Lower Electric Bills with an A/C Misting System


Cool-N-Save A/C condenser misting paddle
Cool-N-Save A/C condenser misting paddle

Summertime is here and the living is easy. Except perhaps for that high electricity bill from the incessant cycling of the air conditioner. Sure, you’ve beefed up the insulation, sealed leaks and perhaps installed radiant barrier foil in the attic. But there’s more you can do; you may be able to lower your electric bills with an A/C misting system.

Can a Condenser Coil Mister Save the Day?

I have been intrigued by this concept for a while now and with the South Texas temperatures flirting with triple digits and rising utility rates I decided this was the year to implement it. I already understood the cooling power of evaporating water, having worked with cooling towers and chilled water systems while working as an Engineering Supervisor for Marriott.

 

But this is a different application although the basic science is roughly the same. The one I installed at my home yesterday is the Cool-N-Save basic kit. Their claim is that the mist will lower the temperature of the air around the coils by as much as 30°F. This means that your HVAC system will not have to work as hard, consequently becoming more efficient and saving you money. Have I saved money yet? I don’t know! I just installed it yesterday. But I do have historic data and I’ll update this post when I have some hard numbers.

Curious about the science? Heat flux, thermal flux, heat flux density, or heat flow rate intensity is a flow of energy per unit of area per unit of time. Call it what you will, heat flux is at its most efficient whenever the outdoor ambient air temperature is lower than the refrigerant flowing through inside the A/C coils. So the evaporative effect of the misting lowers the ambient temperature in the area around the condenser coils and bingo! Efficiency prevails.

How the Cool-N-Save Coil Mister Works

Cool-N-Save mister water filter
Cool-N-Save mister water filter

The basic kit comes with:

  • 1  Control valve and paddle
  • 3  2′ Misting arms (tubing from the control valve/paddle to the misting nozzles)
  • 3  Brass misting nozzles
  • 1  Cool Release water treatment filter (3 month life)
  • 1  20′ flexible water feed line
  • 1 Garden hose adapter

The only thing I added was a brass splitter with cut-off valves for my outdoor spigot so I can use the mister and garden hose concurrently.

A dedicated garden hose attaches to the supplied garden hose adapter whose tubing enters the filter. Another hose (cut from the 20′ line) connects the filter to the control valve on the paddle. The three misting arms connect to the control valve/paddle and dangle down three sides of the condenser respectively terminated by the misting nozzles. Use zip-ties in all the obvious places.

When the A/C cycles the fan in the condenser unit kicks off. This blows up the paddle and enables water flow to the misting nozzles. It’s that elementary, Watson. (Pardon the inevitable Sherlock Holmes reference.)

Regular readers of my energy efficiency  articles know that I stress incremental changes; it is generally many small to large changes, not just one huge one that will reap savings. An A/C misting system is my latest energy tweak. I’ll be back in touch with results.


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Top 10 Ways to Go Green

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Have a green home and lifestyle
Have a green home and lifestyle

Going green is as trendy as ever but did you know that it will save you money as well? You can do more than recycle; you can make small changes in all areas of your home and life that really add up. Here are the top 10 ways to go green on our list.

