Category: Energy

I found a great program today offered through DTE energy, that allows you to round up your bill to the nearest dollar, as a donation.

It is meant to help people that are above the federal poverty level but still have a hard time making ends meet. I think we all know someone that has been in that situation, and maybe that someone is you, a family member, a disabled veteran, or someone that just needs a little extra help.

The program is part of THAW (The Heat and Warmth Fund) that was created by DTE Energy. You have the option to Round Up to the next dollar or simply add an additional amount (up to $10) to your bill. I figured, why not, the most this could cost me in a year is not even $12 dollars.

It is simple to signup, just go to ( you have to be a customer ;-)) and click on the “Products/Programs” tab, then on the left, select “Cents for Energy”, click the “enroll now” and follow the steps, takes about 30 seconds and could possibly help someone who truly would appreciate it and possibly even save a life!

DTE mentions that 100% of the donations will go to the people that need it, they don’t keep any of the money for an “administration fee” or crap like that.

I have DTE energy for my electric, but I don’t think it matters, I would be interested to know if anyone has them for natural gas, if the program is the same. Please comment below if you know or have signed up.

There is a lot of confusion regarding solar panels from China. Recently the USA started imposing tariffs on imported solar panels from China, anywhere from 25% up to 250%. China has been “dumping” products in America and other countries for years, but I don’t believe people really understand what that means, so I will use the solar panels as an example to help explain whats really been going on.


Some might think the reason products from China are cheaper is because they pay their employees very little, work them around the clock and cut a lot of corners when it comes to quality, and I believe most, if not all that is true. Some really confused people even believe that fat ole lazy Americans are the cause of American Made products costing more. Stating reasons like, they want a lot of money per hour, excessive benefits, short work days, etc. That is just absurd and beyond ridiculous propaganda started buy foreign countries trying to justify their cheaper prices.


The real reason Chinese products can sell so cheap in the USA all boils down to subsidizing by our governments and China’s government. Thankfully most of the subsidizing that was coming from our own government has stopped, yep that’s right, our government was basically giving Chinese solar companies money to allow them to import their product, you can thank lobbyist and unintelligent/uncaring politicians for that. Thank God the current administration has caught onto this tactic, but it still does happen. The Chinese government will subsidize the Chinese Solar panel companies if they export their product. That’s right, the Chinese government gives solar panel companies money to export to the USA, allowing them to sell actually below the manufacturing cost! These Chinese based companies would be bankrupt in the USA or any other country but the Chinese government gives them enough money to continue to produce their product. They are not bailing them out, they are subsidizing their product for one reason. They want to undercut all non-chinese made Solar panels and are willing to bankrupt their own companies to do it. They know that the American or European companies will not be able to survive in the red as long as the Chinese companies because ours or European  governments would not continue to invest in failing companies, so after they put the non-chinese Solar panel producing companies out of business, they just raise their price and re-coupe their losses. This is called “dumping” and it is illegal, or more so breaks the International trade agreements.


You might be wondering where does the Chinese government get all this money? Some of it, very little, is in the form of discounts, much like a tax break, but most of it is actual cash. The Chinese government simply prints more money. Yes, we know this will never work to strengthen an economy, but that’s not the Chinese Governments purpose, they  simply need to pay the employees of these companies, and many of the employees do not have high enough education level to understand whats happening. They don’t understand why yesterday they could buy bread and today they can’t. It is a very sad situation.


This happens even in our own country, but we do it in the form of government loans. The government believes these companies can turn a profit, so they help them get started, but if they are not turning a profit they file bankruptcy. Solyndra is a perfect example. The difference is that the Chinese government steps in and DOES NOT ALLOW the Chinese companies to file bankruptcy, they just give them more money. In a way it sounds good, the owners are then grateful to the government, and the government knows it, so when the companies start making real money, the government is there to TAKE ALL THE PROFIT.


That is what China has been doing and The United States of America took a stand, and other countries soon followed. The European Union is not very happy, they estimate that last year alone, 26.5 Billion dollars were spent on Chinese solar panels being dumped into European countries. That is a lot of money that their own companies could have used to stay in business, because they too have solar panel companies filing bankruptcy.


The really sad part is that in the United States we have companies producing solar panels at a fair rate. These panels are far superior to any Chinese made panel, boasting higher wattage and greater efficiency.  Simply google American made Solar panels and you will see, just be careful, some of these companies are just the US branch of the Chinese solar producers, but then again, if they are producing in the US, paying US taxes and keeping American people working, I’m ok with that. One true blue American company you should checkout is Helios Solar works out of Wisconsin, they are going to be the next big thing, pretty much already are, and their panels are cheaper (per Watt) than Chinese made products!

I have been interested in energy conservation for years and was an early adopter of more efficient CFL bulbs and now LED bulbs. Originally my goal was to go “Off the GRID”, which I would still love to do, but I think I am still a long ways from being able to do that. The first step in going off the grid or just saving on your electric bill is to know how much energy you are using.


I monitor my electric use pretty closely and people ask me all the time how do I “Truly Know” how much energy I am using at any given time. I use a couple of different products. For individual measurements, for example maybe a computer, or a lamp, I use a Kill-A-Watt meter. You can find these things on sale for usually around $15 dollars from or most online technology retailers. They are fantastic in allowing you to pinpoint the energy hogs in your house, but you still need to know how much energy your entire house is using per day, per hour, minute or even down to the second then you need to invest in a measuring device that connects to your electric panel. I bought the TED 5000 a few years ago. I purchased the TED 5000-C, the only difference in their available models is the accessories that come with each model, for example a portable display, or the number of sources you can monitor. You can even monitor solar panels, wind generators, or maybe you just want to know how much the dishwasher is using everyday. I paid $239.95, and its still the exact same price. TED stands for “The energy Detective” and it allows you to do exactly that, detect how much energy you are using and even find out where its coming from.


Here is a screenshot shot from the built in server, you can access it through any browser after you connect the TED 5000 to your home network.Ted_5000


The entire system is really easy to setup, if you are not comfortable messing around with your home electricity, you should have an electrician handle that for you, but its actually very simple to install. You can click the screenshot to get a larger view. You’ll notice the meter that shows current electric consumption, daily usage, monthly projected usage and more. This is just the front screen, probably where you will spend most of your time, but the other screens allow you to see hourly, daily, monthly breakdowns plus much more. This product does exactly what it says and has been very reliable. I moved it from my old rental house when I moved into my home a couple of months ago, and had zero problems setting it back up.


I hope to put up some more detailed information about the actual setup and use of the system in another post, so please check back often!