LED Light Bulb Savings BS

Excuse me Phillips. Your pants appear to be on fire. 

In an issue of Popular Science (25th annual 'Best of What's New issue, page 7) featured a full-page Philips LED bulb. In the top portion of the ad it stated that using an 11W, 800 lumen Philips LED bulb could save you $134 annually over the cost of a standard 60W bulb. Annually is the key word here. Naturally, we just had to do the math.

In the footnotes, they explain that the savings was calculated by using a cost basis of 11 cents per kWh as the electricity rate and an estimated life of 25,000 hours for the bulb. Remember, there are only 8760 hours in a year, and that's if you use the bulb 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A kWh (kilowatt hour) is 1000 watt hours or in this case about 91 hours of continuous use for an 11 watt bulb. 

In the second footnote they explain how they calculated the 22.8 year lifespan of the bulb. It's based on estimated usage of just 3 hours a day. If you accept that as an average use number, it would actually take you almost 19 years to realize that $134 in savings. 

Phillips didn't display a price for this particular bulb in this ad, but LED bulbs in general currently go for between $30 and $60 at Home Depot or Lowes, so you could recoup the cost of the bulb in electricity savings in between 4 and 8 years, assuming you stay in your current home for that long, or you take your light bulbs with you when you move.

Here's an even simpler way to look at it. If you can really save $134 annually per bulb using an 11 watt as opposed to a 60 watt bulb, that means you're currently paying about $165 per year, per light bulb in your home. If you have just 20 light bulbs, that's $3300 per year or $275 per month, just for light bulbs. That doesn't include your TV's, computers, radio's, hot water heater, appliances, etc. Does that sound right to you?

Tax Protesting or 'Going Galt'

Editorial by Linda Duffy

Taxes are the life blood of the government. Unfortunately, government treats tax money like a teenager treats the family refrigerator. The teen grabs whatever it wants, doesn't care if there is anything left for any other family members, and constantly whines for more. It also has no regard for the time and expense it takes to stock the refrigerator or cook the food that was stored inside. No matter what is in there, it isn't enough and you had better be prepared to provide more of face a tantrum.

When it comes to politics (regardless of party affiliation) there always seems to be a reason the government needs your money more than you do. From income taxes to sales tax, use tax, property taxes, payroll taxes, and inheritance taxes, the government is always there to take a piece. Government seems to look at all money as its very own and anything you have left after taxes as a terrible loss. It's time to change the situation and the best way is to put a lock the tax refrigerator.

Reforming our government because of taxes is not a new concept. Our founding fathers let England know how they felt about taxes when they dumped crate after crate of tea in to Boston Harbor back in 1773. Lacking a ship, a harbor and only having a small stash of Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice tea that I would rather not part with, I decided to find a slightly different way to protest taxes and the government waste of tax dollars.

Below is a list of little ways you and I can use to cut off or reduce the flow of money in to the pockets of politicians.

 1. Drive a fuel efficient car

A large chunk of the price of a gallon of gas is taxes. In Colorado, between state and federal taxes, you pay approximately 58¢/gallon which is abut 25% of the cost of each gallon of gas. The more fuel efficient your car is, the less money you pay for taxes. Driving a motorcycle or scooter will cut your gas costs down even more. If you can't afford to switch cars or a motorcycle is impractical in your situation, make sure the car you do have is in top condition. By keeping the oil changed, your tires properly inflated, and keeping your air filter changed, you can increase your fuel efficiency and reduce the amount of taxes you give to the government. Even something as simple as keeping your car washed can increase your fuel efficiency by up to 7%.

2. Buy fresh, whole foods

Though it varies from state to state (or even town to town), usually fresh whole foods meant for home consumption are not taxed. Restaurant food and convenience foods are. By eating food you cook yourself, not only will you be healthier, you will avoid giving money to wasteful politicians.

You may even want to consider planting your own garden. Foods that are shipped in to your local store get taxed in many hidden ways. From the fuel taxes paid on the truck that ships it, to sales taxes paid on the pesticides that were dumped on the crops, there is money being taken at every step. What happens to that tax money? In a variety of interesting ways. For just one example, according to Citizens Against Government Waste, $1,529,220 was spent on an Appalachian Fruit Lab. For another example, the government also spent $188,000 on a Lobster Institute in Maine.

3. Learn to use Craigslist

Craigslist.com may be best know for their colorful personal ads, but it is much more than a convenient way to plan a "casual encounter". It is a giant local tax-free garage sale without all the sitting at the end of your driveway hoping it doesn't rain. Neither buyers or sellers pay fees to use the site or list items for sale. Most items show photos and it makes it easy to shop as well as to sell your extra items. There is no telling how much longer a service like this will remain tax-free, but it still is as of now, so use it to your advantage. Of course, if you are a "SWM in 2 BDSM seeking same", you can always shop for true love at the same time you shop for a slightly used lawn mower.

