The Last Item on Your Audit: Maintaining Your Furnace/Air Conditioning
Throughout these last few lessons, we've mentioned several times that heating (and cooling) make up the largest part of home energy use on average. After checking for air leaks, and making sure that you've got proper insulation levels, the last thing you want to do is check your heating and cooling equipment to make sure it's running at optimal efficiency.
The Depart of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy division suggests the following steps in keeping the furnace and air conditioning running well:
If you have a forced air furnace, check the filters monthly, and replace when clogged. Permanent filters are a greener option: instead of throwing them away, rinse out the gunk, and put them back in.
Have a professional inspect your equipment annually.
Check your ductwork for dirt streaks, especially near seams. These indicate air leaks, and they should be sealed with a duct mastic.
Insulate any ducts or pipes that travel through unheated spaces. An insulation R-Value of 6 is the recommended minimum.
Finally, if your equipment is more than 15 years old, you should consider replacing it. A new unit is certain to be more energy-efficient, especially if your existing furnace or air conditioner is in poor condition.
Your Action for Today: Schedule Your Heating/Cooling Equipment Maintenance
Maintaining your heating and cooling equipment is largely a matter of making a schedule for routine maintenance, much like with your car. So, plan it out:
Pick a day of the month to check filters, and check for leaks.
Pick a month each year to schedule a service call from a professional.
Periodically, check the shape of the insulation on ducts and pipes.
NOVEMBER 24 IS BUY NOTHING DAY - NO PURCHASE NECESSARY
THE ULTIMATE REFUND: On November 24th and 25th -- the busiest days in the American retail calendar and the unofficial start of the international Christmas-shopping season -- thousands of activists and concerned citizens in 65 countries will take a 24-hour consumer detox as part of the 14th annual Buy Nothing Day, a global phenomenon that originated in Vancouver, Canada.
From joining zombie marches through malls to organizing credit card cut-ups and shopoholic clinics, Buy Nothing Day activists aim to challenge themselves, their families and their friends to switch off from shopping and tune back into life for one day. Featured in recent years by the likes of CNN, Wired, the BBC, and the CBC, the global event is celebrated as a relaxed family holiday, as a non-commercial street party, or even as a politically charged public protest. Anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending.
Reasons for participating in Buy Nothing Day are as varied as the people who choose to participate. Some see it as an escape from the marketing mind games and frantic consumer binge that has come to characterize the holiday season, and our culture in general. Others use it to expose the environmental and ethical consequences of overconsumption.
Two recent, high-profile disaster warnings outline the sudden urgency of our dilemma. First, in October, a global warming report by economist Sir Nicholas Stern predicted that climate change will lead to the most massive and widest-ranging market failure the world has ever seen. Soon after, a major study published in the journal Science forecast the near-total collapse of global fisheries within 40 years.
Kalle Lasn, co-founder of the Adbusters Media Foundation, which was responsible for turning Buy Nothing Day into an international annual event, said, "Our headlong plunge into ecological collapse requires a profound shift in the way we see things. Driving hybrid cars and limiting industrial emissions is great, but they are band-aid solutions if we don't address the core problem: we have to consume less. This is the message of Buy Nothing Day."
As Lasn suggests, Buy Nothing Day isn't just about changing your habits for one day. It's about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste. With six billion people on the planet, the onus if on the most affluent - the upper 20% that consumes 80% of the world's resources - to begin setting the example.
 For more information on Adbusters, Buy Nothing Day, or to watch Kalle Lasn's 2004 Buy Nothing Day interview with CNN visit www.adbusters.org
 Buy Nothing Day facts: -The first BND was organized in Vancouver in September 1992, an idea by artist Ted Dave, as a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption. -In 1997, it was moved to the Friday after American Thanksgiving, which is the busiest shopping pre-Christmas weekend in the US. Outside of North America, BND is usually celebrated on the following Saturday. -Despite controversies, Adbusters managed to advertise BND on CNN, but many other major TV networks declined to air their ads. -Soon, campaigns started appearing in US, UK, Israel, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, and Norway. Participation now spans over 65 nations.
 Shopping and consumption facts: -Per capita consumption in the U.S. has risen 45 per cent in the last 20 years. -Although people today are, on average, four-and-a-half times richer than our great-grandparents were at the turn of the century, Americans report feeling "significantly less well off" than in 1958. -A recent article in New Scientist featured research suggesting that the more consumer goods you have the more you think you need to make you happy. Happiness through consumption is always out of reach (New Scientist, 4th October 2003, Vol.180, Issue 2415, p44. Available online after registering at www.newscientist.co.uk).
Two Hickman County (Tennessee) teens are facing charges for shooting 24 cows, 11 of them unborn, and the cattle owner is out thousands of dollars.
“They just wanted to see what shooting cattle was like. That's basically all you can say," said Hickman County Sheriff Randal Ward.
Ward said the explanation won't justify what they did, but that is the only explanation they’ve given.
The cattle were killed on the Bon Aqua farm of Randall Tidwell. Police say two juvenile boys, 14 and 16 years-old went hunting then trespassed onto the farmer's property. Tidwell found some of his cattle dead while checking his pasture the following day.
"Eleven of the cows were all pregnant and were expecting calves, which was part of the 24 that were dead, and two of them were calves," said Ward.
All of the animals were killed by gunshots. Some were shot twice or three times in the side.
"They died a slow death you could say, within a 24-hour period or longer. So after the ones that he initially found several more died later on from the gunshot wounds," Ward explained.
The owner estimates his loss at $25,000 to $30,000. That doesn't include the value of calves the 11 cows were expected to produce during the next eight years.
”Insurance is not going to be able to cover this. This is a total loss to him. He's lost some cattle plus future cattle that he would have from calves," said Ward.
This incident also potentially poses a bigger concern for the county sheriff.
"Were seeing a great amount of violence among juveniles using weapons, guns, knives or anything they have of real destruction," said Ward.
The sheriff said in this case, a 300 magnum and a 22-caliber rifle were used. Both guns belonged to family members.
It was a family member that notified the sheriff of who was responsible for the cattle shootings. Both juveniles are from Hickman County. The 14 year-old is currently in DCS custody, after escaping twice from state officials after his arrest.
He's also a great-nephew of Mr. Tidwell, but the two are said to have had no relationship.
Each is cited for criminal trespassing and the intentional killing of an animal. They both face a hearing date next month.
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