Friday, May 10, 2013

The Cicadas are coming!!!


Yes, those noisy bugs are over their 17 year underground stay, and will emerge in the East coast in areas where the ground reaches 64 Degrees F.

Then you will hear the distinctive buzz of the mating calls of lonely male cicadas.


They predict a large hatch this year of literally millions of bugs.

I find this 17 year event really fun to watch and listen too.

If you see cicadas in your area report them to the tracking page at:

Join in the fun of cicada watch!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Save Money on heating bills with a Heat Catcher

Now that we are well into May you'd think I'd be writing a post about lowering heating bills, but it is still way cold. Some friends who live in the Mid-west say they still have snow on the ground!!! Its been a late Spring for sure.

We have all electric heat (except for the fire places) and have always had to be extra careful about wasting heat. We read about people using solar heat for their homes in warmer areas and decided that we'd adapt some plans we saw at:

With this method we have cut our winter heating costs (we have all electric heat!!!) by over one half. It is very simple to do and very inexpensive for the benefits reaped. And it uses free solar power! We have heat catchers in all our east, south and south-west windows placed in back of existing drapes and blinds.

a roll of heavy duty aluminum foil 
duct tape or packing tape, tacks, string or other means of securing foil to the window frame 
card board strips cut as wide as window frame (optional)
flat black paint 
South facing windows (east and west windows are less effective in their solar gain but OK) 

Take the roll of foil and tear to fit the window leaving a space of two inches at the top and two inches at the bottom open. If your windows are wider than the foil tear several pieces and lap fold together. Paint the more dull side of the foil flat black paint, and let it dry. Fold over a card board strip for ease of handling. Tie wire or string to the top section if desired.

Once the foil is dry, you tape it to the interior window frame -- Black side facing outdoors. Leave a space of an inch at the top and bottom open for the air to circulate. Or you can tie it on to the drapery rod to secure.

Your basic collector is done! You will feel that end of the room heating as the sun shines on the black foil. It will warm this end of the room as long as the sun shines. Cover the window to prevent radiant heat loss at night through the glass with a window quilt or solar shutters to make the system even more effective.

How it Works: 
The collector works by creating sort of a thermosiphon. The cold from the room passes into the bottom of the collector and is heated by exposure to the sunward facing black foil. Remember -- black color attracts heat. Then since hot air rises --- passes out the gap at the top into the room heating it. My husband jokes that the way it helps with heating bills is to heat that top of the room so your paid heat doesn't have to do it. In any case, a circle of moving air is created pulling air if front of the black painted foil and heating it. It rises to the top of the window frame and goes out the gap warming the room.

You can save time by simply cutting a black plastic garbage bag or put a black piece of cloth over the window leaving the gaps at the top or bottom for air flow. This will produce some solar gain and heat in emergency situations, but is not as efficient as metal like black painted aluminum foil. Cover the window to prevent radiant heat loss at night through the glass.

If you want to build an OUTDOOR HEAT BOX check out these sites below: 
Self Sufficiency:

Which sells solar heat boxes, but has lots of great photos.


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