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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

State credit ratings and bonds

When buying bonds from state governments it is a good idea to check out the state credit rating. There are also multiple types of bonds which can have their own credit ratings. For example, California's State credit ratings are divided among five categories of debt according to the California State Treasurer. Of those five are 'general obligation', 'Lease revenue bonds', 'general obligation commercial paper, revenue anticipation notes and economic recovery bonds. 

Some interesting link about state credit ratings


9 States with best credit ratings:                                      http://tinyurl.com/3gf8ze8
Credit rating by state per California State Treasurer:      http://tinyurl.com/3vatw5c
U.S. States credit score card:                                           http://tinyurl.com/6jd3bsa 
State ratings in 2008:                                                       http://tinyurl.com/m3qzf6 
Tax and expenditure limitations on state credit ratings:  http://tinyurl.com/64ryk3t

State's credit ratings on bonds can change from year to year so having access to up to date information is useful. Standard and Poor's and Moody's have current state credit information but each require registration. Moody's registration and some of its credit data is free; Standard and Poor's offers a free trial upon approved review.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How to save money by reducing refrigerator energy consumption

To reduce your refrigerator's energy consumption consider the refrigerator energy saving tips provided in this article. To start, old refrigerators are the most likely category of refrigerators to waste energy. This is so because as refrigerators age, they can lose efficiency for a number of reasons. However, they can also be made to operate more efficiently, especially if they have been neglected, misunderstood or taken for granted for several years.

In other words, a little maintenance on refrigerators can go a long way and be done quite easily. Refrigerator maintenance, whether the appliance be new or old, can help improve the efficiency of a refrigerator and reduce your refrigerator's energy consumption. The reason refrigerator maintenance can be an effective way to improve refrigerator efficiency is that it can lower unnecessary energy consumption which causes a refrigerator to overwork and cost more money. A few tips that can be implemented in reducing refrigerator energy consumption are discussed below.

Ways to help reduce refrigerators' energy consumption


Sometimes it may seem nothing more can be done to improve a refrigerator's energy consumption, but as with many other things, small adjustments can be made. These small adjustments can add up cumulatively over time. A penny here, a penny there, many pennies can make a difference especially if the extra savings are used to pay off interest bearing loans. Below are some tips on how to reduce your refrigerator's energy consumption.

• Encourage air flow around the condenser under the fridge by periodically cleaning dust away with a brush. This extends the life of the fridge compressor which is the most expensive part of a fridge. "A refrigerator with a clean condenser coil will release heat more efficiently, operate with less strain on the mechanical parts, and draw less current. Essentially, your appliance will do a better job for less money." (www.motherearthnews.com)

• Maintain the seal around the fridge door. This seal is called the gasket. If air can freely flow through the gasket the fridge is not sealed properly and energy can be lost making the fridge less efficient.

• A refrigerator temperature of 37 degrees Fahrenheit and a freezer temperature of 3 degrees is believed to be ideal and economical. At these temperatures the fridge can still operate effectively and be more efficient on energy consumption than if set at higher temperatures.

• If the refrigerator one is using always has a lot of empty space it might be too big for your needs. In this case, It may be possible to exchange it for a more efficient and less expensive fridge to operate.

• Employ a fridge timer to prevent excess and redundant use of electricity. A timer may already be built into the fridge but if it doesn't the additional expense may be worth it.

• Removing fridge lights can also have an influence on the fridges energy consumption and these lights may be redundant if there is plenty of light in the room to see in the fridge.

Additional refrigerator energy saving tips


The rest is good common sense; leaving the fridge and freezer doors open for as little time as possible and reading the refrigerator manual (if it is still around) can point out how the refrigerator operates and which control settings do what. Familiarity with the fridge features will enable one to better adjust the settings for maximum efficiency and the manufacturer may have information on the model number if the manual is lost. The video below also offers several tips for improving refrigerator efficiency.


If the old fridge still has life in it and can be run fairly efficiently, it may not be a good time to invest in an energy star fridge just yet and just because it isn't an energy star fridge doesn't mean it can't be run more efficiently. By utilizing the tips in this article, reducing your refrigerator's energy consumption may be a more likely economic reality than had nothing been done at all. For additional ways to lower your refrigerator's energy consumption visit the following link on refrigerator efficiency techniques.

Sources:

1. http://powerscorecard.org/reduce_energy.cfm
2. http://www.horizonservicesinc.com/reference/tips-articles/refrigerator-maintenance-save-energy

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ways to save money with household thermostats

Thermostats are connected to furnaces, air conditioners and water heaters which can all be adjusted for efficiency and savings. They may also have batteries which when low may cause the furnace to turn off and on more than necessary. There are also thermostats for egg incubators, gas wall heaters, propane powered greenhouse heaters and 'tankless' water heaters.

Being familiar with how your thermostat works, what your needs are and what the highest and lowest temperature one's household can live with is the first step in obtaining maximum energy savings. Each type of thermostat has unique purpose through which energy savings may be garnered.

Appliance and utility thermostats


• Furnace Thermostats

Adjusting thermostat temperatures below 68 degrees is efficient in winter but only if the furnace is tuned up and has a new air filter. An inefficient furnace will do little for a well adjusted thermostat even though a well set thermostat will help reduce energy losses. In the case of furnace thermostats, the furnace can be set to turn on only when the temperature drops to a degree below the temperature setting rather than the same temperature as the thermostat setting. This half a degree to one degree difference can have an effect after a furnace turns on every 30 minutes 24 hours a day for several months of the year.

• Water Heater Thermostats

In the case of water heaters there are vacation, warm, very warm and hot settings. In the summer the warm setting can be quite sufficient to obtain a pleasant shower and in the winter it takes a little more 'umph' to warm up the water and keep it that way. Adjusting a water heater thermostat alongside a furnace thermostat appropriately can save money.

