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April 2013

On the Road


Hit the open highway for your next vacation



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Volume 67, Number 4, April 2013

“The Rural Voice of Nebraska”

Staff Editor Wayne Price Editorial Assistant Kathy Barkmeier

Contents Features

The Magical Value of Heat Pump Systems


Published by the

Visit us at

A heat pump system can deliver value to your home if the model used matches your region and if it’s installed properly. Megan McKoy explains how a heat pump can save money and keep your home comfortable year-round.

General Manager Troy Bredenkamp President Gary Dill, Roosevelt Public Power District Vice President/Secretary Randy Papenhausen, Cedar-Knox Public Power District

On the Road Again Freelance writer Cher Smith shares ways to enjoy a family vacation without breaking the bank. With a little research, you can find the typical or the off-beat destination for the entire family.

Treasurer Ron Jensen, Loup Valleys Rural Public Power District Published monthly by the Nebraska Rural Electric Association, 1244 K Street, Box 82048, Lincoln, Nebraska 68501, (402) 475-4988.

Advertising in the Rural Electric Nebraskan does not imply endorsement for products by the Nebraska Rural Electric Association. Correspondence should be sent to Wayne Price, Editor, Rural Electric Nebraskan, Box 82048, Lincoln, NE 68501. The Rural Electric Nebraskan is printed by Jacob North Companies, Box 82046, Lincoln, NE 68501. Form 3579 should be sent to the Rural Electric Nebraskan, Box 82048, Lincoln, NE 68501. Periodicals postage paid at Lincoln, Neb. POSTMASTER: send address changes to the Rural Electric Nebraskan, 1244 K Street, Box 82048, Lincoln, NE 68501. Publication numbers are USPS 071-630 and ISSN 0193-4937. Rates: $10 for one year; $15 for two years; $20 for three years, plus local and state tax.

April 2013


Departments EDITOR’S PAGE












On the cover The scenic beauty of the open road attracts many visitors to Nebraska each year. See related story on Page 10. Photograph by James Dukesherer.



What really caused the Hindenburg disaster? have learned to tread carefully around the house during the drier winter days, or suffer the “zap” of surplus electrons. A lesson my pet cat has also learned unfortunately. This lesson in how static electricity works, while it is often surprising, is not harmful to me or the cat. But could it have been the cause of the fiery explosion that destroyed the Hindenburg, the German passenger airship? A British research team has reported the Hindenburg’s explosion was likely brought on by a hydrogen leak coupled with a spark as it flew into a thunderstorm as airship was preparing to land at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey on May 6, 1937. The airship, with nearly 100 people on board, was preparing to land when it exploded and plummeted to the ground, ending the age of airships with its fall. A total of 36 people died in the accident (13 passengers, 22 crew, 1 ground crew). Many of you have probably seen the incredible newsreel footage or heard Herbert Morrison’s recorded radio eyewitness report from the landing field. The incident shattered public confidence in the massive, passenger-carrying rigid dirigible and marked the demise of the airship era. The disaster has been the subject of numerous books and movies over the years. A newspaper article on the research project reported that previous investigations were not able to conclude what caused the spark or the gas leak, leading many to come up with conspiracy theories to explain the explosion. At the time of the disaster, sabotage was commonly put forward as the cause of the fire. British aeronautical engineer Jem Stansfield, and a team of researchers claim to have the answer: static electricity. According to Stansfield’s research, the airship became charged with static as a result of the electrical storm and either a broken wire or a sticking gas valve leaked the hydrogen into the ventilation shafts. It is believed the fire started on the tail of the airship, igniting the leaking hydrogen. Researchers claimed they began conducting the experiments to rule out conspiracy


by Wayne Price


theories that arose after investigators couldn’t agree on what caused the spark or the leaking gas that ultimately led to the explosion, the newspaper article reported. Before understanding the power of static electricity, we must first understand the basics of atoms and magnetism. To paraphrase my fourth grade teacher’s science lesson, “All physical objects are made up of atoms. Inside an atom are protons, electrons and neutrons. The protons are positively charged, the electrons are negatively charged, and the neutrons are neutral.” As a result, all things are made up of charges. Opposite charges attract each other (negative to positive) while like charges repel each other (positive to positive or negative to negative). Most of the time positive and negative charges are balanced in an object, which makes that object neutral. Static electricity is the result of an imbalance between negative and positive charges in an object. These charges can build up on the surface of the object until they find a way to be released or discharged. One way to discharge them is through a circuit. When you rub certain materials against one another, you begin to transfer negative charges, or electrons. For example, if you rub your stocking feet on the carpet, your body collects extra electrons. The electrons cling to your body until they can be released. As you reach and touch a door knob or unsuspecting spouse/child/pet, you both get a shock. So the next time it happens just explain to your slightly irritated spouse/child/pet, it is only the surplus electrons being released from you to them. But was static electricity really the culprit that brought down the Hindenburg? Stansfield and his team reportedly reached their conclusions by setting fire to 80 feet hydrogen-filled scale models of the Hindenburg. They expect their findings will put an end to theories claiming the explosion was brought on by a bomb planted by a terrorist or the explosive properties of the paint used to coat the ship. Only time will tell.

