With less than 3 months to go I guess we better start thinking about this! We got this book at Barnes and Noble yesterday...and you'd think that with more than 60,000 names in there that we could find one we like, right?
It's a watch-dog too! Now, it's not your typical dog that runs around the back yard and chases squirrels...no, this dog stays in the basement all day long, just minding his business.
You see, after Hurricane Irene last year and the ordeal we had keeping water out of the basement with the power out, we knew we had to do something. After much research I decided to go with the dog...actually The Big Dog from the folks at Basement Watchdog! This is a top of the line battery back-up sump pump that works for up to 24hrs after the power goes out. It'll also act as a stand-by pump should our regular pump ever decide to break during normal operation. This set-up wasn't cheap, but it'll hopefully save our basement during the next major storm! [we're also planning on getting little back-up generator that could power the pumps and a refrigerator or two, but that's not in the budget until FY13]. Belt AND suspenders at our house folks!
Installation of this project was a bit more complicated than the Nest we put in last month, but overall it was pretty straightforward. Just some standard PVC plumbing stuff and the scariest part was filling the battery up with the acid! [that was done outside incase I spilled any, and also since it smokes once it hits the batteries and then smells like rotten eggs!]
Here's a look at the system. Obviously the sump pump and the associated float that triggers its operation, but also the battery and the controller unit. I had to build a shelf for the controller as it needs to be up off the ground, but the battery has a waterproof case so it can sit on the floor. I was actually surprised at just how large the controller unit was, and how much it weighed. I'm sure they could design a much smaller, sleeker unit, but hey, if it ain't broke...
The hope is that this doesn't have to get used much, but when it does come on, it's going to be a lifesaver!!!
Lots more work to get done before Baby Nowak's arrival in July. Starting with Homey D's dropping off a pallet of Belgian Block on Monday that I'm going to use for edging in the back yard! You know what I'll be doing next weekend...feel free to stop by and help, or at least bring a beer!
Thought we'd give you all a quick sneak peek at the nursery thus far. Still a lot of work to be done [namely the crib, curtains, a rug, and decorations for the walls] but most of the big stuff is out of the way at this point.
We'll do a final post on the room once it's fully completed [wait til you see the Container Store closet system we got her for all the miniature clothes and mechanics outfits!!!] with a list of everything that's inside!
While our good friends across the pond aren't known for their culinary delights...they do know how to make one dish extremely well, fish & chips! I had a hankering for some a few weeks ago, and it was a Friday during Lent, so why not! We checked out the British Chip Shop just down the road and it didn't disappoint.
We started out with a Scotch Egg appetizer, a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage. I didn't really know what to expect when we ordered it, but hey, why not. They asked if we wanted it hot or cold, we said cold...should have said hot. It was still pretty good though.
Of course for the main dish I got the fish and chips, while Kel went with the fish sandwich. The fish and chips were perfect! Buttery, flaky...perfectly cooked. Throw on some vinegar and tarter sauce...oh man!
For those of us living here in New Jersey, as well as several other states who offer energy deregulation, we've been getting phone calls, mailings, and even a few people knocking on our door asking us to switch our energy provider to another carrier. The fact of the matter though is that the majority of people who choose another provider end up losing money in the long term instead of the savings they're told they should be seeing. It just doesn't make much sense.
With that in mind, Kelly and I decided to go another route. We bought a Nest! [Well, we wanted to buy a Nest...but first we had to wait 4 months while they were back-ordered. These things were going like hotcakes when they first came out last fall] What the hell is a Nest you ask? Well, it's pretty simple actually, just a regular old home thermostat that's gotten major makeover thanks to the guy who invented the iPod. [No, Steve Jobs didn't create the iPod, it was a guy named Tony Fadell who was actually the brains behind the operation] He started his own company and decided their first project would be rethinking a basic device that is in a majority of homes, yet doesn't get used to its full potential, the programmable thermostat.
