Targetwoman Earth Day Celebration

We join the Earth day celebration in a small way – by our efforts to disseminate information about practical conservation and tips on Energy saving. Global warming has become a mantra in the media now. Steps to reduce the production of CO2 (carbon dioxide) that contributes to the global warming by the Green House effect can be attempted by anyone who has an interest in preserving Mother Nature.

We provide below some tips and guidance on Energy Conservation:

1. Air conditioning and Heating: Different people require different temperature settings for comfort. We feel comfortable when our bodies lose heat at the same rate as we produce it. Heat production varies with physical activity and our metabolic rates. At the same time, heat loss or heat gain depends on surface temperatures in the room, air movement and air temperature. What all this means is that your comfort factor depends on a lot of factors – one of which is the temperature. Start by setting your thermostat a couple of degrees low.

Energy Efficiency Rating: The energy efficiency rating (EER) of an air conditioner is its BTU rating over its wattage. For example, if a 10,000-BTU air conditioner consumes 1,200 watts, its EER is 8.3 (10,000 BTU/1,200 watts). Aim for a higher EER. Turn off the unit when no one is present. If you have a Voltage regulator for pre-conditioning the supply, turn that off as well.

Better Thermal Insulation: A false ceiling with better heat insulation efficiency can reduce as much as 20 % power bills. An energy-efficient house has a much higher insulation value. It has the ability to resist heat transfer and fasten the heat loss. Materials that weigh a lot store more heat and have high thermal mass. Use of such materials can reduce heating and cooling energy requirements by nearly 25% as compared with mere brick veneer houses.

Power Factor Correction: All electric motors consume reactive power from the supply. Power factor correction capacitors correct the anomaly in the power supply. Discuss with your electric contractor the size of the power factor correction capacitor and its installation. It could save about 10 % from your utility bills.

2. Replace all incandescent bulbs with CFL (compact Florescent Lamps). CFLs are very energy efficient. A 15 W CFL will provide the same amount of illumination as a 60 W normal bulb. But they can’t be dimmed using conventional dimmers. Clean all lamps and lamp shades periodically. A clean lamp and a clean lamp shade enhances light transmission.

3. Inflate your automobiles tires to the manufacturer recommended pressures. Inadequate pressure in your tires can increase rolling resistance by as much as 20 %. Combine trips and chores so that you save on precious fuel. Remove top carriers when not required. They increase wind resistance. Drive at a sedate speed to improve your mileage.

4. Turn off your computers and monitors when not in use unless you are running a data center. A typical Switch Mode Power Supply (SMPS) of a desk top computer consumes about 400 W of energy most of the time. Use a TFT LCD monitor if you are using the conventional CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitor. A typical 17 inch CRT monitor consumes about 120 W while the same sized LCD monitor takes in about one fourth of the energy. The heat produced by the CRT also heats up the neighborhood adding to the cooling cost.

5. Invest in automation. A PIR (Passive Infra Red) movement sensor based outdoor lighting can help save considerable energy. You can use them in aisles and elsewhere where manual switching on and off of lights is inconvenient. You will find more tips in energy saving in our article.

Spread the word around.

Handywoman Basic Tools 3

We have covered the basic but most essential tools earlier. The list is not exhaustive and a whole lot depends on the type of job you plan to undertake. For most household repairs and the odd job in your car, you can make do with the tools we list here.

Utility Knives: Utility Knife comes in many shapes. Most use replaceable blades. When the tip of the blade loses its sharp edge, break it off with a pliers, observing standard precaution – Keep the knife away from the body and your face. The broken metal can fly off …

Electric Drill : Electric mains operated drills have more torque than their cordless cousins of similar sizes. But cordless drills are versatile and can be used anywhere without tethering to a mains outlet. Drills have amazing varieties of attachments – from buffing to sharpening your knives – you can use your ubiquitous drill.

Keep the batteries always charged when not in use to conserve the battery life. Most cordless drills are powered by Nickel cadmium batteries, which tend to lose their capacity when made to sit under discharged conditions.

Tapes: Keep a stock of electric insulation tape, duct tapes and measuring tapes handy in your tool kit. Remember to encase any temporary electrical connection joints in insulation tape. It is never pleasant to receive electric shocks …

Multimeter: This comes in handy to test for many electrical / electronic works – from testing continuity in circuits to measuring the current or measuring the voltage at the outlet. Again these meters come in many sizes with varying capabilities. A simple digital multimeter (DMM) capable of measuring upto 20 Amp AC/DC current will be adequate for most purposes. They can measure with adequate precision volts up to 900 or higher. They can beep or buzz when the prods are shorted or when there is continuity up to a few Ohms.

