Archive | August, 2011

What I Learned at the Home Depot Lighting Showcase in New York City

August 3, 2011

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I attended the Home Depot Lighting Showcase in New York City last week, to learn more about light bulb technology. I have previously expressed my dismay that the federal government and my state (New York) have passed legislation sharply restricting and eventually prohibiting incandescent light bulbs in the United States. Some of you have (like me) really detest the compact fluorescent light (CFL) “swirly” fluorescent bulbs and are stocking up on incandescents for the future. When the folks at Home Depot invited me to check out some new bulb technology, I was keenly interested. Here are a few things I learned from the showcase:

The old bulb with metal filament.

1. Incandescents are not outlawed by the government.
This news was rather surprising. According to one of the gentlemen at the showcase, the federal government is requiring that incandescents be “energy efficient.” On display at the showcase was a very unique incandescent bulb that had — of all things– a halogen bulb inside it!

Now, regular incandescents, the ones we’ve been using since Thomas Edison, work this way: a glass bulb is filled with inert gas and contains a thin metal filament. When electrified, the filament heats up until it glows, producing light. Unfortunately, about 90 percent of the energy generated is wasted, emitting heat and not light. Since energy is a precious commodity, the incandescent is considered very wasteful.

Now, I like the light that incandescents emit. It’s warm, cozy, comforting. CFLs are terribly harsh, ugly and some of them do not fit in my lamp fixtures. It seems that many of us are convinced we are being forced between choosing soon-to-be illegal incandescents or the ugly and expensive CFLs. But this is not so! Read on…

2. Manufacturers are making our beloved incandescent more energy efficient.
At the showcase, the Home Depot dudes showed me a new type of incandescent, a bulb with a small halogen bulb inside of it. This is the sample they gave me.

EcoVantageBulb

I was very impressed with this bulb. According to the packaging, this new incandescent offers 28 percent energy savings, 1000 hours life cycle, a light output of 1490 lumens and all for 72 watts. The bulb is brighter than a typical incandescent, and shines a very pleasant, clear light.

The new bulb with halogen insert.

Obviously, such a remanufactured bulb will cost more. In my location, I can purchase one package of regular incandescent light bulbs that contain 4 bulbs for about $1.50. These new EcoVantage bulbs come in packs of two, and cost approximately $3 per package. That’s a jump, but realize that the bulbs save energy and reduce your energy bill somewhat.

3. Manufacturers are making a slew of new kinds of bulbs. The key is “energy efficient” lighting.

These EcoVantage bulbs are only the next step up from incandescents in energy efficiency. The CFLs have better efficiency than the EcoVantage, and the Halogena Energy Saver bulbs are better than them all. The most energy efficient of all are the new-fangled LED lights. This is a totally new technology that has been long in coming. I’ll have much more about those in future posts.

So we do have some choices here, and we are not merely relegated to a war between incandescents vs. CFLs. Manufacturers are truly stepping up to the plate to offer more palatable choices for us. The bad news is that we will all be paying a lot more for light bulbs. The good news is that the bulbs last exponentially longer and save energy.

I’ll have more information about the developments of new bulbs and about the Home Depot Showcase in posts to come. So come back for more! šŸ™‚

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Save Some Bucks With a Refinanced Mortgage

August 3, 2011

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When I was a kid, I remember seeing TV show episodes in which the characters would burn their paid-off mortgage papers in a “mortgage party.” I remember thinking “Wow, this must be something very significant!” and then also thinking, “What the heck is a mortgage?” Hoh boy, do I know what a mortgage is, now. :-p

With the current economy crunch, there’s no time like the present to reduce money outflow and work toward eliminating debt. Even though we have done all the home renovations ourselves, we have had to borrow money to pay for the materials. Home products are horribly expensive, did you know that?! I really don’t see how people can afford both materials AND labor costs. I managed to slash the labor costs, but still, the debt is relatively large. We refinanced the debt into a home equity loan, but eventually we may refinance the entire mortgage together with the home equity loan. Of course, that will take a LOT of planning. I know very little about the financial aspects of this and will have to rely heavily on advice. That site has some great information and updated news about the current status on mortgage interest rates. Honestly, I’d rather be installing light switches than wading through all the complicated financial puzzles. Ugh.

Have any of you refinanced your mortgage? Was it worth it? I have heard (from Clark Howard) that a refinance should ALWAYS be with a fixed, and not variable, mortgage rate. That makes sense. Any of you have any advice or personal testimonies to offer?

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