How to Prepare for a Disaster
As people throughout Illinois make resolutions for the New Year, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is hoping many will resolve to become better prepared for emergencies during 2010. In January the agency launched a year-long preparedness effort called the “12-Month Preparedness Campaign.”
The agency will feature personal and family preparedness tips and guidance on the Ready Illinois Web site (www.Ready.Illinois.gov). Directions on assembling a disaster supply kit and information about family emergency plans are two of the first subjects covered.
Other topics to be addressed during the year-long campaign include workplace preparedness, earthquake preparedness, children and preparedness, weather-related preparedness, cyber security, preparedness for people with pets and livestock and preparedness for people with functional needs.
During large-scale emergencies, IEMA regularly posts current information about the situation on the www.Ready.Illinois.gov site.
Energy Home Improvement Creates Jobs, Saves Energy
Our country has the opportunity to rebuild our homes with three missions: rapidly create hundreds of thousands of sustainable, valuable jobs, stand up to a new competitive American industry and achieve our long-term climate and energy goals. And the opportunity is vast. Seventeen percent of our nation’s experienced construction workers are unemployed and more than 20 percent of U.S. carbon emissions come from residential buildings.
With home retrofitting, we can put those unemployed workers back to work making millions of homes energy efficient, and allowing homeowners to save energy — and carbon and money — in the process. The Recovery act is deploying $5 billion to 100 percent grants for low-income weatherization and $1 billion for workforce training.
Retrofitting millions of American homes does not require new science or technology. It builds on existing technologies and labor skills.
Anaerobic Digesters to Help Cut Dairy Emissions by 25 Percent by 2020
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Dec. 15 an agreement with U.S. dairy producers to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 while turning manure into electricity using anaerobic digesters. Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the USDA, and dairy producers, the groups agreed to work together to reach the target.
Anaerobic digester technology is a proven method of converting waste products, such as manure, into electricity. The technology utilizes generators that are fueled by methane captured from the animal manure. Currently, only about 2 percent of U.S. dairies are using the technology. Dairy operations with anaerobic digesters routinely can generate enough electricity to power 200 homes. Beyond promoting the digesters, the agreement will encourage the research and development of new technologies to help dairies reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Wind Turbines — Not in My Back Yard
Are wind farms beautiful or ugly? It depends on whom you ask. Whether it’s a wind farm, a coal-fired power plant, a nuclear reactor or even just a big box store, there are always going to be locals opposed to it, declaring “not in my back yard!” (NIMBY).
As to the attractiveness of wind farms, people do seem to come down on one side or the other rather vehemently. Those in favor of wind development have been known to extol the visual virtues of a horizon full of windmills not only for the turbines’ graceful sculptural lines but also for the fact that their very presence advertises the coming of a modern, almost futuristic age of clean, renewable energy.
On the flip side, detractors begrudge wind turbines for destroying their views — a classic NIMBY stance.
For example, opponents of a proposed wind farm in the waters of Massachusetts’ Nantucket Sound cite similar NIMBY concerns. The builder, Cape Wind Associates, has campaigned for seven years for approval of the development, to be located 16 miles off the shore of Nantucket Island. Homeowners, politicians and some evidently conflicted environmentalists have mounted stiff opposition to the facility, which would appear from shore as distant white smears on the horizon. The decision rests with the U.S. Interior Department, which, despite stated desires to expand offshore wind energy, is taking its time on the highly contentious matter.
Despite the NIMBY concerns, wind energy is now the hottest renewable energy source going. In 2008 wind power provided 1.5 percent of global electricity — having doubled its output every year now for five years in a row — and should account for as much as eight percent by 2018.
Record Cold Creates Heating Assistance Record Demand
This winter’s bitter cold, even record breaking in some cases, has Low Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP) officials worried about insufficient funds. They warn current funding levels might be insufficient.
In the Midwest, there have been massive snowfalls and wind chills as low as 50 below zero. Some 8.3 million households received assistance from LIHEAP, a jump of nearly 40 percent, and the second straight year that a new record was set.
Officials expect a 20 percent increase in the number of families seeking help, and they expect more money will be needed.
For fiscal 2010, Congress has kept LIHEAP funding flat at $5.1 billion. Unlike last year, the money is being released incrementally, rather than in a lump sum. But more families are falling behind on utility bills, with the average amount owed now at $279. For LIHEAP information call toll free 877-411-WARM, or visit www. IllinoisLIHEAP.com.
Illinois Traffic Fatalities Drop Below 1,000 for First Time Since 1921
Believe it or not, 2009 was the safest year on Illinois roadways in 88 years as traffic fatality numbers dropped below 1,000. Illinois now joins a small, elite group of states that have experienced less than 1,000 highway fatalities in a calendar year. Maybe it’s because safety belt usage exceeded 91 percent.
On Jan. 1, 2010, two new traffic laws took effect in Illinois which:
• Restrict drivers under the age of 19 from using a cell phone while driving. The law also prohibits the use of wireless telephones for all drivers, regardless of age, while operating a vehicle in a school zone or construction zone.
• Prohibit text messaging, composing, reading or sending electronic messages, or accessing Internet sites while driving a motor vehicle.
Picking the Perfect Faucet Saves Energy
It’s important to repair or replace a leaking kitchen faucet even if the water coming out feels cold. The dripping water may actually be coming from the hot water side of the faucet valve. Look for a sprayer with an adjustable water-saving volume control. This tall spout kitchen faucet from Price Pfister has a long pullout sprayer for convenience and water savings. The most efficient models use 37 percent less water.
A one-handle design is more efficient. It allows you to set the mixture of hot and cold water for the desired temperature and then vary the flow rate. The faucet valve design impacts its leak-free life. The best quality faucets today use discs to control the water flow rate and temperature. You may still find a few compression style valve faucets (with washers), but they leak over time and the washers must be replaced.
The following companies offer efficient kitchen faucets: American Standard, (800) 442-1902, www.americanstandard-us.com; Delta Faucet, (800) 345-3358, www.deltafaucet.com; Kohler, (800) 456-4537, www.kohler.com; Moen, (800) 289-6636, www.moen.com; and Price Pfister, (800) 732-8238, www.pricepfister.com.
Have a question for Jim? Send inquiries to: James Dulley, Illinois Country Living, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.
Hunting Industry Expo in Bloomington
Today’s hunters want to know how things tick, and they want the opportunity to get answers to their questions from experts. “We’re offering exactly that opportunity on a wide range of valuable outdoor topics at our new Tech Information Center,” says Glenn Helgeland of Target Communications, producer of the Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic. The 20th annual Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic will be Feb. 26-28, 2010, at the Interstate Center in Bloomington.
For details on the Deer and Turkey Classic, visit www.deerinfo.com. You will find exhibitor lists, seminar schedules, contest details (trophy big game, outdoor photo, trail cam photo, turkey calling), shooting range info, hotel lists, directions to each event, special events and activities and much more.
Donation of Unused Air Miles Supports Families of Wounded Service Members
Upon his return from visiting troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and Fisher House in Germany, Governor Quinn encouraged the public to support Operation Hero Miles, a program that supports service members who were injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. Operation Hero Miles assists families allowing them to visit their loved ones who are recovering in military hospitals around the world through the donation of unused frequent flyer miles.
Administered by Fisher House, Operation Hero Miles is a not-for-profit foundation that provides a “home away from home” at little or no cost for family members of military personnel receiving medical care at military and Veterans Affairs medical centers around the world.
For additional information visit FisherHouse.org. To date, the program has issued more than 18,000 donated tickets, with a savings worth nearly $25 million to military families.