Energy Upgrade Stats: Month 10

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.

I’m going to something a little different this month. June was hot. Hotter than a normal June, so before I post the YTD analysis, I am going to share a graph with our daily electricity use versus the high temperature each day. Keep in mind that weekends are going to be higher than weekdays, because we are home, usually inside, spending time together versus the weekdays when I am outside working and Joyce is at work. Quite a while ago, before our upgrade, Southern California Edison installed a wireless electric meter that sends information to Edison. The great thing about this set-up is Edison can now compile data for the homeowner to help analyst usage, which is where I got the data for the chart.

Bottom line for June is electrical use was down 56.2% against the 5 year average, and natural gas use was down 48.4% and I am thrilled with both!

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The Retirement Time Bank

What if you spent your recreation time the same way your grandmother saved money?


There was a time when many people saved and budgeted money with glass jars. Maybe your grandmother or your great grandmother did this when she was a young parent trying to make ends meet. Jars were set aside, and in each jar she would save some money for future needs. Perhaps a jar for school clothes, another for Christmas presents, one for vacation and so on. Each week or month after the necessities of life were paid for, a bit of money was placed into the appropriate jar to save for the future.

Let’s say you did something similar with your free time. For every day off from work, you put time-dollars into a jar the represented how you spent your free time. You might have a Recreation Jar (camping and backpacking for me), a TV Jar, a Household Jar, a Party Jar, or even a Saloon Jar. For each day off from work, you have 24 time-dollars to put in a jar. If you went backpacking or camping for two days, you would but 48 time-dollars into your recreation jar because you even spent your time sleeping in the outdoors.

What would your jars look like at the end of the year, or at the end of your working days just before you retire? Would your TV Jar be overflowing and your Recreation Jar just ¼ full or less?

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Trailer Tongue Weight Voodoo

Almost three years ago I wrote a 3-part series titled, How Much Trailer Can You Tow? 

You can read them here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3 contains the information on Weight Distribution Hitches (WDH)

I have received many inquiries from trailer owners about Weight Distribution Hitches and there is a lot of confusion out there in trailer land. I have always advocated weighing your tow vehicle and trailer periodically to ensure everything is within specifications, and herein lays the confusion. People try to interpret the scale readings and assume a WDH will subtract weight from the tow vehicle’s rear axle and add it to the front axle; that is: the front axle of the tow vehicle will weigh more with the trailer hitched. We do not want this to happen. After completing my yearly maintenance on Monday, I loaded everything up, to include full water tanks and temporarily filled the refrigerator and headed over to the local CAT scale. I’ll use those measurements to hopefully explain how to weigh your set up, what weights you should be looking at, and how to interpret them.

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BS Gear Reviews


If you read my blog much, you know I mostly have disdain for gear reviews, and I discussed in this post a few years ago, The Business of BackpackingGear reviews, for the most part, are simply opinions. And “opinions are like assholes — everyone has one.”

If you are researching gear, you need to determine the author’s credibility, other than what he or she tells youMy classic example is the stove review, where the author has placed the stove on a bed of flammable dry leaves, which is not something an expert would do.

So today I was looking into a pair of strap sandals. Similar to flip flops, strap sandals are simply a sole held in place with straps; only more secure and eliminated the go-ahead syndrome inherent in flip flops. One reviewer, who supposedly uses sandals a lot posted pictures of his pasty white feet wearing several brands of sandals. I call BS. If you wear sandals or flip flops a lot, as I do, in the outdoors you will develop a tan with contrasting tan marks where the straps cross the feet. Something like this:

flip flops 6


So I call the sandal review total BS, and must disregard the author’s purported credibility, expertise, and opinions.

Energy Upgrade Stats: Month 9

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 little late in posting May’s energy usage, but we were away camping for a couple weeks. Two factors upped this month’s electricity bill. First was above average temperatures at the end of the month.

may temps

The other negative factor was we accidentally left two ceiling fans running 24/7 the last week of the billing period while we were camping.

Good news is found in this Home Energy Report from Southern California Edison.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 8.08.28 AM

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Heat and the Art of Trailer Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values

… with an apology to  Robert M. Pirsig

Yesterday was the first day of summer. The first day of summer is a good point in time to perform the annual trailer maintenance, which most importantly includes cleaning, inspecting, and re-packing the wheel bearings along with the periodic maintenance of the waste & fresh water tanks, and fresh water, and battery maintenance.

The first day of summer is of no consequence, it just was a point in time where I was home, it needed to be done, and the summer camping season is upon us. I knew it was going to be a hot day, hotter than normal for this time of year. Poor planning on my part found the job extending into the afternoon – not completion before noon as planned. Which found me outside in the sun working in this… it seemed hot so I checked the weather on my iPad…

How hot is hot?

How hot is hot?

In case you have embraced the Centigrade scale for temperature measurement, I was working in an ambient temperature environment of 50.6 C or 123 F for us mere mortals. But hey, the humidity was only 5%. Dry heat as we desert dwellers like to brag.

Even the ravens dislike the heat -- several took a break from the heat to gather around this puddle at the end of our street

Even the ravens dislike the heat — several took a break from the heat to gather around this puddle at the end of our street

But let’s get back to the maintenance. No matter what the temperature, one must take their time and do maintenance properly.

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Lake Mead National Recreation Area


Lake Mead Shoreline View

This weekend I got back from two weeks of camping at Lake Mead. Over the past 15 years I have spent over 500 days backpacking, camping, and bike touring the area. So instead of boring you with a trip report, it would be better to discuss all of this National Recreation Area.

Lake Mead Sunset Clouds

You might be surprised to learn that I have never been in or on Lake Mead. The lake isn’t the attraction for me, other than a source of drinking water when backpacking in the backcountry, when it is accessible from where I am walking… which isn’t frequently.

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Please Help Save Off-Trail Hiking in Anza Borrego

Today I read post over at that linked to this article at Modern Hiker, PROPOSED RESTRICTIONS TO HIKING IN ANZA-BORREGO

Please read the article and act quickly if you think the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR) is overstepping its bounds, as comments will not be accepted after June 6, 2016. I have included my email to CDPR plus additional information to help you make an informed decision.

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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.