Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Update on my personal focus: home energy use

Now that the dust, I mean pollen, is settling from all the Earth Day blossoms and booths and buzz, I can return to myself, my family, my home and check in with this year's focus: energy use. A propos because Sunday night we headed upstairs to put the kids to bed and, whew, it was quite toasty. The thermostat registered 83 so I closed the windows and turned on the AC (to 74).

So I pulled out the calendar I made with my individual goals and I see that I am hopping my way around them, getting things accomplished here and there, making positive steps, but definitely more work ahead.

JAN: I still have one set of windows in the living room without drapes. I'm past the point of telling myself to do them with my amateur seamstress skills. Too busy with Betty, so I will order them. Unfortunately I haven't found any compelling eco-friendly options in Cville, so I will likely order them online, comparing pricing and, unless they are made of reused material, reach a un-perfect, but better solution than nothing at all.

FEB: Creative Conservation came out and gave me an estimate on insulation. To add 2-3 more inches would be close to 900 dollars. Bryant said as far as cost savings, he admitted that might be a hard one to justify right now. We decided to make use of savings in other areas: installing a programmable thermostat, changing out filters every THREE months, and keeping the temperatures low in winter (wearing sweaters) and high in the summer (running around naked, just kidding! wearing light clothing)

MAR: March was appliance and lighting. We already switched all the lights to CFLs, so each night I go around turning off anything that is drawing energy - computer, ihome player, etc. Did you know that appliances that are plugged in still draw energy (I've read as high as 40%) - phantom energy. Also this month, I ordered my rain barrel (On our drive home from my mom and dad's house in North Carolina I found a great company. It was started by a conservation-minded teenager! I talked to his mom and ordered this rain barrel - a recycled olive or pickle container).

APRIL: I am so behind (will spare you a detailed earth day/grant writing excuse)... still need to get the spout for the barrell and the cinder blocks. BEFORE THE NEXT RAIN!! It's OK because our garden isn't in yet and that's what we will be using the water for (and it was May's focus, so I still feel ahead of the game).

Looking ahead to May - I've picked out my retractable clothes line. I need to stop by the Eco-Shop on Preston to make sure they still have the one I want. In June the kids and I will track and try to reduce water use and July we'll look at energy use (i.e. how many times do I need to say: turn off the lights in the room when you aren't using them. Stay tuned for some funky-cool mom trick to turn this into a habit for your kids. Suggestions welcomed!!)

The idea is not for us to do these actions for a month and then forget about them. Research says that if you do something consistently for three weeks it becomes a habit. That's what we'll shoot for. And even though I'm a little behind on my goals, it's on my radar once again and posted on the fridge. Betty has her hand on my shoulder - "You'll get there," she says.


markymark said...

Just a little note on rain barrels. You can buy used wine barrels (we bought ours from Whitehall Vineyards)and with just a little bit of hardware from Lowes they quickly convert to rain barrels. :)

BWB said...

I didn't know Whitehall sold wine barrels - likely more aesthetically-pleasing, yes?!