Friday, October 23, 2009

Sun/Solar Jars

I've been wanting to make these for quite a while but took my time sourcing the materials. A friend said he had made a bunch and put them out on the back railing. They charge all day and at night they come alive in fun festive colors. I have to give Not Martha credit for her great instructions but I didn't want to get into frosting the glass so I opted for translucent goodie bags instead.

Here are my sources:

- Target: $4 individual solar lawn lights with tops that pop off easily.
- Sur La Table: ordered 12 Fido canning jars for the same price as the Ikea version.
- Party Store: Colored goodie bags


1) Pop off the top of the solar lights so you have the solar panel and light unit as one separate unit.
2) Use some sort of adhesive such as blue tack to adhere to the light unit underside of the glass lid (*you must use a jar with a glass lid or the solar panels can't charge the batteries.)
3) Fill the jar with a transparent or translucent substance such as colored goodie bags (or tissue paper, gift wrap, etc..)

I bought some stickers to cover up the adhesive on the jar lid. The variations on this are almost endless. The big downside to making a sun jar is that you have to waste the bottom part of the solar lawn light. Hopefully soon we can source the solar light units separately.

These jars make great yard decorations, gifts, toys for older kids, nightlights and more!

Try making a few and comment on your experience!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I have been reading about "phantom load" from appliances and feel a bit robbed that they are sucking up energy like vampires when I'm not using them.

Here is a great energy-saving tip; it's easy and you probably don't need to buy anything. The idea is to turn off all appliances that have a phantom load. This is even easier if you use power strips. Examples of appliances that use power even when off are TVs, cable boxes, DVR players, PC monitors, chargers - basically anything with a light on or produces warmth. Our FIOS box is probably the worst offender; I can hear it humming from several feet away. Since almost everything we own is plugged into a power strip, I simply go through the house at night or when I leave the house for work and turn off the strips. Be careful not to turn off clocks or devices that need to be left on like answering machines. You will actually hear the difference!

I found that remembering to turn off our power hungry appliances during the work day and at night saves between $20-$30 per month on our bill.

If you have kids or even more than a few adults living in your home, I'm sure you've noticed at the end of the day, half-empty cups and glasses of water sitting around the house. Once in a while you'll get the odd, responsible person who actually takes the glass to the counter and empties it or better, saves it for later. For the rest of us, it's a daily or every-other-daily chore to walk around the house picking up what everyone else leaves behind.I've made it a habit to set aside the tallest cup or glass and pour all the other water into it. I then take that and water the house plants! Not only does this save a little tap water but it reminds me to actually water the plants. With news of water rates going up this summer, every little bit helps!