Friday, July 18, 2014

New windows

So far the new windows are installed. Here's the view from the porch right after he finished with the job for the day. So far I have some of the styrofoam insulation also that I was going to attach to the walls. It's looking like it will butt up well against that window trim.

 Here's what the one in my office looks like. I hadn't even taken the stickers off at this time.

They look pretty good and seem to be making a difference in how much electricity is used in the house. During a normal year the air conditioner in the kitchen had been getting used, not this year. A normal average for July has been 505 kWh, this year it's looking like 365 kWh which is a reduction of 27%.

So far the monthly propane deliveries are decreasing also.  It's more related to the water heater wrap and insulation than these new windows that were just installed. During the last half of last year we averaged about 83 gallons of propane per month. It's looking like we're now averaging about 11 gallons less, or 72 gallons per month which is a reduction of around 13.25%. It's still early and I won't see the major reductions until October.

Everything I'm seeing in the numbers is just incredible. I believe during this month is when the most of the rate increase drops off of the electric. It's been a sizable jump that gave me sticker shock and it was due to the cost of electricity being produced from natural gas. You hear all this stuff that natural gas is cheaper. It isn't. 

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I'm taking a bit of a break from major writing for the time being. Presently I'm feeling rather worn out. I also had a bunch of extra hours at my day job. I'm needing a break to tell you the truth since I've been going at it heavily for over 2 1/2 years straight.

I've got an interesting idea I'm working out at present for a novel. No one disputes that man originally lived in north and south america about 11,000 years ago. What is proving to be a problem is the theory they walked across the Bering Straight at that time and then down an ice free corridor. The more I'm digging it's not making sense anyway. The various populations all set up residence at the same time. If they had to walk how would you get simultaneous populations? That's really not making sense to me.

The one exception is Patagonia which apparently was originally populated 15,000-20,000 years ago. When I did a little research Patagonia made sense quickly. There's a large current in the southern Pacific Ocean that's runs south by New Zealand, loops around toward Terra del Fuego, and then up the coast to Chile where the current moves west toward New Zealand again. It runs in a very large loop. Even if you didn't know how to sail you could possibly make it if you were fishing as you went. Anyway, on the west to east portion I think you would be travelling against the wind but I'll double check. 

The original residents of Patagonia did a lot of fishing and catching birds for their food. This is what you could also do from a raft. They would have been fairly ill from having nothing other than sea water though. There were people living in Australia and New Zealand all the way back to 40,000 years ago. Let's say you were on a raft, got blown off course, and couldn't find your way back home? The first place you land you find out is populated and they don't want you setting up a new home there. Time to go again.

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Well, on to more home repairs. Today I made a new box to go over the water supply for the house. The old one had fallen apart and was no longer usable. I still had one piece of the cabinet grade plywood.

Inside of the box I used multiple layers of this stuff. I'll be using a bunch of behind the skirting. It has an R-value of 9.8 per inch and a half of thickness. Inside the box I think I have five layers altogether so it's almost a solid block of insulation.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Come Together

We're having a little get together on Facebook. Stop by and check it out. We'll be having a lot of events. 

If you're wanting the book itself, here it is. All of the proceeds help with cancer and lupus.

Friday, July 4, 2014

4th of July

We of course celebrate our independence here in the US. Later today I'll be at work though so I'm not sure how independent I am. Hmm, maybe someday. The same thing applied to the call centers I worked at, there were no holidays.

At any rate a bit of writing is how the country declared independence. It was all over what's really not what would be considered a large tax today. It's just that the people living in the colonies weren't the ones that mandated it. Previous of this time Parliament would send a writ that stated how much in taxes was required and legislatures in each colony came up with how to generate the requested amount.

Here's a short video about it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Klarissa Dreams

By the end of the month Klarissa Dreams should be out on the market. I'm looking forward to holding a copy in my hand and look at the story I've written. Klarissa Dreams is being published by CHBB.

No, I really can't wait.

This is the title of my story.

Friday, June 20, 2014

2014 Garden

Here is this years garden. I do try to change up parts of it each year for some really good reasons. One of them is I don't want something akin to a monoculture. Pretty much every thing would die after a while because you're creating a nutrient desert which is not healthy long term. Different plants use different a slightly different set of nutrients. Basically by switching everything around a bit it will enrich the soil.
This is the Wisteria. As you can see it's doing a really good job of providing leaves in this its second year. Probably about five years, or so, from now the tree will flower.