  1. Go Organic in your garden and lawn. First of all, stop it with all the pesticides. Monsanto’s Roundup is in trial right now for allegedly causing cancer. The active ingredient glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” according to the World Health Organization. Stop it with the “weed and feed” products as well. Sure, the herbicide ingredient will kill some weeds but they can also kill shrubs and trees if applied in the drip zone. Just broadcast organic fertilizer and agricultural dried molasses in the spring and fall. This will encourage deep root growth of your lawn grass which means less watering, saving money. It is also recommended to apply beneficial nematodes to eliminate fleas in the larval stage.
  2. Green Your Kitchen. Back off with the chemical cleaning products. Instead, use non-toxic or plant-based cleaning products. They perform just as well as your chemicals but they are safer for your family, better for the environment, and save money. For example, baking soda is non-toxic and can be combined with a bit of water to clean tubs, sinks and other surfaces. Vinegar is great for cleaning glass. Got bugs? Use orange oil spray instead of pesticides.
  3. Improve Your Energy Efficiency. Anything you can do to lower your electricity bill is a good thing. Today’s homes are built with tighter exteriors than older homes so strive for that. Spring for an energy audit to identify problems if you want; otherwise just do common sense things like adding insulation and caulking windows. This will really save you money when utility costs spike.
  4. Go Green in the Bathroom. Wasting water is not only bad for the environment but is also costly. Switch to low flow toilets. Next eliminate the drips; a single dripping water faucet can waste 212 gallons of water a month. Ka-ching! And, there is no point in leaving the water running while you brush your teeth. On, off, on, off.
  5. Make Some Energy Tweaks Around the House. One of the easiest things to do is to contact the Direct Marketing Association to take yourself off many companies’ mass marketing mailing lists for up to five years. Unplugging things when not in use stops “phantom loads” with most appliances that use power such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, chargers, computers, and kitchen appliances.
  6. How to Save When Shopping. Most people don’t realize how they can save and go green when out and about. First, don’t load up on bottled water for drinking when you are out doing your chores. Instead, carry a reusable water bottle. You will save money and create less scrap plastic. For the grocery store take your own reusable bags. When the industry went from paper to plastic they didn’t do the environment any favors. Also consider buying things in bulk. This saves on both packaging and money.
  7. Focus on an Environmentally-Friendly Workplace. Being green isn’t only possible at home; the workplace is important as well. Encourage workers to have a plant or two in their space; they act as natural filters to improve indoor air quality. If your company ships products, use environmentally-friendly packaging materials and reuse boxes when possible. Set your office printers to print double-sided. This is an simple way to reduce paper consumption by up to half.
  8. Traveling the Green Way. If you are only going a short distance, consider walking or riding a bike. If you can run to work and shower there, even better. Compared to driving a car, this will save money and improve your health. Use public transportation or carpool when possible. Not only will you have a greener commute but you can catch up on some reading.
  9. Food can be Green too. We all have to eat so why not do it the green way? Buying locally grown food is a good start. Did you know that food generally travels between 1,500 to 2,500 miles from farm to your kitchen? Moving food that distance results in high energy consumption and less local agricultural investment. If you took our advice on going organic in tip #1 above, grow your own veggies, fruit, and herbs.
  10. Consider Passive Solar ConceptsPassive solar has been getting quite a bit of press lately but many people don’t really understand it. Basically it means considering the sun’s energy when building or modifying your home. With new home construction, it is important to position the structure so that you get the morning and afternoon sun where it benefits you the most. Thermal mass is also an important concept. In colder climates materials such as concrete and brick hold heat well and can be used in living areas to reduce heating costs. Solar collectors, both passive and active can be incorporated into a home’s design. Solar water heaters can vastly lower your energy bills and your impact on the environment.

These tips on ways to go green can greatly reduce your carbon footprint and save you money. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in global warming or climate change; who doesn’t enjoy extra cash?


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Puzzled by Your Home Electrical Issues?



A properly-labeled circuit breaker panel
A properly-labeled circuit breaker panel

Almost everything we do in our homes and work-spaces involve electricity. From refrigerators to night-lights, electricity is involved at the most local level. Today, most of us take it for granted since it has always been there.

But it hasn’t always been there, which for most of us is a difficult concept to grasp. A political hot-potato has always been how power is generated. Coal, gas, solar energy, or nuclear? It is hard to get a consensus.

One of the only constants is the bleating from the NIMBY states (Not In My Back Yard). California comes to mind–send us our power but don’t make it here; it;s not “clean”. Hypocrites.

So, with all that in consideration, here are a few of my musings on the subject of power, power, power.

Electricity is Delivered Through Conduits

It doesn’t just show up like an expected relative. No, it enters your home through the main line into your circuit breaker box. From there it is routed where it needs to go depending on where it was designed to go.

Whenever you move into a home it is advisable to always map your electrical circuits before trouble transpires. When an issue arises you will need to know where things start and where they go, so to speak.

