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Showing posts from 2006

Thermostat Installation

My apartment isn't mine, but I pay for the heat... and heat has been getting expensive! So I decided I needed to do something to reduce my heating bills.

Many claim that the easiest way to save money on heat is to install a "set-back" thermostat. After confering with my landlord, I went on a mission to replace my apartment's thermostat.

The Original Honeywell Thermostat

The original thermostat was a basic round Honeywell unit found in about a zillion households. It worked, but it was completely manual. A timer-type thermostat is promised to save me lots of money on my heating bills. I went to the local hardware store and purchased a Ritetemp 8030c for about $50. It came with a rebate of $25, so in all it only cost me about $25. But installation of a thermostat is pretty pricey, so I decided to save some money and do it myself.  Later, I ended up installing a Lux Programmable thermostat, which was very easy to install and was also inexpensive.

Removing the Original Ther…

Reducing Electric Bills revisited

It's been more than a year since I've posted about techniques for reducing your electricity bill. At that time I promised that I'd let you know how much electricity I've saved.

My monthly average consumption has gone from a peak of 283 KWH/Month in 2003, down to 131 KWH/Month - a reduction of almost 55%!

The techniques I used for cutting my electric consumption by 55% are:
Replaced traditional lightbulbs with CFL bulbs.Turn off lights, appliances, and equipment when not in active use.Set my refrigerator to about 38 degrees F, and the freezer to 5 degrees FTurned off the useless "anti-sweat" feature of my refrigerator
Run dish washer and wash clothes only when the load is full - and when they don't have to compete with the airconditioner (or can assist in heating)
Only run the air conditioner and fans when someone is home.
... and that's it! It was that easy - no pain, lots of gain. I notice that my consumption continues to fall - I'll provide another …

PC Electricity Consumption

With electricity quickly approaching $2 per watt per year, leaving a computer powered is a very expensive proposition. I found that I could power down my PC and save over $100 per year.

Here's how to accurately estimate how much your computers cost to operate.

Calculating Costs

In order to calculate the cost, I first calculated my total cost per watt per year. With my recent electric bill in hand, I used the following formula:

$ per Watt-Year = (bill's $amount) ÷ (bill's KWH) × 8.766

Given the following calculation, my electricity rate is a staggering $1.51 per watt-year:

$30.29 ÷ 176 KWh × 8.766 = $1.51

With this watt-year value, it's easy to accurately estimate how much your computer (or clock radio or refrigerator) costs per year.

Computer Cost per Year of Operation

Mac MiniPowerBookiMac G4iMac G5eMac 700WinPCOn19 [$25]
14 [$18]
38 [$50]
58 [$76]
91 [$120]
108 [$142]
Sleep mode
Off112134DVD View24225374107115DVD Rip37326472127128Brick Only00n/an/an/an/a
Impact on Air Condi…

Recommended Windows Software

[Updated for 2008!]

With Windows, the stock OS software is far from having everything I need.

So you may ask me, "LanceJ, what is the best PC software you like to install?" Here's my list.

The following software products are not offered by me; I'm just telling you that I use these products often. I find some of these products very useful. I've published this list mostly for my own personal benefit, so I don't have to go scrounging the web each time I need to install these for someone.

Critical Software Packages for Windows

I like these installed on all Windows computers I have to deal with:
Avast! Anti-Virus (Home Edition).Free anti-virus software. Spybot Search and Destroy. Detects and removes spyware.
CCleaner. Cleans junk off your PC.
FireFox, an awesome web browser for Windows.
Thunderbird, an awesome email client.Mozy Home Backup. An Internet backup utility/service. Works with the Mozy Home service, which is free for the first 2 GB of storage.
Other pack…

Macintosh: Upgrading an eMac

It's been a long time since I wrote this article, but the fact remains: The good old eMac can still be useful if you take the simple steps to keep it as good as it can be.  All can run Tiger, and most can run Leopard - great operating systems for their day with a bit of useful life.  This article describes the procedure I used to upgrade my old eMac, including:
Replacing the internal hard disk with a large capacity drive.Increasing the memory for performanceUpgrading the operating systemHere I'm upgrading a 700 MHz eMac, but the procedure and tasks for upgrading other eMac models should be almost identical.

Upgrading versus Replacing

My sister's eMac is of the 700 mhz variety, with 256 MB of memory. The machine seemed to be getting "slower", and the original 40 GB disk was becoming jammed packed with photos and iTunes, and within a few months she'd be out of disk space.

There were two options to address the problems: upgrade the eMac, or go out and buy a new …

Ripping Vinyl LP Records

If you're like me, you have a large collection of vinyl LP records that rarely get played because CDs and MP3 players are so much more convenient. And if you're like me, you want to move all of your audio assets into a more accessible format - your iPod - so that you can finally put that turntable away.

Ripping Vinyl to your iPod

The solution, of course, is to rip your LPs and cassettes. This entails playing each recording, digitizing the music as it plays, and then putting the digitized music into a form that any iPod can use.

My goal during this project was to develop an easy, repeatable, and very high quality process to digitize LPs. This article explains the process.

The Rules of High Quality Vinyl Ripping

Accuracy. On your home hifi system, you look to hear the best sound in your ears. The digitization process is fundamentally different. Digitization is all about capturing the source analog signal as accurately as possible. Do you have a fancy $5000 A/V receiver? Los…