Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Great Kitchen Debate ...

We've been struggling to come up with a decent kitchen design lately. This past weekend my parents came up from p-town with my grandma and my aunt and uncle who live in naperville came out and we all sat down and played with some kitchen schemes for fun. It got a bit out of hand, as committees often do (smirk) and of course, no solid design came out of it but it was fun. What we do know is we're going to combine the current kitchen and the bedroom backing up to it into one large approximately 17 x 11 room, but beyond that, we seem to be lost. As you'll see when you click on the link above, we have come up with an idea or two. But none that really seem to combine the space well. I want it to flow together, feel natural. But with no less than three doors and two windows in the space, it's hard not see it all choppy. much as I want to be, I'm SO not a whiz at this design thing. You need an ad? I'm your woman. Looking for a logo? Call me. But designing living spaces? Not so much my game.

Above is a sketch of the generic layout of the room - or at least how it will be once the wall down the middle is gone. We can't afford to build out or up - neither would work in terms of money or dealing with the EV. Maybe someone out there in blogland will have a suggestion that will amaze and astonish and save us the continued agony! I'd even be willing to trade some graphic or web design services for kitchen design services. We just need help!

In the meantime, I found a cooktop secondhand, so I know the ktichen will require a 30" cooktop and separate oven.

Can't wait to hear from the blogosphere ...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Paying less $ for electricity

In late spring, we signed up for real-time electricity pricing through our electrical utility, ComEd. This is a program where we pay an hourly electrical rate instead of a flat fee. The theory is, electricity prices are high in the middle of the day and low at night and in the evening. From the utility:

Electricity prices rise when demands on the electrical production and distribution system are high. By managing their energy use during peak hours, real-time electricity pricing participants not only save money, they also help relieve pressure on the system at times when demand is the greatest.
ComEd and Ameren customers can visit the Community Energy Collaborative to learn more and enroll.

So we signed up and changed our habits a little, like setting the dishwasher to run on a delay so it runs at 3 am. But for the most part our lives didn't change much since we naturally use more energy at night when we're at home. During this time, I kept an eye on prices thanks to For ComEd, instead of the average $0.07/kwh flat fee, we pay $0.02/kwh at night and (depending on how hot it is) $0.08/kwh - $0.12/kwh during the day.

Well, we recently received our first bill under the new program for May 30 - June 26. Since about half of this time our air conditioner was running, I was expecting a fairly hefty bill. But it was about 15% less than what it would have been under the standard pricing program (ComEd provides a comparative analysis for you). Woo hoo!

Next month, we'll expect even more savings as we enrolled in "Nature First", which is ComEd's air conditioning cycling program that allows them to cycle our AC compressor on and off, so it uses less power safely on the hottest days of the summer. They say this will only happen during weekdays, and likely only a few times each summer. For this, we get a $10 monthly credit to our account.

It feels good to pay less and help the environment at the same time. Good things our cats like it warm during the day.