Saving Energy at Home

Saving Energy at Home

Amber Byfield
Mar 10, 2009

03_10_09_nationalgeographic.jpgWhile traveling for work last week, I picked up a copy of the most recent National Geographic at the airport. I read it from cover to cover--something I don't normally do with magazines--and was truly inspired by this piece by Peter Miller to more closely track my carbon footprint at home.

It's something we've talked a lot about here, here, and even here, but more and more writers are offering themselves as guinea pigs to see just how much energy they hog or hoard.

What this article specifically points out is that every little bit helps--which is why we should all continue to do even the smallest things. In the print version, wattage usage of common household items is tracked across the top of the page, which goes to show just how much you can decrease your impact by eliminating certain things from your energy diet.

The author and his wife chronicle their attempt to reduce their CO2 emissions by 80 percent. I'd definitely recommend reading it and then seeing what you can cut out.

Here's what I'll be eliminating/changing and tracking immediately, with bigger moves to come:
• No more driving to the park-and-ride to catch the bus. Instead, I'll walk or bike (and just leave my house earlier)!
• Finally buying something like this to eliminate vampire power. We have our TV/DVD player plugged into the same strip as our wireless router, so we can't unplug the whole thing. But I'm finally taking the plunge to eliminate as much vampire power as possible in our home.
• Bike-only transit in my neighborhood. This means biking to get my hair cut, biking to the grocery store every time (saving large purchases for one "bulk" trip), biking to the movies, etc.
Sewing my own small produce bags and eliminating 99% of my plastic bag use once and for all!
• Looking into our city's rebate programs and taking advantage of them. We're not in the market for new appliances, but Austin is offering a $2-off coupon for every CFL you buy! That takes 'em down to 88 cents a piece. No excuse not to swap 'em out now, saving the incandescent bulbs to swap back when we move out of the apartment.
• A/C is off. Right now it's fine, albeit a little muggy...of course, we'll eventually hit three digits. At that point, we re-evaluate.
• Learning to read my own electrical meter. This is simple enough, according to the article, and you'll be able to track when you're using the most power to see where you can cut things out.

So, read the article and see if it inspires you to take the leap and make (more) changes at home!

Photo by Tyrone Turner for National Geographic.

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