Saturday, April 23, 2011

Our Students Can Defuse The Consumption Bomb by Walt Barrett

  I received a very well written letter the other day from a 18 year old high school senior who writes a heck of a lot better than I do, and that is for sure. I mean that letter really rocked and it cheered me up.  He actually thanked me for inspiring him about Green business and I felt cheered up after suffering four strokes already this year.  That will sure get you down. 
We are always complaining about the ability of  our younger generation to read, and write properly and God knows I make enough mistakes myself, but at least I try, lol.  Well anyway, I was really impressed by what the young man had to say concerning green businesses, and how he intended to explore the possibilities of incorporating green business ideas into his dad's repair shop to expand it.  He had a lot of good ideas, and I believe he will succeed.  So I was sitting here in my think tank this morning thinking about the massive consumption bomb that the world has been building for the last 5000 years, and the rate of growth is accelerating faster than a colony of earthworms, that is a geometric progression.  Well  it finally hit me that we can solve the problem the same way we are solving the smoking problem, and that is through our schools and more advertising.  Now we have the Internet  and it seems that young people spend much time there.  So we can start to introduce some little anti consumption ads on our web pages and blogs at no cost.  I'm working on a new blog called  (Green Living + Green Business = Green Pockets) That is the title of another blog I write. That title is going to be my national slogan for my green living campaign.  If we can persuade our students to consume less we will be doing them several large favors because living green does put more money in your pockets, and like I always say in my sales pitches, "Who doesn't want to save money?"  Prices are going higher and higher mostly because the high cost of fuel affects everything.  We should be making a point of this with our massive student population.  How about what green living does for you health?  Living longer and feeling better is an idea that captures the attention of most people.  "Live green, feel better, live longer"  I got a million of them folks! 
   A few examples of saving money.  Buying water is about $365.00 a year for one bottle a day, smoking $2500.00 a year, drinking beer $1200.00 a year, buying lunches instead of packing them $1000.00 a year up, wasting gasoline by wasting trips, easily $5.00 a day, driving a gas hog $20.00 a day or more.  These are just a few off hand items that I see every day.  Then, on top of that, if we can persuade them to recycle everything in sight that will be another huge savings.  Just think what a school system could do with the aluminum can money alone!  If I had my way there would never be a general trash pickup.  Everything would be recycle, and we would not ever send garbage, or leaves to a land fill.  We would send them to a loam factory/earthworm farm and grow the fresh food right there too. We compost everything.  We also have to cut down on the distances we ship products.  We should also be using more rail transportation costs.  Let the trucks haul from the rail yards to the local businesses etc. 
   So my point is that if we campaign more to our young people about this we are bound to make some progress with this massive consumption problem by attrition if nothing else. There are many young people who are already thinking about these problems and we should be encouraging them because everyone needs  encouraging.  We need to teach them to take a simple but scientific approach to this monster of a problem.  The students who listen will be the millionaires of the future 
Personally I have decided to do little print campaigns on all my web sites and blogs. I am depending on the students and I believe the students will defuse the population bomb.  What is your Idea? 
This is the start. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Low Cost Solar Lighting System For Micro Homes

   Let's say that you have found that great piece of land with a super location, and the view that goes on forever.  Of course, it is located way out in the boonies, and there isn't any electrical power.  Should you be worried about that?  I would say no, under certain conditions.  I have designed many solar electric power systems in the past forty years, and it only gets expensive if you want to run heavy stuff like washers, dryers, large refrigerators, air conditioners, and other large energy sucking appliances.  By the way, the same engineering works with wind and hydro power, except wind and hydro are less money for a cost per installed watt figure.
   I would like to describe a small lighting system that I researched out the building costs for only this morning. It is a DIY system with no labor included, and should be doable in one full day.  Anyone can assemble and install a system like this with simple hand tools.  Let's assume that you have already wired your micro home for lighting.  The basic power system parts needed are listed below.
1. A Solar electric module at least 50 watts output to charge 12 volt DC Solar Batteries.    Approximately $200.00 on sale.  I saw it this morning on the Internet.  I have no connection with that company.
2. A solar charging regulator.  $30.00  Harbor Freight
3. A Lead Acid 12 volt deep cycle marine type battery as low as $42.00 at Wal Mart
4. A 750 Watt modified sine wave inverter to make 110 volts house current from the 12 volts DC provided by the solar system.  $40.00 Harbor Freight
And be careful as this voltage can kill you just like the current in your home.
5. Light bulbs.  You have two choices that really matter.
   A.  Compact fluorescent bulbs drawing 27 watts and equaling the lighting power, or lumen's of a 100 watt bulb.  You can check the lumen's on the packaging, available in six packs at about $3.50 a bulb.  These are not popular with everyone because of the light color and the mercury content of the bulbs.
   B.  Light emitting diode bulbs that draw only 2.8 watts and equal 40 watts of light.  These bulbs cost about $11.00 each but last 50,000 hours.  The problem is that the light is not great for reading. They get the job done and that's about it.  They do save a lot of watts.
   C.  I have to mention that yes, you could use a regular incandescent 60 or 100 watt bulb but it would discharge your battery pack very rapidly.
   I think you can do the system under $350.00 for lighting and minor charging jobs.
D.  There is one more trick to help you save money.  There is an inexpensive wiring device (J C Whitney) for your car or truck.  It allows you to charge a spare battery while you are driving your vehicle. That battery will cost another $42.00 but is a super backup power source, and you can use your vehicle to charge your solar system on cloudy days if necessary. You can add more solar modules and a larger amperage voltage regulator, and more storage batteries as your budget grows.  
   Now, there is some simple math to remember.  I could make it a lot more complicated but I'm not going to do that.  I'll explain it this way.  If the sun pumps 400 watts a day into your solar storage battery you can only use about 90% of that or (360 watts) a day to light your lights.  So, the lower the wattage on your light bulbs, the longer it will take to run your solar battery down.  If you want to charge a cell phone, or run small radio or TV. There is a watts rating per hour on every appliance label.  For example, if a phone charger puts out 5 volts and 1 amp the formula is 5 volts x 1 Amp = 5 watts, and that 5 watts would be the draw per hour in watts.  You can always look up the basic ohms law on the Internet.
Off grid power systems are not rocket science, and most of them are expanded versions of the one described above.  I have produced a short film below on the subject.
   The system in the video below is a direct current system using a 12 volt light emitting diode bulb.  That means that no inverter to make ac voltage is required. So you can save the $40.00 cost of the small inverter, but without the AC inverter you have no safe way to charge cell phones etc.  If you don't understand, please don't mess with it.  Check with a pro.


