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Home&Real Estate OPEN HOME GUIDE 62 Also online at Home Front UNI AVE EXTRAVAGANZA ... The Palo Alto Festival of the Arts will take place Saturday, Aug. 27, and Sunday, Aug. 28, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. along University Avenue, between High and Webster streets, in Palo Alto. More than 300 artists will showcase their work in clay, wood, metal and glass, plus fine art and jewelry. Street artists will create chalk art along Tasso Street. Food and drink will be for sale, but the basic street fair is free. Information: WATER EFFICIENCY ... The City of Palo Alto Utilities Department will offer a free workshop on “Garden Design Concepts and Applications” on Saturday, Aug. 27, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cubberley Community Center, Room H-6, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. The workshop will focus on designing a water-efficient garden that includes native plants and is friendly to butterflies and birds. Space is limited. Information (and to register): www.cityofpaloalto. org/workshops or 650-329-2241 COOL SEASON GARDENING ... Master Gardener Heather Dooley will give a free talk on “Cool Season Vegetable Gardening” on Tuesday, Aug. 30, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Los Altos Library, 13 S. San Antonio Road, Los Altos. Topics include timing of planting to maximize harvest, watering, feeding, weeding and managing pests. Information: Master Gardeners at 408-282-3105, between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday or http:// YOGA FOR GARDENERS ... Common Ground Center Manager Patricia Becker, who is also a certified Anusara-inspired yoga teacher, will offer a class on “Yoga for Gardeners” on Saturday, Sept. 3, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Common Ground Education Center, 559 College Ave., Palo Alto. Focus is on practicing gentle poses to strengthen one’s core, proper bending and lifting techniques and stretches. Cost is $31. Information: 650-493-6072 or AUTUMN COLORS ... A class in “Autumn Color Maintenance” will be offered on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Filoli, 86 Cañada Road, Woodside. Focus is on good gardening practices, including selecting and planting bulbs and annuals, pruning, mulching and composting. Fee for the outdoor class is $40 for nonmembers, $35 for members. Information: 650-364-8300 or N Send notices of news and events related to real estate, interior design, home improvement and gardening to Home Front, Palo Alto Weekly, P.O. Box 1610, Palo Alto, CA 94302, or e-mail cblitzer@paweekly. com. Deadline is Thursday at 5 p.m. Phantom power may be causing rising energy bills A by Janelle Eastman common energy-waster called “phantom power” may be to blame for rising energy bills. Also named “vampire power” for sucking energy out of walls, phantom power results from leaving ordinary household appliances and other electronics plugged in the wall. Devices with phantom power can include cell phone and laptop chargers, televisions, coffee makers, stoves and power tools. Usually, any charging cord that features a small box near the end of the line, known as a transformer, draws energy and keeps the appliance warm and ready even if the device is turned off. Over the years, loads of phantom power have increased significantly, according to Debbie Mytels, associate director of the Green@Home programs for Acterra. Acterra offers the High Energy Homes Project, which helps homeowners identify energy “leaks” through an online analysis home audit. An observation they made through numerous home audits is that plug loads are what cause high utility bills — not the actual size of the home. Mytels suggested the way to start reducing high utility bills is to first determine if certain devices have phantom power. The way to do this is by checking for any type of light or digital clock on appliances; if there is one, then sure enough, the device has phantom power. Once phantom power is detected, Mytels said it would be beneficial to use a Kill-A-Watt Meter. This connects to an appliance or device and assesses the amount of energy being used. Because the Kill-A-Watt Meter is usually used just once, Darshana Greenfield, a volunteer for Acterra in its Green@Home program, suggests sharing it with neighbors — or borrowing one from the library. Kill-A-Watt Meters can be purchased at hardware or appliance stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot. Prices range from $20 to $40. For some people unplugging devices to save energy can be a dilemma. If they tend to utilize a digital clock or want to record something on their television from their DVR, constantly unplugging appliances is an issue. An answer to this is purchase a Smart Power Strip or a basic plug strip, according to Mytels. A Smart Power Strip features three different outlets — one for something that needs to be plugged in at all times including a DVR, an- other as a control spot for items that turn on when the TV turns on, for example, and finally a personally controlled one for devices such as speakers or video-game consoles. The Smart Power Strip sells for around $30. A basic plug strip (at around $5-6) is an alternate option for energy efficiency. Unlike the Smart Strip, a basic cable strip is personally controlled and does not feature an outlet for standby mode. Greenfield prefers a basic plug strip because “a Smart Power Strip uses more power compared to a plug strip.” With a basic strip you can still turn it off and on. “For folks who don’t use their computers constantly, a plug strip for a computer/printer is also a great idea,” Greenfield added. Greenfield also noted that when devices are left plugged in they emit a certain magnetic field that stimulates the brain, which can be troublesome when trying to fall asleep, especially if a cell phone is left plugged in on a night stand. When asked if unplugging devices to save energy outweighs the benefits of a clock or DVR for example, Mytels said, “It is an individual choice. People need to be cautious, especially with devices that offer no additional value when (continued on page 55) *>œÊÌœÊ7iiŽÞÊUÊÕ}ÕÃÌÊÓÈ]ÊÓ䣣ÊU Page 53

Palo Alto Weekly 08.26.2011 - Section 2

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