reducing my energy consumption…

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Bryan is an artist, father, husband, and son (not really in that order). He works for the Department of Vetern's Affairs and writes and administers The Fireside Post with his father, Ohg Rea Tone. His writings have not been published, though they have been printed a lot.

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reducing my energy consumption…

Dad,

I have been thinking a lot lately about how much energy I use. I try to evaluate my lifestyle all the time to find out if I can improve and better live out the values that I claim to have. I just read an interesting article on phantom power, and there is a good suggestion of connecting all of your electronic appliances to power strips so that at the end of the day, or whenever you are not using them, you can turn off the power strip and keep the appliances from using energy when they are not actually in use. I am going to try it with my extra power strips and see how it goes. It is interesting that we have a clock on the microwave, the oven, the coffee maker, etc. How important is it that we have a clock every two feet in the kitchen? We are a culture of convenience, and I am influenced by it every day, but I want to be willing to sacrifice some of my convenience in order to make my lifestyle fit my values, and for that I am going to kill the power to those appliances at night.

Here is a page from the DOE web site where you can calculate your energy consumption. I am trying to find all of the wattage for all of my appliances to finish the calculation, but I will let you know what it turns out to be. Here are some numbers on typical wattages of standard home appliances, that should make the calculation easier.

I don’t drive anywhere unless I have to (well, I could walk to the store every time, but it is about 6 blocks one way and with two kids and groceries it doesn’t sound like fun, so I drive). We live within walking distance of most of the important things in our day. A tank of gas in my Dodge Stratus will last almost a month. We don’t buy new things unless we decide that it is necessary (like the gas grill that we bought because all of the used grills we found were rusty or almost as expensive as the new grills), so we avoid plastic and packaging as much as possible. I think electricity consumption will have to be our next lifestyle victim.

I will start today, and I will let you know how the calculation looks and if our monthly bills change a lot.

Any suggestions?

Bryan

There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. Here are a few things (ok more than a few) that I’ve done to reduce my energy consumption and otherwise be environmentally conscious.

    1) Replaced all lights with CFLs.
    2) Disconnected the fans on the heating units in my apartment.
    3) Terrapass.com for my car. (doesn’t save energy, just offsets it with clean energy)
    4) Terrapass.com for flights. (doesn’t save energy, just offsets it with clean energy)
    5) Taking Navy showers. Turn off water while shampooing and soaping to save energy and water. Saves energy to heat the water and the water itself.
    6) Working to convert my entire apartment building to green energy.
    7) Walk often, take the subway often, drive rarely.
    8 ) Killing vampire power with power strips for Wifi & cable modem and TV/Cable box/DVD so that off really means OFF.
    9) Shut down my computer when not in use.
    10) Unplug chargers when not in use.
    11) Use rechargeable batteries whenever possible.
    12) Recycle everything possible especially rechargeable batteries.
    13) Bring canvas bags to the grocery store.
    14) Buy organic and/or local whenever possible.
    15) Filter my own water instead of buying bottles.
    16) Heat to about 64 degrees F, cool to about 80-82. (Actually, I almost never turn on AC at home. In the car it’s sometimes necessary. Use A/C above 40MPH, open windows below 40MPH. Whenever open windows are enough, this will save fuel.)

    My electric use alone is down over 16% year over year. Obviously, some of these things will not apply outside Manhattan or in some cases, specifically an apartment with heating/cooling unit combined.

    BTW, replacing with CFLs with a color temperature of 4100K made it feel like we remodeled our apartment. The light is dramatically better and whiter than the dingy yellow of incandescents and even halogens.

  2. Great comment, Scott. I do a lot of those things, though we haven’t switched to CFL’s yet. I read some stuff about the mercury in those not being safe, but that could be just another weak counter argument for a great new product. We will be switching them as we need new bulbs, since the budget is tight. I also am working on my composting, since we have a backyard. It”s Iowa, not Manhattan, so I have a little more space to work with.

    Thanks for the list.

  3. Hi Bryan,

    Funny thing about the mercury, the amount emitted by a coal power plant to produce the difference in energy between a CFL and an incandescent bulb over the life of the CFL is greater than the amount in the CFL. Further, in the CFL, barring breakage, it is contained for proper disposal. Whereas, in coal plants, the mercury is spewed around the world.

    (tangent)
    Despite the relative pristine condition of the arctic and its distance from numerous power plants and chemical plants, the breast milk of Inuit women (a.k.a. Eskimo, though it’s offensive) is so high in both mercury and PCBs that it can literally be classified as hazardous waste. This stuff really travels and accumulates up the food chain.
    (/tangent)

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