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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cut Your Summer Utilities, Gov't Whacks Consumers-Again

Bruce’s Poor Man Bulletin
Your choice for usable Urban Survival Resources

In This Issue:

· US State Dept kicks consumer ass
· Cut your summer utility bills
· 30 States initiate their rights against Fed using Nullification
· Things you didn’t know you could recycle
· New videos on the PM site
· Reader tips

“Just because it is the law doesn’t mean it’s just.”
--Father Berrigan, Vietnam War Protestor

Things you didn’t know you could recycle…

Several issues ago I mentioned I signed on to be an Eco Consultant for Green Irene and I have learned a lot from their extensive training and online library of information and videos. Green Irene has a wonderful fundraising program for schools, nonprofits, and other organizations…no cost and you set the time frame and they give your group its own website for ordering. For more information, go to: http://GreenIrene.Com/PoorMan

Last week, the Poor Man launched a local ewaste recycling drop-off center to assist battered women. We take in cell phones, printer cartridges, digital cameras and laptops. You might consider doing the same in your community. Here are some ways and resources to recycle you might not have known about.

Ink/Toner Cartridges:

Oil: Hotlines for every state can be found at

Appliances Either use the Goodwill group or visit

Athletic Shoes Nike offers a program, which turns shoes into playgrounds.

Clothing You can always donate them to local charities but consider many animal shelters use them as bedding.

Batteries Contact

You can always visit our
site for more useful tips.

For more green living tips, visit, or

Finally, although I’ve not made any progress on producing videos of my own (I need a partner…any takers) I have added a nice variety of videos to the site featuring how to get stuff free, coping with emergencies, the end of civilization and a whole bunch more…check it out. As soon as I figure how to add widget code, I have some good ones ready to go!

You’ll find several new articles posted at our site including one on freshwater fishing, keeping chickens in the city and how to make natural cleaners for the home – save money and your health…

Silence is golden…duct tape is silver

This Week’s Useful Resources
Lots of DIY online videos can be found at:

Six Reasons Why the Word ‘Natural” is Meaningless Food manufacturers enjoy circumventing food laws, read more at:

If you’re still using a garbage disposal instead of composting, clean the disposal by grinding up leftover lemons or coffee grounds (then use the coffee can to hold kitchen composting materials to be transferred later to your outdoor composting bin.

Speaking of compost…make your own garden soil vs. buying them at the garden center…two parts compost from shredded leaves (available free at many city recyling centers) and one part dirt. You can buy torn bags of mulch at many garden centers at a discount too; just remember to bring along a roll of duct tape!
Thanks to Diana for that tip – we’ll be sending a you a free copy of our Poor Man III CD rom!

Volunteer Techies will help you with questions on common computer problems – (why is it my computer challenges are never common)? Go here:

You can trade in electronics like old cell phones & Computers at or and get a charitable donation write-off with cash, or gift cards. We hear Costco, BestBuy and Sears have electronics trade-in programs too.

If we use one of the suggestions or resources you send in, you’ll get one of our Poor Man CDs free! Send to:

How come whenever my ship comes in, it’s leaking”--Dorothy Zbornak


Ways to Cut Your Summer Utility Bills
Fine-Tune Your Equipment

Arrange an HVAC inspection. Anyone can hire a certified technician for an annual check that their home’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system is operating at peak efficiency. Leaking ducts, for example, could reduce energy efficiency by up to 20%, says Ronnie Kweller, a spokeswoman for the Alliance to Save Energy. Inspections usually cost $50 to $100, but that could be offset by the energy savings over time.

Shop for size. Consumers in the market for a new room or window air conditioner should use Energy Star guidelines to determine how powerful a unit they need. A too-powerful unit not only wastes energy, it's also less effective at reducing humidity.

Keep it clean. Clean air filters monthly for central air and individual window or wall units. Dirt and dust hinder air flow, reducing efficiency.