Rural Electric Nebraskan

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Over the years, technology has made the way we live easier, safer and more convenient. In many cases, it’s even made many products more affordable… (remember how much the first VCR used to cost?). Now, if you need some help in turning up the volume on the world around you, a new solution has been invented… it’s called Perfect Choice HD™.

The Magical Value of

Heat Pump Systems by Megan McKoy


agicians may pull rabbits out of hats, but many homeowners perform captivating acts of their own by taking natural heat and cooling power from air and earth and transforming it into conditioned comfort. Yet this act doesn’t involve any sleight of hand trickery: it simply requires a heat pump. Heat pumps move heat into residences during winter and out of them in summer, trimming overall home heating and cooling costs by as much as 40 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In a national study, the Cooperative Research Network (CRN), a division of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association that monitors, evaluates, and applies energy technologies, revealed 11 percent of homes use a heat pump as their primary heating/cooling system. For allelectric homes this jumps to 29 percent. Different heat pumps succeed in specific regions. Air-source heat pumps work well in the Southeast, where temperatures rarely drop


below freezing. In more northerly climates geothermal heat pumps shine because their heat source remains shielded—the top 10 feet of earth consistently measures between 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. A heat pump system can deliver value to your home if the model used matches your region and if it’s installed properly. Here’s a guide to three different types of heat pumps.

Geothermal Outside temperatures may vary, but the earth’s temperature remains steady year-round and can be harnessed to make homes comfortable. According to DOE, geothermal heat pumps offer energy savings between 30 percent and 60 percent annually when compared to conventional baseboard or radiant heating systems, and are typically the most efficient heat pump option. Geothermal heat pumps move a liquid or water through pipes buried in the ground, then into a home. Also called ground-source heat pumps,

Heat pump advancements continue to boost pressors, like the design used by ClimateMa allow units to engage a second speed, or stag heating or cooling is needed. The rest of th ClimateMaster—the system operates at the f provided by ClimateMaster

Rural Electric Nebraskan

there are two types of units: a groundwater (open-loop) system uses well or pond water, while an earthcoupled (closed-loop) model uses a water and antifreeze solution. Systems can be installed horizontally or vertically, depending on available space. Geothermal efficiency depends on climate, soil and water conditions, and landscaping. For example, soil that transfers heat easily requires less piping. Rocky terrain may require a vertical loop system instead of a more economical horizontal loop system. When buying a geothermal system, compare two elements: coefficient of performance (COP) for heating, and the energy efficiency ratio (EER) for cooling. ENERGY STAR-qualified models must provide a rating of at least 2.8 COP and 13 EER.


the technology’s efficiency. Two-speed comaster’s Tranquility 27® geothermal heat pump, ge, on colder or warmer days when additional e time—90 percent of the year, according to first, more energy-efficient speed. Photograph

Air-source heat pumps use a system of coils to evaporate a refrigerant and, with it, draw heat away from a home, cooling the air. In winter the magic reverses with the flip of a valve, and your home heats. The system delivers up to three times more heat energy than electricity consumed, but is not perfect. Air-source heat pumps often do not fare well in regions with sub-zero temperatures. A back-up system of electric resistance coils kicks-in when air temperatures dips below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but this method of heating—similar to a toaster— isn’t energy efficient, costing more to operate than traditional heating systems. Some air-source heat pump systems, notably reverse cycle chillers (RCC), offer heating alternatives to keep homes efficiently comfortable at lower temperatures— they store heat in an insulated tank of water. Others include gas-fired backup furnaces, also increasing their winter efficiency. When shopping for an air-source heat pump, compare the seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER) for Please turn to page 8

April 2013

H ow Do How Air-Source A ir-Source H Heat eat P umps Work? Work? Pumps By By transferring transfferring heat heat between between a house and outside air th air,r,, these devices tr im elec tricity use b devices trim electricity byy as percent to to 40 much as 30 percent percent per cent in moder moderate ate clima climates. tes.

SUMMER Cooled Cooled Air Air Heated Air TThermostat hermostat Outside Air

Warm W arm AAirir

WINTER TE Heated Heated Air Air Cooled Air

Outside Air

TThermostat hermostat Cooled Cooled AAirir

1 Compressor Increases refrigerant/freon pressure to accept the maximum heat from the air.

2 Condenser Coils move freon (and with it, hot or cold air) to or from outside air.

3 Evaporator Coils move freon (and with it, hot or cold air) to or from outside air.

4 Air Handler Fan blows air into a home’s ducts.

5 Reversing Valve Switches the direction of the freon flow, changing the heat pump’s output to hot or cold air (controlled by thermostat). Source: NRECA


Heat Pump Systems From page 7 cooling prowess, and heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) for compressor and heating element strength. ENERGY STAR models guarantee a SEER of 12 or more and a HSPF of 7 or more. For warmer climates, SEER is more important than HSPF; in colder climates find a system with a high HSPF.

