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

The year's coolest new cars debut at the Paris Auto Show.  Fans of the Great Places Blogmaster will recall a recent post on the subject of the 50 worst cars in the world a week or so ago. 

Today, however, your Blogmaster recommends that you check out this link, which illustrates eight of the coolest cars in the spotlight at the Paris Auto Show.

There, you'll find this beauty, the 911 Porsche Speedster, the throwback to the amazing Porsche 356 that ended production in 1965. 

The Speedster 911, offering a 408-horsepower, six-cylinder engine with a seven-speed automatic transmission. 

Production will be limited to just 356 cars, which will have lower windshields than other 911,s as well as a "double-bubble" hardcover that can substitute for the manually-operated cloth top.

And the paint color?  "Pure Blue," developed specifically for the Speedster 911. 

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 10/6/2010 | 0 Comments

As you faithful visitors have undoubtedly guessed, the Great Places Blogmaster is all about Lady Gaga.  

Uh-huh Uh-huh.  

Her song, "Just Dance," is on board some Cebu Pacific Air flights, providing background music for the airline's safety demonstration.   

Following the standard--and extremely boring--safety demo, several of the Philippine airline's flight attendants rock out to the YouTube video, which is, according to Candica Iyog, Cebu's VP for marketing and distribution, "Just another way to bring out our fun culture and showcase our homegrown talents. 
We plan to roll this out onto more flights after receiving great commendations from the global public."  

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