Program the thermostat. Give the air conditioner a break during the work day. Shifting the settings to allow higher daytime temperatures could cut the average household’s electric bill by $180 a year, according to Energy Star.
Seek out incentives on appliances. Investing in a new energy-efficient unit can cut long-term bills -- and be cheaper upfront, too. Through the end of 2010, qualifying central air conditioners are eligible for a federal tax credit of 30% of the cost, including installation, up to a total of $1,500 for all projects. Plenty of states also still have rebates available under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A Maine resident, for example, can get $100 back on a qualifying central air conditioner, while Georgia offers $30 for room units and $99 on central units. Check for other government and utility deals in the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

Hunt Down Heat Sources

Seal up the house. Cooled air can leak through cracks along window and door frames. Invest in some caulk and weather-stripping to plug up these drafts. A home that’s properly insulated and sealed improves energy efficiency by up to 20% year-round, according to the Alliance to Save Energy. (Insulation materials are also eligible for the 30% energy efficiency federal tax credit, up to $1,500 for all improvements combined.)

Avoid chores. The hotter the space, the harder an air conditioner must work to keep things cool. Limit the use of heat-generating appliances such as the oven, dishwasher and clothes dryer during the daytime hours when temperatures are hottest, says Steve Rosenstock, manager of energy solutions for the Edison Electric Institute, an industry group. "That just makes more of a load for your air conditioner,” he says.

Change light bulbs. Swapping incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents can cut a home electric bill, Kweller says. Switching one incandescent for a CFL saves $35 in energy costs over the projected 10-year life of the bulb. Not only do CFLs use less energy than conventional bulbs, but they also generate less heat.

Close the blinds. Rooms get hotter without shades or curtains to block the sunlight, especially with south- and west-facing windows. Put this idea to work more effectively with insulated window treatments.

Use fans. A breeze makes the room feel a few degrees cooler. Just be sure to turn it off when leaving. "Fans cool people, not rooms," Kweller says.

Unplug. Gadgets like a cellphone charger or microwave suck energy -- and generate heat -- as long as they're attached to a power source. Standby power for appliances not in use typically accounts for 5% to 10% of residential electricity use, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Plug those devices into a power strip that can be turned off when not in use.

Assess Utility Suppliers
Check alternate suppliers. Residents of states where the electric industry is deregulated can shop around for their energy provider, says Rosenstock. Depending on the options, some residents could save 5% to 15% a month. Many alternative companies use renewable energy, so they're much less dependent on volatile oil, coal and natural gas prices. Most will also fix billing rates for a year or more -- a bonus if energy prices creep up. The state’s public service commission should keep a list of options. Just be aware that most providers require a commitment of at least a year and charge a hefty fee for ducking out early, Rosenstock says.

Consider time-of-use plans. A growing number of electric companies are offering so-called time-of-use plans, which offer lower rates for energy consumption during off-peak hours (usually from midevening to early morning). The catch is that users often pay more for peak-hours use, so consider the daily schedule before signing up. Arizona-based SRP, for example, regularly charges 10.64 to 12.12 cents per kilowatt hour during July and August, based on the amount used in a billing period. On the time-of-use plan, it charges a flat 21.30 cents for on-peak hours (1 p.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays) and 6.65 cents during the rest of the day, on weekends and holidays.

Fix the bill. Ask the utility company about fixed-bill plans, which charge the same amount every month for a set period, regardless of electricity use. Users pay a premium rate per kilowatt hour to hedge against price increases and seasonal spikes, so make sure to crunch the numbers to confirm the savings, Kweller says. Also, keep in mind that these plans periodically reconcile, which can leave users with a big bill if they've used more than the supplier anticipated. Check with the utility to see if it alerts customers using more power than they anticipated and whether users can pay extra as they go.

Read more: 13 Simple Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill - Spending - Deals -

Breaking news…
States are Refusing to Enforce Fed Laws which violate our Constitution…taming illegal acts of the feds!

Taming the government was Jefferson’s idea. This legal process is a reserve weapon states are beginning to use as a legal process to avoid Obama’s national healthcare program and other acts which violate states rights.
Nullification is a legal theory that a U.S. State has the right to nullify, or invalidate, any federal law which that state has deemed unconstitutional. The theory is based on a view that the sovereign States formed the Union, and as creators of the compact hold final authority regarding the limits of the power of the central government. Under this, the compact theory, the States and not the Federal Bench are the ultimate interpreters of the extent of the national Government's power. A more extreme assertion of state sovereignty than nullification is the related action of secession, by which a state terminates its political affiliation with the Union.

