Welcome to the Age of Sensors...

We use the technology of sensors in all aspects of our lives, but our homes and buildings are just now catching up. The California Title 24 Energy Codes give you the choice between occupancy sensors or dimmer switches, but in certain areas and circumstances, it really is better to choose the sensor.

Though occupancy sensors are not technically "green" products, they do provide a "green" service to homes and businesses. Have you ever gone to someones house and wondered why the lights are on in every room of the house? Have you ever been driving by an office or school at night and wondered why the lights are all on? This could all be changed or possibly eliminated with the help of occupancy sensors. For years the main focus has been on commercial and institutional applications due to the large amounts of energy waste, but homeowners can also do their part. The link below is to an informational report from 1997 by Green Seal that outlines the use of occupancy sensors and their benefits:

The main focus of this report targets commercial and institutional applications, but the information contained within is invaluable to all who have energy waste. Our homes can be oozing energy waste, especially if we have a lot of occupants living under one roof. Where do our homes need help? Where are the best possible places to put occupancy sensors so we maximize our dollar?

Right off the back I will tell you that it doesn't help to put them in every room in your house. You have to proactive and calculated to get the most bang for your buck. There are a lot of different products to choose from and they all serve a purpose and a function.

For residential applications you can choose from hard-wired, passive infrared occupancy sensors or manual "ON" passive infrared versions:

Edison base, screw in passive infrared occupancy sensors for bare bulb sockets:

There are also other products on the market such as passive infrared and sonic occupancy sensors that are built into surge strips so that electronics can be turned off when no one is in the area, but I find these products very hazardous to electronics and not very conducive to people coming and going from a room. They can work in a commercial or institutional setting, but should not be used in a residential settings unless they are properly factored into an overall design.

When deciding on where to put your sensors you need to take into account a couple of items:
  1. What kind of traffic does the room or space get during normal use?
  2. What kind of fixture or fixtures are present?
  3. What kind of luminary or luminaries do these fixtures use?

Looking at the room or space will help you understand the needs of the space and whether or not an occupancy sensor is conducive to your energy conservation goals. Rooms such as bathrooms, garages, laundry rooms, and closets are some of the best an easiest to figure out. Other rooms in your house may be a little harder such as bedrooms and living rooms; or just plain difficult like kitchens, offices, and family rooms.

Bathrooms are nice because you can put in an occupancy sensor to control the exhaust fan which will allow you to set an allotted time for the fan to run once a person has entered or left the room. Bedrooms may be a little harder due to high levels of usage, but can sometimes benefit from a manual "ON" occupancy sensor if people are prone to leaving lights on all the time. The rooms and spaces labeled as difficult are difficult due to frequent and infrequent usage that may not coincide with a sensors timer or range of motion. If you don't fully think it out you may end up with strange light shows and burnt out fixtures/luminaries in your difficult rooms and spaces.

Numbers 2 and 3 go hand in hand... different occupancy sensors work in different ways when it comes to light fixtures and luminaries that they utilize. First and foremost, you should always follow the guidance of the manufacturer's specifications when it comes to these products. All of these products from the sensors to the luminaries should be tested products (Underwriters Laboratories or other testing agencies), so that you know their limitations and how they should be properly used.

Fluorescent and compact fluorescent (CFL) luminaries do not generally work well with occupancy sensors and the life span of a fluorescent can be drastically cut due to some hard-wired sensors and most Edison base screw types. Fluorescent bulbs have a delayed start up time and cool-down period after being shut off which does not always work well with occupancy sensors. If you go in and out of a room with a sensor and you're using a fluorescent, you run the risk of the bulb burning out quickly or possibly burning out the fixture. Most Edison base type sensors explicitly require incandescent luminaries and some tested LEDs, but a lot LEDs also have a start delay similar to a fluorescent.

After digesting all of this information your finally ready to figure it all out and put together your plan. Even if you only install an occupancy sensor in one room of your house you can still make a difference in your energy consumption and waste. The code gives you a choice, but it never really tells you which is the better choice... at least now you know what one of those choices can do for you and your home.

One of the major manufacturers of hard-wired sensors is Leviton:


For Edison base screw type sensors it's First Alert:


And there are a lot of others such as Wattstoppers, GE, and Z-Wave.