Digital Multimeters

There was a time people used analogue meter movements in the Volt Ohm Meter (VOM). These meters use D’Arsonval Meter Movements, which are very sensitive and need careful handling as they use jeweled bearings. And they cost a packet of money. With the advent of digital revolution, digital meters have become insanely cheap to own.

Ensure that you have set the meter to the right function before connecting the prod. When you select the function to read the current and apply the prods directly across the mains supply – you are causing a direct short in the mains supply !

Currents are always measured in series with the equipment and the supply. Voltages are measured across the source. Switch off the mains when you test for continuity.

Find a good toolbox to store your collection of tools. Smear thin grease on the movable joints of tools. But the handle sections must never be greasy or be smeared with oil.

Handywomen – Basic Hand tools 2

In this part we consider more tools which will be useful for any general purpose job around the house or in your garage. But primarily we will devote more attention on some of the basic precautions needed to work with or handle electrical circuits.


  1. Spanners or Wrenches– They come in all sizes and shapes. The most versatile and the most abused spanner is the Adjustable Wrench. As we have said many times, always exercise caution in using them. Apply force only in the direction of the fixed jaw and not in the direction of the movable jaw. A movable joint takes a lot of punishment and eventually the grip loosens. If the nut or bolt slips, you run the risk of injury as well. Alternatively, any undue force applied can wreck the bolt or its head. Another type to work with pipes and pipe fittings comes with serrated jaws is called as Pipe wrench. Look for prime quality drop forged wrenches for long life – both for self and for the tools.

Handywoman with tools

Fixed Wrenches are available in many forms too – Open ended, combination or socket types ( box spanners). Ideally box spanners enable the application of maximum force with minimum damage. Buy a set of spanners – with various sizes.

2 . Line Tester – A small screwdriver which has a built in neon bulb that lights up when the tip comes in contact with a live wire. You must touch the back end of the tester while testing for live wire. That provides the return path to the neon bulb’s electric circuit. This tester is the basic tool to identify the live wire when you are working with mains supply.

Working with mains electricity:

When working with mains supply it is essential to be highly cautious. A normal household supply in the US is 110 Volts while in Europe it is 220 Volts. The higher the voltage the higher is the possibility of passing higher currents. “It is the mills that kills and volts that jolts” goes an old saying about electricity. The mills here represent the milli amperes. Ampere is the unit of current. As low as 8 milliampere can result in fatality when it passes through our body.


In a dry environment, most individuals exhibit skin resistance of around 100 K Ohms. Ohms is the unit of resistance. However, when the skin is in contact with moisture or liquid, the resistance drops to less than a few K Ohms, which will allow dangerous currents to pass through bodies. This is one of the main reasons why restrooms and bathrooms are veritable death traps when you come in contact with the mains supply.


Always turn off the power supply before you undertake any repair. When you are rigging up power to outside the house, use a suitably rated 1:1 isolation transformer for better safety. Normally a household mains supply is configured with a live (Red wire) and a neutral (black wire) between which there exists a 110 Volts potential difference. The neutral connection is referenced to the ground and hence anyone touching a live wire standing on the ground poses the fatal return path to the mains supply. Adding an isolation transformer makes the electrical supply floating without any reference to the ground. Next time when you rig up the outdoor Christmas lightings, add an adequately rated isolation transformer.


Most households these days invest in residual current circuit breaker or residual current device or Ground fault Circuit Interrupter or Earth leakage circuit breaker – which all refer to the device which trips the power supply when there is a residual leakage current from a faulty appliance. These devices trip the power supply within a few milliseconds. Still it is prudent not to depend on them always when you draw power to exposed regions outside the house.

Disclaimer: This series of articles contains general information on home maintenance of household machinery. This is not an exhaustive list of service procedures. A lay user can only attend to general maintenance with limited skills and tools. All electrical and electronic machines operate at lethal voltages and can CAUSE serious damage or even electrocution or shock hazard to self and home. It is positively dangerous to even attempt to repair any electrical machine without the required skills or knowledge. Always refer servicing to qualified technicians or the dealer. For detailed troubleshooting, refer to owner’s manual and service manual if available. The information contained herein is only for general reference and does not carry any warranty implied or otherwise. You use the information provided here at your own risk.

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