Purdue University experts have discovered a great approach to lowering 50 percent of winter heating costs!  They're at work on a new research project that promises to reduce heating bill by 50 percent for those of us who live in very cold climates. The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, builds on previous work that began about five years ago at Purdue's Ray W. Herrick Laboratories.

Heat pumps provide heating in winter and cooling in summer, but they aren't very efficient in extreme cold climates. The Purdue research involves changes to the way heat pumps operate to ensure they are more cost-effective in very cold climates.

The modern technology works by modifying the conventional vapor-compression cycle behind standard air conditioning and refrigeration.

The common vapor-compression cycle has four stages:

1° Refrigerant is compressed as a vapor, then

2° Condenses into a liquid, and

3° Expands to a combination of liquid and vapor, and finally

4° Evaporates

The project investigates two cooling approaches during the compression process.  For the first experiment, relatively large volumes of oil are injected into the compressor to absorb heat generated throughout the compression stage. In the second, a mixture of liquid and vapor refrigerant from the expansion stage is injected at various points during compression to supply cooling.

The new heat pumps might be half as expensive to operate as heating technologies now utilized in cold regions where natural gas is unavailable and people use electric heaters and liquid propane.

As we wait for the results of the Purdue research, here are some suggestions to improve you home air quality and save energy:

    Ensure your thermostat is located in an area that is not too cold or hot. 
    Install an automatic timer to maintain the thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night. 
    Use storm or thermal windows in colder areas. The layer of air between the windows acts as insulation, helping to keep the heat inside where you want it. 
    If you haven't done so already, insulate your attic and all outside walls. 
    Insulate floors over unheated spaces, e.g., your basement, crawl spaces, and your garage. 
    Close off the attic, garage, basement, spare bedrooms and storage areas. 
    Heat only the rooms that you use during the winter. 
    Seal gaps around pipes, wires, vents or other openings that could transfer your heat to unheated areas. 

Most people are unaware that common indoor air quality practices help reduce home air heating costs too:

    Rain can bring moisture indoors, creating dampness and mold spores, which are bad healthy indoor air. Check your roof, foundation and basement or crawlspace once a year to catch leaks or moisture problems and route water away from your home's foundation. 
    Help to keep asthma triggers away from your house by fixing leaks and drips as soon as they start. Standing water and moist encourage the development of dust mites and fungus, both common triggers that can worsen asthma. Make use of a dehumidifier or AC unit when needed, and clean both regularly. 
    High levels of moisture in your home increase dampness and mold growth, which not only damage your house but threaten health. Install and run exhaust fans in bathrooms to remove unhealthy moisture and odors out of your home. 
    Ventilate your kitchen stove directly outside or open a kitchen window when you cook. Keeping exhaust -- including cooking odors and particles -- outside of your home prevents dangerous fumes and particles from harming you or your family. 
Our Guest Blogger, Rosalind Dall, writes for split system air conditioner.  Rosalind's personal hobby blog help people consume less energy and purify indoor air.




Posted by: Laurence Harmon on 10/4/2010 | 0 Comments

Del Webb is a major company in the senior homebuilding industry.  The firm periodically conducts surveys of Baby Boomers as a way to understand what this enormous generation is thinking. 

According to the findings from the 2010 survey, Baby Boomers think that "old age" is just a state of mind:  "Age is nothing; attitude is everything." 

Here are some other highlights of the recent survey:

    Boomers believe that "old age" really doesn't begin until age 80;
    Boomers believe that there is a growing difference between their "real" age and their "perceived" age;
    Boomers are fans of exercise: More than 50 percent of them exercise regularly;
    Boomers turning 50 this year believe they need to save more money than older Boomers

Here's an interesting finding:  Boomers believe that the cost of living and access to health care are more important than living in a warm climate.

The survey is also available in PowerPoint format.

Posted by: Laurence Harmon on 10/1/2010 | 0 Comments

SENIORS HELPING SENIORS--http://www.seniorshelpingseniors--is an ingenious service that matches those seniors who need in-home assistance--home maintenance, for example--with other seniors who are able to provide the necessary services. 

The program, started in 1989, is a unique, intra-generational companion service intended specifically for senior citizens.  Hourly rates for these services are reasonable for both providers and users. 
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