August 23, 2010
Part one in a four-part series
In Chevy Chase, Md., Betty and Jack O’Connor are part of a growing number of people banding together to help each other grow old at home.
Betty is 80, Jack, 85, and it’s something of a triumph that they’re still living independently in their suburban house, with its backyard garden and pool.
Jack suffered a brain injury in a fall five years ago. Since then, a hip replacement has left him frail, and an allergic reaction to the anesthesia in that operation stole even more of his memory.
“This is my miracle man,” Betty says. “And Jack and I do not want to leave the house.”
“Oh, no,” Jack agrees. “I don’t know what the alternatives are, but I can’t think of a good one.”
Actually, Betty knows exactly what the alternatives are. She has visited friends in assisted living and nursing homes, and she says she finds such places depressing.
“We like to be around young people,” she says. “There’s so many walkers over there, and I feel sorry for them because they’re in these long corridors.”
So the O’Connors have a plan: If and when Jack can no longer climb the stairs, they’ll convert their first-floor family room to a bedroom. But they’ll still need help, so Betty has begun recruiting friends and neighbors to help create what’s called a “village,” an organized network of volunteers dedicated to doing what’s needed for seniors to stay in their own homes. For an annual fee, these communities help seniors manage household tasks they can no longer handle and arrange transportation when they can no longer drive.
Creating A Village
There are already 50 of these nonprofit groups around the country, with 100 more in the works — and it’s a trend that’s expected to gain steam as baby boomers hit their golden years. Village organizers say the key is training seniors to reach out and request help, something that doesn’t come easily.
“We spend our lives from childhood being told, ‘Be independent, do this for yourselves,’ ” says Gail Kohn, executive director of Capitol Hill Village in Washington, D.C. “Then we get to a certain point when we say, ‘We want you to ask.’ That’s alien to all of us, and it feels like dependence.”
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By Jake Westrich, EcoPhone Systems, LLC
Computers and other office equipment are vital to the everyday functions and productivity of most businesses. They power our employees and our companies, but they also drain power and raise our energy bills. Limiting the energy waste of our office equipment can conserve resources and prolong the lives of our machines.
When Should You Turn Off Your Personal Computer?
There are obvious impracticalities to powering off your computer every time you step away from it. That would be a great inconvenience, since it usually takes a few minutes for a computer to turn on. There is also a small surge in energy whenever a computer is turned on, so turning it off and on too frequently could actually use more energy.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends turning off:
- Your monitor if you aren’t using your computer for more than 20 minutes
- Both your CPU and monitor if you are not using your computer for more than two hours1
One argument against powering off a computer is that turning it on and off too frequently may have a negative impact on the life of the device. Generally speaking, the less time a computer is on, the longer it will last, so turning off your computer should be a net gain.
Activate Your Sleep Mode
Make sure to check your computer’s power down or sleep mode settings. An unused computer that is in sleep mode will consume considerably less energy than an unused computer that is humming along at full capacity.
Power down and sleep modes should not be confused with screen savers, which are typically not energy savers. In some cases, power-down features do not work when a screen saver is activated.
Beware of Standby Power
Standby power is the electric power consumed by electronic appliances while they are switched off. Many types of electronic equipment drain power even while they seem to be turned off, because they are in fact in standby mode. Standby power can be as high as 10-15 watts per device.2 An easy method of prevention is to plug all of your computer station electronics (monitor, tower, printer, fax, etc.) into a power strip or surge protector with an on/off switch. When none of the electronics are in use, turn off the switch to prevent standby power drain.
Every unit of energy conserved reduces the environmental impact of energy use. Make energy conservation a habit at your business and enjoy:
- A greener planet for future generations
- Cheaper energy bills
- Longer-lasting office equipment
Jake Westrich, EcoPhone Systems, LLC, http://phonesystemscincinnati.com/blog.asp
One of my valued vendors recently shared with me many of the amazing things that can be done to automate your activities around your home with new control systems that are much more cost effective these days and so small you don’t notice them. Read on to learn more. Give us a call at 513-271-1888 if you would like to talk with them and lern more.
Ten years ago this word, “Automation,” was meant for the wealthy and technologically savvy people. Today almost everyone has a level of automation that is common place in their own lives. Whether it is the keyless entry or remote start on your car, the computer that you turn on to check your email and download your favorite songs from iTunes, or the universal remote that you use to simplify the TV system that you now need in order to watch the nightly news, automation is the way we live our lives. The key to this technology is making the most of it for your life and how you live it.
Imagine for a moment your trip home from the grocery store on a winter evening. Think of all the actions that it takes from the minute your car enters the driveway to simply getting into your home and getting the groceries to the counter. It may go something like this: open the garage door, turn on the lights, open the door going into the house, turn off the security system, and turn on the five or so lights to get to the kitchen. Five steps and you have not even taken a bag out of your car yet. Now imagine this, your car hits the driveway and the garage door opens up, the security system is disarmed, the lights in the garage and the path to the kitchen turn on, the door into the house is unlocked and opened, Channel Twelve news appears on the kitchen TV while your favorite iTunes playlist plays through the speakers, the heat is regulated to accommodate the outside door open for a bit while you unload the car, and your hot tub just started warming itself up because we all know how much it takes it out of you to unload the groceries and put them all away. And all of this was done the instant you pulled into the driveway.
Did you know that the going rate for technology in your home is approximately 20% of the price of your home? No matter what size home you live in, that can be a big number. So what does that mean? For most, it means the normal things that people see, the computer, the TV, maybe a surround system or even a home theatre. It means the iPod and the speakers that can play the sound throughout the house, the security system and the kids Nintendo Wii. What most don’t realize is that it could mean all of this and more with lighting and HVAC control and one simple system that controls and “automates” everything for you.
There are many companies out there that specialize in these types of systems and design them around your particular lifestyle and needs. They can help you achieve a house that knows you are at home and what you like to be doing at certain times. They can design a house that knows you are away or asleep and can adjust the temperature and regulate the lights accordingly. They can even create a system that knows when an alarm goes off, what type of alarm it is. That means that the system can either light a pathway to get you and your family out of the house while flashing the outside lights for the fire or medical, or maybe all the lights come on full bright and the sound of a dog starts barking and sirens ringing before the police arrive for the person trying to break in.
Being “green” and energy efficient has become a big deal. Doing something as simple as telling every light in the house never to go higher than 80% when turned on saves money on your electric bill and your eye never knows the difference. Not to mention the amount of light bulbs that you just saved changing! Managing the temperature in your home while you are away or asleep can potentially save hundreds of dollars on your bill, while still keeping your house comfortable. These types of systems can help you achieve that.
For more information or answers to some commonly asked questions, please feel free to give me a call. For a free assessment of your home and design on the possibilities, just mention this article.