Relativity and Our Energy Upgrade

Each month, since the beginning of the year, I have been posting our energy usage versus the 5 year average prior to all the upgrades, which are covered in this post. The numbers don’t mean a lot if you don’t live here. So how are we doing relative to similar homes in the area? Southern California Edison sent this analysis for last month. We’re doing great.





Energy Upgrade Stats: Month 8

In January I wrote that home solar might be lipstick on a pig, and it makes more sense to make a home energy efficient before even considering solar. I also promised to post monthly updates on our utility bills.

One thing I did towards the end of the month was install a new water heater. If you are interested in what I found from my research, you can read the nightmarish details after the charts.

As planned, electricity use is declining versus the 5 year baseline as the as the average temperature increases. Improved insulation and a more efficient air conditioner are using much less energy. For April our electricity use is down 56.6% versus the 5 year April baseline WITHOUT a solar system.

month 8 elec use month 8 gas use

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Disclosure & Self-Reliance


Over the past week or so there has been a firestorm on a popular Internet backpacking forum due to a gear review by a well know blogger, who posted a link in the forum to the review on his blog. What the gear review did not include was a disclosure that the blogger has a relationship with the manufacturer of the item being reviewed, and he is “sponsored” by the manufacturer. Of course, no one knows the conditions of the sponsorship, but many felt an ethical review should include a statement revealing if the gear was purchased for full price, was obtained at a discount, or was given to the blogger for free.

About three years ago, in The Business of Backpacking, I warned people about gear reviews that might have a bias when the reviewer has a relationship with the manufacturer…

Keep in mind that there are Reviewers, Ambassadors, and Sponsored hikers with integrity who write unbiased gear reviews. It is up to you to determine who is who.

Ethically, gear reviewers should disclose any consumer/manufacturer relationship and apparently there is even a Federal Trade Commission regulation requiring this disclosure, even for reviews on a personal blog. To be honest, the FTC has over-stepped its bounds. More precisely, there should be no FTC, it should be abolished and replaced with personal accountability requiring consumers to think.

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Energy Upgrade: Stats Thru Month 7

In January I wrote that home solar might be lipstick on a pig, and it makes more sense to make a home energy efficient before even considering solar. I also promised to post monthly updates on our utility bills.

A couple things about last month… first we normally go camping for at least a week during  Easter break, but this year we stayed home and hosted visiting relatives, which increased electricity use. Secondly, we received a $38 “Climate Credit” on our bill, as did every homeowner who is a Southern California Edison customer. This credit is the result of California’s “Cap and Trade” program, which allows companies to continue to pollute by purchasing ’emission credits’ in a fake market created by the State, so they can claim we are a ‘green state.’ Everyone gets the same dollar amount, irrespective how much electricity they use — theoretically encouraging homeowners to invest in energy efficient upgrades; but there is no method to track if this works or even happens. Another Government Boondoggle, as I wrote about in Green Greed.

Here is month 7:

Electricity Usage month 7 Natural Gas Usage month 7



Today is National Walking Day

nation walk day


I disdain most holidays. Christmas and Thanksgiving I like. I like Independence Day too. Most other holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are just made up by 5th Avenue so we spend our money on a bunch of junk. We used to celebrate George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays for the right reasons, but now we have Presidents’ Day, so government workers get a 3-day weekend while the rest of us work to pay for their paid Federal Holiday.

Now we have National Walking Day.

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Is One Million a Lot?

There was a time when reaching a net worth of $1 Million dollars was a big deal. Becoming a millionaire was the epitome of success and security. A million dollars seemed to be an infinite amount of money that could last a person forever.

Today I noticed a 1 million milestone on this blog.

View Count

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The Income Inequality Fallacy

This post has nothing to do about backpacking or camping. It is a philosophical, political, and economic discussion. If these subjects are not of interest to you, then you just might want to skip it, plus it is a long commentary.

I recently got involved in a conversation regarding “Income Inequality” in one of the forums over at  I think it is an important conversation, and as a parent I would like my children to read my thoughts on the subject.

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The Annual Search for Wildflowers


For almost as long as I can remember, every spring I am out backpacking or camping in search of wildflowers, as I documented last year. This year, we are apparently in the midst of El Nino, meaning we could have one of our best displays in 10 years or so. Time will tell. Over the past few weeks I have been wandering around our deserts looking and waiting. So last week we took off for a few days of camping and observation.

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