Wasting energy on Thanksgiving? Don’t be a turkey.
A Few Days Before Thanksgiving
1. Install a dimmer switch for the dining room chandelier. Every time you dim a bulb’s brightness by 10%, you’ll double the bulb’s lifespan. Most CFLs don’t work with dimmers, but you can create mood lighting with incandescents and LEDs. The dimmer switch will cost you about $10.
2. Plan side dishes that can cook simultaneously with the turkey. If you cook dishes at the same temperature at the same time, you’ll reduce the amount of time the oven has to be running — it’s easier for the cook and saves energy, too.
When You Start Cooking
3. Lower your house thermostat a few degrees. The oven will keep the house warm. You also can turn on your ceiling fan so it sucks air up, distributing heat throughout the room.
4. Use ceramic or glass pans — you can turn down the oven’s temp by up to 25 degrees and get the same results. That’s because these materials retain heat so well, they’ll continue cooking food even after being removed from the oven.
5. Use your oven’s convection feature. When heated air is circulated around the food, it reduces the required temperature and cooking time. You’ll cut your energy use by about 20%.
6. Cook in the microwave whenever possible. Ditto slow cookers. Microwaves get the job done quickly, and although slow cookers take much longer, they still use less energy than the oven. Resist the urge to peek inside your slow cooker: Each time you remove the lid, it releases heat and can add about 25 minutes of cooking time to your dish.
7. Use lids on pots to retain heat. The food you’re cooking on the stovetop will heat up faster when you use lids.
When It’s Cleanup Time
8. Scrape plates instead of rinsing with hot water. Unless food is really caked on there, your dishwasher should get the dishes clean without a pre-rinse. Compost your non-meat food waste. Check out these other Thanksgiving clean-up tips.
9. Use your dishwasher. It saves energy and water, so only hand-wash things that aren’t dishwasher-safe. Wait until you’ve got a full load before starting the dishwasher. Be sure to stop the appliance before the heated dry cycle; just open the door and let your dishes air-dry.
It’s a good idea to hire a HVAC company to inspect and do maintenance on your system every fall and spring. They’ll do things like inspect and clean the wiring and mechanisms of the unit, which is bit more challenging for the average homeowner.
But you can prolong the life and increase the efficiency of your system if you follow a simple maintenance plan.
Some things you should do immediately; other tasks only need to be done seasonally or once a year. Here are the steps to a healthy HVAC system:
Daylight Savings Time in the US. – Spring Forward in 2015 on March 8th.
From the Wikipedia –
Daylight saving time in the United States is the practice of setting the clock forward by one hour during the warmer part of the year so that evenings have more daylight and mornings have less. Most areas of the United States currently observe daylight saving time (DST), the exceptions being Arizona (except for the Navajo Nation, which does observe daylight saving time),Hawaii, and the overseas territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.
Currently, daylight saving time starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November, with the time changes taking place at 2:00 a.m. local time. With a mnemonic word-play referring to seasons, clocks “spring forward and fall back”—that is, in spring (technically late winter) the clocks are moved forward from 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m., and in fall they are moved back from 2:00 am to 1:00 am.
A bit about returning to Standard Time – It’s Time to Fall Back!
By the Energy Policy Act of 2005, daylight saving time (DST) was extended in the United States beginning in 2007. As of that year, DST begins on the second Sunday of March and ends on the first Sunday of November. These changes result in a DST period that is five weeks longer than previously in years where April 1st falls on Monday through Wednesday and four weeks longer than previously in years where April 1st falls on Thursday through Sunday. In 2008 daylight saving time ended at 2:00 a.m. DST (0200) (1:00 a.m. ST) on Sunday, November 2, and in 2009 it began at 2:00 a.m. (3:00 a.m. DST) on Sunday, March 8. Wyoming Senator Michael Enzi and Michigan RepresentativeFred Upton advocated the extension from October into November especially to allow children to go trick-or-treating in more daylight.
