Learn About the Solar Sphere FREE Off Grid Living DVD program

FREE Off Grid Solar DVDWhere I live, off grid living is really not an option, but it certainly is a very attractive idea… just image no electric or gas bills – cool!

My friend Kriss Bergethon at Solar Sphere is offering a FREE DVD that shows how to install a complete system: wiring and all, and how he lives in a very normal American home… powered entirely by solar and wind. Kriss is a big proponent of Do It Yourself (D.I.Y.) renewable energy systems… solar and wind, and he backs that up with lots of good advice, instructions, and materials to get you off to a good start and keep you on track to solar/wind living – even possibly completely off-grid. His free DVD… you just pay shipping and handling… shows you how you can start your own solar/wind projects to start reducing your dependence on your local energy companies.

In this exclusive DVD, he actually goes through his personal off grid solar power system in his home. He shows you how to install the complete system and wiring.

I ordered my copy of the DVD today, and as soon as I get it, I’ll write up a review for you… but since it’s free, I’d just recommend that you go ahead and get your own FREE Off Grid Solar DVD and see how quickly you can get on the path toward your own energy independence.


Homemade Wind Power can Save You Money!

Back Yard Windmill Generator

An easy homemade wind power system can easily save you lots of money on your electric bill for only a small investment.  If you live in an area with fairly dependable wind, you can add homemade wind power in your yard, and let the constantly renewing wind provide much of the electricity you need to run your home.  And with a little extra investment and work, you may even wind up actually selling power BACK to the electric company to reduce your electric bill even further, and you may even wind up with them PAYING YOU!

Homemade Wind Power systems are very straightforward to buy or build.

The first step is to check with your local and national governments and power authorities to see if there are any tax incentives or rebates that will help offset the cost to install the system, whether you plan to build or buy.  Then analyze your utility bills to see how much you can expect to save with the energy that you will produce.  When you add the savings on your utility bills with your possible tax incentives or rebates, you may wind up really wondering why you didn’t do this, and start saving money, long ago.

Next, you’ll want to find a clear space that gets a good constant wind flow for the windmill tower.  A good wind generator has blades that are about 8’ – 10’ in diameter so they need a fair amount of space in which to spin freely.  And, the top of the windmill will turn so that the blades are always facing the wind for the most efficient operation.

Today, there are many good programs available to take you step by step through Do it Yourself addition of wind power to your home. Here is one of the best. I especially like this one as it shows you many alternative and money saving sources for the materials you need.

Home Made Wind Energy

And, of course, you can always use a commercially installed system.  Either way, you will save money and help conserve our earth’s natural resources.

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Article Update

By all means check out the energy saving articles here at Wind and Solar, including the newest, “Can Energy Efficient Shower Heads Make Hot Water Last?”

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Happy Earth Day

The first Earthrise photographed by humans
Image via Wikipedia

Just a quick note to wish everyone a Happy Earth Day.  This is the 40th anniversary of this important observation.

I’ve now finished converting to CFL (compact fluorescent) all the lights in the house that I am going to convert – 75%.  I will probably not be converting any more since the energy and money savings will not really be worth it. (My Little Giant Ladder mentioned in my last post really helped.)

So keep saving electricity and money.

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DIY Home Energy Audit Kit

infrared camera
Image by The Shifted Librarian via Flickr

I just found this DIY Home Energy Audit Kit, and it’s pretty great. The kit is basically a collection of PDF guides and spreadsheet files that guide you and help you estimate and predict energy usage and calculate energy loss. It’s really easy to use, yet gives you a very clear picture about your home energy use. What’s even more amazing, as Dave Andersen points out, is that a lot of this information an energy professional will never tell you, either because its a secret or because they simply don’t know!

You can check it out here.


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Turn on Zone II

A Honeywell electronic Thermostat in a store
Image via Wikipedia

Just turned on the upstairs, zone II, thermostat.  Not so much because we were cold, but to protect the pipes as it gets colder.  Also reprogrammed the thermostat to take out quite a few hours of heating, same as I did downstairs.  It will be interesting to see if I can notice any difference  in the heating bill.  Already noticed a reduction in water use with both our daughters now out of the house – one at college and one living alone – though the college one will be home shortly for the holidays.

As I have said before, always think in terms of where you can save energy.  Good for your finances and good for the planet.

Also, as I change my holiday lighting over to L.E.D. lights, that should reduce my electric bill along with my heating bill.

One of the best places I’ve found to buy holiday lighting is from my partners at They have an amazing selection – make sure your buy the L.E.D. type – and always have what I’m looking for. They also have a great selection of plug-in timers so you can easily and automatically control when your holiday lights turn on and off.

In addition, they have an outstanding article about disposing of CFL bulbs. Many people are concerned about the small amount of mercury that is in CFL bulbs, but this article shows that it is insignificant, and even breaking one would only expose you to much less mercury than you might get by eating a tuna salad sandwich – and that’s not much! You should, as I have mentioned, always dispose of them properly – use the drop off point at your local home improvement store or check with your local recycling center. But the savings are well worth the effort! Read this great article here.

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Save Money and Cut Your Paper Use in Half … Do You Duplex?

Laser PrinterYou can save a lot of money — and paper — by using Duplex Printing or Duplexing — printing on both sides of the sheet. Since one-sided printing — simplex — only uses one side of the paper, you can see how you can quickly and easily save as much as 50% on paper costs.

In addition to saving many trees, you will be handling, moving, and storing only half as much paper. This will save file space, and will make it much easier should you ever have to move all those printed documents — and less expensive for documents you need to mail. Just … Duplex.

