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Written By: Gary on March 27, 2009 No Comment

wwf.pngSo for one hour on March 28, 2009 at 8.30pm the WWF and Earth Hour US wants you to turn off your lights for one hour starting at 8:30 pm, it doesn’t appear to matter what time zone you’re in, just 8:30 your time.

google-black-homepage.pngBut they appear to have certain cities on their lists that they’ve teamed up with, but they still want everyone to do it. Last year, even Google turned their home page black.

Written By: Gary on January 11, 2009 No Comment

As a followup to my post on saving money for the holidays (over at WeLikeMoney.com) I’m going to talk about managing your utility bills, specifically your gas and electric bills.

Your electricity and natural gas bills fluctuate throughout the year: Air conditioning in the summer, heat in the winter, filters for the pool in the summer, more lights in the winter and many other factors. Many utility companies offer something some kind of balanced budgeting billing (my company calls it BudgetWise® Billing). What they do is figure out what your average bill is, guesstimate what it will be over the next 12 months and start charging you this amount. Every so often they re-evaluate they amount (6 months) and every 12 they credit or charge you the difference.

This is great for those months where you get some outrageous bills, especially if they haven’t done any meter reading in a while. Mine is usually pretty accurate and I’ve never owed at the end. This is a saving feature I’ve never used before a few years ago, I was helping a friend with some really tight budgeting and we wanted a specific amount to budget to; when we set up his, I added it to mine and I’ve enjoyed having it ever since.

Pros and cons:

  • No shocking bills! They are all the same.
  • You could get a big bill at the end (this hasn’t happened to me).
  • If you can do this with gas but not electric (or vice-versa) and they sway differently it might not be as useful (my gas and electric are the same company).
  • If you don’t pay enough attention to your bills you might not conserve enough. Not enough shock might not make you conserve enough, which costs you in the end.

From a budgeting standpoint this makes all my utilities the same every month: cable, cell phone, gas and electric. My water is part of my condo association fees so I’m not sure if anyone offers budgeting on water bills since I’ve always lived in some kind of multi-person dwelling.

Hopefully this works out for you as well as it has for me. If anyone has any experiences on this (good or bad) please leave a comment.

Written By: Gary on June 13, 2004 One Comment

So I found this Ecological Footprint survey which (kind of) lets you figure out how much of the Earth’s resources you consume (waste). Actually what it lets you calculate is if everyone on Earth was like you, how many Earths would be need to supply them all. Not knowing enough, I left 0% room for other species and if everyone were like me it would take somewhere around six Earths to support everyone. Actually I did it a few times and got answers between 5.3 and 7 depending on how I answered some of the borderline questions. Either way, I’m a pig in the world ecology (my low score is just that above the average american). If I gave other species 1/3 of the planet my number jumps up to somewhere between 7 and 10.

Now some of this would change if we had good public transportation in Detroit (the motor city) and if I knew how “local” my food was produced. I.E. If I lived in Battle Creek I’m thinking my eggs, bacon, beef(?) and cereal would all be considered more local. I got nailed for air travel (10 hours a year), living alone and home square footage (but I live in a condo, not taking up any more space than the person below me, no yard and I walk a lot of stairs to get up to the third floor).

The funny thing is that it appears that I scored (lost) lots of points for living alone which (likely) means I’m not increasing the world’s population. And I’d gladly give it all up to increase that number by one or three…


(The survey was originally linked to www.lead.org/leadnet/footprint/default.htm but doesn’t appear to be there any more so I’ve updated the link).

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