Depending on the age of your residence, your local electrical code, and the type of devices you install, the means of delivering that electrical power may vary.

How to Save Money on Your Power Bill

One of the big problems concerned with your home electricity is that the cost tends to be in flux. Unless you are a big fan of studying natural gas and coal futures it is hard to predict when the price will rise. The  best thing you can do is maximize your home’s energy efficiency in advance. Here are a few money saving tips to consider.

  • Keep your HVAC system in tip-top shape. Having it tuned up twice a year, when the seasons are changing is one way. Calibrate your thermostat; it might not be accurate. Change out your return air filter once a month or as recommended.
  • Consider your old tank water heater with a tankless water heater. There will be some up front costs but you will save money in the long run. Why pay too keep water heated in a tank when you are not using it?
  • Install blown insulation in exterior walls. This generally applies to older homes when insulation was not as big a home construction factor as it is today.
  • Install a radiant barrier in your attic. This is an excellent way to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  • Install ceiling fans. This is a great way to keep the conditioned air where you need it when you need it. It is easy to install ceiling fans and they are inexpensive. Just remember to have the air blowing down in the summer and up in the winter.
  • Check your doors and windows for leaks. This should be done at least annually and some caulk and door sealing strips is generally all you need.

Hopefully this article helped you to understand your home electrical issues and save some money on your utility bills. Got more tips to share? List them in the comment section below.


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Al Gore– The P.T. Barnum of Climate Change

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Al Gore expounding on global warming
Al Gore expounding on global warming

This post was last updated on 08/10/18.

It used to be “global warming.” When that catchphrase came under question the buzzword shifted to “climate change.” The idea was to make the term so vague that if the temperature in any given area got cooler or warmer, the True Believers from the Church  of Carbon Defiance (CCD) could wag their warm/cool fingers at skeptics and mutter, “I told you so.”

But the political correctness and the search for a more palatable phrase continues. www.the guardian.com says, “Staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been told to avoid using the term ‘climate change’ in their work, with the officials instructed to reference ‘weather extremes’ instead.”

A couple more examples of rhetorical manipulation include substituting “resilience to weather extremes” for “climate change adaption” and “build soil organic matter” for “sequester carbon”.

I earlier mentioned the CCD because climate change really is a faith in the sense that any other religion is. The so-called “real science” that backs it up is nebulous science and conjecture at best.

When did Meaningful Weather Records Begin to be Collected?

Older weather records are only as accurate as the instruments used. In the US, Thomas Jefferson made regular observations at his home Monticello from 1772 to 1778, and participated in taking the first known simultaneous weather observations in America. But that is one solitary location and hardly gives us the “big picture.”

That didn’t begin to happen until the invention of the telegraph so that weather observations from distant points made by volunteers could be collected in a reasonable period of time, plotted, and then analyzed at one location. In 1849 this location was the Smithsonian.


Weather Projections from Past, Present, and Onward

There are three time frames in weather analysis. First, the past as outlined above up until today. While the early technology was primitive, the resulting data can at least demonstrate trends and patterns that can be loosely correlated with advances in industry and manufacturing (e.g., the increase in carbon emissions).

The second frame is a snapshot of today. At any given moment we have an accurate comprehensive view of what is happening worldwide. Finally, we are left with the third frame, computer projections of the future which is where we really begin to get into trouble.

Anybody on the gulf coast biting their nails while watching the dozen or so computer-generated hurricane path possibilities during the next few days knows how accurate that can be. Given that dose of reality, can we bank on what is going to happen 50 or 100 years from now? Which brings us to…

Al Gore, Alarmist and Profiteer

As an analogy, if Jesse Jackson can be described as a poverty pimp, Gore can certainly be described as a climate change pimp. It boils down to taking a popular issue and using it for personal gain rather than making a meaningful difference. After a lackluster performance as Vice-President and failed Presidential candidate, he had to cast about for something new to do.

