insulated pads into my exterior outlets, and was surprised at the amount of cold air that was seeping in through these. I have an exterior cable connection that I need to tighten up around the cable coming in. As when they install cables for you, they tend to make a rather large hole, and often will make a new one and leave the old entry open. You don't have to be high tech to check out the obvious, light a match or candle near your windows and see if you have a draft coming in. Check your dryer vent, clean it while you are at it, and see if you are getting a draft through it. Windows radiate cold air at night in the winter,put up lined drapes. Use weatherstripping on your exterior doors where needed.
There are a lot of ideas and tips online, and it is not too early to start some of them. And with prices the way they are, you are still going to spend more dollars this winter, but if you track your expense, you should be able to see what you could have ended up paying.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Winter heating tip

Checking for drafts with the candle is a great tip. I need to go back through the house again as its been too many years since I last checked.

You can do a search on the net for "coax feed through bushing" and find what you need to plug the hole where the cable comes through the wall. Probably pick one up at radio shack or home improvement store.

The little foam electrical outlet sheets are definitely worth the effort too.


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RE: Winter heating tip

"Surge protectors are another way to reduce your energy costs."

Surge protectors do not reduce energy. They protect appliances from surges which could cause damage to sensitive workings.

"Windows radiate cold air at night in the winter."

Ah, no they don't. Cold does not radiate. Heat does.

"Check your dryer vent .... and see if you are getting a draft through it."

__________Its__________a____________ VENT _____________ for gods sake. Of course air goes through it. I hope you're not suggesting that someone seal up their dryer vent.


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RE: Winter heating tip

Good morning,
Surge protectors on TV's, DVD players, micro wave ovens, can be turned off when appliances are not needed. As they draw electricity even when not in use. I believe it is termed as phantom loads. There are many statistics online or your can buy a tester and see how much electricity is being used.
Windows are one of the biggest heat loss factors in a home, even your double pane types. So it only makes sense to check them before cold weather starts.
And dryer vents, are sometimes not installed properly so around the exit hole cut in the wall, you can have cold air coming in. The second part of the sentence on checking your dryer vent, dealt with cleaning it "while you are at it". As again, it might not be a heat saving tip, but a clean dryer vent makes your dryer work more efficiently.
This is a money saving tip forum and with as with most forums, it is a pooling of ideas, suggestions and tips. To work towards a common goal, saving money. And I have benefited from many of the posts on this site. There are some really smart folk that share their ideas here. I know I enjoy visiting this forum for the information that is freely shared.


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RE: Winter heating tip

"Surge protectors on TV's, DVD players, micro wave ovens, can be turned off when appliances are not needed."

You are confusing surge protectors with power strips.
As dilly dally said: "They protect appliances from surges which could cause damage to sensitive workings."


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RE: Winter heating tip

Oh, so that what Silver meant. Power strips. I had never seen a surge protector with an ON/OFF button. Like, why would someone buy a surge protector and want it turned 'OFF' LOL.

If you wish to save pennies and reduce energy consumption by tuning appliances completely powered off you can just unplug them. You do not need to waste money on a special device like a power strip. If you wish to be REALLY pennywise you can flick you breakers in the electric box when you leave the house. This can be good idea if you are going away for an extended amount of time. It also reduces the risk of fire hazard should there be any frayed wiring that the homeowner is unaware of. There have been real occurrences of vacationers returning to find that their house has burned to the ground while they were away, due to a faulty cord on an appliance or faulty wiring in the house. With no one home the fire burns out of control until noticed by neighbors and the chance of the fire dept arriving in time to save the home is now nil.

Keep in mind that the reason some appliances are "always on" is because they are performing a function - not because the manufacturer couldn't figure out how to make the appliance shut down completely. If you cut power to some things all the settings will be lost, eg. the clock will have to reset. If you want to have to reset your clock every time you program your oven timer, yeah go ahead. Some appliance go back to factory default setting when they are unplugged and you will lose everything you programmed into it. Unplugging some things like computers make it hard on the item to have to restart from 'zero' and you may lose some settings stuff. (This is why turning your computer ON/OFF from the power is sometimes a "fix" when the computer seems broke or is running wacky.) There is debate on whether tuning appliances ON/OFF by cutting the power is shortening the life of the appliance.


