Sunday, 18 June 2017

This $250 wifi sprinkler can cut lawn water use 30%

Rachio, a Denver-based start-up, has been selling a "smart sprinkler" for the last year. The device takes the place of a traditional control box on an automated home sprinkler system. It hooks the system up to the Internet -- meaning that you can control it from a smartphone.

It also means the sprinkler system can now check the weather. If it's going to rain or has rained recently, the system holds off on watering. It also automatically adjusts the watering times for each season. And it waters intermittently to allow for maximum absorption -- which also encourages the grass to grow deeper roots and become more drought-resistant. These things alone can cut lawn water use by 30%, according to the company -- no small amount when at least eight Western states are in Sprinkler System Rockwall extreme drought, or worse.



Related: Can these gates protect NYC from the next flood?

The company was formed after Chris Klein and Franz Garsombke -- two software engineers working for a real estate intelligence firm -- went through the last drought in Colorado in 2012. When fall came and the dryness subsided, the two noticed that sprinklers in the area Sprinkler System were still running, even though it was raining.

"We figured there had to be a better way," said Klein.

So the pair started http://www.vikingcorp.com/ writing code and entered a contest run by the Colorado Innovation Network -- a consortium of businesses, governments and universities that promotes economic development in the state. They won $50,000, quit their jobs, and began building the company. Now they have 18 employees, and sales are on track to quadruple from last year, although Klein would not disclose revenue numbers or units sold.

RachioThe hardware mounts in your home, the software is accessible online.

The device itself looks like a router, and Klein said most people can install it in 20 minutes. (If you still can't, most likely a gardener or electrician can.)

The entire thing -- plastic, electronics, packaging -- is made in Colorado. Klein said it would probably be cheaper to make it abroad, but the company is convinced that U.S. manufacturing costs will fall as more companies decide to build stuff here -- and they want to be part of the force driving that change.

It's compatible with Nest and other smart home systems, and many areas experiencing drought -- including Los Angeles, Fresno and the Santa Clara Valley -- subsidize the $250 retail price, said Klein.

Of course California is the most populous state s eeing a historic drought, and Klein said roughly a third of his sales are in that state, up from about a quarter last year.

Rachio isn't the only company to make these devices -- competitors include Blossom and Skydrop.

CNNMoney (New York) First published May 13, 2015: 6:38 AM ET

http://money.cnn.com/2015/05/13/technology/rachio-sprinkler-water/index.html

Famed sports painter LeRoy Neiman dead at 91| Reuters

By Daniel Trotta

| NEW YORK

NEW YORK LeRoy Neiman, whose distinctive, vibrantly colored paintings of sports figures and athletic events made him as famous as many of the athletes he drew, died on Wednesday at age 91.

Neiman, a showman known for his handlebar mustache, sometimes painted live on television during major events such as the Olympics and the Super Bowl, helping make him one of the world's most commercially successful contemporary artists.

Among his subjects were boxing's Muhammad Ali, former New York Jets football star Joe Namath and baseball greats Mickey Mantle https://certapro.com/ and Joe DiMaggio.

Neiman had just published his memoirs, "All Told," which came out days before his 91st birthday on June 8.

"He had a happy birthday. He was so happy to see his memoir published," said Gail Parenteau, his publicist.



She said he died at Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan of natural causes. He had been hospitalized there in 2010 with vascular problems that required life-saving surgery to remove his right leg above the knee, she said.

By coincidence, his latest work - a multicolored golf ball 4 feet in diameter and completed in April - went on display in Chicago on Wednesday, said his archivist, Tara Zabor.

Neiman was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on June 8, 1921, and was of Turkish and Swedish descent "as near as I can figure out," according to his official website.

A child of the Great Depression whose father abandoned his family at a young age, Neiman enlisted in the U.S. military in 1942, later taking part in the invasion of Normandy and fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, according to a biography provided by Parenteau.

On returning home, he attended Chicago's School of the Art Institute on the G.I. Bill.

He became a cont ributing artist for Playboy magazine in the 1950s and established a friendship with its founder, Hugh Hefner, one of many famous friends including Frank Sinatra and Ali.

He painted about a dozen portraits of Ali, Zabor said, befriending the boxer when he was still known as Cassius Clay.

'TRUE ORIGINAL'

Neiman said he ignored advice that working with Playboy would ruin his career as a legitimate artist.