Monday, April 18, 2011

A Plan For the Micro Home - Micro Apartment Industry and The Struggling Cities by Walt Barrett

Dear Mr. Mayor,   
   This is a very flexible framework of an idea to help the cities and the citizens. There is a growing movement in the world today towards building and living in smaller homes which are often referred to as micro homes, or micro apartments.  The idea being that smaller homes are less expensive to build, to heat, and to cool.  Smaller homes also require less space which is an ideal situation for any crowded city with a housing problem.  Micro homes are very green in design and take a lot less material and labor which keeps the prices down and enables people who may never have had the opportunity to purchase their own home, or to rent a decent home to do so.  
Now if you take into consideration that most cities need tax revenue, and that we have such a high rate of unemployment, I think that my suggestion has merit and everyone concerned should give it careful thought.
   Basically I am suggesting that the cities and towns that are experiencing revenue and housing problems amend their zoning laws and building codes just enough to allow the judicious building of these micro homes and micro apartments.  For example if there is a home located on a decent size lot, and the home owner wishes to invest in a rental unit to be placed in the rear of the building, and if there is room for a proper parking space etc. then he, or she should be allowed to file for a permit.  Let's take a large three family dwelling that needs rehabbing for example. The investor who purchases it should be able to either gut it, or tear it down, and turn the property into perhaps as many as twelve micro apartments.  This part of my plan is not rocket science and should be doable with some minor zoning changes.
   Now, the second part of my plan is that through building an experimental model, our company has realized that these smaller homes (128 sq ft to 800 sq ft)  are highly mass producible and simple to build either in kit form or in certain sizes fully assembled and delivered to the site.  It is also interesting to note that many people are  powering these homes  either fully, or partially off the power grid with solar and small wind power. We also find this inexpensive if you stick mostly to lighting systems and hot water. Being one hundred percent off the power grid is still pricey, but partial systems still save money, and there may be tax credits available. Here is where we create the jobs. I suggest that in a city like Providence RI for example, where there appear to be many abandoned factories and other buildings, that they take one of those buildings in a partnership with private industry and set up an assembly plant to produce these homes and prefabbed apartment walls sections etc.  A precondition of such an agreement could be that the workers would be hired and trained only if they were residents of the city of Providence only if it is legal.  A program like this would add additional tax revenue to the city, and it would also provide some decent jobs.  Also all of the building materials would be purchased locally as part of the agreement.  The cost of the homes should be limited to approximately one hundred dollars a square foot or adjusted as necessary to local conditions. Another idea is to have local businesses that would benefit to the program could contribute in some way to the program either financially or by providing free training in various skills.  My own personal philosophy in business is that there does not always have to be a huge profit in every business deal. There are times when we all have to give something back.  I pray that idea has not died in this new day and age.  When I was a young man everyone pitched in and pulled together to solve the problems in the cities and towns.  We can still fix things if we all pull together.  I can tell you this.  If we don't fix things soon, we are going down.  This is a serious problem.
 This is the spine of my idea, and basically it is pretty simple idea and can be tested on a small scale.  I'm sure that there are some rough edges that need to be trimmed, but like I said, "It isn't rocket science", and sooner, or later is is going to have to be done anyway.  Why not take the lead in the race to the future of our cities.
Our Governor has recently publicly asked Rhode Island business people for their suggestions to help make up for the huge deficit in our budget.  This is one of my suggestions which I think is more for a city project like Providence than for the State of RI.  I believe it needs to be run mostly by the private sector with the cities role being to strictly enforce the building codes,  rules, and regulations, and benefit from the fees, permits, and taxes. We realize our cities need money to operate.
Walt Barrett President
A to Z Global Marketing Inc.