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Solar Power

Silver, I Googled those Window solar panels and they look interesting. I'm not sure if convection alone would be forceful enough to get the heat into the room. I am ignorant on thermodynamics but I am thinking that when the room reached a certain temp the convection would halt? Also how effective could something like this be in a northern area where the temp gets to 0 degrees and the wind chill can be -40?

The window solar collection device has no storage ability like those that run water through them and use radiators. So with these, in a more temperate climate zone , the sun would heat the unit during the day (when you probably do not need heat in the house) but at night when the temperature drops to a chilly degree they would not be getting any sun so they would not be giving any heat.

These window solar panels look like an interesting experiment. I am going to do more research on them. Thanks for the tip.

Here is a link that might be useful: Window Solar Panels


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RE: Winter heating tip

LOL You are right, I just happen to think of power strips and surge protectors as the same thing. I do turn my computer off when not in use, but I have a son who keeps his on, as well as his TV, and whatever other electrical what not he has going 24/7. Since he has moved back in I have had a fair spike in my energy use, which after doing a little looking online, some of the sites visited recommended "power strips" and shutting off some of un-needed electrical appliances. They have touted yearly savings, which might boil down on an individual basis to pennies, but have not tried it yet.
The window heat collectors I am going to try, as I think they will in some rooms elevate the temp some and raise the comfort level in the daytime. And prevent the furnace from kicking on more often during the day.The heat collectors won't do anything at night, lined drapes or quilted window covers would help then.
I would really like to try one of the outside heat collectors, but my house eaves discourage that. The ice comes off the roof and would do a number on the outside version of a heat collector. So for this year, I will settle for making and have made some, but way to warm outside now to bother testing with it.
One site I visited suggested venting your dryer inside during the winter, which I did not think would be a good working idea. Even if you covered the vent hose with a filter, you would still be getting a lot of damp air and lint inside. But some of the tips seemed good. So they are out in the air, so to speak for observation. And hoping some more are contributed to the thread, as even a mild winter is going to be expensive this year.


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RE: Winter heating tip

I've read about venting the dryer into the house and never thought it to be a good idea due to getting lint building up in the lungs. My dryer has a lint screen and there is another lint screen at the end of the hose where it exits the house and that one still gets clogged and I know lint must still get through. Putting a finer mesh screen on it is not the answer as that would impede airflow.

Its good to 'noodle' ideas around though. Eventually there will be an "A-ha" moment and a solution for vexing issues.


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RE: Winter heating tip

I had a low-cost surge protector that did a rough job of cutting back surges, a short power cord, with a three-prong plug and with a box with half a dozen plugs, plus a rocker switch and a small light indicating that the power was on.

I used one with the computer until son gave me a more sophisticated (read "expensive") one - but I always went through the shut-down procedure before turning off the switch on the surge protector (as I do with the current one) ... but often shut off the monitor switch if I were away for a short period. I also plugged the lamp by the computer into that surge protector, using it as a power strip/bar.

When I moved to uncle's house, he had only a few three-prong outlets and many electrical goods, including computers, require one ... so I run a heavy cable from one in the bathroom out through the tiny hall (only space for four doors) into what used to be the dining room where I have the computer with the surge protector (four outlets - all in use) plugged into its single plug.

I have four lamps and a radio plugged into the two-prong outlet on this side of the room (plus there used to be an answering machine's transformer) but don't really need a power strip to make it easier to cut the power to them, as I seldom use more than one light and the radio at a time. It would be useful were I to prefer to use one, as the wall plug is away down behind the desk and hard to reach to pull the plug(s). Also, I could plug the answering machine transformer directly into one plug of the wall outlet, leaving it operating and the power strip into the other - and it's simpler to turn off one switch rather than pull half a dozen plugs. TV and portable heater or fan plugged into the two-pronger on the other side of the room.

