Utilities expand energy efficiency
U.S. utilities increased their budgeting for energy efficiency programs by 43 percent in 2009 to $5.3 billion, according to a report by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE), a non-profit group that represents energy efficiency program administrators in the United States and Canada.
CEE’s Annual Industry Report said $4.4 billion was budgeted for U.S. electric energy efficiency programs and $930 million for natural gas programs. That represents a 38 percent increase for electric programs and a 79 percent increase for natural gas programs compared to 2008 levels.
Source: CFC Solutions News Bulletin March 5, 2010
Call 811 before you start digging
JULIE Inc., Illinois’ One-Call System, has declared April 1 as the official start of Illinois Safe Digging Month, a statewide initiative aimed at raising awareness of the importance of notifying JULIE by calling 811 before all digging. By calling 811 you’ll reduce the risk of striking underground utility lines.
State law requires all underground utility lines to be marked prior to breaking ground. This is a free call and service. Professional locators are sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags or spray paint.
In addition to common spring digging projects, such as landscaping or deck-building, JULIE recognizes that many people will be planting trees for Earth Day and Arbor Day projects on April 22 and 24 respectively. Notify JULIE by calling 811 at least two business days ahead so underground utility lines can be marked.
Visit www.call811.com or www.illinois1call.com for more Illinois state information about 811 and the call-before-you-dig process.
Donate your e-waste to non-profits
Electronic waste, or “e-waste” as it’s called, is a growing problem. Obsolete or broken computers and other electronic equipment are taking up landfill space and potentially leaking hazardous substances.
The non-profit Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition reports that 70 percent of the heavy metals in U.S. landfills are from discarded electronics.
If your old units still work but have merely been eclipsed by newer models, then by all means donate them to a needy cause. You could also earn a tax deduction.
But be aware that not every charity accepts old equipment. A good place to start is Goodwill, which often accepts equipment. Proceeds fund programs to help the disabled, illiterate, homeless and those on welfare by providing job training and placement programs. The Salvation Army runs similar programs and also typically accepts donated old office equipment.
Another option is to donate your equipment to needy schools, either directly or via a service like iLoveSchools.com. Also, the web site GreatNonprofits.org maintains a list of charities in need of various types of office equipment.
For more info go to: Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, www.svtc.org; Goodwill, www.goodwill.org; Salvation Army, www.salvationarmy.org; iLoveSchools.com, www.iloveschools.com; and GreatNonprofits.org, www.greatnonprofits.org
Fun fungi hunting in Illinois starts now
You’ve been cooped up too long this winter. Time to go morel hunting. Grab your walking stick and a youngster and get out in the woods this month.
Depending on location in the state, the first black morels begin to appear toward the end of March into early April. The white and yellow morels usually follow one to two weeks later. Usually the morel season will end by the second week in May in south-central Illinois, and one to two weeks later in northern Illinois.
The true unseen mushroom “body” is an underground network of fine thread-like material known as mycelium. It is believed that the largest living land organisms are mycelial bodies, which through DNA tests have been shown to spread many square miles from a single parent source.
Always know what you are looking for, enlist the help of experienced “shroomers”, and access the abundant literature and other sources of information on the topic if you are a beginner. Always follow the old adage: “When in doubt, throw it out” when hunting mushrooms.
Source: University of Illinois Extension
EPA moves forward with greenhouse gases regulations
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that greenhouse gases threaten public health. Under authority of the Clean Air Act, passed in 1970, the EPA is heading down the road of regulating green house gas emissions and starting with cars and trucks. Businesses and power plants may also fall under the EPA regulation.
“The Clean Air Act was never designed to deal with carbon, and it would be awkward at best and probably a disaster at worst,” says Glenn English, CEO of the Arlington, Va.-based National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).
English insists that any climate change legislation should protect consumers and preempt use of the federal Clean Air Act and any other existing laws. But Senate leaders have admitted that climate change legislation has stalled. This legislative logjam makes it all the more important for co-ops and consumers to pay careful attention to the EPA’s current efforts.
Some members of Congress have recognized the danger to our economy if EPA moves forward with regulation ahead of Congressional action. In March two additional bills were introduced to suspend the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases.
“We are pleased that Senator Jay Rockefeller and Representatives Rick Boucher, Nick Rahall and Alan Mollohan have introduced legislation to provide for this important time-out,” said English.
Electric co-ops are working with co-op members and political leaders from both parties to ensure that any climate change policy goals adopted are fair, affordable and achievable.
To make your voice heard in this debate, join NRECA’s Our Energy, Our Future™ grassroots awareness campaign at www.ourenergy.coop. To date, more than 600,000 of your fellow co-op members across the country have already done so. Join this cooperative, grassroots effort and together we can add a consumer voice to the debate.
Free listing available for agritourism farms
The North American Directory of Agritourism Farms and Ranches (RuralBounty.com) will now provide free listings to all agritourism farms in the United States and Canada. Premium listings are also available for just $45 annually. Rural Bounty is designed to assist the public in locating farm fresh fruits and vegetables, activities, entertainment, attractions, lodging, family events and festivals.
Listings on RuralBounty.com are available to all businesses with a rural base, including farms, ranches, wineries, farmers’ markets, bed and breakfasts, CSA programs, organic farms, farm stands and market, rural lodging and outdoor sports such as hunting lodges and cross country ski lodges. For more information, visit www.RuralBounty.com or call 314-862-6288.
Six field days offered for small-scale farming
Soil testing, cover crops, rotational grazing and selecting the right equipment are some of the topics that will be addressed at six New Farmer Field Days being offered this spring and summer for small-scale farming operations.
“The Central Illinois Farm Beginnings (CIFB) Field Days are geared toward people interested in launching a small farm business that is both economically and environmentally sustainable,” said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, University of Illinois Extension Specialist, Small Farm and Sustainable Agriculture and CIFB co-facilitator.
Starting April 10 and running through August 14 the topics include: Developing Value-Added Products and Navigating Food Rules, Equipment for Small Farmers, Evaluating Soil Quality and Soil Maps, Rotational Grazing and Fencing, Cover Crops, Farmland Access
To register, visit http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/smallfarm/begin_farm.html or contact Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant 217-968-5512).
Do CFL bulbs really last longer?
Last month a reader asked a great question — “How long do CFL bulbs really last?” The claim is they last eight to 10 times longer. That is generally true. But there is an “it depends clause.” It depends on the quality of the bulb and the way you use it.
First, you should know that switching a CFL on and off a lot can reduce its life. A CFL does well when it is turned on no more then five times a day and left on for more than 15 minutes at a time. If you flip the switch more than that expect at least a 30 percent reduction in bulb life.
Using the wrong CFL bulb in the wrong application can dramatically reduce the life of the bulb. For example, using a higher wattage CFL in a recessed ceiling can, creates heat that affects the electronics in the ballast. This can reduce the life of the CFL as much as 70 percent. Some CFLs can be used outside, but low temperatures can drastically impact the life of regular CFLs.
If you have dimmer switches you should buy CFLs made for the situation. The same is true for three-way lamps. But you can use regular CFLs on the middle setting. Using CFLs in a ceiling fan that vibrates or garage door opener will also reduce the life of CFLs significantly.
Check the package for different applications. If you want to verify the life of your CFL bulb write the date of installation on the base of the bulb. For more information go to www.gelighting.com and click on “Save Energy. Save Money with GE CFL bulbs.”