May 20, 2008

NetFlix Player - Stream Movies to TV and Watch What U Want Whenever U Want

Well, this will change things.

NetFlix announced today that its NetFlix Player is available for $99 -- connect this to your television, and you can stream movies and TV shows directly to your TV.

When you want, choosing the movies or shows that you want to see from the NetFlix library of over 10,000 selections and growing. The library pops up on your TV screen. That's right - your TV, not your PC.

No mailing, no returning to the store. You do, of course, have to be a NetFlix subscriber (memberships start at $4.95/month).

For details on all this (including all the technical stuff) check out the detailed press release, issued today.

May 19, 2008

Personal Post 9: Cut Electric Bill by Half

Just thought I'd share my efforts in cutting the electric bill -- of course, the real test will be the next few months, when the hot Texas summer kicks in. (Today, we're going to be in the mid-90s for a high.) So far, I'm proud to report that the electric bill is half what it used to be.

Yes, folks, HALF.

1. I've started buying the CFL bulbs, one or two at a time, during the major grocery run. The plan is to stagger replacement of the bulbs throughout the house, starting with those used the most to those used the least. This is still a work in process.

2. Any appliances that aren't used daily have been unplugged. In my home office, for example, the electric 3-hole punch (which I love) is a fantastic help, but I don't need it everyday. Other examples: table lamps in the living room, a corner lamp in the den, and we just got rid of the electric can opener flat out. (Standby consumption by each of these appliances can equal leaving a lamp on with a 75 watt conventional bulb.)

3. The chargers don't get plugged in unless it's time to charge something.

4. Using room air conditioners instead of central air - for as long as possible (this is Texas, after all). And, using them only when necessary -- the house is well-insulated and the roof is protected from full sun by shade trees; it averages 10 degrees cooler in the house than outside as a general rule.

5. Using fans instead of any air conditioning. Fans give a nice breeze, they're comforting in an odd way, and they really can keep you cool.

6. Washing all the laundry in cold water (learned this trick from watching Kate doing laundry on the reality show Jon & Kate + 8).

7. Drying lots of things on a little clothes hanger set up in the laundry room instead of throwing everything in the dryer (and always changing the lint filter before every load, too).

8. Handwashing the dishes instead of using the dishwasher except on weekends, and then waiting to run a full load -- and choosing air-dry for those loads.

9. Hung heat-resistant mini-blinds and heavier drapes in the den (where there are two big sets of floor to ceiling windows) - this has really helped keep the den more comfortable than past years.

10. The ever-popular rule: turn the light out when you leave the room ....

For more information:



ConEd's 100 Tips

May 9, 2008

Those Funny Light Bulbs - Are CFL Bulbs Worth the Price?

You've seen those strange light bulbs at the store - they aren't the normal round light bulb; instead, they're a glass coil - and they cost a lot more than the standard bulb (about three times as much). Officially, they're called "CFL" bulbs, which stands for "compact flourescent light," and they tout themselves as being better for the environment and cheaper on your pocketbook.

Personally, I had walked on by those CFL displays at the grocery, because they did cost so much more than the regular bulbs and I couldn't believe that changing out a couple of bulbs could make that big of a difference.

Could be, I was wrong.

Several folk have reported on the web that they've cut their electric bill in half by replacing the bulbs in their home with CFL bulbs. That's right: HALF.

How can this be? Well, it seems that CFLs do not use heat to make light, and a 13 watt CFL will give you the same results as a standard 60 watt bulb. Less watts mean less cost. The more bulbs you replace, the more savings you'll see.

It's recommended that you begin the transition by changing out the bulbs in your high-use areas: the kitchen, the den, the bedroom - you'll begin to see the biggest difference on your electric bill with these changes, and you can avoid the immediate outlay for enough CFL bulbs to replace every bulb in the house.

There is a hitch, though. Seems these CFLs contain mercury. When they burn out (which takes a lot longer than the standard bulb -- a CFL purportedly lasts 10 times as long as a standard incandescent bulb), you need to dispose of them properly. Don't let that mercury get hauled with the rest of the trash, over to the landfill. Call 1-800-CLEANUP for info.

For more information:
City of Chicago
Fox News, "Are Compact Florescent Light Bulbs Good for the Environment?"
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