4. Buy new online

Online sales across state lines are not subject to sales tax....yet. Sure, you will pay shipping fees, but if you shop carefully, you can find sites with flat rate shipping or reduced shipping fees for larger purchases. Two examples of sites with great shipping policies are Netrition.com and Overstock.com. Netrition sells health food and charges a flat $4.95 regardless of how much you buy or how much it weighs. Overstock sells a large variety of items from furniture to clothing to jewelry, electronics and more. They often feature $1 shipping or provide free shipping options.

5. Shop thrift stores

While you still pay sales tax at a thrift store, your overall bill will be much smaller than it will be if you purchase items new. Since the bill is smaller, the amount of money you pay to greedy government spend-aholics will also be lower. Besides, thrift stores purchases also give you a chance to help the needy. The Salvation Army, Disabled American Veterans, and ARC thrift stores are all run by charitable organizations.

6. Stop smoking

Cigarettes are one of the most taxed items you can buy. The national average with state and federal taxes is $2.21 cents per pack. If you stop smoking, you stop giving money away that will be blown on studying cow flatulence, or the mating habits of the Northern snail darter. If you aren't ready to kick the nicotine habit just yet, consider switching to smoking a pipe or buying loose tobacco and rolling your own. Pipe tobacco and loose tobacco is much less expensive than pre-made cigarettes, so switching to these will mean less money for programs like the $3.4 million Turtle Tunnel.

7. Brew your own beer and wine

Like cigarettes, beer and wine are easy tax target for tax takers. Brewing beer and wine is a fun hobby that also lets you deprive politicians of your hard-earned money. The highest taxes are reserved for liquor. From 50-80% of the cost of a bottle of hooch is tax. Unfortunately, while brewing your own beer and wine for private consumption is perfectly legal, it is illegal to distill your own spirits.

8. Go to garage sales

In most communities, people who hold the occasional garage sale are not required to collect sales tax. While more time consuming that popping in to your local Walmart, garage sales give you the opportunity to legally avoid paying sales tax and find unique, one-of-a-kind items. Along with listings in your local paper, Craigslist.com is a great source for garage sale listings. Since they allow posting for free and picture uploads, you can often get a more detailed list of items available at any particular sale. Veteran garage salers plan a route of 4 or 5 sales they want to hit and shop early for the best selection.

9. Shop for lower sales tax rates

A short drive can make quite a difference in the final price you pay for an item. If you are near a state or county border, check to see what the sales tax rates are in the next taxing district. In the Security/Widefield area South of Colorado Springs, CO, shopping at Walmart means you pay 6.9% sales tax between federal, state and City of Fountain Sales tax. Shopping at Ross less than 2 minutes away you pay only 3.9% since it is located in unincorporated El Paso County. In some areas, it pays to cross state lines. While the state of Washington charges a 6.5% sales tax, you pay zero in Oregon.

10. Make less money

The more money you make in salary, the more the government wants to take away. Working overtime usually results in very little extra take home pay for you but a big bonus for the government. If you are sick and tired of being sucked dry by government vampires, you may want to take a serious look at your income and lifestyle. Are you sacrificing valuable time with your children in order to make more money and buy more "stuff"? If you are married, can you and your spouse get by on one income instead of two? By simplifying your life, not only do you give the tax monster the brush off, you may reduce your stress level, make more time for your family, and gain peace of mind.

Parents.com has a nifty "Stay at Home Calculator" that lets you figure out if having one of the spouses leave the work force is feasible. Often times the person bringing in the second income finds out that their $20/hour job is really only netting them $1.75/hour after deducting day care costs, commuting expenses, business meals, dry cleaning bills, taxes, etc...

11. Move!

Some towns and states have moved from the category of excessive taxers to downright business and worker hostile. MSN money lists the best and worst states for taxes here.

According to MSN, "The state in which residents pay the most in combined state, local and federal taxes, per capita, is Connecticut (38.3%), followed by New York (37.1%), New Jersey (35.6%) and Nevada (35.2%). Oklahoma residents pay the least (27.8%), followed by those in Alabama (28.0%) and Alaska (28.1%)."

Any state or town that thinks you are their own personal cash cow doesn't deserve to have you. Take yourself and your family to an area of the country that appreciates your hard work, values your individual freedoms, and realizes that while government is necessary, it doesn't have to be oppressive or intrusive.

Then What?

It would be hard to see an immediate effect of people actively engaging in a tax protest of this sort, but the economic slow down we have seen in the past 3 years does give us some clues. Many cities and states are reporting reduced income due to lower sales tax collections. They have cut budgets while upping traffic enforcement in an effort to generate more revenue. State governments are also conducting random sales tax inspections at business locations.

In New York City , it was announced that Mayor Bloomberg is considering a 15% personal income tax hike on New York City residents. Also under consideration are cutting 3,000 jobs, canceling the January Police Academy class, cutting school budgets, rescinding previously passed tax cuts, increasing fees and fines, all in an effort to address a 4 billion (Yes, BILLION...with a B) budget shortfall over the next 2 years.

According to the Daily News, "The proposed increase in personal income tax would hit the middle class, costing those who earn $50,000 to $90,000 about $116 to $356 more next year, according to City Hall's estimates.

