Six point car checkup means less trouble in winter
According to the 2010 Farmers’ Almanac, this winter will see more days of shivery three-quarters of the nation. The Car Care Council strongly recommends that all vehicle owners check six key systems including battery, antifreeze, brakes, tires, oil and wiper blades.
“Checking these six key systems in your vehicle ahead of time will give you confidence when you’re driving in brutal winter conditions,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.
During the winter, the Car Care Council recommends keeping your vehicle’s gas tank at least half full as that decreases the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing. Finally, if you’re due for a tune-up, consider having it done before winter sets in. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.
For more information or to receive a copy of the council’s Car Care Guide, visit www.carcare.org.
Buying a water heater — look at the Energy Factor rating
The Energy Star rating program gauges the average energy efficiency of different appliance technologies and evaluates whether there’s potential for increased efficiency — generally at least 25 percent higher than minimum standards. According to Energy Star, the most efficient electric resistance water heaters on the market have an Energy Factor of 0.95, about 5 percent more efficient than the minimum federal standard. Since there’s little room for improvement, Energy Star does not have a category for the product.
“The technology doesn’t qualify for the Energy Star program – not because it’s not efficient, but because it’s already as efficient as possible,” remarks Steve Koep, a regional manager for REEM/Marathon Water Heaters. “When it comes to purchasing an electric water heater, consumers should consider durability and energy factor [EF], a mandatory evaluation done on all water heaters regardless of fuel source. EF takes into account fuel use, standby energy loss and insulation under simulated actual conditions.”
Stalemate predicted for new Congress
Both sides of the aisle in the new Congress will struggle to find consensus on energy legislation, climate change and a host of issues important to co-ops and consumers, according to National Rural Electric Cooperative (NRECA) CEO Glenn English. While it’s possible the 112th Congress could enact some major legislation, English said it is more likely to be characterized by gridlock.
“It appears as though the extremes of both political parties are thriving. More people feel compromise is a bad word, even though compromise has always been required for our government to work since the days of its founding,” said English, a former 10-term congressman from Oklahoma.
“If you’re looking for status quo government, this is your kind of Congress. But if you need something done, you’ve got a problem.”
Unfortunately, lack of action on legislation probably means more action by regulation. “We are very concerned that failures to address major issues in Congress will result in regulations in areas like climate change that will result in much higher electric bills for our members,” said English.
For example, EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act kicks in Jan. 2. NRECA supports a two-year regulatory timeout sponsored by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., but English said the fate of that proposal is in doubt.
“Everyone on all sides agrees that the worst possible option is EPA regulation under the Clean Air Act,” he said. “But unless the Rockefeller bill comes up, we are going to see rules and regulations issued by EPA. Congress was unable to come to a decision on this issue, and it’s even more polarized now. We are joining in court actions and numerous regulatory filings, but odds of success are not good.”
Source: Electric Cooperative Today Steven Johnson
Carbon monoxide dangers are greatest during winter
Carbon monoxide (CO) can kill families living in gas heated homes if the system hasn’t been cleaned or inspected by a licensed heating-cooling professional. Over time, blockages or breaches in the duct work may prevent the noxious CO from escaping the home or apartment.
“Known as the ‘silent killer,’ CO is an invisible and odorless byproduct caused from the incomplete burning of fuels, such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane.” said State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis.
CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness or headaches. High levels of CO can be fatal, causing death within minutes.
CO dangers also exist when some families, who may be struggling to pay their heating bills, will turn on the kitchen stove burners and the oven in an effort to take the chill off of their home. A gas oven or range top should never be used for heating because poisonous CO fumes could fill the home or the open flames could start a fire.
• Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
• Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
• Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
• Install CO and smoke alarms and test monthly.
For more information, please visit www.state.il.us/osfm or www.nfpa.org.
Rural Illinois receives Farm Bill funding
A total of 141 agriculture producers and small businesses in Illinois have been selected to receive a total of $6.7 million to reduce energy consumption and utilize renewable energy. Funding is provided through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) which was authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.
“These guaranteed loans and grants will help farmers and rural small businesses use energy more efficiently, resulting in less energy consumption,” said Illinois Rural Development State Director Colleen Callahan. “When we reduce costs for farmers and rural small businesses, we are ultimately providing a boost to the local rural economy.”
The majority of the recipients will use the funding to upgrade their grain drier systems. On average, these recipients will realize a 35 to 40 percent reduction in energy usage.
Callahan also announced that Prairie Power, Inc., with headquarters in Jacksonville, is receiving a $98,000 grant to provide renewable energy development assistance for rural small businesses and agriculture producers. Southern Illinois Power Co-op, with headquarters in Marion, was selected for a $100,000 grant to perform energy audits. The grants to these cooperatives will assist farmers and rural small businesses in evaluating their energy efficiency potential and assessing renewable energy technologies and resources that can be incorporated into their operations. Both programs are available to eligible electric co-op members statewide.
More information on the REAP program is at: www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_ReapResEei.html.
Efficient cooking creates opportunities to save energy
If you are looking for ways to save time in the kitchen you can also save energy. Two things are key: Be flexible in choosing your dishes, and when possible use the microwave or toaster oven instead of the conventional oven, according to research from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI www.epri.com).
According to MarketResearch.com, 72 percent of Americans buy frozen foods and two-thirds of households purchase frozen pizza. For most frozen entrees, cooks have the option of using a microwave, toaster oven or conventional oven. EPRI assessed the energy required for these cooking options at its laboratory in Knoxville, Tenn., and found significant differences.
For example, a single serve French bread pizza would take 70 watt hours in a microwave oven, 308 watt hours in a toaster oven and 504 watt hours in a conventional oven.
The time savings can add up too. Cooking a frozen submarine sandwich that required 2 minutes 45 seconds in a microwave required 23 minutes in a toaster oven or conventional oven.
Donations support International Rural Electrification
The National Cooperative Services Corporation (NCSC) recently donated $100,000 to the NRECA International Foundation. Thirty percent of the funds will directly support ongoing rural electrification in Guatemala; the remaining 70 percent will support volunteers in current priority locations like Haiti and Southern Sudan. Since an initial donation in 2003, NCSC and CFC have contributed a combined $625,000 to the foundation.
Founded in 1985, the NRECA International Foundation partners with electric cooperatives in the United States to foster economic development and electrify rural villages in developing countries. Over the years the foundation has provided millions of dollars in funding, donated equipment, and volunteer personnel to bring electricity to remote parts of the world.
The foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives. To make a donation or to find out more go to www.nrecainternational.coop
Source: CFC Solutions News Bulletin, Nov. 12, 2010
Tuition waiver available for children of veterans
State Senator Dan Rutherford (R-Pontiac) reminds students who are the children of veterans to apply for the University of Illinois’ Children of Veterans Tuition Waiver.
Rutherford says, “This tuition waiver provides a free four-year tuition waiver to any natural or adopted child of a veteran, who served during one of the specific conflicts.” Up to six waivers per Illinois county are awarded each year, one for each of the following conflicts: World War II, Korean Conflict, Vietnam Conflict, Southwest Asia Conflict, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Eligibility is limited to permanent residents from any of Illinois’ 102 counties. Awards are limited to one per county and per conflict. The tuition waiver is good for any University of Illinois system school or degree program.
Students need to apply before March 1, 2011. For further information, go to the University of Illinois Web site: www.osfa.uiuc.edu/aid/scholarships/waivers_COV.html, or call the Office of Student Financial Aid at 1-217-333-0100.