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Wikipedia summarizes the arguments for and against energy star nicely in the appliance section. I'm not entirely sure the program does anything useful except print stickers but I suppose standardized stickers are worth something too.
I've got a pretty passionate hatered for "efficient" appliances though. Energy targets seem to encourage manufacturers to shittify a product core function and create toilets that don't dispose of shit, washers that barely wash, dryers that leave clothes slightly damp... etc. I'd rather just pay the extra energy cost and have things work correctly. I guarantee the most people aren't going to choose the damp setting on their dryer if there is a dry setting, but programs like energy star encourage manufacturers to only have the damp option.
- As of early 2008, average refrigerators need 20% savings over the minimum standard. Dishwashers need at least 41% savings. Most appliances as well as heating and cooling systems have a yellow EnergyGuide label showing the annual cost of operation compared to other models. This label is created through the Federal Trade Commission and often shows if an appliance is Energy Star. While an Energy Star label indicates that the appliance is more energy efficient than the minimum guidelines, purchasing an Energy Star labeled product does not always mean one is getting the most energy efficient option available. For example, dehumidifiers that are rated under 25 US pints (12 L) per day of water extraction receive an Energy Star rating if they have an energy factor of 1.2 (higher is better), while those rated 25 US pints (12 L) to 35 US pints (17 L) per day receive an Energy Star rating for an energy factor of 1.4 or higher. Thus a higher-capacity but non-Energy Star rated dehumidifier may be a more energy efficient alternative than an Energy Star rated but lower-capacity model. The Energy Star program's savings calculator has also been criticized for unrealistic assumptions in its model that tend to magnify savings benefits to the average consumer.
Another factor yet to be considered by the EPA and DOE is the overall effect of energy-saving requirements on the durability and expected service life of a mass-market appliance built to a consumer-level cost standard. For example, a refrigerator may be made more efficient by the use of more insulative spacing and a smaller-capacity compressor using electronics to control operation and temperature. However, this may come at the cost of reduced interior storage (or increased exterior mass) or a reduced service life due to compressor or electronic failures. In particular, electronic controls used on new-generation appliances are subject to damage from shock, vibration, moisture, or power spikes on the electrical circuit to which they are attached. Critics have pointed out that even if a new appliance is energy efficient, any consumer appliance that does not provide customer satisfaction, or must be replaced twice as often as its predecessor contributes to landfill pollution and waste of natural resources used to construct its replacement.
Im not super sure what you are asking but here is my perspective on home ownership:
If you are buying into a house realize that #1 is not really an investment and you will probably end up paying significantly more than your monthly payment to get it the way you like. Between gardening, repairs and upgrades its easy to get carried away.
Real estate is regional. Whats happening in Seattle and LA isnt the same as whats happening in other places, you got to evaluate your local market.
First understand where you are locally relative to historic norms, have house prices in your area skyrocked or stayed level. That will help you understand what your risk is. If you are up 100% over the last 5 years your risk is high, if the market hasn’t moved more than 10-15% its probably lower risk.
Understand your local government and zoning plan. Is your city running a huge deficit? Are they burning money like no tomorrow on services of dubious value(Seattle)? Are they planning to build any large structures or change zoning near you? Most cities have 5-25 year plans and they are available online or from city hall. How is the tax policy? Is it so bad that everyone is moving one city over to avoid it?
Understand your own risks: How is your job? What happens if you lost it? Can you rent the house if you move? You take a 8-10% hit every time you move can you afford that? Do you live in a recourse or non recourse state (this has huge implications on your risk profile)?
One of the things that the guys at "Strong Towns" recommend is buying into a town/area that has existed before WW2. City planning was a lot better back then and sprawl wasn’t a huge problem. Areas of that era are significantly more walk able, and there is less infrastructure cost per person due to smart planning, unfortunately its hard to find areas like that with good schools so that might not be an option for you.
If you are actually crazy enough to buy into a house as an investment then you might as well just go all in. Basically a 10% market move against you will wipe you out even at 20% down payment so make sure you live in an non-recourse state and put in as little money as possible for down payment buy into a hot market and pray. A hot market will crash eventually so you just gotta be quick to sell when things turn and gain at least 10% to break even, but you could potentially gain huge amounts on your 3% investment.
We live in a Non HOA area there are good things and bad things with that. The good thing is that I can keep bees, chickens, do maintenance on my car, skip a week mowing my lawn, paint my house a color I like and not pay any monthly fees. The downside is that I have a neighbor down the block that never mows her lawn and parks her Audi on the lawn. I have another neighbor that has a near abandoned van parked in the driveway stuffed with garbage, and our next door neighbor had a blackberry bush the size of a small shed growing right next to our fence.
In my view the freedom to not pay fees and be left alone is worth it. The really egregious things the city will fine you for and if I really wanted to piss off my neighbors I could report them to the city for illegally parking on the lawn/abandoned vehicles.
None of those things really make the neighborhood feel unsafe though. The unsafe feeling that we do get is from any abandoned/empty houses and any areas where loitering is happening. There is a house a mile or so from us that is vacant awaiting demolition and crack heads end up squatting there. That feels unsafe and any areas where people loiter like the 7-11 where hobos hang out or the Fed-Myers near subsidized housing. Walk the neighborhood at night/dusk a few times and you will get a get a good idea of how safe or not it is.
Ad networks are a main malware payload route it seems. All sorts of legitimate sites will suddenly pop up into App Store and try to run other malicious code. It's really difficult to prevent and makes using an Adblock service almost mandatory. People who sell ads don't really seem to care and a bad ad can run for weeks before it gets pulled
In a crisis situation the rules change mid game. The current rules don't allow seizure of 401k but if a crisis happens everything is on the table from bank accounts to 401ks to gold and guns there really isn't any asset class that's "safe" from that level of risk
What do you mean by "Safe"? Investment has a risk of loss, its possible and highly likely that in the next 10 years your 401K will loose half or near half of its value. At some point it may rebound but markets move, sometimes a lot. Now if the question is will my 401k be confiscated by the government? Then probably not, but if things get bad enough many governments force citizens to buy government bonds with their pension investments so that's always a possibility but not likely in the next 5 years.
A lot of people are pretty happy to see government "Shut Down". The truth is much isnt actually shutdown but its good PR, and people think waste is slowed down during that time. I think it would be different if food stamps stop coming out, government pensions stopped, social security stops or wars get put on hold. Instead we shutdown parks and pause research which just inconveniences people and is rather annoying.
Don't overbuild- seriously use light materials. I used 4X4 for legs s and 3/4ply. I recommend using as light a material as possible to make it easier to move. Fence boards 2x2s etc.
Use tight weave mesh and go all the way around the run (under over etc) rodents dig under, and trash pandas are can pull chickens out of the chicken wire mesh piece by piece.
Think about where you want to put the light. I use a solar powered light in the winter, it doubles the egg laying period and totally worth it.
A watering bucket and nipple is a must. Chickens poop everywhere, the nipple prevents poop in water problems.
Ideally you would have some way to add food without opening the coop in the morning.
Oh and #1 tip. Make it easy to clean. Make sure you think about cleaning access, from all sides in all areas. So 1-2 feet to any areas for cleaning is ideal. If you need to reach in 3 feet+ then you probably need another access door/hatch. I have a sliding tray in my upper coop but nothing in the lower which makes it hard to clean the lower bits.
That run in the photos will be annoying to clean because you will have to get in there all hunched over and shovel poop out of there. In a couple weeks the entire bottom area will be covered with chicken poop and you will have to remove the poop and put more chips/dirt there so make it tall enough or accessible enough to clean comfortably.
Old article though 2014 still relevant but dated