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Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Reva – Maini’s electric car

Posted by Williams on November 24, 2007

On a slightly offbeat note today, I thought I’ll cover the electric car produced by the Maini Group in Bangalore – Reva. It’s an old India based innovation story, but one that is only beginning to get its due.


The car is amazingly small in size compared with the conventional choices available from the more established car manufacturers. This makes it a dream vehicle to commute about in the intensely crowded Indian city streets. However, I would not recommend it for long distance drives on the Indian Highways. The fact that its commutation distance is only 80 km (under ideal conditions) is only part of the reason; the real reason is that safety wise Reva is not as sturdy as its conventional cousins and driving on the highway is a far more risky proposition than driving in your typical evening traffic jams.

Interestingly, it is being sold aggressively in London recently under the brand name of G-Wiz. Apparently, the response has been overwhelmingly positive since certain restrictions in London make owning cars there a very expensive proposition. The car is so tiny that it actually qualified to be sold as a quadricycle, thus bypassing many of the existing car regulations there!

I think Reva is a very decent choice for an urban setting, especially if it is a family’s second car purchase. If the electricity you use to charge the car is coming from renewable sources, the usage of the car is carbon neutral. If the electricity is from more traditional sources, the carbon emissions are two thirds lower than normal and the power consumption is 75% lower than normal.

Not to mention, the cost per distance travelled is as low as 40 paise per km !

It was not a long while back that I said in a post here that we Indians are not getting enough options to get into a carbon neutral lifestyle in India (unlike say in America). Well, this just goes to show what a ridiculous statement that was. No doubt, I’ll make more ridiculous claims in future as well.. 🙂

Posted in Cars, Environment, Tips | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

How to dry clothes inside your home?

Posted by Vivek on November 20, 2007

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There is always some inspiration for an article. Needless to say, the heavy rainfall today at Chennai which lead to wet clothes hanging inside our home was a reason to write this piece.

The most common way of drying clothes after either washing manually or with the aid of a washing machine, is to spread them out on a clothes line. (as shown below)

clothes line

Image Courtesy : bownet.org

This clothes line is typically situated on the terrace of the home/apartment. And this is exactly why the system fails on a rainy or overcast day as there is not enough sunshine.

So what is the workaround for this? We know that many people tie temporary clothes line inside the house, from one window grill to another, but this can only be a mess. With the possibilities of water dripping, people finding it difficult to move about, the problems are endless.

The best thing to do is to use a “Clothes Drying Rack

Clothes Drying Rack

Image Courtesy : made-in-china.com

These ultra portable, ultra light stands are a saving gadget for all our problems. And the best part is that their usage is not limited to rainy days!

Drying clothes on such racks can help prevent color losses which result from drying clothes in direct sunshine.

The rack itself is made up of a grill like structure where each rod can be used to hang clothes on. Since it is indoor, we do not need to add the customary clips to prevent them from flying away.

There are many varieties of racks in the market which can suit your needs. Number of fold-able arms, grill sizes, color and height are some of the differentiating factors.

There is even an electric rack which warms up and speeds the process of cloth drying !!

Some more types or racks can be seen here and here.

Comments are welcome.

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Defrosting your refrigerator- A small guide

Posted by Vivek on November 14, 2007

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We first covered refrigerators here:

Refrigerator – An introduction

Refrigerator – Selection criteria

For those of you who use the normal refrigerator, we are sure you are familiar with the sight of a frost covered freezer like the one shown below:

Freezer frost

Image Courtesy : unknownroad.com

The major difference between traditional refrigerators and the “frost free” refrigerator is the formation of frost in the former type.

So what is frost?

Water vapor from the food, ice trays and even the moisture tends to get accumulated into the coolest part of the fridge. Here they get converted to a solid ice like structure. Over  a period of time, due to constant opening of the fridge and contents of fridge there can be a build-up of frost around the freezer. This is called “frost”.

How do we prevent frost?

Well, there is no avoiding frost in a normal refrigerator. The only option is to regularly defrost the equipment.

How do we perform defrost?

Usually in most refrigerators, there is a small and tiny red button (see in the picture above). This is present on the thermostat dial.  Pressing this will initiate the defrost process.

What happens during defrost process?

The compressor of the fridge would stop working and the built up frost would start melting naturally. Typically refrigerators have trays and ducts to collect the melted water and it can be collected in the tray at the bottom of the unit. At the end of the preset time, the compressor would start to function again.

Can we defrost while the fridge is fully loaded? Would the food get affected?

Yes. Defrosting can be performed even if there are contents inside the fridge. Just make sure that it is not a long pending one as the internal tray may overflow.

Usually the cycle time of defrost is short and the insulation of the fridge would keep the food intact without any problems.