"But Playboy was liberating," he wrote in his memoir. "I was drawn to it and went for it full throttle. ... I lived my life as I wanted to live it and screw what happens. I always stayed in tune with my own ambitions and attitudes and I'm still my intractable old self, for better or worse."



Patty Otis Abel, a contributor and editor on his memoir, said Hefner appreciated that Neiman came from a fine arts background.

"Hugh wanted to be able to combine a fine art and more of a commercial sensibility, and he felt that's what LeRoy brought," Abel said.

Neiman was named official artist of the Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo in 1980 and 1984 and the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, cementing his image as a painter of athletic themes. He also painted U.S. presidents, jazz musicians, Las Vegas gamblers and the animals of Africa in addition to authoring 15 books.

Abel agreed he was a showman.

"There was always a genuine aspect to it," she said. "It was never phony. This was a genuine guy and a true original."

(Reporting By Daniel Trotta; editing by Christopher Wilson)

http://www.reuters.com/article/entertainment-us-neiman-idUSBRE85K01M20120621

Friday, 16 June 2017

California water: End of the LA lawn (Opinion)

"We're so used to Southern California having these beautiful, lush lawns and palm trees and seasonal flowers," she told me by phone from Culver City, a suburb of Los Angeles, where she is general manager at a landscaping business called A Greener Tomorrow. But now, because of the drought and new water regulations, "I'm telling you, all I see is Arizona and Las Vegas."

"Who's going to be willing to pay?" she said. "You can't maintain a lawn!"

The idea of Sprinkler System Installation Los Sprinkler System Installation Arlington Angeles -- much less Bel Air and Beverly Hills -- ripping out its water-sucking lawns and oh-so-thirsty flowers is indeed a shock, especially if installing and maintaining those lawns is your livelihood. But consider the context: California is in an extreme drought. Snowpack in the state, one measure of how much water will be availab le this summer, is at an all-time low, at just 5% of normal. Rivers are running dry, as I found last summer on a three-week trip down the San Joaquin. With no water at the surface, farmers are turning below the ground, pumping out groundwater at such an alarming rate that the land actually is sinking. In some places, that's happening at the truly astounding rate of almost 1 foot per year.

I see where Uribe's coming from. The 35-year-old loves the colorful, landscaped version of Los Angeles. And she fears a drab, monochromatic future -- a blah city, all dirt and rocks.

But this is a crisis. And the California lawn is a reasonable casualty.

I applaud Gov. Jerry Brown's recent push to require all cities and towns to cut their water use by 25%. To help local entities with the new mandate, the state plans to support the replacement of 50 million square feet of lawns with drought-tolerant plants (otherwise known as "cash for grass"), create a rebate system so residen ts will get help replacing water-hogging appliances with more efficient models, require golf courses to cut water use, and ban watering the grass found on public street medians, among other provisions.

The total savings, according to the governor's office, will be 1.5 million acre feet of water over nine months. For context, 1 million acre feet is said by environmental groups to be as much water as 2 million families would need in a year.The state's focus on lawns makes sense given that grass and other landscaping account for up to 50% of all urban water use, said Ellen Hanak, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. "It's nice for us to have trees and landscapes, but we could do that with half of the water," she said. "It's not like it's going to mean the end of our economy or the end of our way of life."

If anything, the requirements don't go far enough.

Each year, California uses 6 million more acre feet of water "than our rivers and aqu ifers can sustainably provide," according to a 2014 report from the Pacific Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Those groups found 14 million acre feet of water per year could be saved if a number of changes were made to the way cities and farms operate. Among the recommendations: More-efficient farming techniques, including drip irrigation and "smart irrigation scheduling," which waters crops exactly when and where they need it.

So Brown's plan won't fix California's water woes.

But it's an important start.

Next, the state should direct its focus to farms, which consume 80% of all human-used water in California and generate only 2% of the state's gross domestic product. It's reasonable, if politically tricky, for the state to focus more attention on the industry that consumes more water than any other. California can create a water budget that allows farms, people and fish to thrive.Much water can be saved with newer technologies, without for cing farmers to give up the land they use to grow crops, said Heather Cooley, water program director at the Pacific Institute.



She praised Brown's order as "a very positive step forward."

