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Illinois Country Living


Swimming in energy savings

If you have a pool you should know that pool pumps burn through more than three times the electricity of a new refrigerator and can represent the largest single electrical end-use in homes that have a pool.

By replacing a standard pump and motor assembly with a multi-speed pump (variable-, two-, and four-speed), pool owners can save up to 50 percent (or roughly $900) on the annual cost of filtering their pools, compared to the typical single-speed pump. This savings can be gained only by running it mostly at lower speeds. Full-speed operation is still available for more intensive activities such as backwashing or vacuuming.

A solar-powered pump is another option, however, the effectiveness of solar-powered systems is very dependent on local climate conditions.

Source: Brian Sloboda, program manager specializing in energy efficiency for the Cooperative Research network, and Pentair Water Pool and Spa, Inc.

Multi-speed pool pumps like this one save energy by running at lower speeds. Reducing the pump speed by half actually reduces the power requirement of the pump by three-quarters.

Oil spill impacts energy legislation

Democratic leaders and the Administration continue to push for work on energy-related issues, and proposed comprehensive energy/climate legislation is increasingly being framed in the context of the recent oil rig spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Some environmentalists are confounded because there is no sweeping public sentiment so far against oil drilling incentives, but as the situation continues to receive wide publicity, that could perhaps change. While Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) revised provisions on offshore drilling to impose new regulatory requirements and restrictions, those changes endanger agreements made to gain support of lawmakers from oil production states while at the same time drawing more threats from some legislators who want drilling incentives dropped.

Losing Republican support after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) backed away from negotiations, Sens. Kerry and Lieberman are working to maintain a fragile coalition of environmental and business supporters while, at the same time, attempting to try and add supporters in the wake of the oil spill. Their argument is that the oil spill highlights the need for comprehensive energy legislation that will help to “wean” America from its oil dependence. Individuals opposed to these efforts suggest that the expected high price tag of such legislation may not be what the country needs in a time of such economic uncertainty and challenges.

Noting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final “tailoring” rule on stationary source emission thresholds for greenhouse gas permit requirements, Sen. Kerry said it is the “last call” for Congress to pass an energy-carbon bill before EPA implements carbon regulation under the Clean Air Act.

One roadblock to Senate floor action is a financial reform bill (S. 3217) that must pass to clear time on the floor before the partisan atmosphere of the upcoming elections makes action on any major bills unlikely. As of this writing, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) hopes to have the full Senate consider comprehensive energy/climate legislation in July.

To learn more and to contact your Congressman and U. S. Senators go to

Why we celebrate Fourth of July

July Fourth is the day Americans celebrate the nation’s independence from Great Britain. That might surprise Thomas Jefferson, principal author of the Declaration of Independence. The Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776. Jefferson wrote to his wife, Abigail, the next day:

• “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.”

• But the Continental Congress didn’t approve Jefferson’s declaration until July 4, leading to the popular association of the Fourth of July with the official date of independence. By the way, the Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed by most Congressional delegates until Aug. 2, 1776.

Independence Day facts

Here are some fun facts to share with your family and friends on the Fourth of July while waiting for the hot dogs to cook on the grill:

• Three presidents died on July Fourth: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams in 1826, and James Monroe in 1831. Calvin Coolidge was the only president born on July Fourth, in 1872.

• The Massachusetts General Court was the first state legislature to recognize July Fourth as a state celebration, in 1781.

• The first recorded use of the name “Independence Day” occurred in 1791.

• The U.S. Congress established Independence Day as an unpaid holiday for federal employees in 1870. It became a federal paid holiday in 1931.

Do you need flood and water damage insurance?

The Illinois Department of Insurance is reminding Illinois consumers to prepare for the possibility of a flood by examining existing homeowner or renter policies and determining whether to add flood insurance. 

“A common misunderstanding is that flood risk exists only near rivers, lakes and other bodies of water,” said Michael T. McRaith, Director of the Illinois Department of Insurance. “Standard homeowner and renter policies do not cover flood damage, and new flood insurance policies are not usually effective for 30 days.”

Floods are the number one natural disaster in the U.S. and one of the most expensive. The National Flood Insurance Program estimates that only two inches of water in a home could cause $7,800 in damage.

For more information about flood insurance, please visit the Department’s website at or call the Department toll-free at 866-445-5364.

Urge Congress to support energy efficiency loan legislation

Co-op leaders are asking for grassroots member support of HR 4785 federal legislation that would help co-ops pump nearly $5 billion in energy efficiency improvements and job creation into rural America.

