Earn 37% Tax-Free December 6, 2002February 22, 2017 Brad Hurley: ‘FYI, the front-loading washer has a pretty impressive rate of return (37%), as do many other energy efficiency upgrades. Check out this page from the folks at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. When looking at the chart, note that what they call ‘purchase price’ is really the incremental cost (the additional amount you pay up-front for the energy-efficient model compared with a conventional kilowatt-guzzler.) Chicago is saving almost $1 million annually through energy efficiency retrofits it made to municipal buildings, and Denver saves $350,000/year after converting all of its traffic signals from incandescent lamps to energy-efficient LEDs. The key to slowing global warming and improving air quality is to burn less coal, oil, and gas. If more people and businesses understood the profitability of energy efficiency (and if we didn’t have oilmen in the White House), we’d easily meet and beat the greenhouse gas emissions targets in the Kyoto Protocol.’ ☞ Note, too, that your 37% return is tax-free. Awesome! (And for those who want to save the planet, read Natural Capitalism.) DRYING LIKE A SPANIARD Gloria: ‘Tell Charles there’s no need to sprain anything. I grew up in Spain, at a time when dryers were rare (I think they still are, for the most part). All through the years we got by hanging the clothes outside. If it rained, then we hung them on the staircase wrought iron banister. This became embarrassing when my sister and I started to bring boys home (miscellaneous undergarments on display). But that was a minor inconvenience. Also, by using fabric softener during the wash, the clothes were not stiff, and they smelled fresh and lasted longer, as one of your readers said. Then I moved to the US, dryer-centric country, and I forgot about the old ways. Fast forward to today: my husband and I bought a house just a couple of months ago. There is no gas hookup in the laundry room, which our dryer needs. It is taking us a while to find someone who would come over to put a gas line there (an indication of how much construction is going on in Northern CA these days). In the meantime, we hang the clothes outside, or once again, along the banister. I don’t mind it too much, and I’m tempted to let the dryer sit idle for a while.’ AD AWARE Ken Bowen: ‘Thanks for the tip. I’ve been plagued by those pop-up windows ever since my daughter (without asking me) installed some ‘free’ software on my computer. This one tip alone is worth the subscription price to your site!’ ☞ Let’s not get carried away. Bill: ‘I have been using it for many months now and it is amazing the amount of junk that websites force on us. Make sure you install the ref update too. That way, you can get the latest reference file (new spyware detection) whenever you want, in a semi-automated way.’ Fred: ‘I’ve been using Ad Aware for over a year. I almost always find a couple dozen new spyware files. Have you heard of fatwallet.com? They post online coupons/rebates and forums for hot deals on various items. They also have a finance forum posting hot deals for credit and investment accounts (no stock picks per se, but more like what broker is most economical, lowest minimum opening balance etc. My favorite part is where they describe the cheapest way to buy stuff online from retailers by taking advantage of multiple coupons.’ TIVO I can’t imagine life without it. I’ve written a bout this before, and assume that within a few years the majority of American families will have this capability in their homes, one way or another. I love TiVo. But that’s different from being sure TiVo (the company) can ever make much of a profit. The stock might go up on a great holiday season, or even one day make it big. (Imagine 2 million users on whom TiVo cleared $100 a year profit, between fees and the marketing deals it can make. That’s $100 million profit for perhaps a $1 billion market valuation – quadruple where it is today.) But at least for now, I’ve taken my modest profit. The last straw were the latest insider sales. If they’re selling, why not we?