Ductless In a twist of a classic magic trick, ductwork funneling conditioned air to different rooms can cause some air to “disappear”—wasting from 15 percent to 20 percent of the energy used to heat or cool the air. While

sealing air ducts and proper insulation helps, another option is to bypass ducts with a ductless version of an air-source heat pump (DHP), also called a “mini-split” heat pump. Small and versatile, ductless heat pumps have two main parts: an outdoor compressor/condenser and one or more indoor air-handling units. These components are linked by a cable (refrigerant line). Many systems offer up to four indoor units to condition different rooms, and some systems come with wireless remotes or wall-mounted control units. According to CRN, these devices use an estimated 50 percent to 60 percent less energy than traditional forms of heating. DHPs are ideal for room additions where duct work may not be possible, or for homes with “non-ducted” air conditioning

(i.e. window units). Indoor models can be mounted in the ceiling, hung on the wall, or placed on the floor. DHPs are costly—30 percent more expensive than traditional central air systems (not including ductwork). Installation can also be tricky—if a system is too big for the space, energy will be wasted and the correct temperature may not be reached.

Innovation Boosts Efficiency Heat pump technology isn’t new— geothermal has been used since the 1940s—but innovations are improving performance and efficiency.

Ductless or “mini-split” heat pumps are ideal for room additions where adding duct work may not be possible. Photograph provided by General Electric


Rural Electric Nebraskan

Dual-source heat pumps combine geothermal systems and air-source technologies. Though not as efficient as true geothermal systems, the device costs less than putting in a geothermal system and avoids some of air-source’s pitfalls during cold weather. Another technology advancement, two-speed compressors, condition the desired amount of air (heating or cooling capacity) needed at different times—standard compressors only operate at full capacity. Having this option reduces compressor wear and saves energy. With all heat pumps, compressor design further enhances performance—a scroll compressor offers quieter operation and provides 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit of warmer air in heating mode, when compared to systems with traditional pistondriven compressors. Some heat pumps offer variablespeed or dual-speed motors for fans (indoor and outdoor) which minimizes drafts and keeps air flowing at a comfortable rate.

Saving on Systems Although heat pumps are more expensive than traditional air conditioning, rebates and tax credits can help cut the cost. A federal tax credit equal to 30 percent of the cost for materials and installation, with no limit on total project expenses, applies to geothermal heat pumps through Dec. 31, 2016. A list of requirements can be found at To find incentives in your state, check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency at Since heat pump success depends on region, contact your local rural electric utility to find out which type of system might work for you. Sources: U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Geothermal Energy Association, International Ground Source Heat Pump Association, 2010 CRN Residential Appliance and Equipment Survey



On the



by Cher Smith

Instead of an expensive European vacation, hit the open highway conomic recession. Depression. Vacation? You bet. Vacations are often the first thing a family cuts from the budget when the purse strings get tight. But there is never a more necessary time for escape, fun and family bonding. There is no need to break the bank, though, on expensive vacations to Europe or the Bahamas. Instead, in the famous words of the music group Steppenwolf, “Get your motor running, head out on the highway, looking for adventure in whatever comes our way.”


Do your research With a little research, you can find the typical or the off-beat, depending on what your inclination is. Several books come in handy. Party Across America! by Michael Guerriero offers 101 of the greatest festivals, sporting events and celebrations across America. The author is a man who has seen it all and enjoyed it all, and that energy comes through in his narrative — even when he’s offering up practical tips, such as where to lodge or camp. Each entry includes where to find accommodations, ticket prices (if any) and what kinds of things to pack. So whether you feel like Punkin Chunkin in


Delaware (launching unpicked pumpkins from catapults) or sled dog races and snowshoe softball in Anchorage, Party Across America! will help you get the most out of your road trip. Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives delves into less familiar territory with this retrospective of eateries around the country. Those familiar with Fieri from the Food Network will enjoy this tie-in with his show of the same name and find the same snappy comments and mouth-watering descriptions. For each destination, you’ll read a little history and find a few of their recipes, such as pork and sweet potato empanadas or Cap’n Crunch French toast. If your taste runs more to taking in the scenery than to visiting festivals or historic diners, check out The Most Scenic Drives in America: 120 Spectacular Road Trips. This book features full-color photographs of destinations and a table of “Trip Tips,” which will enlighten you as to the best time to visit, the length of the drive, advice, lodging possibilities and nearby attractions. Detailed maps allow easy navigation for either the entire route or only a leg of it. Frommer’s has a number of books with travel destinations, some in the United States, others not. Frommer’s

500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up by Holly Hughes is divided into activities and types of places rather than by geography, although there is a geographical index for easy reference. You’ll find sections on scenery, animals, outdoor activities, historical locations and others. For each place featured, Hughes tells you what ages are appropriate, contact information and why your kids will thank you. Take a road trip to Little Rock, Arkansas, to visit Central High School where a pivotal battle against racism in the educational system took place. Or travel to Overton, Nevada, to see the art of petroglyphs. Or visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, which features over 60 fireplaces, an indoor swimming pool, a bowling alley and an outdoor garden boasting over 200 varieties of azaleas. When you’re planning your road trip, get everyone in on the fun. Let kids help decide what food to take or what kind of games to play. Take along your favorite road trip books and thumb through the various destinations that you’ll want to mark off as you drive through them. Obey the rules of the road, and obey the number one rule of the road tripper: Have fun.

