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R4A – 90% reduction: The reckoning (numbers)

June 17, 2008

It goes like this – we gave it a go and didn’t make the targets in all areas but we made significant reductions in most areas. And to reprise what my dear father said to me when I came home with a 99% test score and topped my class, “Great result but there is still room for improvement.” And so in honour of my dad, we will keep trying.

One of my fellow rioters put together this post as a guide. I really think and agree with him that whilst you may not succeed in or be able to do all things, do what you can. Not much of an ask really! I will (separately) post what we did to achieve the reductions in each category and perhaps a final R4A post on what I really learned by doing this.

And so to the numbers:

Electricity- Our average use is 2.2kWh per day (it will rise in winter to about 2.8kWh – I think) Without the Green power, this represents a 90% (88% on the winter figure) reduction on average use. We do buy green power so if that is factored in we are carbon neutral….what ever that really means?

Gas – Average Summer use is 25mjs per day, average winter use is 140mjs per day. This is for cooking, heating and hot water. The summer daily average is 76% below average, winter use is 30% above average.

Let me just say, I regret swapping to gas powered hydronic heating….I love the radiators but we could have had this system with a wood stove (that you could cook on too!) Our decision was made when we were still commuting to Sydney for work and a gas-powered, press a button system seemed more convenient. How do you account for a shift in thinking?

Water – 90 litres per person per day. This is a 49% reduction from starting point of 175 litres per person and 75% reduction on the state average.

Garbage – 95% reduction. We started at about 86% of the national average – I had hoped that we’d be have no waste but alas escaping small amounts of plastic seems to be my continuing nemesis.

Food – This is the area I loved the most. It was difficult, at first, to try to source local food (in the Southern Hemisphere June 1 2007 was autumn/winter) but it got easier. During the summer and autumn, we did make or better the targets of 70% local food, 25% bulk and 5% wet/transported.

Trying to improve my own food growing efforts is what I will be focusing on and if I can grow food ( however modest ) in my steep, semi-shaded back garden then so can others. Some neighours have made noises about removing the radiata pines that partly shade us and others….fingers crossed.

Petrol – We used about 60 litres (total) of petrol per month. This includes public transport. This is a 70% reduction on our state average and a 50% reduction on our starting point. If I include the air -travel to see my husband’s family (Did I try to get out of it? Oh yeah! Air travel/flying is not my forte!) our total reduction in fuel is 57% of the state average.

Consumer – We achieved an 87% reduction on the national average of $15,000 in this category.

If I include some infrastructure expenditure (water pump, floor insulation, re-wiring) and not to be repeated expenses (sewing machine shared with my sister) and tuition ( however my studies went on hold whilst I grapple with what to do with my life!!!!!) then our total reduction is at the 75% below average which was our starting point.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 18, 2008 1:38 am

    Could you tell us some more about your electricity use? What appliances you have and use, and what you don’t? Because 2.2-2.8kWh/day is pretty good.

  2. June 19, 2008 3:12 am

    Still, great effort!

    Now, let’s try the same with the Twin Teenage Girl knob turned up to 11…

  3. June 19, 2008 2:24 pm

    Kiashu – I’m in the process of writing this. The post should be finished later today.

    Anaglyph – Thanks. Teenagers, hmm….if we had those it would have been harder and a more stressful process I think. But then again, what isn’t challenging about teenagers?

  4. June 26, 2008 11:28 pm

    The tricky thing about the particular teenagers in question is that they pay lip service to all the problems – well they get taught it in school of course, and they are constantly bombarded with media stories about environmental catastrophe.

    So they say things like ‘OUR generation will be better than yours and we’ll fix all this stuff!’

    Which prompts me to say parent-like things such as ‘Not if you keep leaving the bathroom light and the hair-straightener on when you’re not using them, and taking thirty-minute long showers, you won’t’

    There’s a big gap between intent and going without. As I’m sure you’re aware more than most of us.

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