Friday, September 24, 2010

Compact Fluorescents Lightbulbs - The Devil's Handiwork

So you think you are doing the environment a favour by replacing all your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFL's)? Well you aren't really, and there are a few reasons why. CFL's are significantly more costly to produce in terms of raw materials used, including glass, metal, and plastics: If you don't believe me, put one on a scale, then weigh a standard incandescent bulbs. I have found that they don't acheive anywhere near the life expectancy advertised, and seem to last typically only two to three times longer than incandescent, yet cost roughly ten times as much. Then there is the question of radiation emmissions, and harmful levels of mercury contained in them. I can't believe David Suziki ever promoted the damn things, because they are basically dangerous, toxic, resource hogs when initially manufactured, and on top of all that, really don't save all that much energy.

Now for the CFL killer. I just found at Home Hardware a standard medium base (the normal screw in type) LED lightbulb, for a whopping $9.49. But the kicker is it's consumption of raw materials is not much more than that of an incandescent (probably better as there is no glass), it's rated life approximately 15,000 hours (approx 15 years), and it's power consumption of an absolutely miniscule 1.5 watts. for equivalent to 40 watt output! That's roughly one-sixth the energy of  a CFL, and less that 5% of the energy used by an incandescant! And no mercury. So there!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Insurance Rates Gone Crazy

Earlier this summer I opened our automobile insurance renewal notice, and was a bit surprised that our rate for two vehicles had climbed from $2400 to $3600 annually. More interesting was that my portion for the Freestar van had almost doubled from $1100 to $2100, and Katherine's portion for the Echo had increased from $1300 to $1500 (all figures rounded somwhat). Seems there were no changes in our rating (claims, experience, tickets, etc) so no real justification for the increase, I was simply told that those are the numbers coming back from Aviva (our insurance provider). I was informed that my three minor convictions (speeding) were probably a factor in my new rate, but how does that explain my previous rate of $1050, as these tickets are now over 2 years old, and were on my rating the previous year!

In any event, shopping around was interesting, as I found annual premiums between $1900 and $3300 from four companies, and selected Meloche Monnex/TD, at an annual cost of $2200 ($1050 for me and the van, and $1150 for K and the Echo) for the same coverage as we had with Aviva! Now I just have to wait for the $900 refund payment from Aviva, as they have been busy processing payments on a cancelled policy!

Monday, September 13, 2010

From Flabby to Fifty Minute 10K Athlete in Fifteen Runs or Less!

It's that time of year again for the 7th Annual Festival City 10k Run in support of the Stratford General Hospital Foundation! To all of those who supported us last year thank you very much, and we hope you will be generous enough to do so again this year!

As for the title of this post, I am not entirely flabby, though I haven't run at all this year, except for two initial training runs about 2km and 3km respectively. The goal this year is to break 50 minutes while pushing Alexander in the stroller, thank goodness for super low friction bearing grease for the running stroller wheels! And yes, I only have fifteen runs in which to get my training done, as the run is scheduled for the 3rd of October this year.

We would like to raise at least $300, so I will be asking you for your support via phone and/or email this week. Please consider supporting the hospital that brought you the likes of Alexander Vlossak Chiles, and Andrew 'Rudi' Vlossak Chiles, as without our fine hospital in Stratford, we would have had to go to Kitchener to have our kids delivered! Ouch!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Mudroom Bathroom

A few years ago I decided to gut and refinish the mudroom bathroom, the decision precipitated by the water pipes freezing and bursting behind the shower stall. This small bathroom was poorly finished, poorly heated, and only adequately insulated, and without an effective reconstruction was only going to have further problems.

The mudroom is a rebuilt addition to a small back entrance probably originally built in the 'twenties, then destroyed by fire and rebult in the 'eighties. Just a standard framed and vinyl sided structure on stone foundation. It has an entryway with a closet, as well as a small 3 piece bathroom.

The deficiencies included a shower that was build 'proud' of the finished wall, so that the water supply was located on the 'warm side' of the wall (little good that did); a flexible heating conduit that led to the mudroom entryway via the unheated/uninsulated portion of the attic (not smart when the attic can drop to -25 celsius!), no heating outlet in the bathroom itself; and among other things, a poorly located toilet that stood 5 inches from the wall.

I began by removing the shower and ripping down the drywall from the ceiling and two of the walls (the wall against the house, and the wall that the toilet and shower backed onto) to find out what I was up against. The soloution was fairly simply: Add a second framed and insulated wall to bring the wall flush to the shower; add additional high R-value froam insulation behind the shower to protect the pipes from freezing; divert the heating conduit down the inside wall of the mudroom, with two vents, one in the bathroom, the other in the mudroom. On top of all that, I decided also to drop the ceiling 2 inches and add styrospan insulation, add a pot light over the shower, add a new vanity light and ceiling drop light, build in some storage, and then trim out both the shower and the built in shelves in period style trim.

This wall backs against the brick wall of the house, the heating conduit now comes down the wall, with a vent in both the bathroom (pictured) and the entryway. Space for the built in shelves is accommodated by the chimney of the main house which is located directly behind the vanity light!

A view from the mudroom entryway. The shower and toilet were in good shape, so were re-used.

A close up of the trim around the shower. By adding the second wall on top of the first, the shower stall now fits flush to the new wall - giving a much neater, professional appearance!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fruit Fly Trap

Perhaps it is only century homes that enjoy hosting fruit flies when peaches are brought home, but I tell you, the little buggers piss me right off! So Katherine says "why not make a fruit fly trap like your dad?". Now that does it: knowing my dad, his device is simple, can be made within a few minutes with items guaranteed found in the average home, and highly effective... It only happens that whatever the device is has taken him countless prototypes to acheive perfection in simplicity and design. So here it is: One 'Mason' jar with screw ring, but no top, and a coffee filter cut to size, with a couple of one millimetre diameter holes in it. Fill said container with 'bait', place filter on top, and screw down ring only to secure! Works like a charm!