"California is facing a drought of epic proportions, and we need to work together to reduce the use of water so there's sufficient water for cities, for farms and for ecosystems," she told me. "We need to be preparing not only https://www.houselogic.com/by-room/yard-patio/ for this drought but for the next one."

And that's the crux of it.

This California drought has been extreme. But in the future, as the climate continues to warm, Cooley and others say the state likely will see more hot, dry years like this.

They won't seem so abnormal, sadly.

All the more reason it's good for California to deal with its grass problem pront o.

If it's smart, it can do so without looking like the Arizona desert.



http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/02/opinions/sutter-california-water/index.html

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

How To Hack Your Electric Bill

You turn off the lights when you leave a room. You unplug small appliances when they aren't in use. You think you're being pretty smart about your energy consumption, yet every month your electric bill keeps creeping up. You shudder to think how high it could go in the summer months -- especially if you're cooling off an apartment or home in Phoenix, AZ, during mid-July. You're not alone. On average, American households spend $110 a month on their electric bill.

2016-04-26-1461689793-157076-HowToHackYourElectricBill418HERO.jpg



Before you start plotting a move to cooler climes, find out how to save electricity with these hacks and then start focusing on more fun tasks -- like what to do with all of the money you're saving!

1. Identify the "energy vampires" in your home

"Appliances that use a remote control, have a continuous display, or have an external power supply all continue to use energy, even when they're turned off," says Gene Wang, CEO and co-founder of People Power, a company that provides apps, cloud, and mobile service.

Translation: Simply remembering to turn off your plasma TV isn't enough. According to Wang, even when it's turned off, a TV still sucks up 1,400 kilowatt-hours annually, which could mean an extra $150 per year added to your bill. Invest in a smart power strip and plug like-used devices such as TVs, game consoles, and cable boxes into the same one, advises Wang. Not only will the device cut off phantom power, but it can also be set to turn on and off automatically.

2. Invest in a power monitor to optimize energy usage times

"You want to use power when the energy rates are lower and there's less demand on the power grid," says Joel Worthington, president of Mr. Electric LLC, an international electrical installation and repair company. A power monitor can help you figure out how much energy you're using throughout the day so that you can make changes accordingly. For example, you may find it's more economical to run the dishwasher just before bedtime.

3. Wash clothes in cold water and line-dry

According to Project Laundry List, if you dry four loads of laundry in an electric dryer per week, it'll cost you an extra $110 per year (that's basically a membership to Hulu). Wash your clothes in cold https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWoSWNwtV KA water whenever possible and then hang them to dry on your own DIY version of an indoor clothesline (if DIY isn't your thing, check out laundrylist.org for ready-made products for line-drying inside).

4. Use small appliances for small meals

Eating alone? Heat up your food in a toaster oven, which can use up to half as much energy as an electric oven. In the mood for a cup of tea? Heat the water in an electric kettle rather than turning on a stove burner. And when you do use your stove-top, be sure to use the burner closest to the size of your pot. According to SmarterHouse.org, "a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner wastes over 40% of the heat produced by the burner."

5. Install motion-activated power outlets

Can't remember whether you unplugged your curling iron before you left the house? Use a motion-activated outlet adapter. It will automatically turn off a gadget or appliance that's plugged into the adapter when it senses no one is in the room using it, says Worthington. If you're a renter, mention this option to your landlord, who will probably be only too happy to reduce wasted energy use (and potentially http://www.thefreedictionary.com/electrician prevent fires too).



6. Stock your fridge

Not only will your stomach thank you, but also a full refrigerator requires less energy to stay cool than an empty one. And while you're at it, be sure to gently vacuum the coils twice a year. "Dust makes the coils https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWoSWNwtVKA heat up and work harder," says Worthington. The harder your fridge works, the more money you'll ultimately spend on your electric bill.

7. Take advantage of solar gain

Why heat or cool a room if you aren't using it? In the summer months, keep shades drawn during the hours when sun exposure is highest. In cooler months, let the sunlight in, which will give your bulbs -- and wallet -- a break. Keep air vents closed too.

8. Convert to LED bulbs

Yes, they're more expensive upfront -- an LED light bulb costs about $8 per bulb, whereas an incandescent is around a buck -- but an LED bulb will last a whopping 25,000 hours (or almost 23 years, assuming three hours of use per day) compared with 1,000 hours for a regular old bulb. Not to mention that in that same 23-year timespan, an average bulb will cost you $180 in electricity at the current average rate, compared with just $30 with an LED bulb. Renters can take the bulbs to their next place to continue the savings.

