Archive for July, 2008

Solar Shower – Warm Water at 10:30PM!

Solar Shower It was a bit late last night when I got around to taking a shower before bed, but I thought I would see if the solar shower still had warm water. At 10:30PM I took a battery powered camping lantern with me and set it outside the shower. This provided more than enough light, although I would like to rig up a permanent light for after dark in the future.

The water was still warm! So the 20 gallon reservoir holds the heat for a while. It was fairly warm during the day (84), but not extremely hot.

I have plans for improving this shower: Add another layer of plastic over the top to form an insulating barrier as well as adding 2" foam insulation to the back side against the wall – this would insulate the water and help it maintain heat even better. I will post again when I do these updates. Hoping to use this shower into October, even here in cold northern Wisconsin.

Go to Free Solar Shower Plans to see how you can build a shower like this for around $25!

Review of First Alert Motion Sensing Light Socket

This energy saving light socket, made by First Alert, will turn off your light automatically after 4 minutes if no motion is sensed. Also, it will turn on your light when motion is detected and keep it on as long as motion is detected. Installation is simple: Unscrew your current bulb, screw in this socket, and then screw in your bulb into this socket! We use this in our basement by our freezer where I had a light that would go on at the same time as my office light. The alternative to going this route would have been to wire in a new switch, but we had 3 switches already and I did not want a 4th, nor did I want more wiring. This device works great, but the price is a bit steep – $23! Another drawback is that it will not work with low-wattage bulbs such as a 14-watt florescent bulb but requires at least 25 watts. For the time being, I have to use a 60-watt bulb until I obtain a 25 watt florescent. Note that if you use a 14-watt, the light will flicker. From some reviews I have read of the First Alert Motion Sensing Light Socket at, this socket will flicker with any compact florescent bulb. (That would not be good!) I will test this out myself and provide an update.

First Alert Motion Sensing Light Socket The energy saved is calculated as follows: With my old 14 watt florescent bulb, 140 watt-hours per day were used, assuming 10 hours of "on" time. Now, about 10 watt-hours are used for a (future) 25 watt bulb that will go on about 5 or 6 times for 4 minutes. So about 130 watt-hours are saved per day, or 0.130 kw-hrs per day. Using a rate of about $0.10 per kw-hr, this amounts to $0.013 per day, or about $5 per year in electricity alone. Add the savings of perhaps $2 per year in bulb replacement costs, and the annual savings in my application is $7/year, resulting in a payback period of about 4 years. Not the big savings I hoped for, but a step in the right direction!

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This blog will serve as a place to post supplemental materials relating to saving money in one’s household. Updates will be provided on energy saving projects going on in our own home as well as discussion of alternative energy technologies such as fuel-cell powered vehicles, solar electric cells, geothermal heat pumps, and more.

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