Note:  Permission to reprint is granted.  Please give credit to this blog site.   © 2011 Walt Barrett

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why A Smaller Home by Walt Barrett

   Before you build your dream home and especially if you plan to retire in it, or resell it in your old age and retire on the profits, you better think the situation over carefully.  Things don't always work out the way you plan.  With property taxes going up constantly you may not be able to hang onto a large property for very long.
   Two days ago in a southern New England city the SPCA went to the home of an elderly woman and took her dog away so they could put it down. Now that is a sad story.  It seems a neighbor noticed the dog was getting thin and it's nails needed cutting, and the other signs of neglect were evident.  I'll bet the old woman felt terrible and why wouldn't she.  It makes me so sad just to tell the story.   According to the press,  She could no longer afford to feed her dear old friend. There was a clip on the evening news, and he was a sad looking old timer, but I think he many have had a few years left with a proper visit to a Vet. They didn't show the woman, thank God, for her self respect, but I turned to my wife and said "If she can't afford to feed her dog, I wonder what she looks like", and I was not being sarcastic either.
 Now the city that the old woman  lives in is is dire financial straights.  They are currently discussing a 4% tax increase, and there has been hell to pay at city hall.  The point I want to make here is that so many cities and towns in America have spent themselves into oblivion that they are going broke one after another and it's too late to save them.  Now here is what is going to happen next.  That old lady is not going to be able pay her outrageous property taxes very soon now, and the city is going to auction off her house for the taxes, and probably to an insider who will profit from it immensely.  That will be her reward for working hard all her life and being a "good American". Isn't that wonderful, and what a country.  America is being taken down from the inside out by its own politicians.  The elderly are being forced out of their homes because they cannot pay their ridiculously high property taxes!  Now take a look at your own life and make sure there is not a scenario like this in your future.  Remember, government is really a business, and do you know what happens to businesses that spend more money than they can ever take in - they go down!  Are we all also going  to just grow old and lose our dignity and self respect to the tax collector?  Do we really have a choice, and did you vote last time?  Do you really think one party is better than another? And most important, I'm sure you have a retirement home in Naples, Florida, right?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Some Thoughts About The Economy And Micro Homes by Walt Barrett

   I haven't had a chance to write very much this year.  With this terrible economy we have had for the past couple of years we have had to fight hard for every nickel.  Then to add insult to injury I have had four minor strokes this year, if you can ever call a stroke minor.  So My son John, who has been basically running things for a number of years now anyway, is carrying on with the businesses, and I am really going to take life easy.  However, writing, film making, and inventing stuff is still fun for me so I will continue to do that.
   It's no secret that I grew up very poor, and worked in the mills. That fact should explain my never ending concern for the poor and disadvantaged.  I want to talk a bit about the business of micro homes, and micro apartments because the subject really ties into poverty.   I knew when I saw the micro home trend coming back over the past few years that the micro home revival was going to be a bumpy road to travel for many reasons.  It's mostly the laws in each city and town that are jamming up the works.  Smaller homes  mean smaller tax evaluations, and most cities and towns never met a dollar they didn't want to wrap their arms around.  I sometimes wonder if these politicians ever even realize that they are actually white collar criminals  with the deals they are pulling in their daily activities wasting our tax money.  Because of all this corruption we are going to continue to have major economic problems in our cities and towns, and things are going to worsen to the point where these cities and towns start folding one after another.  I have predicted this before in my writings over the years.  We are starting to see it now.  You cannot spend more money than you take in, and you cannot tax the people to death trying to pay for your excesses.  Over spending has been the downfall of every empire in recorded history.  Eventually the taxpayers will rise up and solve the problem one way or the other, and their solutions have not always been kind in other countries, take France for an example, and I would hate to see that.  So where do you come into all this?  Well you just don't want to be living in one of those cities, or towns when the food, the fuel, and the Beer runs out, and the rioting starts. It's going to be be worse than amateur night in Rwanda!   When, not if this happens is the time to have a fall back position.  For instance, A remote micro home that is self sustaining, far from the city, the rioters and the looters is not too shabby of an idea.  If you think I'm being extreme just go back and check history in similar cases.  You can start with the middle east recently.  Anyway, all I'm saying is that hard times are coming, and living is going to become even more expensive and you must start taking even more defensive measures.  Smaller homes are less expensive to build, to heat, and to pay taxes on.  What's wrong with thinking about that?  You have to protect yourself and your family these days because the politicians are behaving like they are determined to trash the lower and middle class Americans, and nobody votes anymore so they are getting away with it.  We have money to fight wars and give away to everyone except war veterans and needy Americans.  Don't kid yourself, both parties have given away the store!  I already know that at age 78 I have already seen the best years of America, and they are far behind me. What a country we used to be.  It's all downhill from here and the public sits idly by and doesn't even pay attention, how sad is that.