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Energy saving thoughts

By Mark Stinson
Posted Thursday, January 18, 2007

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Siler City, NC - It's been some time since I made post and I felt the urge to let one rip. I made it no secret I was trying to get my old truck past the 20 mpg point from 14 mpg. I managed to get it up to 19.6 with a 250,000 mile 350 engine. It fell short of what my old GMC did but considering the gas we buy now has been reformulated so much it isn't as good a fuel as it once was I felt this was close enough for now. I have another engine with far less miles on it waiting in the corner of the shop that will definitely push the old truck over 20.

I spent some time trying to get local people who know how to make bio diesel to help me learn how to brew my own and found that to be a waste of time as most seam to have $$$ in their eyes. I ran up with a friend from UCLA and he introduced me to a professor that quickly dispatched the recipe and a list of improved methods for formulation of a nice bio diesel that will run the old Massy Ferguson just fine.

In the process of learning some about bio diesel I was educated on the newest item to be brewed at home, gas, for a regular car. Someone had a light bulb go off in their head and realized that 90% of the non commercial vehicles on the road run on gasoline not diesel. It's improbable that the entire fleet would go diesel if Bio diesel was 50 cent a gallon so the logical thing to do is formulate a hybrid gas that runs cars without making modifications to engine.

It wasn't practical five years ago but since gasoline quality has dropped and price has doubled it's becoming more economically feasible now. I got a free ten gallon sample to try out and I did in my 396. That engine only runs on high octane gas and it ran perfect on the mix. If gasoline hits the $4.00 a gallon mark as predicted long term, $3.15 a gallon for clean burning ecofriendly fuel will be a bargain.

Most of the things I have learned about are impractical for current use except these few things that have worked just fine. I found that I save about $20 a month on my electric bill since I swapped my standard electric bulbs in our house out for either Halogena bulbs or Twisters that burn a fraction of the energy standard ones do. The only drawback is the initial cost and the fact if you have a TV with an internal antenna (rabbit ears) the twisters will cause some interference. Otherwise these new efficient bulbs quickly pay for themselves in energy savings.

Covering my heat pump with a lean-to shelter to keep it out of direct rain and sunlight has helped too. The key is to make sure the unit has excellent airflow but shaded from the sun and rain and wind. The heat pump works more efficiently with dry cooler coils in the summer and in the winter the dry coils on the outside work better and don't freeze up when we get frozen precipitation.

It has made a substantial difference in our heating and cooling bills so far. It was near 100 degrees outside the day I put the cover on. The house couldn't get below 80 inside with the air set at 72. We covered the unit at 1pm with the new top and left for lunch. The house was at 72 degrees when we returned at 3:30 pm with the sun shining directly on the side of the house with the heat pump. The added cooling of the unit from being out of direct sunlight helped it to cool more efficiently inside.

The other amazing thing I learned was about Thermo cools radiant barrier. I had to cover the whole house with new siding this past year and as a do it yourselfer I read up on options first. I realized the modular didn't come with a good vapor barrier just the fiberboard wall covering under the vinyl. I was skeptical at first but after comparing prices realized the thermal barrier wasn't much more than the Tyvec.

I purchased enough to cover the house and the first thing I noticed was the front rooms didn't heat up as fast during morning to midday sun . I noticed the back wall wasn't warm anymore in the afternoon sun. You could physically put your hand on the outside wall on the inside of the house and feel the heat coming in. After installing the thermal barrier that wall is cool just like the inner walls of the house.

The second issue was the roof. I knew the cheap shingles installed by the factory were not holding up to their 20 warranty. I elected to use the new pre colored metal roofing. Again I noticed an immediate difference in how the house kept the heat out in the summer. The fact is metal reflects most of the radiant heat that penetrates the outer walls of your home. The Thermal barrier is a special alloy coated paper vapor barrier that reflects U.V. radiation that heats up your home. It also reflects the radiant heat inward in cool weather keeping your home warmer in the winter.

The radiant barrier goes under the vinyl siding so you don't see it but you sure know its there. I would seriously recommend using this product if you plan on recovering the outside of your home with new siding (vinyl, hardboard or masonry). The metal roof does the same thing reflecting the U.V. radiation keeping the home cooler. Now you know why these old tin roofed houses with little insulation stayed so cool in the summer.

I'm no expert on how some of these things work I'm just telling you I have tried them and they work really well for me. If it helps you save a buck then I did a very good thing writing this. I have some more things to share soon to hopefully point you in a direction to save you money. I appreciate any feedback as I'm always looking to cut my expenses and save where I can.

Goodnite Mark

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