Bloomberg's latest fiscal blueprint is the harshest since he coped with a post-9/11 budget fiasco, causing him to hike property taxes 18.5% and temporarily raise income and sales tax."

Now, higher taxes and more fees hardly sounds like a good result to a personal tax protest, but this is only a short term result. What it is really doing is forcing politicians to show their true colors. Mayor Bloomberg, who was once a Democrat, was elected to office as a Republican after switching parties in 2001. Republicans are SUPPOSED to be the party of smaller government and lower taxes. Even with a small reduction in staff, the fact that taxes on INCOME are even on the agenda shows you where he really stands.

Instead of worrying about your carbon footprint, start worrying about your tax footprint. Denying the government vampires a steady supply of taxpayer blood reduces the likelihood vampires will be running for office in the future. Like dealing with an alcoholic, you can't get them to stop drinking, but you are under no obligation to continue buying them booze.



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In defense of the sun


The sun has taken a beating in the last century or so. Once worshiped as a deity by many cultures, most memorably by the Egyptians, it has now been relegated to the same status as cigarettes, arm pit hair and nuclear waste. Women and children in particular slather sun block over every exposed piece of skin before even thinking about going outside, and kids are even told to stay inside when it is too sunny. But is this attitude justified, or even healthy for that matter?

By blocking out the sun, we are denying ourselves much needed vitamin D. Our skin creates vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet light for 10-15 minutes a couple of times a week. Sounds simple enough, but when you intentionally cover every inch of skin with sun screen or work indoors all day, it is easy to short change yourself of this vital dietary component with disastrous results.

"Recent studies showed that, following the successful "Slip-Slop-Slap" health campaign encouraging Australians to cover up when exposed to sunlight to prevent skin cancer, an increased number of Australians and New Zealanders became vitamin D deficient.[12] Ironically, there are indications that vitamin D deficiency may lead to skin cancer.[23]" (more)

"Earlier studies have linked vitamin D deficiency with an increased risk for several cancers. Now comes word that it may also be a major cause of unexplained muscle and bone pain.

In a study involving 150 children and adults with unexplained muscle and bone pain, almost all were found to be vitamin D deficient; many were severely deficient with extremely low levels of vitamin D in their bodies." (more)

"Insufficient intake of vitamin D may lead to decreased physical strength, increased muscle weakness and increased risk of disability in older women and men, according to a new study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences." (more)

"Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, infectious diseases and heart disease. Donald L. Trump, M.D., and CEO of Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, says, "Vitamin D appears to have effects that are expressed in a number of tissues, nerves, muscles, the immune system, the clotting system. Many areas of health may be impaired if vitamin D deficiency exists."" (more)

It appears that hiding from the sun is not making us healthier. But I know what you are thinking..."What about my skin?" We've been told for years that sun exposure will cause wrinkles, age spots, dry rough skin, and possibly cancer. But is that damage the sun's fault? The answer my lie in a little experiment I did over 4 years ago involving another vitamin...vitamin C.

On a skin care forum, vitamin C's effectiveness as a skin care treatment was discussed. Vitamin C is the basis for several VERY expensive skin care lotions and serums, and news stories at the time touted Vitamin C's virtues. So I did my own experiment where I applied a vitamin C mix to one side of my face only. After 2 weeks, there was a slight but noticeable difference in my skin on the treated side. I did manage to get rid of some fine lines and make deeper wrinkles a bit shallower. The Vitamin C was helping repair damage to my skin that, according to conventional wisdom, was caused by all those sun burns and the sun exposure I received as a wild, sun-loving, half-naked child. 

So what does this have to do with vitamin D you ask? Well, it ties in with scientific data about carbohydrates and wrinkles. Carbohydrates destroy your skin's collagen, leaving your face saggy and wrinkled. While the sun is usually blamed for this, I am thinking it is a combination of the carbohydrate effect on collagen and one other side effect of carbohydrate ingestion...an increased need for vitamin C.

"The vitamin C molecule is similar in configuration to glucose and other sugars in the body....glucose and vitamin C compete...like strangers trying to flag down the same taxicab simultaneously. Because glucose is greatly favored in the contest, the uptake of vitamin C by cells is "globally inhibited" when blood sugar levels are elevated." - Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes (page 325).

As far as I can tell, what this all means is that your body is made to spend time in the sun. It uses sunshine to create vitamin D. It also uses vitamin C to take care of any problems you might have if you get some extra sunlight. However, by changing our diets to rely primarily on carbohydrates, we have destroyed the body's ability to protect against sun damage, while at the same time creating an environment that promotes the growth of cancer cells. The sun may merely be a convenient scape goat in the skin cancer arena, much like saturated fat is unjustifiably blamed for heart disease.

It may take some time for hard facts on this subject to come to light. Considering the unwillingness of authorities to believe carbs might be bad for you, I wont be holding my breath waiting for the mainstream to accept sun exposure as a good thing. I, however, think I do need to get some more sun. Not only because I have the complexion of a cadaver, but because I would like to keep my health well in to old age. So if you want to talk to me further about this topic, stop by my place. I'll be in the back yard sunbathing naked (just be careful of the glare).