• Air Conditioner Thermostats

In the summer a setting of 72 degrees helps conserve energy as many central air conditioners simply aren't capable of cooling a house much below this anyway. Be being flexible with the range of temperature one is willing to endure through a slightly higher thermostat setting one can save money and energy.

Additional thermostat energy saving tips


Keeping a thermostat operational and fully functional is important in getting the most efficient use out of it. In light of this, being familiar with the thermostats programming and manual may be of particular relevance when correctly setting temperature changes in the home. Some of the following tips may be common sense to some, but knew to others.

Even those who are familiar with thermostat may benefit from becoming familiar with how temperature is measured and when a signal is sent to a furnace. For example, if the temperature is set for 69 degrees Fahrenheit the furnace may either turn on when the temperature hits 68 degrees Fahrenheit or after a period of time which the thermostat is programmed to prevent the temperature from reaching 68 degrees. This small difference in thermostat programming can add to energy costs.

• Replacing old thermostats

Replacing old thermostats with sophisticated programmable thermostats can help save energy by programming on and off times like a socket timer i.e. to only turn on when they are needed.

• Knowing the seasons

Typical temperatures for one's region and how one's home responds to temperature changes all help forecast when to set a thermostat to what temperature setting to maximize on energy savings.

• When a home is empty

During long periods of unoccupied home time it is also not necessary to have an overly warm setting as the walls don't really care how cold it is and plants and some animals can generally handle temperatures several degrees lower than people.

• Turning the thermostat up

Sometimes a small uptick in temperature during late spring through early fall is a good idea in several climates as this ensures the furnace will not go on at all for those little dips below 68 degrees which might not matter all that much in the middle of the night when everyone is supposed to be sleeping. The same applies for air conditioning in mid-late spring and early fall.

Thermostats don't have a brain and are relatively simple devices but they can help save energy if set and/or programmed in certain ways. Setting a thermostat for maximum energy settings is one step in greener, more environmentally conscious and energy efficient living. By applying the above techniques and tips, one is better equipped to more effectively manage a thermostats temperature settings for more energy efficient performance.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Why tankless water heaters save money

Do you turn on the water and have to wait for it to warm up? Tankless water heaters bypass this problem by heating the water where it is being used. Tankless water heaters don't have to pipe hot water as far as is with tank heated water nor do they need to store and maintain water at a constant temperature, both of which can save money on energy costs and improve water efficiency.

Small tankless water heater
Extended heating is not necessary with tankless water heaters
Tankless water heaters only heat water when it is needed
Although there are certain advantages and disadvantages to this type of heating system they can be useful, efficient and cost effective in the right usage applications. For example, when one is not using the shower which is typically most of the day, one's hot water tank periodically turns on to keep the water at a minimum temperature setting. This uses energy when nobody is home and/or using water. A tankless water heater only operates 'on demand' and therefore uses energy when it is needed and not when it is not needed.

Types of tankless water heaters


There are several types of tankless water heaters including propane, natural gas and electric tankless water heaters. These heaters require more energy at the time of water use but may use less overall energy and water. The heaters come in different sizes and energy requirements based on the application. (plumbingstore.com)For example, if one just wants on demand water heating for faucets there are tankless water heaters specifically for use in faucets. A shower and/or laundry machine would require a different size of tankless water heater because it uses more water. This link explains this concept in more detail.

Cost effectiveness


Tankless water heaters are cost effective because they have an expected life expectancy of approximately 33% -50% more than a conventional water heater. Also, the time one spends waiting for water to warm up one is using water needlessly. Over time this can use 100's of gallons of unneeded water and cost; a tankless water heater can help reduce this excess water consumption. Also, tankless water heaters are believed to be 20% more energy efficient than conventional water heaters leading to even more potential savings. Reasons for the energy efficiency of tankless water heaters are illustrated in the video below:


Brands, installation and type


Another way to save money with a tankless water heater is by shopping around. Different brands, installation methods and types will cost different amounts. Alsoi, if one purchases a tankless water heater for the water consumption usage used most in the home that is likely where the most energy savings will be derived from. For example, toilets don't need hot water, but showers typically do. Furthermore, brushing teeth and washing hands can be done with cold water. This being the case, a tankless shower heater is probably the best option of the three uses of water in terms of application.

Tankless water heaters may also be tax deductible or have some tax benefits depending on the country in which one lives. Plumbing supply store, home improvement stores and online are good places to start shopping around for a tankless water heater. Company brands include Bosch, Powerstar, and Niagra Industries Inc. Do it yourself installations are obviously the most cost effective water heaters to install, however this may be difficult depending on one's water distribution system and/or existing plumbing. The smaller the heater the easier it may be to install. What's more if installed in conjunction with a home warranty or with the purchase of the heater the cost may be reduced significantly.

Tankless water heaters can also be used with other heaters. For example, in a hot climate a solar heater may be the main type of heater used and the tankless heater may be a back up for colder days. How one uses a tankless water heater, and the cost of the heater and its installation are probably going to be the factors that most influence the energy savings and benefits of the system. These heaters are used more in European countries like Britain but are gaining exposure in North America as the demand for energy conservation increases. By shopping around, assessing water consumption uses and comparing prices and installation one can benefit from a tankless water heater and help create an energy efficient home and environment.

Sources:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_heater
2. http://www.topix.net/forum/home/building/T4OC4S149FIPABO9A
3. http://ezinearticles.com/?Does-A-Tankless-Water-Heater-Save-Money?&id=255328
4. http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_1991.shtml
5. http://www.tanklesswaterheater.com/products.htm
6. http://tinyurl.com/57hkn2

Image: US-PD