Consider carefully before you throw the main switch when you leave the house for a while in a northern winter - do you really want to shut down your furnace/electrical heating system? And any time of the year ... if you have a freezer ... and how about a fridge - have you ever tried to get the smell of formerly rotted food out of a fridge?

Being frugal (also a bit lazy) I prefer the candle to a series of matches or a lighter to check for drafts around the doors, windows, any cracks in the walls, between walls and floors (holding a piece of cardboard under horizontal candle to catch drips), etc. ... and don't forget the access door into the attic on the ceiling, if you have one of them. The insulation above the living area in the townhouse in the city was only about half thick enough ... but there was none on that hatch! I figure that one wants to carry out the exercise when there's a fairly hefty wind blowing from the direction of the side of the house that one's checking.

If you have a fireplace that has a damper to cut off the hole in the chimney, make sure that it's closed when you're not using the fireplace ... I'm not saying that you could roast marshmallows over the top of the chimney ... but if you were a bird, you might like to warm your tail-feathers in all of the warm air that convects up that flue (should I say, " ... flew up that flue"?). Lacking a damper ... you might choose to fill a tough plastic bag with batt insulation, some old clothes, etc. to stuff up that hole when you're not using the fireplace ... they're notorious wasters of heat.

The dryer in the city had a switch box on the vent, up near the ceiling of the basement near the vent exit, with another tube leading a few feet out into the basement. Hang an old pair of pantyhose on that end, cleaning and washing it occasionally, plus replacing it. Depending on how often I'd run the dryer and lacking a hygrometer (a good investment, I figure) I wouldn't want to vent more than a couple of loads' moisture at a time into the basement, fearing adding too much humidity, leading to mould ... but having moist air in a house makes us willing to tolerate lower heat levels, since there's less evaporation of perspiration ... and it's easier on furniture, for the relative humidity in many northern homes in winter is lower than in the desert. What better way to add some moisture than venting the moisture from the dryer into the house? Since moving here where there's a clothesline, I hang clothes outside till it gets quite cold ... let the sun and wind get the job done ... for free: saves precious energy.

In Japan, many homes have a framed projection above south-facing windows just far enough out that it allows sun to enter most of the window in winter, but cuts it off during much of the hot part of the day in summer.

Good wishes for keeping more of the former cost of heating and cooling in your pocket.

As many northerners like to spend winters in the south ... I've been trying to find someone who'd like to spend summers in AZ (or FL) and winters in Ontario, to trade housing with him/her seasonally. So far without success: let me know if you hear of such a person, please.

ole joyful


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RE: Winter heating tip

"Consider carefully before you throw the main switch when you leave the house for a while in a northern winter - do you really want to shut down your furnace/electrical heating system? And any time of the year ... if you have a freezer ... and how about a fridge - have you ever tried to get the smell of formerly rotted food out of a fridge?"

No I did not say to toss the MAIN.

I said flip breakers.

It beats going around the house unplugging everything and removing chargers from outlets. Keep the breaker on for things like the fridge if you are keeping food in it, like if you are only leaving for a three day holiday weekend. Keep the heat on if you live in an area that experiences freezing. (Set to low of course!) If you are leaving for the whole summer or winter season you would empty out the fridge anyway before you leave.

I've worked at a lot of places where we had to flip breakers every night before we left. The one or two that had to be left on were marked with tape so that those employees who could not read or who could not read English knew which ones did not get flipped. You could do that at home too to make it easier than having to always read the little labels next to the breakers.

I really do not think it is a good idea to put pantyhose over a dryer vent. It impedes airflow and causes the dryer to work harder.