In Sacramento and the greater valley you can pick up occupancy sensors at any major hardware retailer and some smaller hardware stores. If you can't locate the right product you can always find it on the internet direct from the company or from any one of the many large internet retailers such as SmartHomeUSA.com.

Goodbye Ziploc!

Most of you know, I'm not too big of a fan of plastic and I'm also not a fan of single-time use products...put those two together and you have one of my least-favorite products...Ziploc bags. Oh Ziploc, I know you mean well, but you make my food taste like plastic, you increase my trash, and I can't recycle you. So, what's a greenie to do to still transport things like sandwiches, chips, snacks, etc. to and from different places? Use plastic storage containers? No thanks, I'm not a fan of BPA. How about glass containers? Well, I already use those for the rest of my food items, so to add snack foods to glass containers means my load will go from about 10 lbs to 20 lbs as I trek to and from school, again, no thanks. So what can I do???!!!

Enter Reusable Bags! What? You mean I can use them again and again? Sweet! I found a great place online to buy these: Mels Sells shop on Etsy.com!

You get 3 bags for $13-14, which is a great price! Here's what you get:
-1 Large Bag: 7 x 7"
-1 Medium Bag: 7 x 5" (seen to the right, which I use for organic rice or corn chips) I love this bag too because it helps me portion out my chips that way I only eat what I can fit into this bag... boy do I love my chips!

-1 Small Bag: 5 x 5" (sometimes I like to eat fresh dates as a dessert after a meal and this little bag fits about 2-3 of them perfectly!)

According to her Esty shop, the exterior is made from 100% cotton, the interior is made of 100% grey nylon that's stain and water resistant, and the bags easily open and close with Velcro that lines the top of the bag.

Know someone that may need a little help transitioning away from Ziploc bags (aka my husband), surprise them with these fun, reusable bags! Lol...check out these cool bags I was able to get him from the Mels Sells shop on etsy! So cool right? He says he likes them better than Ziploc bags because the tops are so much easier to close and they work just as good! Bonus!

So if you're ready to say goodbye to your Ziploc bags and trade in for a more environmentally-friendly option, consider trying out these fun and affordable reusable bags! Just a note, it looks like the fabrics on her shop have changed since I purchased mine a few months ago, but it seems like she might be open to requests if you have a particular style you might like. Also, for those of you who live near Kansas City, you might like knowing that the creator of these bags is from around here too!

What I've Been Doing........

Making dolls without a quilt in sight!But I have been playing with fun fabric......that I wouldn't neccessarily put in a quilt, but makes for such cute doll clothes.
Still loving making them, but do need to make a quilt before long.
I hope everyone is doing well and having fun with children home from school, vacations, etc.
Take care,

Namaste Yoga

For about 3-4 years now I have become quite a yoga fan. Okay, okay, I'm not a hard-core yogi that goes to all the hip classes and has all the fancy yoga clothes. I do my yoga in my basement to a DVD, but I love it! (Here I am on the left...notice the nice dim lights...ahhh, so relaxing!) Several years ago I stumbled upon a yoga series on FitTV called, "Namaste Yoga". It's comprised of a 25 minute workout with a 5 minute warm up, 12 minute "workout", and a 5 minute cool down/relaxation. Sounds like your typical yoga show right? Wrong! Namaste Yoga is so much more! The narrator is Kate Potter, a renowned yoga teacher who has the most relaxing voice, she guides you through the yoga exercises. Aside from this, one of my favorite things about this series is the scenery the yoga takes place in, which are a variety of landscapes from Canada (where the series was filmed). Some scenes are in the mountains and some are on beaches; they are breathtaking and relaxing.

I pretty much always do my Namaste Yoga sessions after a long day at school before I eat dinner. Doing yoga at this time helps me unwind, relax, and stretch. I try to do it every day to stay flexible, at peace, and sane...but it doesn't always happen, so I get to it when I can. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in a way to relax, improve their stretching or flexibility, decrease tension, or enhance their overall health. Here is a preview of a yoga segment:

Want to know more? Click here.

Are you sold on it and want to buy it? Click here. It's about $50 per season, there are two seasons and there are 13 episodes per season. Season 1 is my favorite. It might even be on your cable package, mine was on the FitTv channel. You can click here to see when it's playing.

Now if only they had a "Prenatal Namaste Yoga" for when I'm pregnant, that would be awesome! Anyone know of any other good yoga DVDs? I'm always looking for a great yoga workout!