Making the Compact Fluorescent (CF) Switch

Feb 22, 2007 @ 09:12 am by EMS

When we moved to the new house, I was a bit concerned about all of the light fixtures and that I wouldn’t be able to find proper compact fluorescent (CF) bulbs for them.  In our old house, we used torch lights for the vast majority of the rooms, but with the new house came many fan lights with round bulbs, spotlights for track lighting, chandelier lights in the kid’s room, etc…

Well, with the help of one of my friends, I was directed to where I found a ton of CF bulbs that would fit my needs. I was a bit skeptical at first, so I went ahead and ordered 3 CF spotlights for our kitchen.  I installed those 2 days ago and am very impressed.  As with all CF bulbs, they take about a minute to reach there full brightness, but the fact that I’m helping the environment while using less than 1/3 of the electricity as what I had been makes up for it!

The next step was to do a full inventory of the house and find all the bulbs that could be changed to CF.  We have several decorative bulbs and dimmer switches, so those light fixtures will stay the same, but I did find about 15 bulbs that could be switched to CF.  All in all, I placed about a $100 order last night on 1000bulbs and hopefully the house will be running about 80% CF bulbs starting next week.  I figure if I can knock just $5 off of my monthly electric bill, these lights will pay for themselves within 2 years.  Considering that they will last for at least twice that long, plus the money and time I’ll save from changing them (CF bulbs last about 4 times as long as traditional incandescent), I think this will be a great investment and lead to a good bit of savings.

I think this switch will start to make up some of the $25+ electric bill increase that we have seen since moving.  I’ll post the results.

Consumer Whore Weekend

Feb 12, 2007 @ 09:29 am by EMS

This was one of those weekends where I deviated from my normally fiscally responsible ways. It just seemed that since we had nothing else to do in the freezing weather, we decided to buy things. Nothing that we purchased was too terribly wasteful or not needed, but we just seemed to head to the stores in abundance these past 2 days.

  • 2 (actually 3) humidifiers/vaporizes – The air has been extremely dry as of late and both of our kids have had colds. We previously only had 1 vaporizer that we swapped between rooms of whichever child was sicker. Now that we have another one coming (yes, my wife is pregnant again, our third should be arriving in July!), we decided we needed to get one more. I went out Friday night and picked a new humidifier. However, it was too noisy for our 3 year old who seems to require a sensory-deprivation chamber to sleep. So, we decided to keep the humidifier anyway, and get a quiet vaporizer for his room. We did so, my wife didn’t like the one I bought, so she returned it and bought another one. The total damage for these items was about $50.
  • New coffee machine – My single serve coffee maker has been acting up quite a bit lately, so I deemed it time for a new one. I found an open box Senseo at Target and bought it for $40 (marked down from $60). I think I could have done a bit better from eBay.
  • On Saturday, I decided to test my skills as a plumber and replace a bathtub faucet. This normally mundane task became a big weekend project. Long story short, I managed to twist the copper pipe that the faucet connected to until it broke off. This pipe, as well as the elbow joint it connected to would require replacing. Since I had never worked with copper plumbing before, my dad had to come down and give me a soldering lesson. While I did learn a new skill which will hopefully be an asset in the future, I did end up spending close to $60 on a new faucet and the necessary tools/piping to finish the job.

The one fiscal aspect this weekend where I think I actually did prevent us from spending was that I fixed our garage door opener. It had stopped working last Monday and at first glance, it appeared that the motor had frozen up with the cold weather (the high on Monday was around 5 degrees).  After things warmed up, the door still didn’t work.  I took apart the casing for a closer look and lubricated all the moving parts.  It still didn’t work, so I figured that the motor had gone bad.  In a final move of desperation, I removed the chain and lubricated it along with the track that it runs on.  That solved the problem, and probably prevented us from buying a $150 replacement.

I guess these weekends will happen from time to time, so there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.  I’ll just have to convert back to my cheap ways starting today!

January 2007 Net Worth Report (+2,443)

Feb 01, 2007 @ 04:05 pm by EMS

I was a bit short of my $3,000 a month increase that I set as a financial goal at the beginning of the year. There were two main factors to this:

  1. A one-time accounting adjustment that I had to make. I’ve been tracking my dependent care flexible spending in Quicken for over three years. This is a special account that my employer makes available which allows me to set aside some of my pre-tax earnings to be used for the kids’ daycare expenses. Over the years, the account in Quicken has fluctuated a bit with it’s real dollar amount due to poor bookkeeping on my part. At the beginning of the month, I reconciled it with the true amount. This accounted for a $336 reduction in net worth.
  2. A work-related training opportunity presented itself, which fortunately took place in Miami Beach. My wife and I turned it into a mini-vacation since my airfare and our hotel room would be covered by work. The trip probably cost us about $300 out-of-pocket, but was worth it. It will be probably be our only vacation opportunity in 2007 due to some upcoming life events that I’ll announce later.

Given these 2 factors, I’m pretty happy with how January turned out even though we didn’t meet the $3,000 goal. Our credit card debt has been reduced a good bit after the holidays, so that’s always a positive change.

January 2007 Net Worth Report

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