After working as a visiting professor at various universities he drifted off into the global warming movement. He was no stranger to this world; he had been involved with environmental issues beginning in 1976, when as a freshman congressman, he held the first congressional hearings on the climate change, and co-sponsored hearings on toxic waste and global warming.

Carbon credit: any tradable certificate or permit representing the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide or the mass of another greenhouse gas with a carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) equivalent to one ton of carbon dioxide.

Seeing an opportunity, he jumped into the carbon credit business, founding Generation Investment Management (GIM) along with David Blood. The firm’s focus is on a research agenda including global sustainability and renewable energy issues.

GIM took a big position in the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) for carbon trading and Gore used an alarmist position to attract investors.

According to forbes.com, “Between May of 2008 and October of 2009 the CCX market value for one metric ton of carbon plummeted from $7 per metric ton to $0.10 along with the shareholders’ investment values. Losers included the Ford Motor Company, Amtrak, DuPont, Dow Corning, American Electric Power, International Paper, and Waste Management, along with the states of Illinois and New Mexico, seven cities, and a number of universities. But GIM was in a winning position.

“Never give a sucker an even break” – P.T. Barnum

Arctic ice to be gone by 2012
Guess we dodged the bullet on this “real science” prediction.

Al Gore, Hypocrite

The face that Gore presents to the world is that of a planet-saving messiah. The truth is far from that. It’s a case of do as I say, not as I do. Case in point—his home in Nashville, Tennessee.

Al Gore's energy-guzzling home
Al Gore’s energy-guzzling home

According to Drew Johnson, National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) Senior Fellow, “The past year, Gore’s home energy use averaged 19,241 kilowatt hours (kWh) every month, compared to the U.S. household average of 901 kWh per month. During the last 12 months, Gore devoured 66,159 kWh of electricity just heating his pool. That is enough energy to power six average U.S. households for a year.”

“There’s a sucker born every minute” – P.T. Barnum

 


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The Sad Demise of Michelle and Barack Obama’s Legacy

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Article updated on 09/19/18

A presidential legacy is a term that is often bandied about as an indicator as to what kind of impact the president had on society and global policy. This is also true, albeit to lesser extent, with first ladies and their “pet projects.”

For most presidents the jury remains out for a while, sometimes as long as a decade, in order to give the dust time to settle. But with the Obamas, it is happening almost overnight. There is no way to sugar-coat this—the initiatives were bold but they were doomed to failure.

One problem is that Barry Obama never really had any real world experience to prepare him for office. Even the most lowly congressional aide knows that the president of the United States doesn’t bow to a Saudi king.

Or deliver pallets of cash to the Iranians like some mafioso, just to avoid banking channels and legitimate procedure.

Even had he been the best community organizer in that economic crackerjack city of Chicago, that doesn’t really qualify as the executive experience that a job such as the Presidency demands. And nothing he did was even original; it was mostly cobbled together from the ideas of his mentor Frank Marshall Davis and Saul Alinsky.

If it can be called a component of a legacy, the establishment of a highly-effective shadow government was brilliant. His loyal civil servant followers continue to soldier on long after that last trip on the tax-payer’s dime.

And Michelle? Meh. She may have been a competent lawyer, who knows? But for someone to utter, “This is the first time I have been proud of my country,” only after she has landed the fattest plum of a spousal job on the planet? Oy vey! What a total lack of decorum.

Barack Obama’s Failed Programs

Although Obama delved into many social and economic experiments consistent with his progressive agenda, only three have the dubious honor of taking center stage.

For example, venturing into the clean energy game might have been a laudable goal but doing it with no real scientific justification and rolling the dice with taxpayer money was just a bad move; there is no other way to put it. Remember Solendra? They left taxpayers liable for $535 million in federal guarantees. This kind of speculative investment is best left to the private sector because they can conduct business much more effectively and realistically.

The next failed initiative is Obamacare. Granted that it’s inception was perhaps done with the best of intentions, but it was unworkable from the beginning. Now it is collapsing under it’s own weight; the last of the huge insurance companies are bailing and Grandma can’t afford her meds.