I do not like the idea of stuffing old clothes up a flue. Too much danger of someone forgetting about them or a new person using the fireplace not realizing they are there, and starting a house fire. They would start to stink after a while too. I wouldn't want to remove them and find that some animal or insect has nested in them. Get a proper damper. Something like this is worth the investment.


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RE: Winter heating tip

Back in the '80s during the energy crisis, I tried venting my dryer inside. Bad idea. All that moist air caused a lot of mold on the walls of the basement. The clothes that were stored there got moldy and musty. And the furniture got messed up.


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RE: Winter heating tip

Besides the mold issue marie bebop mentioned, there is another "evil" lurking from venting your dryer to the inside - the chemical toxins from the fabric softener products.

"Sounds simple enough, but the use of dryer sheets can create xenoestrogens, a synthetic estrogen that builds up in fatty tissue and may affect the natural function of our hormone-producing glands. Research has linked xenoestrogens to the increase of breast, testicular, and other cancers. Liquid softener and dryer sheets also contain neurotoxins and carcinogens. These hazardous chemicals are a danger to the central nervous system, according to the data from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and are slowly released as we wear our clothes and use our towels and sheets. In addition, when we tumble-dry laundry containing fabric softener, those toxins are released into the environment through the dryer vent. Top it all off with recent news that fabric softeners may increase the flammability of clothing and sleepwear, and suddenly those alpine meadows and cute teddy bears dont seem quite as appealing."

-Grainlady


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RE: Winter heating tip

We should be dead already.


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RE: Winter heating tip

A few things to clear up here. Turning off the power to a computer through a surge strip is not a problem. You should of course be shutting down the computer first and I'm guessing that was the assumption being argued.

Venting a dryer inside should not be done with gas dryers at any time because of the gas fumes being vented. Electric dryers are fine to vent inside in many cases. Of course it depends on where you live. I can't envision someone in Houston or in the swamps of Florida wanting to vent their dryer inside. However, I live in Minnesota and the humidity is a welcome addition during the cold/dry winter months. In my state many people buy humidifiers to add humidity to the air since dry air can be detrimental to humans, animals, furniture and the structures themselves. A lot of furniture is damaged from dry air; people get nosebleeds from dry air, animals suffer from static issues, and far more. Now I should add that I did not vent inside during the summer. During those months I chose to remove the humidity.

Where are you that you had such mold problems? If you're in a warm climate, it's very likely to happen. People seem to forget however, that the cold basement walls in the winter in a northern climate is not very conducive to mold growth. Likely the mold was a summer issue. Leaky basement in the hot summer and never open windows? Prime breeding grounds. And actually, by venting, you'll circulate the air a bit more than without. Especially if you supplement with a fan you can actually decrease your chance of mold in some circumstances.

I vented my dryer inside my house for 25 years. I am very sensitive to mold. I sometimes used a fan to circulate the air to even things out a bit in the house. I have had no mold problems from the dryer. There was some mold on some things because of excess rain making it's way into the basement and soaking things in the summertime. Truly folks, this paranoia over mold needs to end.

Additionally, venting inside may well shorten your drying time since you should get by with a shorter vent which gives less restriction therefore less lint build up. It's also likely to avoid a couple of pipe bends so the restrictions are lessened even more. I had a sock type filter on the end of one vent and a screen on the other. Simple to clean and the dryer vent stayed much cleaner than when vented outside. People can choose to use a humidifier or they can vent a dryer inside occasionally to regularly depending on the use. Now I suppose I should also clarify that I am not suggesting that the people who feel a need to run a washer and dryer nearly 24/7 should vent it inside all the time.

Something that just occurred to me, I was looking at buying some laundromats some years ago and I did a lot of research on the issues of ownership. With dozens of machines in there and the nature of the operation, you would think that mold would be an issue, but I found absolutely nothing mentinoed on this topic. Looking back, I find that very interesting especially considering the number of topload washers used and other issues.

