I consider myself an environmentalist, which can be a challenge given our very comfortable lifestyle. My husband is a contrarian but also an engineer (so he loves to try new technology) and a Wall Street guy with an eye on the bottom line. Our interests finally converged around cutting electric use in our weekend house in Connecticut.

So here’s the story.

Our electric use peaks in the summer when we use air conditioning and electrically-heated hot water, but the bills were high year-round, averaging about $200 a month and topping out at over $400 in midsummer. We were tired of the bills. We started by swapping out the lightbulbs for CFLs; easy, the state subsidized the prices, and it did seem to help.

We put power strips all over the place to foil the energy “vampires” (like TV’s) that use power even when they’re off. It made it easy to switch off the power when we went away, back on when we returned.

Then we replaced the washing machine with a front-loader – I’d fought that for years, thinking I’d hate bending that much, but now I love it – can’t get over how dry things are when they come out of the washer, so MUCH less drying is required. (And it does lots of fun things like light up and make cute beep noises and, most usefully, count down the time til it’s done).

Then my husband decided it was silly to heat water when we weren’t there, so we replaced the old electric water heater (used only in the summer months when the furnace is off) with an on-demand one that heats water only as we use it.

And here’s what happened. Comparing the three month period since we made all the changes to the previous years:

March-May 2003: $428.56
March-May 2004: $413.94
March-May 2005: $468.32
March-May 2006: $447.51
March-May 2007: $242.94

So, we’re already saving an average of 45% with some simple changes, and without compromising anything about our quality of life. Imagine, if everyone did this, how many power plants we wouldn’t have to build?


The Silent Treatment
A man and his wife were having some problems at home and were giving each other the silent treatment. Suddenly, the man realized that the next day, he would need his wife to wake him at 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight. Not wanting to be the first to break the silence (and LOSE), he wrote on a piece of paper, ‘Please wake me at 5:00 AM.’ He left it where he knew she would find it. The next morning, the man woke up, only to discover it was 9:00 AM and he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife hadn’t wakened him, when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed. The paper said, ‘It is 5:00 AM. Wake up.’ Men are not equipped for these kinds of contests.

Wife Vs. Husband
A couple drove down a country road for several miles, not saying a word. An earlier discussion had led to an argument and neither of them wanted to concede their position. As they passed a barnyard of mules, goats, and pigs, the husband asked sarcastically, ‘Relatives of yours?’ ‘Yep,’ the wife replied, ‘in-laws.’


Kevin: ‘Check out see this brilliant visual in Slate.’

Having a hard time keeping track of all 10,000 GOP scandals? Between fired U.S. attorneys, deleted RNC e-mails, sexually harassed pages, outed CIA agents, and tortured Iraqi prisoners-not to mention the warrantless wiretapping, plum defense contracts, and golf junkets to Scotland-you could be forgiven for losing track of which congressman or Bush administration flunky did which shady thing. Renzi – now, was that the guy with the sleazy land deal? Or the woman Paul Wolfowitz promoted?

We’re not saying that Democrats never do anything shady. (Cash-stuffed freezers come to mind.) But as the saying goes, with great power come great opportunities to screw up royally. And if your memory is as hazy as ours, you could probably use a handy refresher.


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