Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Change of Pace

I posted some comments on Non Dual Reality’s blog. Since the comments took some time -- and relate to subjects that evoke some passion in me -- I'm reposting them here. The subjects: environment, energy, ecology, sustainability, everyone’s future.

I live off the grid -- no commercial utilities. I provide my electricity through wind and solar. I use 25% of the electricity that I used on the grid. I have had no reduction in quality of life. I have every convenience that I had on the grid. In town I was blind; now I see.

A little knowledge, a little discipline, $100 in purchases and most people could cut their electricity consumption dramatically.

We don't need more energy. We need more knowledge and the wisdom to use it.

i_wonder - what did you buy for $100?

Gretchen, here are some simple ways to save electric.

1. Compact flourescent lights - CFLs. They are a little more expensive than incandescent bulbs but use less energy. A CFL equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent uses 13 watts -- less than 25% -- and they last five years. I read somewhere (source escapes me now) that if every household in the US replaced just one incandescent with a CFL that it would be equivalent to saving 1,000,000 gallons of gas per day.

2. Outlet strips. Some appliances use electricity even if they are not being used. For example, TVs with remote controls must use some electricity to be able to sense the viewer clicking the remote's on-button. These are called phantom loads. I installed oulet strips on my television, CD/tape player, computer, etc. When I use them I turn them on via the outlet strip.

3. The most expensive item is a small unit called Kill-A-Watt (about $50?). Plug it into an outlet and plug an appliance into the Kill-A-Watt. It records the cumulative electric used by the appliance, the time in use, the rate of electric use and some other measurements. This tells me which appliances have phantom loads, and which use the most energy. For example, my refrigerator is about 13 years old and uses 60% of all the electicity that I generate and use. (Since I'm on wind and solar and my system works I'm not replacing it until it fails. However, if I purchased commercial electricity I would seriously consider replacing it now.) The Kill-A-Watt meter helps me manage my usage.

That's the $100. However, the biggest tip on saving electricity is turn it off if it's not needed.

A 100 watt light bulb uses 100 watts per hour. That's 2400 watts in 24 hours. My entire house uses 2400 watts per day for everything -- lights, fridge, hair dryer (obviously my wife's!), coffee maker, microwave, washer, gas dryer, furnace blower, etc, etc.

The bottom line: a little knowledge, a few small purchases and discipline.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

We are partway through step one and have done most of the second storey. Any programs that I have seen about living off the grid suggest that here is a very significant capital outlay, and even then care is required (not neccesarily a bad thing). I admire your self-sufficiency, but all I can do is take small steps. Lightbulbs for now. And driving a little less if I can.

11/01/2005 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger Thom said...

If this kind of thinking was applied to all of our energy needs we would not be in such an energy crisis. That said, my truck only gets 13 mpg but I can't afford to replace it. I try not to drive it much though.

11/02/2005 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Very nice.
Just the kind of thing I am hoping to educate folks (including myself) about when they visit our research campus.

11/02/2005 11:17:00 PM  

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