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Monkey Business Images/

Meals on the road Eating on the road used to mean stocking up on junk food at every gas station you stopped at. While this may have been okay when you were 20 and traveling with buddies, you now feel a twinge of guilt for every frostingfilled, nuclear-surviving cake your children consume. Feel guilty no more. These easy ideas will help banish the junk food—and drive-through—blues. Wraps A complaint against sandwiches is that if you make them ahead of time, the bread gets soggy, and who wants to carry around an entire loaf of bread? Go for a wrap instead. Spread your favorite chicken or tuna salad on a whole-wheat tortilla. Add a leaf of lettuce and roll it into a flavorful wrap, tucking in the ends to seal it. Wrap it in aluminum foil and put it in your cooler until you’re ready to eat. For a different kind of wrap, spread peanut butter and a light layer of jelly on a tortilla. Appetizers anyone? Appetizers make great finger foods on the road. Take a variety of meats, cheeses and vegetables and cut them

April 2013

into single servings. Serve on crackers. Fresh fruit finishes off the meal. To make this a healthier snack, forego the lunch meat and pack baked cold chicken that’s been cut into strips. Ants on a log You’re not ready to stop, but the kids are clamoring for a snack. Do you give in and stock up on the spongy cakes that are loaded with sugar and preservatives? No. (In fact, on a long road trip, do everything you can to avoid a sugar rush in your kids.) Instead, rely on this old kid favorite. Buy peanut butter in small, individual cups (they look like pudding cups) and individual packages of raisins or dried cranberries. Put pre-packaged celery in your cooler. Slow cooking If you’re really adventurous, try cooking something on your engine block. Cooking times tend to be longer than they would be in your home’s oven but faster than in a slow-cooker. So if you’re planning a lengthy road trip, why not give it a try? The article at's-Engine will get you started. Or grab a copy of the book Manifold Destiny by Chris Maynard and Bill Scheller, which gives instructions along with recipes for your own “carbecue.”


Starting at just $6,000, it’s easy to find your AWAY. When you go RVing, AWAY is closer and more affordable than you might think.

Get your game on Discover the magic of road trip games by Cher Smith




utomakers have tried to take the boredom out of long hours in the car with the installation of entertainment centers. But watching Dora explore her umpteenth location isn’t going to create a family vacation they’ll remember years from now. Take a break from the DVD playing in the backseat and make your own memories. Discover the creativity of games played exclusively in the car.







The Alphabet Game There are numerous variations on this game, and you can adapt it for the age of players. Each person must spot a word outside of the car in alphabetical order. For example, the sign “Bridge Ahead” would give a player both the A and B. “School Crossing” would yield the C. Road signs, billboards, even the other cars on the highway count. First one to Z wins the game.

Six Degrees of Separation One person names an actor or actress, and another person names a different actor or actress. The race then begins to see who can find a movie connection between them in as few steps as possible. This can be a challenging game with players of different generations. It might take several steps to find a connection between Gene Kelley and Mandy Moore. The Never-Ending Story The story lasts as long as your imagination keeps it going. One person starts a story and stops at an exciting point. The next person takes up the story at that point to keep it going. For a challenging twist for older players, the person who has just finished their part picks a word that must be used by the next person.

The Picnic Game One player starts by saying, “I went to a picnic, and I brought …” then says an item that begins with the letter A, such as apples. The next player must repeat the same phrase, including the A word and add a B word. “I went to a picnic, and I brought apples and bananas.”

License Plate Lingo Players compete to make a phrase or a word out of passing cars’ license plates. For example, a license plate with the letters “PBF” could be “peanut butter fudge” while the license plate with the letters “TBL” could be “trouble” or “table.” The first player to come up with a word or phrase gets a point.

The Geography Game This game uses cities, states and countries, and will be much more popular than geography in school. The first player names a location. The next player must name a location that starts with the final letter of the previous location. So if the first player says Paris, the second player must name a location that starts with S, such as Saskatchewan, which means

If none of these games gets your imagination going to create your own family fun, a number of games—such as Yahtzee and Sorry!—have travel editions. And don’t forget the endless possibilities a deck of cards yields. No matter what variations or combinations of games you play, they are guaranteed to decrease the frequency of the inevitable question, “Are we there yet?”


Snap a photo of this tag with your smartphone to find an RV dealer, watch videos, and more.

player three must name a location that starts with N. To make it even harder, each location can be used only once.

What’s your idea of AWAY? Wherever or whatever it is, an RV is the best way to find it on your terms, your timetable, your itinerary. And it’s more affordable than you might think.To learn more, visit and see an RV dealer.

Cleaning the air you breathe

and grime accumulate on critical parts like the evaporator coil, causing unnecessary wear and tear.

Replace air filters regularly for efficient heating and cooling

Monthly Check-up logged air filters could add $82 to your electric bill every year. Checking, changing, or cleaning your filter once a month saves money and extends the life of your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. More than half of your monthly energy bill goes toward keeping your home comfortable. While air filters prevent pesky dust and annoying allergens from clogging your HVAC system, dirt, like aging arteries, builds up over time. If left unchecked, a dirty filter strains a home’s heating and forces the HVAC system to work harder to push conditioned air through tight spaces. This results in higher energy bills and, potentially, system failure.