With the New Year upon us, we start to plan and resolve to move forward with hope and even excitement. It is also a good time to reflect on the year past.
It feels good to take a moment to laugh and smile at those moments with family and friends that gave you pleasure. If your year was full of challenges and difficult times, take time to say thanks for the strength that carried you through.
My “I Remember It Well…” list top 13 for 2013 includes:
- I ran in the Houston Marathon – hardest thing I have ever done
- Taking the kids snow skiing at Steamboat – Kyle skiing at age 2
- Carmen played her first year of volleyball – such an exciting sport
- My husband changed jobs – loves it
- Brian and I went to The College World Series to watch Mississippi State – go Bulldogs
- Lots of great family time on the boat this summer – all the kids water skiing
- Kaitlyn and Carmen started piano lessons – music fills our home
- We took Carmen on her first deep sea fishing trip – she caught her first saltwater fish
- Girls started school at the new neighborhood school – Pope Elementary
- Brian and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary – what a great guy
- Took a girl’s trip to Carmel – saw magnificent whales in the Pacific
- My brother, his wife Jessica and little Sawyer moved to Texas – so nice to have family close
- My best year in real estate – really nice clients
If you made a list such as this for 2013 – what would be at the top of your list?
In Houston and the surrounding communities, many of us are fortunate to have a backyard pool or spa. For others the neighborhood pools offer a haven from the heat, a place to cool off and to enjoy a refreshing dip.
Unfortunately, every summer we hear news reports about drowning victims of all ages from toddlers to seniors. Many of these incidents could have been prevented if we all follow good water safety practices.
What are those practices… from the Red Cross website; I am sharing the best of best. Visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety for these and other helpful information –
Follow these safety tips whenever you are in, on or around water:
Make Water Safety Your Priority
- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system!
- Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
- Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.
- Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of waterincluding ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
- If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
- Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.
Prevent Unsupervised Access to the Water
- Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub. Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.
- Ensure that pool barriers enclose the entire pool area, are at least 4-feet high with gates that are self-closing, self-latching and open outward, and away from the pool. The latch should be high enough to be out of a small child’s reach.
- If you have an above-ground or inflatable pool, remove access ladders and secure the safety cover whenever the pool is not in use.
- Remove any structures that provide access to the pool, such as outdoor furniture, climbable trees, decorative walls and playground equipment.
- Keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight. Toys can attract young children to the pool.
Maintain Constant Supervision
- Actively supervise kids whenever around the water—even if lifeguards are present. Do not just drop your kids off at the public pool or leave them at the beach—designate a responsible adult to supervise.
- Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
Know What to Do in an Emergency
- If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
- Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
- If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
- Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.
Mike Castleman, founder and CEO of Metrostudy, which tracks real-time data of the country’s inventory of new homes, says a housing shortage is looming that will soon will create a huge surge in demand for new homes. As such, now is the time to buy, he says.
In the 41 cities Metrostudy covers, 78,000 houses are either vacant and for sale, or under construction —that is less than a quarter of the new homes that fell in that category during the housing boom in 2006 and way below the level of a decade ago.
“If we had anything like normal levels of buying, those houses would sell in 2½ months,” says Castleman. “We’d see an incredible shortage. And that’s where we’re heading.”
The historic drop in new construction mixed with the decline in housing prices is laying the foundation for a dramatic recovery in residential real estate, Castleman told CNN. Castleman expects home owners soon will start returning, which will drive up prices in many markets later this year.
While demand remains low for new construction, he expects that to change. He foresees the recovery following a similar path as previous ones: A severe housing shortage will drive a big increase in demand.
“We’ll get a big surge in demand and the drywall companies will take a long time to ramp up, and it will take years to get new lots approved,” he predicts. “Buyers will show up looking for a house in a subdivision, and all the houses will be sold. The builders will tell them it will take six months to deliver a house.” But they’ll want the house so bad that they’ll “bid the prices up.”
Source: “Real Estate: It’s Time to Buy Again,”CNN (March 28, 2011)
Article from the REALTOR Magazine