Also, I don't use fabric softeners. I don't like them. Therefore I didn't have the issues Grainlady fears. Although I don't claim them to be totally safe since I have no idea, I do see some awfully inflated claims by some of these websites. I don't criticize someone for playing it safe if they so desire, but I still remember what killers eggs, bacon and hamburgers were said to be 20 years ago. Now proven to be pure hysteria. I have far more personal concerns over things like the irradiation of meats. I don't like the idea of it since we haven't seen enough testing to be conclusive. But to each their own.


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RE: Winter heating tip

cynic:"A few things to clear up here. Turning off the power to a computer through a surge strip is not a problem. You should of course be shutting down the computer first and I'm guessing that was the assumption being argued."

No. That is NOT what is being argued here.

After doing a shut down procedure from *Start* and then pushing the button on the front of your computer so it is "off" you still have power going through the computer. Even a "turned off" PC utilizes "flea power," or about 2.3 watts, to maintain local-area network connectivity, among other things. It is just like the difference between pushing the power button on the front of your TV so your TV is "off". There is always power going through a TV when it is plugged in even when it is 'off'(except on vintage TVs). This is why TVs today have "instant on" and do not have to 'warm up' like TVs did in the old days.

The argument is that shutting a computer down and then cutting power is hard on the computer having to start up "cold". It is said that the newer computers today are better built and won't experience wear from doing this though. That is the point that is arguable. The amount of energy usage you will save from shutting the power off to a computer is negligible and makes start up longer, sometimes losing the settings.

cynic: "Where are you that you had such mold problems? If you're in a warm climate, it's very likely to happen. People seem to forget however, that the cold basement walls in the winter in a northern climate is not very conducive to mold growth. Likely the mold was a summer issue. Leaky basement in the hot summer and never open windows? Prime breeding grounds."

You don't have to be living in a humid climate like Florida to have mold problems. In cooler climates the basement walls stay cool in the summer. When warm humid air comes in it will condense on the walls keeping them moist. Think of a glass of cold beverage sitting on a hot humid summer day that forms condensation on the outside of the glass. This allows mold to grow. So keeping a window open in the summer will make mold problems worse.

There are thousand of different kinds of mold. Lots of them grow in cooler temperatures. Haven't you ever seen mold grow in a refrigerator?? I just threw out some fruit that had grown fuzzy mold.

cynic: "Truly folks, this paranoia over mold needs to end."

Some molds can be toxic and deadly. Others are merely a nuisance. Some are beneficial in manufacturing food and medicine.

Not wanting to throw out perfectly good stuff because it became moldy is not being paranoid. Stuff will mold in closets. Controlling mold will cut down on waste. It may prevent health issues in susceptible individuals. Who wants their house rotting from mold?


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RE: Winter heating tip

Monday, I will have a local insulation company come to my home and blow in fiberglass insulation. When I built the house 28 years ago, the contractor used urea formaldahyde (now referred to as shrink & stink), which is now virtually nonexistant in my walls.

The attic space will not be ignored but emphasis will be placed with providing sufficient air flow.

It's a low tech approach but will probably cut my oil bill by 30% with a payoff in 5-6 years. Next year, state of the art, high efficiency replacements of A/C, & heating units with at least an 85% efficiency rating.


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RE: Winter heating tip

If you are in Canada, before you get the added insulation you need to participate in the ecoENERGY Retrofit program and have the first or D energy audit performed.

We didn't know about this program until AFTER having several costly energy conervation initiatives performed on our home including increased attic insullation and lost out on about $2,000 of government grants. YOu have to have the D energy audit performed before, not after, any of the applicable energy conservation measures to receive the grants.

Dan


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RE: Winter heating tip

You may want to use a small mirror to look at area beneath window sill aprons -I found several of ours badly in need of caulk.