Filter Facts Air filters protect HVAC systems and perform double-duty by collecting some lose dirt from the air. These handy sieves live in duct system slots or in return grilles of central air conditioners, furnaces, and heat pumps. Successful filters have a short lifespan—the better a filter catches dirt, the faster is gets clogged and must be cleaned or replaced. Leaving a dirty air filter in place cuts a home’s air quality and reduces HVAC system airflow. While removing a clogged filter altogether relieves pressure on the system, the system can’t perform well without one. Unfiltered dust

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) advises checking an air filter once a month and replacing it at least every three months. It’s critical to inspect and replace filters before seasons of heavy use like summer and winter. If you have pets or smokers in the home, filters clog quickly. Remodeling projects or furniture sanding add more dirt than normal; a filter may need to be changed before the average three-month lifespan expires. Turn your heating and cooling system off before checking your filter. Slide the filter out of your duct work, and look for layers of hair and dirt. Run a finger across the filter. If the finger comes away dirty or

W What hat Do D Different ifferent Air Air Filters Filters Block? Block? A filters are rated by Minimum Efficiency Air Efficiency Reporting Reporting Value Value (MERV). (MERV ). Filters Filters with a higher MERV MERV block more more dirt, dirt, but also rreduce airflow and system efficiency. ency. Use Use this guide to to find fin nd the right right filter filter for for your your home or business. business.

Common Filter Uses Types

Blocked Items

SSyst ystem tem Airflow


1-4 MERV $2-$10

5-8 -8 MERV 10-$20 $10-$20

9-12 MERV $18 8-$25 $18-$25

13-20 MERV $$$

Pollen, sanding Pollen, dust,, large dust large insectt bodies insec

Pet Pet dander, danderr,, mold, mold, spores, spores, dust mites, mites, hair spray spray

Lead Lead dust, dust, milled lled flour, flourr,, car car emission particles particles

Bacteria, virus, Bacteria, virus, fac facee powder, powderr, smok smoke, e, sneezes, paintt pigmen pigments, snee zes, pain ts, oil, oil, ccarbon arbon dust

Disposable, Disposable, washable washable

Pleated, disposable, disposable, Pleated, electrostatic electrostatic

Pleated, disposable Pleated, disposable,, electrostatic electrostatic

Homes, Homes, window window air conditioning conditioning units

BBetter etter homes, homes, general general officee buildings offic

SSuperior uperior homes homes,, better better Hospitals, dr Hospitals, drug ug and officee buildings buildings,, businesses elec electronic offic tronic labs

efficiency par ticulate High efficiency particulate arrestance (HEP PAA), bo arrestance (HEPA), boxx 6-12 inches thick thick, k,, flexible 12-36 inches thick flexible

SSource: ourrce: epa.go v/iaq

Rural Electric Nebraskan

there’s a line left on the filter, it’s time for a change. When replacing the filter, make sure the arrow on the filter indicating the direction of the airflow points toward the blower motor. To help schedule monthly check-ups, write the date on the side of the filter so you know when it needs to be checked again. Once you’ve made the change, turn the system back on.

Filtering Choices Shopping for a new filter? Before you leave home, write down the size printed on the side of your current filter. If you get a filter that’s too small, dirt will get around the barrier and invade your system. There are several different types of filters and levels of efficiency. Filters are either flat or pleated; pleated filters offer extra surface area to hold dirt, making them more efficient. The most common filters use layered fiberglass fibers reinforced with metal grating. Some filters boost efficiency by using polyester fibers. Electrostatic filters are made from positively- and negatively-charged fibers and capture smaller debris— the charge actively pulls particles from the air like iron filings onto a magnet. No power connection is required, and the charge does not fade over time. The filters best able to capture small debris are high efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filters, but these deluxe filters are mainly used in hospitals and office buildings, not in homes. Air filters are rated by a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). Ranging from one to 20, this scale gauges a filter’s effectiveness at blocking debris. Low MERV-rated filters offer high airflow into a cooling or heating system, but only catch large air particles. A higher rating isn’t always better—those filters block more dirt but also reduce system airflow. Most experts recommend filters with a MERV 6 rating or higher. Manufacturers are not required to post MERV on filter packaging. Brands like 3M’s Filtrete instead list

April 2013

levels of microparticle performance rating—higher numbers mean the filter catches more particles. Home Depot’s Air Filter Performance Rating system ranks filters by good, better, best, and premium. No matter what system a store or manufacturer uses, better (and more expensive) filters mean higher MERV scores. If a family member suffers from allergies, a high MERV filter keeps out excess dander, smoke, and other allergens. Ask a heating and cooling professional what type of filter works best for your home and family needs. Once you find a filter that works well in your home, it’s a good idea to keep spare filters on hand. Basic filters cost anywhere from $2 to $10; electrostatic filters may range from $18 to $25.

