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A front view of the recalled dishwasher.

Viking Dishwashers Recalled Due to Fire Hazard

 
About 2,000 Viking Dishwashers were recalled by the U.S. Product Safety Commission due to a fire hazard. An electrical component in the dishwasher can overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers.

Viking has received at least 21 reports of incidents, including five reports of property damage from fires. Fortunately there have been no injuries reported.

The recall involves the Viking 24" Professional, Designer and Custom Panel dishwashers which were manufactured between May and September 2010. They were sold in appliance and specialty retail stores across the country from June 2010 through March 2012 for between $1,425 and $2,000.

Consumer who have these dishwashers should stop using them immediately and contact the Viking hotline at (800) 241-7239 to schedule an in-home repair.




Find out what your home is truly worth with the Redfin Home Price Tool.

Price Your Home Right With Redfin

 
Redfin just launched an online tool call the Home Price Tool that lets homeowners get an accurate price for their home. The tool uses the same process and data that professional agents use.

The interactive tool is being touted as the first of its kind for putting power in the hands of the consumer to make up a comparable market analysis (CMA). According to Redfin, there's no other CMA tool available to consumers that uses data updated every 15 to 30 minutes.

With the Home Price Tool info in hand, a homeowner can enter the dialogue with a real estate agent with better information.

Check out the Redfin Home Price Tool website to give the tool a spin.




Time to spray down with a hose?

Dust Settles On Solar Panel Discussion

 
There was an interesting article on Treehugger.com about an interview with Ray Burgess, president and CEO of Solar Power Technologies. In the interview Burgess is quoted as saying, "Solar panels do not work that well and few know it."

Don't scrap your plans to invest in panels just yet. As a follow-up article in Grist pointed out, Burgess may have been exaggerating just a bit with his statement, which was backed by the evidence of the doubling of energy output from Google's panels after they cleaned them. But Grist was quick to shine the light on this case study, clarifying that the panels in question were flat, while Google's other tilted, rooftop panels are cleaned routinely by rain and don't suffer any shortcomings in output.

It is important for homeowners to know that solar panels do require routine maintenance to perform at optimum levels. This necessity should have potential solar panel buyers thinking about where to mount them. Spending a lot of time on the roof is not for everyone.




Mind your Gs and keys!

Avoiding the Three Gs of Homebuying

 
You have got to love those Brits!

Across-the-pond property expert Phil Spencer has just released a vodcast for homebuyers on how to avoid the three Gs.

I never knew there was one G, nevermind three.

So what are the three Gs?

They are gazumping, gazundering and gazanging.

Say what??

Here's all I will say: 'Gazanging' is a term to refer to when the seller pulls out of the deal at the last minute and leaves the buyer hanging. I won't explain the other three. Better to watch Spencer's vodcasts to learn for yourself.

Hey, they invented the language. They can do what they want with it, right?




Note how a child's head can become trapped in the shade, posing a strangulation hazard.

Re-announcement of Roman Shade and Roll-Up Blind Recall

 
An additional 3,200 Meijer roman shades and roll-up blinds were recalled by the firm and the Consumer Product Safety Commission recently. This on top of a previous recall of some 240,000 back in March of 2010.

The blinds and shades pose a strangulation hazard to children. With the roman shades, strangulation can occur when a child places his/her neck between the exposed inner chord and the fabric on the backside of the blind. With the roll-up blinds, strangulation can occur if the lifting loops slide of the side of the blind and a child's neck becomes entangled on the free-standing loop.

Consumer who own these shades or blinds -- sold under the "Innovations" and "At Home with Meijer" names -- should stop using them immediately and contact the Window Covering Safety Council for a free repair kit. The products can also be returned to Meijer for a full refund.





How much did you spend on energy last year?

Comparing Energy Usage

 
Speaking of comparing energy usage, the Department of Energy has two great maps featured on their website that lets you do just that, state by state.

One map shows how each state rates for energy consumption per person (based on 2009 figures), measured in Millions of BTUs per year.

The other map shows energy expenditure per person, per year, measured in dollars.

My "green" state of Vermont ranks 13th in the latter and 41st in the former. So we are consuming less energy than most but paying more than most for it. Hmmmm. I guess energy costs are pretty high here.

How does your state measure up?




Now you have a real reason to spend time on Facebook.

Monitor Energy Usage Through Facebook

 
Facebook has teamed up with the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Opower to launch an app designed to help people monitor and decrease their energy usage -- a sort of social networking smart meter.

Due out early next year, the application will include the following set of features:

  • Compare energy usage to similar homes. (Sounds questionable. Not sure I want my energy usage information available to others. Although NRDC claims complete data privacy will be ensured.)

  • Compare energy usage among friends. (This sounds cool on first pass, but this has the potential to create an inferiority/superiority situation among friends. "Oh, I see you used twice as much energy as me last week. Planet-killer.")

  • Publish conversations about energy to the Facebook newsfeed. (Innocent enough, I suppose.)

  • Group development -- Cooperation and Competition. (NRDC says this feature will allow communities of people to form teams to help each other achieve collective goals and compete against other groups. It also suggests that teams will be rewarded and incentivized by their utility or "other network partners." I'd love to see if this pans out.)

  • Privacy issues aside (and there will always be privacy issues when Facebook is involved) I will say that this is worth the attempt. Energy monitoring has not exactly caught on yet, and with the popularity of Facebook this could be a great way to bring it to the masses. For the moment, I'm all for it.

    More info can be found on the Green on Facebook page.



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