“This bill provides for job creation, energy conservation and cost-effective upgrades that will save real people, real money on their energy bills,” said House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., an author of H.R. 4785, the Rural Energy Savings Program Act. “It’s a win-win-win proposition.”

Dubbed “Rural Star” after the Energy Star and Home Star programs, the bill would authorize the Rural Utilities Service to provide $4.9 billion in zero-interest loans to co-ops during a five-year period.

It is based on an initiative developed by The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina and could create or save 20,000 to 34,000 jobs annually.

A typical loan of $1,500 to $7,000 would cover structural improvements, such as insulation or heating and air conditioning systems. Members would repay loans through a monthly charge on their bills.

H.R. 4785 will allow electric co-ops to help more consumers overcome the barriers to energy efficiency savings by using the current Rural Utilities Service (RUS) loan program and avoid creating new federal infrastructure.

To contact your elected representatives visit

What employers are looking for as the recovery continues

The economy may be slowly recovering from the recession, but what does that mean for job-seekers?

Take a look at these data from a survey of 2,700 hiring and HR professionals conducted by CareerBuilder and USA Today:

• Temp help. Twenty-five percent of employers expected to hire contract workers or temps in the second quarter of 2010, and 13 percent said they were likely to hire them permanently.

• Interns. About 25 percent of employers planned to hire interns in the second quarter.

• Social media. Close to 10 percent planned to bring in a new employee to handle social media efforts.

• Second languages. One-third of employers want to hire bilingual candidates this year. Half said they’d probably choose a bilingual candidate over one who speaks just one language.

• Retention. Thirty-two percent are worried about their top employees leaving as the job market picks up. To prevent this, 14 percent are offering more flexible working conditions, another 14 percent are providing more training, and 5 percent are giving high-performing employees a more prestigious job title (without any more money).

Living in the corn country you should know these facts

Did you know that only about 1 percent of the corn we grow is eaten as corn? The rest works its way into our food supply in other ways, such as animal feed or sweetener, or is used for industrial purposes like making fuel for cars.

And did you know that every year farmers are getting more corn from each acre thanks to advances in equipment and biotechnology? Examples: corn that’s bred to be resistant to insects or global positioning systems that guide combines to within inches of where they should plant seeds and place fertilizer.

A few more corn facts you should know include:

• By far most of it goes to feed animals we raise for food, like cattle and pigs.

• We’re making biodegradable plastic from it these days.

• Corn is at the base of our food system in so many ways it’s hard to count them all.

You can learn about this and more in the Corn Fact Book. It includes the latest 10-year crop forecast, a look at what’s next for farm policy, and analysis of what it means for the economy, for our energy supply and for the environment. Find out more online at

The fate of oil spilled in the Gulf

What will happen to the oil spilled in the Gulf? Bill Miller, Director, University of Georgia Marine Institute studies marine photochemistry, or the effect of solar energy on organic and inorganic chemical reactions in the ocean. He says, “The weathering and breakdown of oil by sunlight in the surface ocean is a natural process that will certainly play a part in the fate of this massive oil spill in the Gulf.” Miller says the big question is the rate of breakdown and exactly what the impacts of photochemical breakdown products for a catastrophic spill this large might be.

James T. Hollibaugh, Professor, Department of Marine Sciences, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, studies microbial activity in the sea, including the role of marine microbes in the breakdown of organic matter. “Marine bacteria are ultimately the principal agents responsible for removing spilled hydrocarbons from the ocean,” he said. “This biological process is aided by photodegradation – sunlight – that transforms indigestible oil to biodegradable material, and by volatilization that removes low molecular weight hydrocarbons. The denser tar that is left is less toxic than newly spilled oil and is degraded slowly over time by the teamwork of bacteria and sunlight.”

What dogs know about life

Dogs may be smarter than we think. Here are some secrets of contented living that most dogs follow and more humans need to:

• Never pass up the chance to go for a ride.

• Always greet your loved ones enthusiastically, even if they’ve been gone for only five minutes.

• Sometimes obedience is the best strategy.

• Carve out your niche and let others know when they’ve invaded your space.

• Find time to run, chase things and play every day.

• Eat with gusto!

• Be dependably loyal no matter what.

• Take frequent naps.

• Take time to stretch before getting up from your naps.

• Don’t bite when a growl will send the message.

• When someone’s having a bad day, stay close, be quiet, and nuzzle them now and then.

• When it’s hot, drink a lot of water and sleep in the shade.

• Enjoy long, rambling walks.

• When you’re happy, show it.

• Don’t take scoldings personally – you’ll forget them soon enough.



© 2016 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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