One of the earliest and most famous examples is to be found in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, a protest against the Alien and Sedition Acts. In these resolutions, authors Thomas Jefferson and James Madison argued that the states are the ultimate interpreters of the Constitution and can "interpose" to protect state citizens from the operation of unconstitutional national laws.

While some interests in northern states occasionally considered the possibility of secession after Jefferson's party gained control of the federal government in the years after 1801, for example at the Hartford Convention, the idea of nullification increasingly became associated with the southern states as a means of protecting the institution of slavery. The most famous statement of the theory of nullification, authored by John C. Calhoun, appeared in the South Carolina Exposition and Protest of 1828. Four years later, during the Nullification Crisis, South Carolina undertook to nullify a federal tariff law and a subsequent federal bill authorizing the use of force against the state.

The Nullification Crisis was a sectional crisis during the presidency of Andrew Jackson created by South Carolina's 1832 Ordinance of Nullification. This ordinance declared, by the power of the State itself, that the federal Tariff of 1828 and the federal Tariff of 1832 were unconstitutional and therefore null and void within the sovereign boundaries of South Carolina. The controversial, and highly protective, Tariff of 1828 (also called the "Tariff of Abominations") was enacted into law during the presidency of John Quincy Adams. Opposed in the South and parts of New England, the tariff’s opponents expected that the election of Jackson as President would result in the tariff being significantly reduced.

I also believe nullification (as per Jefferson and Madison's nullification of the Alien and Sedition Acts) is the proper way to fight an over-reaching Federal government. However, anyone supporting the proposed 28th Amendment should get out and promote it, get the backing of their fellow citizens and put pressure on the elected elitists. (

You’ve heard the Poor Man rants about how we the people no longer control the government. The government has become corporatist. Corporations and special interest groups that provide the campaign funds are who control our elected elites. Learn more:

The Supreme Court is not the final
authority in matters of constitutional law.
The People are

Putting The Small Farmer Out Of Business
The Federal government has long been legislating in an effort to eliminate the small farmer, and increasingly local governments are doing so as well.
The government’s efforts—under the guise of making our food safer—have all but put off limits good, healthful foods like whole raw milk and truly organic meats and vegetables grown by local farmers. The Federal government, through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other alphabet soup organizations are constantly banning natural, good-for-you foods and inventing new restrictions that hurt the small farmer for the benefit of Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland and other large farm entities…(too much government is crushing everything productive in our society)!

Another kick in the pants for US Citizens from the government…

Today marks another example of the government showing us how quickly it is willing and able to make changes. Effective today, the United States Department of State is increasing fees for consular services across the board-- things like visas, passports, and notary services.

The state department made this announcement just two weeks ago; the thing that caught my eye and sparked this letter today is their new $450 fee for renunciation of US citizenship.

This is a brand new fee that has never been imposed before. Apparently the number of Americans lining up at embassies around the world to renounce their citizenship is exploding so rapidly that the State Department had to formalize the process and tack on a fee... this, of course, on top of the 30% exit tax.

Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other. – President Ronald Reagan

Reader Tip & Parting thoughts

Cut hot water heating costs by installing a simple on-off switch on the water heater electric circuit allowing us to turn off the heater when we retire at night or during the day when not in use…install a timer if you like and set it for 30-45 minutes before you shower. You can also get more off peak power ideas from

I recently read about a woman who keeps ducks in her backyard and uses a wading pool for them near her garden. Every few days she empties the pool into her garden which, because of the duck doo doo, makes it a natural fertilizer.

Speaking of gardens…we’ve been able to eat the first of our cucumbers and many tomatoes will be ready this week…the corn is past knee high and will make some fine eating and our rain barrels have worked well as we seldom need to use a hose or city water!

Thanks to Tina for sharing the tips…she’ll get a copy of our newest Poor Man Survival III Urban Resources CD in the mail with our compliments. If you have something to share and we use it…you’ll get a copy of one of our Poor Man CDS…just send an email to with ‘tips’ in the subject line!

That’s the roundup for this issue…happy trails till we meet again.

Yours for better living,
Bruce “The Poor Man”

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