Category Archives: Things to know

Celebrate Women’s History Month: These Girls Had (Have) It Going On

National Women’s History Month got its start as International Women’s Day on March 8 in 1911. By 1978 the day stretched into the week around March 8 in the Sonoma, CA, school district, and a movement commenced to officially organize National Women’s History Week. An official declaration from former President Jimmy Carter soon followed.

The full month was voted on by Congress in 1987, and since 1995, every U.S. President has issued an annual proclamation and several states have adopted March as the official Women’s History Month.

To celebrate National Women’s History Month, we thought we’d point out some really cool inventions by women that most people probably never realized were full-on girl power.

1. Dishwasher – The kitchen appliance that makes life in general just a little bit easier was invented by Josephine Cochrane in 1887. She thought it made most sense to market her machine to larger operations like hotels and got so successful she established her own dishwasher factory.

2. Electric Refrigerator – Another appliance without which modern kitchens couldn’t operate was designed by a woman. Florence Parpart not only invented the electric refrigerator in 1914, she also owned a patent for a street cleaner that she sold to communities across the country.

3. Chocolate Chip Cookie – This favorite snack (dessert?) was an accidental invention. Ruth Wakefield was making Butter Drop Do cookies in 1930 in the old toll house outside Boston she and her husband turned into an inn and restaurant. When she realized she didn’t have any more baking chocolate to use in the recipe, she broke up a Nestle chocolate bar thinking the candy would melt. Well, by now we all know that crumbled candy bar evolved in Nestle Toll House chocolate chips. If you turn the package over, that’s Wakefield’s recipe on the back.

4. Circular Saw – Spring is fast approaching, and many people are starting their project lists, a couple of which might require the use of a circular saw. Tabitha Babbitt in 1810 came up with the concept of the circular saw after watching men cut wood with two-handled pit saws that only cut in one direction. Correctly believing the saw would be more efficient if it cut in both directions, Babbitt – normally a weaver – attached a circular blade to her spinning wheel.

5. Folding Cabinet Bed – In 1885, Sarah E. Goode was the first African-American woman awarded a patent, and she got it for the ancestor of the space-saving Murphy bed. Goode’s folding cabinet bed was a desk by day and a comfy bed by night, maximizing space in small homes by providing an advanced level of storage and functionality not readily available at the end of the 19th century.

Saving on cooling costs

Saving on cooling costs

With energy costs going up with seemingly no end in sight it’s important to know ways to save energy at home. Here are some simple ways to reduce your cooling costs for the summer.


·  Switch your ceiling fan to turn in a counter-clockwise direction in the summer; in the winter, run it at low speed, but clockwise. Having the fan going the right direction at the correct speed can keep the air in your house circulating and make it feel cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

·   Close your exterior doors and windows tightly when the AC is on. Your doors and windows weather stripping is equally important in the summer as it is in the winter. You can save more by limiting how long your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans run.


·    Change or clean your AC’s air filters at least once a month to keep your system running at peak performance. If you have central air, it’s a good idea to change the furnace air filter as the cool are is passed through the furnace ducts to your living areas. Keeping the filter changed regularly will improve air flow and make the fan fun more efficiently.

·    Make sure your AC has a rating – or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) – of 15. Not only will it be more efficient, you could also be eligible for a rebate up to $300.Make saving automatic: Set your thermostat fan switch to “auto” to save energy. Leaving it in the “on” position keeps air running constantly. Setting your thermostat to keep the house just a few degrees below the high for the day can also help by limiting how often it runs.

·   Block the sun from overheating your home.  Try to block as much sunlight from the room containing the thermostat, when you keep this room cooler it helps to not have the AC run as often during the day.

·   Insulate your walls with injected foam insulation to help you save energy by keeping hot outside air from seeping through porous block walls – check with your local building supply company for details.

·    Give your AC a tune-up. Running an inefficient AC system can result in high monthly bills. On top of that come tax time you can get a few bucks back from the government.

·     Open interior doors so that cooled air flows freely throughout your home.

·     Repair leaky ducts to reduce heating and cooling costs and qualify for a rebate up to $120 toward repairs.

·     Though through thermal dynamics, e.g. heat rising, there shouldn’t be much heat transfer it’s a good idea to install attic insulation rated R-30 and sealing any attic leaks to reduce high home cooling costs. You’ll save money each month and qualify for a rebate of $75 or more.

·    Decorate for a cooler home by hanging light-colored curtains that allow light to enter a room while blocking some of the sun’s rays, and light-colored paint to reflect heat.

·     Close unused air vents. If you have central AC you can close air vent in rooms you’re not using so you’re not paying to cool them. If you have a finished basement living-room/family-room area, consider closing the ducts to this part of the house. Cool air will naturally sink, but closing the ducks to these areas you’re forcing the air to the first floor which will eventually trickle down to the basement anyway.

·     Plant trees to provide shade on the sunny side of your home.

·     Install more ceiling fans. Because the breeze of a fan can make you feel three to four degrees cooler, you can raise that thermostat and still stay comfortable.

·     Install a programmable thermostat to adjust your temperature during the day.


Implementing several of these concepts can reduce your energy costs of the long run. Many of them are tax deductible and how doesn’t want a few bucks back at the end of the year?


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