Monday, August 25, 2008

Green Update- Energy

I plan on posting over the next few weeks with updates of the efforts we have been making to live more sustainably. Today’s update is “energy”.

The main issue we have is that our house is a total energy hog, especially at this time of year! Phoenix is of course one of the most perfect locations on earth for the utilization of solar energy, and my dream would be to install solar everything and live off the grid! Not surprisingly though we don’t have a spare $20,000 lying around for that purpose, so for now conservation has to be our goal.

We have kept our thermostat set at 83 degrees all summer. It feels OK. We also close the shutters for most of the day to keep the heat out, and of course make sure doors and windows are closed, and well insulated. We also use our ceiling fans which make things feel a lot cooler.

We are gradually phasing out all of our conventional light bulbs and changing to CFL’s. We probably have 50% of each right now. It is amazing how long a light bulb lasts when one is waiting for it to go!

I am being careful to make sure that lights are turned off.(Yes Mum I am almost you now!) I am also more mindful of appliance use generally, and will only run the washing machine when it is completely full. I rarely use the dishwasher. This causes controversy in our house which I will speak more of when I do our green update on "water". I am also much more aware of the need to unplug appliances that aren’t in use, like cell phone chargers for example.

I used to love taking long, hot baths, but summer here rather puts me off that idea so I seldom do now which saves on energy for heating water. The girls and I will often shower together as well so that also saves a little. I would love to install a solar hot water heater which is apparently a good place to start with solar, but unless our current boiler goes out, that too is unlikely right now. (You watch, now it will!)

I line dry most of our washing. I have been line drying less recently than I was a few months ago, but I can still say that 80% of our washing is dried using our solar dryer! Ironing is another issue entirely though I am afraid, and I always have a big ironing pile. We have a strict iron-to-wear policy in this house. Good job R doesn’t have a job that requires he wears shirts that need ironing!

I have worked hard on reducing our gas usage. I combine many trips now, and plan routes so that I can get most errands done in one trip. Many days I find I only have the school run to do, which is only a couple of miles from home. I have vague thoughts of trying to car pool but haven’t got far with that yet. I am also mindful about my speed on the freeway, staying at around 60 miles per hour. (This is also an indication of my rapidly approaching 40th birthday I am sure).

I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home, and while R’s commute is unavoidable, it is only about twenty five minutes or so which isn’t too bad. He has also changed his hours to four longer days a week which helps. Our recent vacation of course made a mockery of our gas conservation measures, so we actually have a lot of catching up to do in that area.

I think that is about it. Not dramatic I know, but small changes are a start. The main thing is that I am consciously thinking about everything I do from a sustainability standpoint which is a base for change.

The next few weeks I will do more green updates on "water", "waste", and "consumption".


Amy said...

Jeff and I have been debating the whole A/C setting since our shocking electricity bill. When I told him you keep yours set at 83 he was astounded. Do you keep it that high all day and night or a bit cooler to sleep?

leaner said...

We would love to do solar, too. I think that will be out next big project... using the deployment money. We have some good friends who have solar and said it nearly cut their bills in half! Wowza! I really want to do it, and am willing to go into a little debt for it. *wink*

Mo said...

Amy, we keep it at 83 all the time unless we have guests! :) Last summer we had it set at 82, so a degree warmer wasn't bad. Sometimes it feels too warm but then I just go and sit under a ceiling fan for a while and I feel better! Our electricity usage has definitely gone down this summer, though I have yet to calculate exactly how much. Our bills haven't though because of course the price has increased. Typical!

Leaner, that sounds great! Here's wishing for us to as well. When we move we might be able to do it if we get a cheaper house, but not until then for sure. Do your friends have solar "everything", or just water heating?

leaner said...

My friends have solar panels on their house, I don't think it is for water, but for electricity.