Saturday, September 19, 2009

Earth Aid- what's your experience?

I recently heard about a program called Earth Aid where you sign up and track your utility bills, then get credits for reducing your energy use based on the previous year's use. The way they do this is by bundling and selling your reduction in emissions (based on your energy savings). This sounds like a fantastic idea and a great way to incentivize energy savings.

But... I'm a bit wary of signing up because I can't find any reviews yet of actual users. I read the fine print ("individual member agreement"). The individual member agreement states that it lasts three years and then automatically renews (unless you request otherwise).

This is the part that I'm especially wary of (emphasis mine):
"I understand that the Program is supported in part by advertising revenue and that
Earth Aid may use my Member Information to (a) improve the Earth Aid Program; (b) deliver targeted banner or other advertisements on the Earth Aid website; and (c)
send me advertisements for third-party products via email or other mechanisms."
I really, really do not want to sign up for this if I don't have a way to opt-out of unwanted emails or "other mechanisms" (which sounds to me like it could be snail mail)... for 3 years.

Also, I rent my apartment and my landlord pays the water bill. I never even see it. I'm not sure if people who don't have all three utilities (electric, gas, and water) in their name are eligible.

Lastly, can I even participate in Chicago yet? Earth Aid Enterprises is based in DC and it's the only city mentioned so far. I didn't actually try to sign up yet (because of my concern stated above) so I'm not sure if it would let me.

So, I'm eager to hear from you if you are a member of Earth Aid.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Recycle your E-Waste at UIC!

UIC is having an electronic waste collection FREE and open to the public on Saturday, September 19. It will be in the parking lot near Halsted & Polk, just off 290 and 90/94.

They will take TVs, computers (all components), printers, phones, and more. The complete list of items is here. These things should definitely not go in the garbage, so if you've got them sitting around now is your chance.

If you have a small or medium-sized business with E-waste, you can bring it on Friday, Sept. 18. Just register in advance so they know what to expect- it's free! Schools can bring things too!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wii power

We've had a Wii for more than a year now, and I've loathed that little yellow light that is always on. The Wii stays warm even when it's "off" and we are just about to rearrange our tv, stereo, etc so I ordered us a power strip that allows you to switch off each plug independently.* I want to cut the Wii power off at the source.

While doing some power strip research, I read about the Wii just to check if anyone had problems as a result of turning the power source on and off. Lo and behold, there is a way to turn your Wii to a lower power "off" (I should really call it standby) setting! On standby yellow, the Wii uses about 10 watts of power. If you hold the power button down for several seconds, it first thinks you're going to turn it on ("green") but then if you keep holding it goes to "red." On Red mode it uses about 1 watt. That's a huge difference! I'm kicking myself for not looking this up earlier.

Apparently, the default is to go to standby "yellow" rather than "red" when you have the Connect 24 feature on which allows your Miis to travel to friends' systems, checks the news, and is generally always connected to the internet (hence "connect 24"). You can read more about the different settings here to find the best option for you.

* In my exerience, it is the norm in many other countries for power strips to have independent switches for each outlet. Many countries also have switches on the wall outlets themselves, which is much easier than unplugging things all the time if you don't need them on. I'm not sure why we don't do this here. Anyways, here is another less expensive power strip with several independent outlet switches.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Request trees on Chicago 311

Did you know that you can request trees to be planted at your address? Go to Chicago 311 and search for trees, or scroll down to "Tree Planting" in the dropdown menu.

You can also report graffiti, missing or damaged street signs, request a lead inspection, and a whole slew of other things. Pothole in your alley? Complaint about a cab? Worried about your elderly neighbor during extreme weather? Chicago 311 has an impressive list of things to report or request.

I've requested that a tree be planted in front of our building. The neighborhood could really use some more trees. It will take you about 2 minutes to request a tree. What are you waiting for?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Air Conditioner Cycling program

I was going to sign us up for ComEd's Central AC Cycling program, but it turns out you have to own, not rent. That's too bad. Basically signing up for the program would allow ComEd to turn off your AC for certain intervals of time when electricity demand is very high. You get a $5 or $10 credit during the summer months for participation. Reducing demand for electricity during peak usage times like that reduces the need for utilities to power up extra generators (likely to be some on the dirtiest).

Maybe soon I'll blog more about ComEd's Real Time Pricing option. We're not signed up yet because I'm still reading about it but I think it's a great idea.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Seen in Pilsen

I don't get it. It's a sign right next to the abandoned railroad tracks that cross 18th St. It says:

Watch the sky
Except for guide dogs
Min $25.00 fine
Code sec 13-151-23

I didn't forget about my blog

It's been far too long since I've posted, but hey, life happens. I'm planning to resume, so I've got to get this post out of the way. I'm not going to apologize for not blogging because I don't think anyone reads this blog anyways. I'm starting again because I've thought of a few things I want to blog about and I might actually find the time to do it. Fingers crossed.