More Efficiency Boosters Before summer hits, clean cooling system coils inside and outside the

home. Leaves, dirt, and other debris gather around a home’s air conditioner throughout fall and winter months. These intruders keep the coils from operating at top efficiency, both shortening the lifespan of the unit and ratcheting up summer cooling bills. Just as clogged air filters force your system to work harder, blocked vents strain your system. Clean air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators. Make sure air ducts are not blocked by furniture, rugs, or window treatments. Want more ways to save? Take the home energy savings tour and see how little changes add up to big savings at Sources: ENERGY STAR, U.S. Department of Energy, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Home Depot, 3M, Permatron



Bad mowing habits could put children on a dangerous path ach spring, as the flowers blossom and the grass begins to grow, millions of people follow the annual path to lawn and garden care. Friendly neighbors haul out their mowers, lawn tractors, edgers, tillers, and chipper/shredders because they know this equipment provides the best and easiest route to beautifying their landscape. But, along the way, some also haul out old, unsafe operating habits, and this is where they unknowingly turn down a dangerous path ... toward the possibility of accidents, especially involving children. The tendency to take kids for a ride on the mower is a careless old habit. It was probably learned by people who remember going for rides on lawn tractors when they were young, so they think that it's okay to ride with their kids too. But, with today's information explosion, this generation should not just be older, it should be wiser. It shouldn't pass old, unsafe habits on to a younger generation. Riding with a child on a mower was an unsafe practice a generation ago, just as it is today. Riding mowers are designed for



just that -- mowing while riding. Riding mowers provide many safety features for the operator, but they are not built for passengers. Simply stated, children should not be anywhere near the operation of lawnmowers or anywhere near the mowing area. This goes for all types of outdoor power equipment. Sometimes the media unintentionally adds to the problem -- occasionally a newspaper will picture someone riding happily on a mower with a child on their lap. It may be a cute picture but it sends the wrong message about mowing safely, and, hopefully, wise consumers will realize this. Lawnmower racing is another careless habit with a direct route down a dangerous path. Consumers should remember, riding mowers are hard-working utilitarian machines with sharp cutting blades designed to do yard work. They were not designed for racing, even if the cutting deck is removed. Avoid the urge to treat them as such. A racing mindset could influence youngsters (as well as adults) to operate a riding mower carelessly which could lead to accidents.

Remember to "think safety with power in your hands", and when operating any type of outdoor power equipment, practice these important do's and don'ts. • Do read the manufacturers operator's manual before operating. • Do keep small children out of the mowing area, and preferably indoors under adult supervision. • Do be alert and turn the mower off if children enter the area. • Do, before operating in reverse, look behind and down for children. • Don't carry children. Riding mowers are designed for one operator. • Don't allow children to operate a riding mower. • Do use extra care when approaching corners, shrubs, and trees. • Don't drive a riding mower like a race car -- it's a mower, not a racer. Remember, carelessness is the leading cause of accidents and that's why the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute urges homeowners always to "think safety" when operating any type of outdoor power equipment. Source: The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute

Rural Electric Nebraskan

in Not sto so re ld s!

“HARVEST MOON BALL” Cuckoo Clock Terry Redlin Makes Every Moment Memorable Terry Redlin’s ability to capture the tranquil beauty of simpler times has made him one of America’s most popular artists. Now, you can enjoy not just one, but two of his most highly-sought images every hour of your day with the Terry Redlin “Harvest Moon Ball” Cuckoo Clock, exclusively from The Bradford Exchange. This clock features a real wood case, sculpted adornments and decorative hanging pinecones that add to its classic charm. The timepiece is crafted with accrate quartz movement, graceful hands and a swinging brass-toned pendulum. At the beginning of each hour, the tiny door at the top of the cabinet opens and a hand-painted rooster emerges with a cheerful crow!

Clock case shown much smaller than actual size of appr. 13"tall. Measures appr. 20¾" tall including pendulum and pine cones.

A spectacular value—and your satisfaction is guaranteed! The edition is strictly limited, and heavy demand is anticipated. So act now to acquire the Terry Redlin “Harvest Moon Ball” Cuckoo Clock five monthly installments of $39.99 each, for a total of $199.99*. Your purchase is backed by our unconditional 365-day guarantee. Send no money now, just complete and mail the Reservation Application today! RESERVATION APPLICATION

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YES. Please reserve the Terry Redlin “Harvest Moon Ball” Cuckoo Clock for me as described in this announcement. Please Respond Promptly Limit: one per order.

Sculpted rooster announces each hour with a cheerful crow!

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01-12270-001-E66291 © C.A. Redlin; Redlin FLP, Wild Wings, Lake City, MN 55041. All Rights Reserved.

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*Plus $21.99 shipping and service. Limited-edition presentations restricted to 295 crafting days. Please allow 4-8 weeks after initial payment for shipment. Sales subject to product availability and order acceptance.


Get the facts on a solar water heater by James Dulley

We have two teenage daughters Q :who take long showers, so our water heating costs are high. Does using solar water heating make sense? What are my solar options, and is there a system I can make myself?

attic, so there are some structural considerations with these types of devices. These systems are less expensive than more sophisticated active systems, but they tend to be less efficient, especially during cold weather.

