DTE Insight v3 Review: A Big Step Back

Like many power companies, our local company rolled out smart meters a few years ago.  These smart meters are in constant communication with the power company.  Benefits for this include real-time monitoring capabilities and the elimination of meter reads.  Drawbacks are, according to some, increased exposure to RF radiation as the communication takes place.  Like it or not, they are here to stay. Our company, DTE Energy, made it really cool. They came up with a device called an Energy Bridge and an app called DTE Insight that allowed real time monitoring of your usage. They recently rolled out DTE Insight v3.  Here’s my review.

Energy Bridge and DTE Insight

The Energy Bridge and the DTE Insight app went hand in hand.  With the app, any electric customer could monitor their usage.  It provided breakdowns by day, week, and month.  You typically had access to your statistics after a day or two.  With the Energy Bridge device, it moved this up to real-time.  This device had a data connection that you plugged into your home router. It paired with your electric meter, and you could view your usage in real time.

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Musings On Smoke Alarm Batteries

The switch to Daylight Savings Time was about a month ago.  This is the traditional time to change smoke alarm batteries. Though I’m a little late, I thought it’d be a change to talk about a few questions that have come to mind.  Yes, I actually think of such things.

And since this is a few weeks past the switch, maybe it’ll remind some stragglers!

Do You Change Your Batteries Twice Per Year?

The traditional advice is that you change your batteries around the time switch.  This would mean changing them twice per year.  I’m curious how many actually do that.  And, given that they changed the dates a few years back, the times are no longer even at all.   Daylight Savings Time lasts almost eight months now.  That’s hardly even.

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Letting Go

Have you ever had something that you held onto that you knew you shouldn’t have?  Eventually the time came for letting go.  For me, the recent example of that was my old artificial Christmas tree.

My First Adult Christmas Thing

I had the tree in question since 1996.  That was the year I graduated from college.  So, that holiday season, I bought myself my very first tree.  It was nothing special.  It was probably around 7′ tall and fit nicely in our small apartment.

This was in the days before pre-lit trees.  The tree was in layers.  Each layer had about 7 or 8 branches that you stuck into the pole.  They were all color coded at the end so you knew which ones went where.

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How Much Would You Replace If You Lost Everything?

Post revision: I wrote this post after seeing images of the horrifying wildfires in California.  This prompted me to think about what would happen in a similar event.  It turns out that someone in the personal finance community was right there.  They were safe but lost everything.  There’s actually a few different posts tied to this topic.  I’m honored to be among them.  See the bottom of the post for the ‘Chain Gang’ on this topic.  

There have been a lot of disasters around the world lately.  Earthquakes.  Hurricanes.  Wild fires.  In each of those tragic situations, many have lost everything.

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I live in Michigan.  Many would never consider this a great destination.  Summers are beautiful but short. Because it’s practically surrounded by water, winters are often gray and slushy.

But one thing we have going for us is that we’re not a big target for any natural disasters.

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Projects Around The House – 2017 Edition

This year has been a pretty busy year generally speaking.  Even though there’s a few months left in the year, we’re just about wrapped up with our project list around the house.  Mostly because our budget is exhausted!  Of course, something unexpected could happen.  But, we’re hoping we can make it through the rest of the way.

Exterior Painting

The house hadn’t been painted in at least ten years.  Maybe as long as eighteen.  How do I know?  Because we moved in ten years ago, and the house is eighteen years old.

image from Morguefile courtesy of jade

Most of the home exterior is brick or siding, but all the trim work is wood.

We had some wood that was definitely rotting around some windows and corners.  Paint was flaking.  It was in pretty rough shape.

I happened to be talking to a fellow dad in my son’s Cub Scout troop and mentioned our need.  He mentioned that his former neighbor was a house painter.  He said he did great work and was very reasonable.  They’d just used him to paint their house, and he invited me over to take a look.  I went over right away and it looked great.

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Making Our Craigslist Selling List

Have you used Craigslist for buying and selling?  We have used it occasionally, but I think it’s time to consider stepping it up a notch.  As I look around the house, I realize that we have a lot to sell.  It’s time to make our Craigslist selling list.

Early Returns

We have a garage full of kids riding toys that we have no use for.  Tricycles, smaller bikes, and scooters for young tots were great.  But they’re not needed anymore as our kids are way too big.

I’m of the opinion that toys are meant to be played with and to bring kids joy.  These things aren’t happening with toys that sit collecting cobwebs.

There were eleven such items in the garage.  I noted their condition.  I went online to look at what the items would cost new.  In most cases, I settled on a price around half of what it would be new.  And, I listed ten of them.

Within a week and a half, four of the items sold.  We sold a boys bike, a balance bike, a tricycle, and a Cozy Coupe.  Nobody haggled on the price, so I think the method I used was fair.

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Bagged Mulch Or Bulk: Which Worked Better?

I add new mulch about every two years to the beds around our house.  Up until now, I’ve always used bagged mulch.  We had an SUV so it was easy enough to load up the back with as many bags as we could.  This was my first time having a pickup truck, so we decided to try getting bulk mulch.  This helped us evaluate whether bagged mulch or bulk was better for us.

We normally purchase bagged mulch from Lowes or Home Depot.  We found a place that sells mulch by the yard just a mile away from our home.  Basically, they just dump as much as you need (by the half-yard) into your truck.

Bagged Mulch Or Bulk: The Factors

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7 Things To Do To Your Gas Grill

Ah, summer.  It’s here or right around the corner.  If you’re like me, then pulling out the grill is an integral part of the summer season.  I’ve always been someone who prefers a gas grill.  If you fall into the same category, here are some tips to make sure you’re ready for grilling season.

Check  Your Hose And Connections

The hose that carries the gas to the grill needs to be checked every year.  The hoses can crack, the fittings could come loose or crack themselves.  It’s important to make sure that you don’t have a leak.  Inspect the hoses for cracks.  To test the connections, use soapy water.  Put the soapy water over the connections and turn on the gas.  If any bubbles form, you have a leak.  If this happens, you need to replace your supply lines.

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Sump Pump Floats And Floor Drains, Oh My

Yesterday, I got one of those phone calls from my wife that I never want.  “There’s water in the basement.”  My wife heard one of our water alarms going off and found a puddle of water in the middle of the basement.  She couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.  I only work a few minutes from home, so I was able to get there pretty quick.  I didn’t even have to go to where the puddle was.  As soon as I went down into the basement, I knew what the issue was.  The sump pump wasn’t pumping.

Why You Don’t Skip Routine Maintenance

Remember how I said I knew right away what the problem was?  I knew that it was the sump pump because when I went downstairs, I saw that water was seeping up through the cracks in the floor, as well as around the perimeter.  And this had happened once before, many years ago.  That time, I went downstairs to feed our cats, and saw the same thing.  And it was the same problem.  The sump pump wasn’t working.

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March 2017 Updates

It’s March!  Did you know that even though Spring doesn’t officially start until later this month, that from a meteorological standpoint, spring has started?  That’s right, from a meteorological perspective, the seasons start on the 1st of the month of the calendar change.  I guess they know something we don’t!  I hope that things are going well.  Here are some March 2017 updates and goals.

Fitness

I recently wrote about some renewed focus on my fitness.  So far this is going well!

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