 The rose bush to the left is getting ready to bloom. Note the lettuce, it self seeded. Make sure you get heirloom seed varieties. Hybrids aren't designed to sprout like this.

Going to have quite a few Cosmos and I think I have some other flowers mixed in. 

 Here are some more of the Spirea's. Note the potatoes. What potatoes are great for in a garden is fixing nitrogen. They also do a great job of further breaking up the soil and aerating it to a depth of a foot and a half. Partially because of the potatoes is one of the reasons why the soil is so rich after three years. I do of course bury most vegetable trimmings also. One of the things that is great about potatoes is that they show heat stress than almost anything you can grow. If the leaves are wilting you'd better start doing some extra watering at night and keep a closer eye on the rest.

The strawberries are looking good. Found an issue with the last fruits where the ants were coming to eat them on the plants. I don't play that so I doused the plants with cayenne pepper. Let's see the ants eat that.

I need to harvest most of this garlic. It was planted last year and it's still growing now. When the ends of the stalks are yellowing it's time you can harvest.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Energy usage updates

   I'm looking over last years propane fill ups. I decided to mark them out on a set of yearly calendars. Pink highlighter dots are indicating each of the refills.

   Last year on April 29 they filled it up, had to call them six weeks later to refill the tank which they did on June 12th. That length of time was 6 weeks 3 days and 86.1 gallons were delivered. He slightly overfilled it that time, it's a 100 gallon tank and you can by federal law put in 80 gallons. As I recall the tank was actually in the last couple of gallons and the pilots kept going out.

   This year the last spring fill up was May 5th. Tomorrow is 6 weeks 3 days and there is 15%, or 15 gallons in the tank. Basically we can go for at least one more week, or maybe slightly longer before the tank is pretty much empty. I will be shutting it down once it hits 5%, or 5 gallons on purpose. I'm usually paid far ahead on the propane but the high rates earlier in the year killed my balance forward.

   If you have not done so you need to do a water heater wrap and that's what has made the difference this year. We're looking at a difference of about 15% which is a big drop. Of course during this time of year the furnace isn't part of the energy usage equation except for I think four days total and it didn't run much then. I'm loving the ability to see the difference in such a manner. It really lets you know that you're doing things right and making some headway on your energy savings goals. I'm going for 30% in energy savings this year which is about $850. We'll see if we make it but it looks like we're well on my way.

   It might be a while yet until we're able to do some more energy efficiency upgrades. That's something that takes money we don't have right now. Among the coming upgrades next year are two tankless water heaters and siding the house with polystyrene insulation. I'm expecting a further usage drop of about 20-30% winter of 2015-2016.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

One more week.

So far it's been a really good week. I've made a lot of headway on "Offsets and Savings" and it's just about through all of the editing stages. Of course everything in the book consists of things I've done on my house in real life. Some of the stuff has been pretty successful, others a little less so.

One of the things I'm glad I did was that water heater wrap. I'm positive it's helped stretch the propane in the tank a little bit further. The last spring delivery is late April or early May. Then you have a delivery about the middle of July. The next one after that is early October when the fall schedule kicks in. It gets to be a long time. The propane company will fill it between the scheduled fill ups but they charge an additional $75 fee and the tank has to be almost empty.

As of earlier today it's been five and a half weeks since the last fill up and the tank is sitting at 20% which is about 20 gallons left. Basically in my house our average use is about 10 gallons per week right now and the tank holds 80 to 90 gallons.

Last year at the same amount of time after the last spring fill up I think there was about 10% or 10 gallons left. The delivery that came a few days after was 86.1 gallons.

We've had more people living at the house also so there's been more cooking and more showers have been taken. It kind of goes with the territory. Apparently I've done some good with that water heater wrap. I still to some more though to do to make the place even more energy efficient. That's why I'm looking forward to next years polystyrene insulation and stucco upgrade to the exterior of the house next year.

It's pretty obvious I won't quite make it to the next scheduled fill up so when the tank finally reaches about 5% which should be in about two weeks I'll shut it off temporarily. There's no way I'll be able to pay the extra $75 fee. I just turned off the pilot light to the furnace yesterday which I didn't think of doing before and I wish I would have. We'd probably have about 5 gallons more in the tank right now if I had. 

When I do shut down the tank we'll only have cold water in the house unless we warm it up in the microwave in a bowl. It'll be like living out at the ranch again where I was taking care of horses for two and a half years. Because of the limited amount of water coming out of the well you couldn't take a shower and you had to basically clean your entire body with about a gallon of water. Yes, it can be done.