Finally, the Iran deal brokered by John Kerry was doomed to failure from the get-go. This was a bad deal and it resonates with the Neville Chamberlain mindset when dealing with Hitler—you know; just give them a bit of appeasement and life is good. It’s not playing out so well with the emboldened Iranians now that they have cash-in-hand and an Obama absolution for all things done.

Obama’s Transgressions Just Keep On Coming

Unlike past ex-presidents, Obama hasn’t had the good grace to bow out and let the new president go about his business. He keeps his hand in it, partially some think by guiding his own shadow government with the help of his old allies and minions who are still in government employ (and are the prime suspects of carefully-planned leaks under the Trump administration).

It turns out that it is a two-edged sword. Yes, he can continue as a radical organizer on a grand scale to try to topple Trump but it also keeps him under public scrutiny. His misdeeds keep surfacing.

  • Sam Westrop of the Middle East Forum tells us that following the civil war in Sudan, ” The Obama administration approved a grant of $200,000 of taxpayer money to an al-Qaeda affiliate in Sudan — a decade after the U.S. Treasury designated it as a terrorist-financing organization. More stunningly, government officials specifically authorized the release of at least $115,000 of this grant even after learning that it was a designated terror organization.”

Michelle Obama’s Failed Legacy

Michelle Obama had a laudable goal of getting American children in shape and eating right. The problem is that she approached it too scientifically and in too much of a heavy-handed manner.

Schoolchildren would hardly eat the industrial slop they were fed to begin with, but at least it was things they liked such delicacies as pizza, burgers, fries, etc. When all of this was replaced with “healthy” industrial slop the kids rebelled and most of the victuals ended up in the trash.

She also failed to take into account that kids that participated in after-school activities like sports and cheerleading were running on empty when expected to perform since they were not allowed to pack snacks on school property; many schools were instructed to frisk the kids and to dispose of “unauthorized” food items, leaving the parent’s wishes completely out of the loop.

Her stance today is summed up as, in her words, “So consumers out there – again, I don’t care where you’re from, what your party is – I would be highly insulted by that thought. ‘You want to talk about nanny state and government intervention? Well, you just buy the food and be quiet. You don’t need to know what’s in it.’ That’s essentially what a move like this is saying to you, mom. They think you don’t care because what they hear from are the people who want their kids to eat whatever they want to eat.”

Her legacy on this issue is doomed because parents don’t want to be preached to, don’t want to be told that the government does not approve of the way they handle their private and personal family relationships.

Barack and Michelle Obama's failed accomplishments
Barack and Michelle Obama’s failed accomplishments

The Bottom Line

The joint Obama legacy will not likely be one that is a long time in the making. Just five months into a new administration all these lofty ambitions have crumbled into the footnotes of history. Is this good or bad? That is your decision to make, dear reader.


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About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


And Coming Up to the Mid-Term Elections

It’s Time to Plan Spring Home Improvement Projects

Radiant barrier foil in the attic.
Radiant Barrier Foil and Paint in the Attic
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Given the recent blizzard on the U.S. east coast (February 2017) you might not be inclined to be thinking about home improvements; there’s too much to do digging out from under the snow.

But the fact of the matter is that this is the perfect time to be in the planning stage for such things. Homeowners are generally interested in at least three things: building home equity, becoming more energy efficient, and just being comfortable.

So what are some things to consider in this planning stage while waiting for that federal income tax refund?

  • Priorities. Make a list of “wants” and “needs.” It is always nice when these things coincide but reality often dictates otherwise. If you have to choose between a new granite counter top and a much-needed roof, you know what to do.
  • Get realistic about your budget. In the end this will dictate what you can really do. Keep in mind that the more work you can do instead of hiring someone, the further your dollars will go.
  • Spend time checking out any contractors you might use. Make sure they are insured and bonded and not going to put you on the losing end of a mechanics lien. Angie’s list is a great way to narrow your list.

Good Candidates for Home Improvement Projects

There are many considerations for projects; here are a few that I like:

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