9. Adjust the temperature of your water heater

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water accounts for 10% to 15% of energy consumption in your home. Most water heaters are preset to 140 degrees, which is way more heat -- and expense -- than yo u need. Worthington advises turning yours down to 120 degrees, which can save you 6% to 10% each year on your heating costs. Renters: Don't try this alone. This is the kind of task that your landlord should handle; ask your landlord to dial it down for you.

What are your tips when friends ask for advice on how to save electricity? How do you lower your electric bill? Share your hacks in the comments!

Also on HuffPost:

The Best Cleaning & Organizing Tips

The Best Cleaning & Organizing Tips

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/trulia/how-to-hack-your-electric_b_9779212.html

Sunday, 11 June 2017

The Carbon Footprint in Your Lawn

MEMPHIS, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--America's big carbon footprint may not be so

big after all, especially for homeowners with healthy lawns.



A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact of human activities on the

environment. It is measured in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases

produced in units of carbon dioxide. According to various studies, the

typical American homeowner creates about 20-22 tons of CO2

every year. Everyone wants to be m ore eco-friendly, but may not be sure

how to reduce his or her environmental impact. The fact is, your

backyard can be a valuable environmental asset and actually can reduce

the size of your carbon footprint.

There is ample research to support the concept of "carbon

sequestration," the process by which carbon

dioxide from the atmosphere is absorbed by trees, plants and crops

through photosynthesis and stored as carbon in roots, tree trunks,

branches, foliage and soil. Organizations such as NASA and the U.S.

Department of Energy support this claim. The DOE website describes

carbon sequestration as "...one

of the most promising ways for reducing the buildup of greenhouse gases

in the atmosphere."



"Grass plantings are among the most efficient

ecosystems for tying up atmospheric CO2,"
< br>explained Kirk Hurto, vice president for technical services at TruGreen,

the nation's largest lawn care provider. "This

is because the rich, fibrous root system of grass plants and the

associated soil bacteria help recycle carbon through the environment.

Prudent use of fertilizers helps grow healthy grass and enrich your lawn's

ability to sequester carbon dioxide. The bottom line is, grass is good

for the environment."

Beyond growing grass, homeowners can further reduce their http://www.gardenguides.com/ carbon

footprint in other ways. Some suggestions:

Use electric-powered hand tools. Electric leaf blowers, string

trimmers, edgers and mowers are more environmentally friendly than

gas-powered devices. They are, however, less convenient for homeowners

with large lawns, so if you Sprinkler Syst em Installation Greenville must use gasoline-powered equipment, keep

the motors tuned properly and your cutting blades sharp.

Avoid over-watering. Lawns are usually more drought-tolerant

than you may expect. Water as recommended by your lawn care

professional or when grass shows signs of stress -

the color changes to blue-green and when the grass fails to spring

back quickly after you step on it, and water before 10 a.m. to reduce

evaporate. Use soaker hoses to spot water shrubs, flowers and trees.

Apply fertilizers and herbicides properly. If you are unsure

about fertilizer and herbicide applications, consult a lawn care

professional or your local Cooperative Extension Service.

Most homeowners are good stewards of the environment. They enjoy nature

and work hard to create a beautiful natural environment around their

home. The grass, flowers, shrubs and trees they plant create ox ygen,

fight erosion and provide a natural filter for the environment. If you

have a nice, healthy lawn take pride in the contribution you're

making to Mother Earth.

About TruGreen

TruGreen is the world's largest lawn and

landscape company, serving more than 3.4 million residential and

commercial customers across the United States with lawn care, tree and

shrub care, and landscaping services. As the current industry leader,

TruGreen continues to pioneer the development of new technology for lawn

care, and devotes substantial resources to continually evaluate new

products and equipment. TruGreen is a member of the ServiceMaster Family

of Brands, which also includes TruGreen LandCare,

Terminix, American Home Shield,

InStar, ServiceMaster Clean,

Merry Maids, Furniture Medic,

and AmeriSpec. For more information, go to www.servicemaster.com.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20080422005325/en/Carbon-Footprint-Lawn