: For a typical family of four,

A water heating can account for

about 20 percent of its annual utility bills. If you have two daughters taking long showers, yours may be somewhat higher, but don’t expect a solar water heating system to cut your costs to zero. A target savings of 50 percent often provides a good economic payback. Before you consider using solar or any other efficient water heating methods, install low-flow showerheads with shut-off tickle (lathering) valves—and have a talk with your family about taking shorter showers. The two basic types of solar water heating systems are “active” and “passive.” Active systems require a storage tank, electric pumps, and controls to function. Sometimes 12-volt pumps can be powered by a photovoltaic solar panel located near the water heating collectors on the roof. In cold climates, the system has to include some type of antifreeze working fluid and heat exchanger so it does not freeze at night during winter. Other systems that circulate the actual potable water through the collector need a draining system to empty the collectors at night during winter. Passive water heating systems rely on the natural upward flow of lessdense warm water to move the water through the solar collector. In these systems, the warm water storage tank is located above the solar collector—usually on the roof or in the


Above: This do-it-yourself solar water heating kit uses a batch design to preheat incoming cold water. Below: A single-tank batch solar water heater with the cold water inlet and hot water outlets indicated on the side. Photographs by James Dulley

There are many types of solar collector designs. The best one for your house depends on your climate, your hot water requirements, and your budget. They can be as simple as black copper tubes in an insulated box with a glass top to ones with vacuum tubes, concentrating reflectors, and heat pipe technology. Discuss the various types with a solar contractor. Unless you are an accomplished

craftsman, I suggest you build a passive solar water heater. Trying to build an active system—with collectors on the roof, plumbing and control systems, and storage tanks—is beyond the skill level of most homeowners. I am a design mechanical engineer, and I don’t think I could build a system myself from scratch. If you do decide to go with an active system, in general, use a system with an OG-300 rating from the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation ( A knowledgeable, qualified installer is important too—look for contractors with certification by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners ( And check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency ( for local incentives on installing a solar water heating system, in addition to the federal tax credit—just remember to review specific program requirements regarding system types, sizing, certifications, installers, and the like to make sure your system qualifies. Otherwise, try building a passive “batch” system, which is a preheater for your existing water heater, with the simplest design called a “breadbox.” It uses a horizontal metal water tank inside a box with a clear top. The sun shines through to heat the water. Another slightly more efficient option uses a tall box tilted at an angle to face the sun. This allows the warmer water to be drawn first from the top of the tank. You can buy a stainless steel water tank specially designed for this application with inlet and outlet water fittings. If you can find an old water heater that’s not leaky, strip off the metal skin and insulation to use the inner tank. Paint it flat black to absorb more of the sun’s heat. It helps to insulate the solid sides and bottom of the box, especially if you plan to use it most of the year. Heavy insulation is not needed because the tank will not get extremely warm, especially if you are

Rural Electric Nebraskan

using hot water throughout the day. One-inch thick foil-faced rigid foam sheets should be fine. Attach them inside the box so they reflect the sun’s heat to the tank. Install water valves and plumbing so the solar tank can be drained and bypassed during cold weather. Install heavy insulation around any exposed pipes and bury as much as possible underground. For more information, see these resources: • includes a directory of installers and a calculator to estimate the performance of solar water heaters and PV systems, • has basic graphics that describe various designs • has links to other resources. Send inquiries to James Dulley, Rural Electric Nebraskan, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit

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Quick & Easy Chocolate Cake 1 (3oz.) package cook and serve chocolate pudding 1 box chocolate cake mix 1 cup chocolate chips Prepare pudding according to package directions. Add cake mix to pudding. Mix and put in 9x13 inch pan. Top with 1 cup chocolate chips. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. (Very moist cake.)

Betty Weiler, West Point, Nebraska

Peanut Cookies

Santa Fe Muffins Nonstick cooking spray 4 eggs 1 cup shredded reduced fat extra sharp Cheddar cheese 1 cup shredded reduced fat Colby and Monterey Jack cheese 1/2 cup buttermilk biscuit mix 1 can (4 ounces) diced mild green chilies 1/4 cup nonfat milk

1 cup shortening (I use 1/2 cup shortening & 1/2 cup butter) 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup white sugar 2 eggs 1 1/2 cups flour

3 1 1 1 1

cups quick cooking oatmeal 1/4 cups salted peanuts teaspoon soda teaspoon baking powder teaspoon vanilla

Mix shortenings, sugars and eggs – beat well. Then add dry ingredients and vanilla. Mix well and adding peanuts last. Drop by tablespoon on greased cookie sheets. Bake in 350 degree oven for approx 12 minutes or until golden brown. I usually triple the ingredients and use 1 can of peanuts as they freeze very well.

Joyce Ward, St. Paul, Nebraska

Rhubarb Torte Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray 8 regular (2-1/2-inch diameter) muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk eggs in large mixing bowl. Stir in cheeses, biscuit mix, chilies and milk until well combined. Divide mixture evenly between prepared muffin cups. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until muffins are set. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before removing from muffin cups. Serve warm. Serve with mild or hot salsa, if desired. For a spicier version, used same amount of canned diced hot chilies.