They've made it much simpler to program...just do what you normally do. After a few weeks of use the Nest actually learns your habbits, creates a schedule, and can even sense when you are away from the house and adjust the temperature accordingly. It's pretty amazing! It's not that a regular programmable thermostat isn't good, because they do save people a lot of money, but they have limitations, and the Nest solves them.
Have a look, it even feels like an Apple product when you open and take it out of the box. Instructions are super easy and they even provide a nifty little screw driver incase you don't have one!
Nest includes 3 different cover plate sizes incase you need to cover up a large hole from your old system, but I decided to patch the existing holed so that I could mount this as it was designed to be mounted, clean and simple. So I did have to do a little patching and painting. [I should note that we do plan on getting a new alarm system at some point soon and once that happens we'll move the panel location and then move the Nest so that it's above the light switches there on the right. Should be a much cleaner look]
If I didn't have to do the patch and paint the entire installation would have taken about 2.5 minutes. Just connect the 4 wires and the computer does the rest. Let's talk about that computer part. Nest is essentially a mini-computer and it connects to your homes WiFi to gather current weather conditions and forecasts so that it can control your heating and cooling as efficiently as possible. Instead of just turning the temperature up and down and setting the on-off for 7 days of the week, this computer learns how you use your thermostat and can predict when you want it to come on and when you want it to be turned off. Just give it a few weeks and it'll figure out your schedule. It's even good enough to know when you're home and when your not. Most of the time we'd leave for the day and remember to turn the heat down...but sometimes we'd forget. With the Nest's audio and proximity sensors it can sense when people are in the house and when they're gone. So, if no one is home, it's smart enough to turn the system down.
Even a simple thing like raising the temperature a few degrees just becuase you want it a little warmer...Nest will learn your home and tell you how many minutes it'll take to reach that temperature.
Here's a shot of our unit installed and ready to roll.
With the WiFi connection one of the best features is the remote access with a smart phone. No longer do you have to come home to a chilly house. Now you can just log on remotely and adjust the temperature 15-20 minutes before you arrive home and you're all set. Simple as that. I think this is the aspect that Kelly likes the most!
The other great thing about the WiFi is that the unit sends data back to Nest and they create piles of data for you to see just how much energy is being use, at what times, and the reason why. Did someone adjust the temperature? Was it colder out than normal? Were you away all day and as a result the system didn't need to turn on? With all this data you can create some very informative reports on your usage and I'm anxious to compare them to previous years bills without the Nest.
With cooling season just around the corner [probably tomorrow for us here with temps predicted to be in the 90's] I'm excited to test out one of the best features Nest has, the Airwave technology. Again, after a few weeks of learning your home and the cooling system, Nest can control your a/c to save you up to 30% of your energy usage. For a house like ours, where a summer bill can be about $300 bucks, even if we only saved 15% that's $45 bucks a month. Easy to see how quickly this unit can pay for itself. So here's how this airwave technology works. Nest learns your house and will turn off the compressor a few minutes before reaching the desired temp, but it'll keep the fan running a bit longer to capture all of that cool air still in the system and coming off of the coils, to get you to that temp you selected. Pretty ingenious, right? Saves energy, and saves money.
An interesting aside...you can imagine that the leader in thermostat sales for all these years, Honeywell, wasn't too happy with a new kid on the block, so they tried to say that Nest was infringing on basically every patent they own. They've done the same thing with a few other companies so Nest wasn't surprised. Their court response is actually quite funny...
Stay tuned...I'll start to post some of the data on this thing in 6 months or so.
The weekend immediately after we returned from our cruise we had the OD crew in town for a weekend visit. We took a hodgepodge of photos throughout the weekend...but this one here may be my favorite! Drink up buddy!
The weekend was a great test for us and the house. With 3 kids running around it gave us a good idea of what we'll need to baby-proof! At one point the girls were out shopping and Thomas was out cold on the couch...it was me against the 3 kids! No idea how Karen does it every single day...
The rest of the weekend just consisted of hanging around the house and catching up. We did venture over to the Discovery Museum for a few hours, which the kids loved, as did I. Very cool place! I even got to forecast the weather and anchor the nightly news...