Hot Flushes, Draincocks and Sacrificial Rods

Tank Water Heater diagram

There are few things I find more refreshing than a hot shower. Because I set the shower water temp cooler in the summer I didn't notice that the hot water wasn't quite as hot anymore. With crisp fall temperatures suddenly the warmish shower was obvious. I took advantage of a warm, clear day (after everyone had their bath or shower) to flush the sediment out of the water heater and return it to full heat.

If you've never flushed a water heater, don't worry, this is actually a simple DIY task. Here are the basics of flushing a tank-style water heater:

From Grey Water to Green Plants

Grey Water Drain Pipe with Cleanout

Have you heard of La Niña? Despite the name, La Niña isn't a person 'she's' a thing - specifically a weather pattern. The important thing to know about La Niña is she tends to bring dry winters to the Southwestern US and that means drought. In my efforts to use water more efficiently I've added a grey-water system from our washing machine to irrigate a planting bed.

Secret Agent Man

Santa Fe County Extension Agent touring Bob's garden

Somewhere in your county, a secret agent stands at the ready. He (or she) is the local County Extension Agent, ready to answer your home garden and landscape questions. County Extension Agents aren't supposed to be a secret but they are lower profile than the 'Double-O' kind of agent. I just met the local Extension Agent and learned quite a lot about the art of growing plants and animals in my county.

Plant a Garden, Harvest a Community

Plant in Hands sketch

What: Santa Fe Community Garden Tour
When: Saturday, September 17, 2011 from 1-4pm
Where: 7 Gardens across Santa Fe, NM
Price: FREE!

Why I Garden #20

Narrow-Winged Damselfly

Not all the color in our garden is from flowers and leaves. We have an ever-changing circus of insects crawling and flying through our yard. One colorful visitor that I have been watching for several weeks is a Narrow-winged Damselfly with a flashy blue thorax and tail. I'm not sure exactly which species it is, though it looks like an Arroyo Bluet to me.

Tiny House vs. McMansion

I clearly remember wanting a room of my own as a teenager. I settled for a room in the finished basement of our family home. Austin Hay of Santa Rosa, CA has gone well beyond my teenage aspirations and is building his own Tiny House. As Austin tours his 130 sq. foot home built on a double axle trailer he notes that it is less space to clean and will have a small carbon footprint. Austin's Tiny House brings up a question, 'How big a home does a person need?'

LED Vs. Halogen at Sundown

LED (left) & Halogen (right) floodlights

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, 'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes and rising electricity rates.' Mr. Franklin didn't have an electricity bill to pay, but he was definitely a frugal man. In my quest for lower electrical bills and fewer burnt-out bulbs I found a replacement for outdoor halogen flood lights.

Ballet in the Pasture & Building Local Food Systems

Joel Salatin and Hen

Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms and Tom Delehanty of Pollo Real Ranch discuss local food systems at two public events presented by the Carbon Economy Series.

What: Building Local Food Systems - Talk & Panel Discussion with Joel Salatin and Tom Delehanty
When: Friday, August 26, 7-9pm
Where: NM School for the Deaf, James A. Little Theatre, 1060 Cerrillos Rd., Santa Fe, NM
Tickets: $10 at CarbonEconomySeries.com

Embrace the Sweat

Riding in the heat of summer sometimes means 'embracing the sweat'. But, there are ways to reduce your exposure to record-breaking heat. Cycling early or later in the day, stay well hydrated, and slowing your pace will help you keep cooler. Wear well-ventilated, wicking clothes in light colors, and bring a change of clothes when bike commuting. Acclimatizing to heat will also help your comfort and performance as you bike through the summer.

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