How often should we defrost our fridge?

This is a good question. The recommended cycle for most Indian users would be once in a week. If done regularly we not only prevent the build up of ice, but also minimize the amount of water that is ejected from the refrigerator. With optimum usage, there would be almost no water to collect as most refrigerators channel the drain water through the hot portions of the compressor where the water would potentially evaporate.

What are the problems if we do not defrost?

– The ice formed can reduce the overall efficiency of the refrigerator.

– If there is a power failure, the built up ice will melt and mess up the interiors of your refrigerator. This will not only spoil the food items but also cause the interiors to smell.

– Items inside the refrigerator will stick to each other.

– The water which would result from a long pending frost would not evaporate and tend to reside in the tray. This can be an excellent spot for mosquito breeding.

So, we hope that this article prompts you to defrost your fridge at-least once in a week.

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Posted in Refrigerator, Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Insulation and its benefits

Posted by Vivek on November 10, 2007

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Home insulation may seem like a topic for cold countries where retaining the internal heat is of utmost importance.

But, if you think about it, insulation can be very effective in tropical countries like India.

insulated door

Image Courtesy : universaldoor.ca

Let us analyze what are the key areas of one’s home which are open:

  • Doors
  • Windows (including ones in bathroom)
  • Balcony (usually the entrance to the balcony or the balcony itself may have door/windows)
  • Exhaust openings
  • AC openings

Almost all of these do one common thing in any home. They bring in air and a lot of dust. We think that if there is one thing at your place which you wish could cease to exist, it would be “dust”.

Now, although it is good to wish dust away, it is not fully possible to eliminate it 100%. But  lot can be done to prevent it from accumulating over and over again.

A sample of dust will contain dead skin, sand, debris from home and more. The sand part of dust is what we would like to focus on.

If for starters, you had your doors and windows perfectly insulated the amount of dust which would come into your home would be reduced drastically.

So what do we mean by “insulation”?

Very simple.

Just ensure that there are absolutely no gaps or spaces which exist after you have closed your door shut. This can be executed by a professional carpenter by using rubber liners or other advanced techniques.

Another action which can help curb the dust aspect is to install springs on the major doors at your home. These will ensure that the door is automatically closed and prevents dust from entering your home.

The biggest advantage of insulating from your room, especially the bedroom is that you cut your electricity bills and the room’s temperature is maintained over a longer period of time.

To summarize do the following to insulate your home in order to minimize dust and electricity bills:

– Make your doors and windows airtight

– Close the doors/windows when not in use

– Install door springs

– Close exhaust vents and the like when not in use

Once applied, you would notice a marked improvement in dust levels at your home.

PS  : To have fresh air once in a while, we recommend to open the door and window once in a while. Doing this at the right moment, i.e. no winds, servant lady cleaning the apartment and so on… will ensure better of both worlds.

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Posted in door, Tips, Window | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Pest Invasion

Posted by Karthik on November 9, 2007

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Pest invasion sounds a little dramatic. But the truth is, if your house is attacked by them you would simply not mind exaggerating it. The various domestic pests can include ants, cockroaches, fleas, ticks, spiders, and generally most insects and bugs. They can be annoying once in your house and can at times even be hazardous. And you need to have the know how to get rid of them effectively. While in my opinion, cockroaches are the most common and most annoying, we shall look at ants in this article as I have been noticing a new ants in my house recently.

Ants as pests: 

  • Modern society considers the ant a pest, and due to the adaptive nature of ant colonies, eliminating them is nearly impossible. 
  • Pest control with regard to ants is more a matter of controlling local populations than eliminating an entire colony. 
  • Attempts to control ant populations of any kind are temporary solutions.


Image Courtesy : svmomblog.typepad.com

I don’t know the species of the ant that I find in my house. They are these red and black ones which give a nasty bite. I think they are the Red fire ants.

Why do ants enter your house?

1) Kitchen:

This is probably the most common source. Everyone needs food and if you are careless with the way you store food, then you could have ants doing rounds in you kitchen.

2) Garbage bins:

If you throw edibles in your garbage and waste from the kitchen, then chances are ants will be attracted towards that. If you leave the garbage to stay there for longer, the decomposition will generate more odor and you will find ants on a holiday trip from far far away, into your garbage.

3) Wardrobes, closets, holes, gaps, switchboards …etc:

I think one of the reason ant infest the insides of your house is that it offers protection from the heat, the rain ….etc. I see ants in my house all around the switchboards(there is a hole in the wall where the switchboard is mounted), having colonies near them. In lamp fitments in the wall, because there is a small niche there. The gaps maybe small but enough for ants to have a small colony. Believe me once they start storing food from outside inside you house, that’s the most irritating part.

Click here to read the full article

Posted in Pest, Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »