Thursday, June 21, 2007

What I'm doing now to reduce my impact

I've instituted several changes in our household over the past year to save energy, and this ties in to the current Riot for Austerity: 90% Reduction Challenge. In the past year we have:
  • installed an outdoor clothes dryer (the old umbrella style) and use it almost exclusively for drying our laundry
  • switched our kitchen spotlights, kitchen ceiling fan lights, and one bathroom's light fixture to CFL bulbs
  • signed up for a time-of-use plan with our electric company
  • turned off unnecessary items during our peak hours of noon-7pm
  • washed dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher
  • Freecycled some unused items
  • I've also tried to be more conscious of where our food comes from, try to reduce our food miles where possible, and make more items from scratch.
Since the 90% Reduction Challenge started June 1st, I have been concentrating on reducing our phantom energy use. I plan on taking this project in stages, first concentrating on electricity, then water, then food. I will also be working on lowering our consumption of consumer goods throughout the project. I must confess that I fell off the dishwashing wagon and used the dishwasher for nearly a month when I was feeling yucky with sinus troubles. How easy it is to fall back on old habits when we are feeling down. But, I've gotten back to it and enjoy clean dishes the old-fashioned way again. I have also used my solar oven for the first time (see the post below), and hope I can make it a regular occurance. So, here are the things that I have done since the challenge started:
  • raised the thermostat to 85F during the day and 82F at night
  • turn off my computer with the outlet strip
  • unplugged the washing machine and dryer when not in use
  • unplugged the percolator when not in use
  • used my solar oven to prepare a meal
Next on my list of energy-use projects is to open up the water heater and make sure it is set at the right temperature (I can't believe you have to open up the panels on the darned thing to do this) and purchase some outlet strips with individual switches for our electronic devices. I'm also going to do some experimentation to find the optimal settings on my refrigerator and freezer.
Our municipal recycling program doesn't accept glass, but there are several drop-offs throughout the city, so I am going to designate a box in the garage for glass recycling and drop off when it is full. I also want to do this for batteries.
I'm also putting in a garden this year, but I'm in a planting black hole until mid-July, so I'll be posting more on that as I get stuff planted.
So, that's where I stand right now. I'll be posting more as I complete more projects.

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