The LED Christmas Light Issue

We do some lights on the outside of our house, in the bushes and around a big tree in the front yard.  We have been interested in converting to LED lights, and I decided to look and see if this could be the year.

I am a little concerned with everything that I found.

While we ended up getting lights, there still seems to be a lot of barriers to get lights into peoples hands to realize the energy savings that everybody talks about.

Here are some issues I see with LED lights:

  • Availability – At almost every store I went to, I saw shelf after shelf of ‘regular’ lights, but very little space dedicated to LED lights.  I saw signs at a few stores promoting the virtues of LED lights and how they could lead to 80% savings over traditional lights.  Yet, in most cases, regular lines of LED bulbs were sold out.  This is the third year I’ve gone on a quest for LED bulbs and I was not impressed with their availability at all.
  • Price – When there were LED lines available, they were very expensive.  When stores do offer them at discounts, you can go right back to the availability discussion because they’re usually gone the first day.  So, your choice becomes to look for the lines at $7, which are always gone, or pay $19 for the same line.  I think it would take a lot longer to make that extra $12 back in energy savings, so people just forget it.
  • Look – This is the first year I’ve seen white lights that aren’t those awful blue shade.  It looks like technology is finally getting there to offer traditional white lights that can save money.  Of course, their limited availability meant that they were priced even higher than regular lines.  I think it will be another two or three years before you actually see these.

Read moreThe LED Christmas Light Issue

2011 Health Care Costs Looks Bad

They sent out some preliminary information about our health care options for 2011 and I have to say, they look worse than I had even imagined.

Last week, I wrote about how I was getting nervous about our options.

From the looks of things, they are altogether canceling the option that we had, which was a PPO with no deductible as long as we stayed in network.

The PPO option that they do have is much more expensive, the coverage is reduced, co-pays are higher, and there is a $500 per person deductible.

They also have an HMO type option, but that is actually the most expensive option and doesn’t really provide all that much more coverage.  It’s obvious they don’t want people to use that.

Read more2011 Health Care Costs Looks Bad

OK, Arm & Hammer, What’s The Deal?

When someone says ‘Arm & Hammer’, what’s the first thing that you think of.

Chances are it’s baking soda.  I know that baking soda has many different purposes, but for me, the orange box that goes into your fridge or freezer to take away the smells is what I think of each and every time.

We buy the small boxes designed to go into the freezer and fridge.  In the ‘old days’ (think 1990’s), you would simply buy a small box, and rip the top off and set it in the fridge.  That didn’t give a lot of exposure to the baking soda to actually absorb odors, and a tipped over box equaled a big mess.  So, I’m sure people loved it when they came out with the boxes where you ripped off the cardboard off the front and back to reveal a screen that kept the baking soda in, yet allowed a lot of it to be exposed to catch odors.

Awesome, right?  And, like most everybody else, we changed them somewhat unfaithfully every 90 days.  Meaning that more often than not, it was probably four or five month between changes.  The good folks at Arm & Hammer even had a spot where you could write the ‘next due’ change date as you were putting it in, just in case you were (like me) forgetful.

Read moreOK, Arm & Hammer, What’s The Deal?

Is It Too Early For Christmas Decorations?

Now that Halloween is over, it will be full force in terms of stores selling their Christmas decorations.  Many other bloggers have been reporting seeing them even earlier, as early as September and early October.

Personally, I don’t have too much of a problem with seeing the decorations out early.

Why?

mb-201011villageMost stores that sell Christmas decorations use the same space that they sell summer items such as gardening, fertilizer, etc.  Those spaces typically involve a lot of floor space, as do Christmas.  Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations typically wouldn’t involve that much space, so rather than have to place filler (as well as tear down displays after a short time anyways, why not start putting stuff up early?).

I also don’t mind it because I’ll often take a look through the displays if I’m in a store for ideas on things that I might want to buy or need for decorating.

Read moreIs It Too Early For Christmas Decorations?

Getting Nervous About Our Health Care

Right around now is when we typically get information about our benefits for open enrollment on our health care plan.

I’m getting a little nervous for two reasons:

  • We haven’t heard anything yet
  • The ‘promise of same’ could come to an end
  • Others working for different companies have reported changes due to ‘Obabmacare’

Let me explain:

The first point is pretty obvious.  The longer you wait on something where the costs and coverage are unknown and can be so variable, the more you start thinking that ‘No News Is Definitely NOT Good News’.

The second point has to do with our company.  Our unit was spun off into a separate company in 2008, at which point we were told that the benefits would remain largely transparent for the foreseeable future.  In 2009, they actually hadn’t finished the spin-off so we still got the exact same plan and beneifts.  In 2010 they lived up to the promise and kept the benefit levels the same (though they did switch providers).  Now that they’re over two years out from that, there is always the chance that the benefits get whacked changed.

Read moreGetting Nervous About Our Health Care