Our c.1967 house still has the old aluminum window frames w/single panes. I use shrink wrap each winter (bought on sale in summer at less than $3. per.) Also check all of them, inside & out, twice a year for caulking needs. It's made quite a differece in comfort & heating cost.
Suzi


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RE: Winter heating tip

I live alone and have only one or two occasional wash loads, so venting into the basement to alleviate extreme dryness in winter is not going to add a large amount of humidity. Sometimes I hang on a line there, sometimes use the dryer. Removing and shaking, plus washing the pantyhose on the vent frequently makes the restriction of airflow only a minor problem it seems to me. If your partner isn't heavy ... cultivate overweight friends (who are users of pantyhose, of course ... and willing to part with them, after their useful days related to one's body are over).

As I suggested earlier, gettng a quality hygrometer to measure the relative humidity in your basement would be a good idea - then you can vent inside or outside, depending on the indicated ideal relative humidity levels. Believe me, northern homes without a means of humidifying get really dry in winter - more so than the desert, we've been told.

It may depend somewhat on the size of area in which the dryer is locatd - some are in a small utility room, and I'd think that it would be essential to keep the door open while it was operating and for a substantial period after. My situation when venting inside using pantyhose was to vent into a full basement, and I kept the basement door open, sometimes with fan located there to help move air. I was using electric baseboard heating.

As it was a more modern housing unit, I didn't have a substantial issue with excess humidity in the basement in summer. I do have more humidity in summer here in uncle's old house, which has water coming in when it rains, including up through a crack in the floor, and I use a dehumidifier in summer - old wire clothes hangers that have been there for years got quite rusty. I open the back door on the furnace and push cool, damp air from the basement into the house when it gets really hot, also. That may be detrimental to the humidity level in the basement, as the warmer house air moves down there, where, being some cooler, the relative humidity goes up as the air sheds some moisture as it cools - somewhat like keeping the window open. That's another reason to run the dehumidifier.

Clothes are dried on the line behind the house from late winter till early winter: this frugal guy is willing to
let the wind and sun do the work.

Question: How long do you figure that it may take them to figure a way to tax our use of wind and sun?

I didn't have any sump pump in the city townhouse: didn't need one, but do here .. and it works when it rains.

I plan to operate rather lightly clad through late fll, as our bodies are quite adaptable, and I feel that if my body acclimatizes to cold in the fall, I will tolerate cold weather in February using fewer layers of clothing. I wear several layers inside, as well, so keep the temp in low 60s here inside (lower in the kitchen, where I am usually moving around - cutting back dampers some, in the hot air pipes).

Good wishes for finding the way of managing your heating in winter which satisfies you ... though I hope that you'll choose to cut back some, to suit your needs, as petroleum is not only getting more scarce ... it's getting more expensive ...

... let's leave some for our grandkids!

ole joyful


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RE: Winter heating tip

After doing a shut down procedure from *Start* and then pushing the button on the front of your computer so it is 'off' you still have power going through the computer. Even a 'turned off' PC utilizes 'flea power,' or about 2.3 watts, to maintain local-area network connectivity, among other things. It is just like the difference between pushing the power button on the front of your TV so your TV is 'off'. There is always power going through a TV when it is plugged in even when it is 'off'(except on vintage TVs). This is why TVs today have 'instant on' and do not have to 'warm up' like TVs did in the old days.

The argument is that shutting a computer down and then cutting power is hard on the computer having to start up 'cold'. It is said that the newer computers today are better built and won't experience wear from doing this though. That is the point that is arguable. The amount of energy usage you will save from shutting the power off to a computer is negligible and makes start up longer, sometimes losing the settings.

I agree that the residual power or 'flea power' does use some electicity. However, just how much does that relate to $$s vs time and effort to go around unplugging and re-plugging in appliances? If doing so saves $2.00 a month, well that is something else to worry about and to me is not worth it.

As far as modern TVs with the instant on features not having to 'warm up' as TVs of old. If you recall, TVs of old had vacuum tubes or hybrid tubes/solid state which was the reason they had to warm up. Even after unplugging a TV, it will start up almost immediatly.

Here is a link that might be useful: Composting for a Greener World


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