Friday, May 2

Energy Update

I now have 17 months of energy-use data stored in a Google Docs Spreadsheet for easy viewing from whatever computer I happen to be at. The results are very satisfying.

In the months of February, March, and April 2007 -- when I started blogging -- I was using more than 800 kWh of electricity a month (892, 814, 826). By changing all the incandescent bulbs to fluorescent, replacing four light fixtures that required incandescents to ones that could accept fluorescents, and banishing halogen lamps, that number has dropped by about 400 kWh per month (495, 420, 356). I still have three adults living in the house, but they're different adults. And one way this affects my power use is that my other roommate is actually happier sleeping on the couch on cold nights than she is figuring out the space heater.

I've applied for a subsidized energy audit to help me prioritize my next changes.

I'm watching a bill working its way through the statehouse that would keep HOAs from prohibiting exterior shades -- mine currently prohibits this and I have a south-facing patio door I want to put shadecloth over in the summer. The bill also allows clotheslines. I think I can do that anyway on my back patio, so that's less of an issue, but still of interest.

Also of interest is signatures are now being collected for a ballot measure in the fall that will place a small surcharge on the cost of electricity and natural gas (about 3%) and use the funds generated by that to create programs to help people upgrade to EnergyStar appliances, insulate, replace windows and the like. A program like this has been in place in the city of Boulder for several years and the amount saved by homeowners has more than offset the additional cost of energy while lowering carbon produced by the city. If you are a Colorado resident and you're interested in learning more (they also need signature collectors), check out the proposal here.

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NotSoBigLiving is the story of a woman inspired by Sarah Susanka, Bill McKibben, Airstreams, Tumbleweed houses, Mennonites, Jimmy Carter, hippies, survivalists, Anasazi, Pema Chodron and Joko Beck, Scott Peck, Buckminster Fuller, and Al Gore to see what she can do to reduce her carbon footprint in her mid-80's suburban townhome. Strategies include roommates, alternative travel, organic eating, planting a victory garden, mindfulness, and a belly full of laughter.