Recipe provided by the American Egg Board

1 cup sugar 3 tablespoons cornstarch 4 cups sliced rhubarb 1/2 cup water Few drops red food coloring 1 recipe Graham Cracker crust (reserve some crumbs to sprinkle

on top of torte) 1/2 cup whipping cream (or Dream Whip) 1 1/2 cup tiny marshmallows 1 (3 3/4 or 3 5/8 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix

Combine sugar & cornstarch; stir in rhubarb & water. Cook & stir until thickened. Reduce heat; cook 2-3 minutes. Add food coloring. Spread on cooled Graham Cracker crust. Cool. Whip cream; fold in marshmallows. Spoon on top of rhubarb mixture. Prepare pudding according to package directions; spread over all. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs.

Ada Smith, Battle Creek, Nebraska

Correction: February issue – Salmon Roll recipe included 1 can (3/4 oz) salmon. It should be one tall can of salmon.


Rural Electric Nebraskan

APR - 1: SWM, NS/ND, 59, eastern Nebraskan farmer, 170 lbs, 5’5”, looking for that special lady who enjoys country life. Send photo & phone number. APR - 2: WCF, NS/ND, 69, from western Nebraska looking for a companion to have fun with. I like C/W dancing, also other dances, play cards, and go out to have fun. I am lonely for a partner.

To appear in print The Rural Electric Nebraskan Adult Pen Pal Service is exclusively for member-readers ages 18 and over. To be considered for use, submissions must: (1) Identify rural electric system providing magazine; (2) Include $6 to cover mail forwarding costs; (3) Be 25 words or fewer; (4) Include full name and mailing address (will not be used in magazine); and (5) Be first person, submitted directly by person to receive responses. Acceptance, editing and issue scheduling is at editor’s discretion. Address all submissions to Rural Electric Nebraskan Adult Pen Pal Service, P.O. Box 82048, Lincoln, NE 68501. All responses received by the Adult Pen Pal Service are routed directly, postage paid, to the response number assigned to each submission. To write To respond to one of the adult pen pal requests, write letter, place in envelope, seal and affix first class postage. Address to full, correct response #, c/o Rural Electric Nebraskan Adult Pen Pal Service, P.O. Box 82048, Lincoln, NE 68501. Your letter will be forwarded unopened. Do not send money or additional postage; forwarding is prepaid. Enclose your full mailing address for return correspondence. Once again . . . it is very important that all responses carry the full response number—both month and number—to be properly forwarded. Abbreviation Code C — Christian; C/W — Country-western; D — Divorced; F — Female; M — Male; NS — Non-Smoker; ND — Non-Drinker; R&R — Rock and roll; S — Single; W — White; Wid — Widowed

April 2013

APR - 3: SWCF, 25, college educated, farmer’s daughter from south central Nebraska. I like dog, kids, and farm life. Enjoy concerts, movies, and dancing. Write & let’s get to know each other. APR - 4: DWCM, 53, NS/ND, Enjoys cooking, movies, all sports, like to laugh, R&R and C/W music, outdoors and the country sites. Looking for someone to share the same things and share special things & times. Send photo and phone number. APR - 5: WidCWM, NS/ND would like to meet active lady in 70-80, to share time together, antique machinery, car shows, & parades. Sent photo and telephone number.

APR - 10: WidWF, NS, occasional drinker, 57, from eastern Nebraska seeking a male friend 57-65 that is a kind, honest, trustworthy gentleman. Prefer from eastern Nebraska. No smoker, please. I enjoy the simple life. Eating out, going for drives, walks & just staying home enjoying the TV. Send photo please. APR - 11: DWF, 53, looking for a nice, honest guy who likes to have fun. Love to go fishing, camping, CW dances, horseback riding, and work outdoors. Can cook! APR - 12: DWM, 70, central Nebraska, semi-retired, young at heart, healthy, flexible, like to dance. Like to meet slender to medium built lady. APR - 13: DWM, 36, western Nebraska. Trucker enjoys simple life. Looking for lady 30-45-for conversation, friendship, companionship, maybe occasional truck trip & traveling. Send photo and phone number.

APR - 6: WidWF, 63, looking for friendly honest guy, 55-75. Love dog, country living, and music. Live near NE-KS state line. Phone & picture appreciated. APR - 7: DWF, 64, tall, NS/ND, eastern Nebraska. Enjoys sports, music, rodeos, playing cards. Seeks tall gentleman 65-70 with similar interests. Photo, phone, email if possible. APR - 8: SWCM, 6’1”, 23, average built, from central Nebraska. Enjoy hunting, fishing, farming, dancing, playing cards, and just about anything else. Looking for a decent level headed gal 20-26 to spend time with. Please send photo. APR - 9: WidWCF, 70, NS, social drinker, like to meet a nice man. I like dancing, shopping, traveling, to dine out and have an interest in cattle.




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Rural Electric Nebraskan


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Rural Electric Nebraskan  
Rural Electric Nebraskan  

The Rural Electric Nebraskan (REN) has been published since January 1947. The role of the REN is to chronicle the benefits and challenges of...