Archive for April, 2011

World Changing Wednesdays for Earth Month

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

April is Earth Month. I felt like a great thing to do to celebrate was to try to reduce my consumption of energy, thereby reducing my CO2 output.
April 1 we started a new tour. Driving a bunch of miles does not help to reduce my emissions (although its a low emission car). Still, I’m going to do what I can this month. And you can play along. It will be fun.
So here’s some numbers that have been sorely lacking from my recent posts. The US accounts for 1/5 of the worlds CO2. That’s bunch. The average family of two is responsible for 42,000 lbs of the stuff annually. I figure if we (that’s me and Aidan) could use 10% less that would be a big reduction. If WE (that’s me, and all the yous out there) could reduce our output by 10% that would be amazing.
So I’m in the car most of the week, and using a gallon of gas results in 19.6 lbs of CO2 according to the EPA. The only thing I can do about that is drive at a more reasonable speed. that means getting more organized, and leaving a little earlier. No real sacrifices there.
Once home, there’s a lot that can be done very easily to consume less energy and output less carbon.
More numbers: using a kilowatt of electricity is equivalent to 1.5 lbs of CO2 and 100 cuft of natural gas is equivalent to 12 lbs of CO2. If you know how much electricity and natural gas you use, that’s big start in reducing your emissions. You can calculate your total household utility energy use, figure that in terms of emissions, determine how to cut 10%.
In simpler terms, lets find ways to cut back easily. Typically, a water heater accounts for as much as 12% of household energy. Making sure it’s thermostat is properly set at the recommended 120F is a good start. 80% of the energy used in washing clothes goes towards heating the water. Do more wash in cold water. Unless your clothes are really dirty, they should be fine in cold water. And while we are on my favorite topic… use less laundry detergent. You don’t need so much, really.
Using the electric dry setting on the dishwasher is an energy hog. Let them air dry, emit gobs less carbon.
Lawn gear is ridiculously inefficient. Mowers, trimmers, edgers… all use inefficient motors which spew a lot of carbon emissions. Not saying your lawn need to look untrimmed, just do a little less. Tell your neighbors I said so. Take out a little grass and let something native spread.
All of these things are free. I picked free stuff, and easy stuff because they are things we can all do and are more likely to continue to do. In 2007 the American council for an Energy Efficient Economy did a survey of home buyers about energy efficiency. Over 60% said they did not have enough money for energy renovations or were unable to pay extra for energy efficiency. Later in the same survey, when asked what they would do with an extra 10K, only 24% they would invest in energy efficiency. Most picked granite countertops. Its a choice folks. Lets make a good one.
This is just the short list. There’s a lot we can do around the house to reduce our energy consumption and our carbon emissions. I’ll keep sharing ideas all month. How about you? Got an idea to share?