Many printers, especially the heavier duty units found in larger offices, have Duplex Printing capabilities built in. Simpler printers used in the home or in small offices may not have Duplex Printing directly available. It is easy, however, to print a multi-page document to both sides of the sheet. Different computers and different programs will have different ways to accomplish manual two-sided, Duplex Printing for printers without this feature — but even simple, inexpensive ink jet printers can do it.

At the heart of Duplex Printing with printers that do not have the function built in is to print the even numbered pages first, then flip the printed sheets over, reinsert them into the paper supply, and print the odd numbered pages. Caution here: you MUST print the even numbered pages first, and then the odd numbered pages or it doesn’t work. Experiment with a simple two-page document to get the hang of how to turn the paper, and once you have it down, you’ll start seeing the savings right away.

The Print Dialog screen is the place to set Duplex Printing. First, the printer dialog screen that comes from the Printer may have a Manual Duplex click box. You may have to click the Properties selection to access this dialog. If it does, select it and follow the instructions. If your printer driver does not have this feature, then look for a place to check Manual Duplex — then follow the instructions. Or there may be a box or drop down menu to select Print Even Pages and Print Odd Pages. To print the document two sided, select File>Print, then first select Print Even Pages and click Print. After the even pages have printed, flip the paper and place it back into the paper supply. File>Print again, but this time, select Print Odd Pages — and Print and you have a document correctly printed on both sides of the page — and you have cut your paper use in half.
The important thing is be your own “Energy and Resource Patrol” and always look for ways to save resources, energy, and money. It is good for the earth and good for your wallet.

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Time to Reprogram Your Thermostat?

Thermostat FLZ 541
Image via Wikipedia

Just turned on the heat for the winter – at least downstairs.  Haven’t turned it on upstairs yet.

With our oldest daughter now living away from home, and our youngest now in college, it changed the schedule of when we need heating, so I took the opportunity to reprogram the thermostat.  Because of the new schedule, I was able to cut out about 15 hours of heating, and I reduced some of the temperatures.  Save money – save energy … this is good.

Always look for opportunities to save energy and money as your life changes:

  • Doing less laundry? Always was full loads and do it less often rather than reducing the water level.  It’s more efficient that way.
  • When you cook, cook for leftovers so you use the stove less.  For instance, grill up extra pieces of chicken, then use the extras on salads later in the week.
  • Maybe you only need one car now, so consider getting rid of one – LOTS of savings there!
  • You probably don’t need to use as many lights as your children move out of the house – less lighting saves money and energy.
  • If you don’t watch several televisions every day, unplug the unused ones to save the “phantom power” drain.  You can plug them back in when needed.
  • Clock radio in your childs empty room?  Unplug it until they come home for vacations and holidays.
  • Possibly turn off the heat in your childs room, also until they come home for vacations and holidays.
  • Possibly you now use fewer dishes.  Use your dishwasher every other day rather than every day.  Always wash full loads.

The important thing is always think about energy use. You will save a great deal of energy, lower your utility bills, and reduce the resources needed to create that energy.  Even if you create electricity with your own wind and solar systems, if you use less doing day to day tasks, you will have more for other things.

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Save Energy and Money – Do Laundry in Cold Water

Laundry room
Image via Wikipedia

Don’t know how many of you use cold water for your laundry… but you should.  Most laundry detergents today work just fine in cold water, and you will save energy – therfore money – by not having to heat the water for your wash.  For a family, this can really add up – and not heating the laundry water can really reduce your energy bills.  By all means switch over.  We did so long ago (maybe 20+ years), and I couldn’t even begin to tell you how much money we are saving this way – but I know it helps!

As you combine these savings with compact fluorescent or L.E.D. bulbs  your energy savings – and the savings on your energy bills – will continue to grow.  (I have been changing over to CFL bulbs for years, and we now have more than 30 CFLs in our house.  I’ll continue to change them over until almost all of them are converted.  Because of the slow “coming up to full brilliance” of CFL bulbs, especially as they get older, you may find it desireable to leave a few bulbs as regular incandescent, but get as many over to CFL as you can.  You’ll save energy for the planet, and save on your utility bills.

And if you are thinkng about how to add solar and wind power to your home, here is a great book.  I especially like this one because Michael shows you great sources for solar panels, generators, batteries, etc. and many of them are at very low or even NO cost – cool!

In case you think I am a tree hugger who believes the hard core greenies who say New York will be under water shortly, I’m not.  I advocate the most efficient use of the world’s natural resources.  Consult the preamble to the U.S. constitution where is says, ” … for ourselves and our posterity,” (emphasis mine).  We owe it to our children and their children to leave the world, hopefully, better than we found it.  This means using the most efficient transportation that is practical, and using as little energy as possible.  If each of us does as much as possible, it all adds up.  Don’t let our governments regulate us to this – they’ll ruin it and our lives in the process – let’s do it ourselves!

For more energy saving tips – over 110 of them – take a look at

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Always Think About Saving Energy

Lluc sewage treatment plant
Image via Wikipedia

The important thing is always think about energy use. You will save a great deal of energy, lower your utility bills, and reduce the resources needed to create that energy.  Even if you create electricity with your own wind and solar systems, if you use less doing day to day tasks, you will have more for other things.

For instance, dishwashers use a great deal of energy during the drying cycle.  Avoid the dry cycle and you save energy — and money.  The easiest way is to take advantage of the “Air-Dry” feature on newer dishwashers.  This will automatically end the cycle after the last rinse and pop open the door to let the dishes dry naturally.  If you have an older dishwasher without the air-dry feature, just open the door after the last rinse to stop the cycle and let the dishes dry.  This works best when you only have one load to do (which you should do in the late evening), but careful planning may let you do one load during the day, air dry it, then another load in the evening, and then air dry that load also.

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