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R4A – 90% reduction: The reckoning (action pt 1)

June 26, 2008

These are the details of what we did in our attempts to achieve the reduction targets. It is the first part of a what is a long post. It seems like a strange thing to tabulate but with the use/price/availability/cost of energy an ever escalating issue, it may amount to more than a fringe experiment or some middle-class, bleeding heart hand wringing.

Electricity – If an item is not in use it is switched off. The exception to this is the fridge and the cordless phone answering machine. I was turning the phone off too and using an ordinary phone but there were complaints from interstate relatives not being able to leave messages and so on. Everything else is switched off – heating controller and gas hot water units when I remember, modem, the electric gas igniter on the kitchen stove…all of it. All lights that we use are CFL’s.

We stopped watching the TV (have given it to one of my sisters) and also sold the dryer which we hardly used anyway.

So what can you run on 2.2kWhs?

An energy efficient fridge which is about 2 years old. Also to improve its power efficiency, it sits about 15 – 20cm away from the wall to allow for better air circulation. I bought a fridge thermometer at a garage sale which sits in the fridge and has enabled me to turn up the thermostat but still maintain the food at a safe handling temperature. I did also did this to the freezer. Most people have their fridge thermostats set at unnecessarily low levels which does little to prolong food shelf life but uses more energy.

4 loads of a small (5kg) capacity front loading washing machine which is about 10 years old and quite energy efficient but not as water efficient as more recent models.

The vacuum cleaner once a week. We use a broom at other times and we take our shoes off at the front door to minimise dirt. This has been very necessary with all the rain we’ve had – sections of our yard that were hard, you now sink into.

Answering machine phone thing, stereo – amplifier and cd player whenever we feel like listening to music, modem, wireless/airport and laptops….I would use the computer for about 2 hours a day. When I was studying this could be up to 6 hours or more but that is not the case now. My husband uses his laptop irregularly but can have spurts of increased use which are work related. All the computer equipment is switched off when not in use. We were doing this anyway, as we have power blackouts in storms and the like.

In the kitchen, we use a toaster daily and about once or twice a week I will use an electric mixer to knead the sourdough until I can handle it and to also to make butter. We would use the food processor and juicer infrequently. We use the dishwasher infrequently as it uses a lot of power ( compared to our other use) although it is water efficient. I would guess that we’ve used it about once every 3 weeks over the last year mainly if we’ve had guests and needed to clear space in the kitchen.

Garbage – To reduce garbage and recycling, I have tried to stop all mailed catalogues and advertisments. We have a no junk mail sticker on our letter box and this stops almost all unsolicited catalogues. However, most paper that does make it into the house, is re-used if it can be, or feed to the worms or composted. All vegetable scraps are also feed to the worms or composted. We plan to add chickens this year, which will give us eggs and manure for the garden.

We buy what we can in bulk or take our own containers/cloth bags to the food co-op. We buy very few food stuffs that are processed elsewhere. This means that I have started making mustards, vinegars, butter,some cheese, more syrups/jams than I used to. I already baked bread ( cakes and biscuits) and we have always cooked from scratch (as the Americans like to say). There are health and financial benefits to this as well and a certain freedom from the supermarket.

I wash any plastic bags that make it into the house (except the ones that had meat in them) and re-use them. We have used rechargeable batteries for years and repair items when needed including shoes, bags and clothes.

Also, I use a keeper and cloth pads when I’m menstruating. TMI, maybe but it’s not gross (that’s for the benefit of my sisters should they be reading!)

Water – We have rainwater tanks for the garden. Since it has rained almost constantly since November 2007, we haven’t really had to water the garden much.

Showers are short and we have a low flow shower head fitted. We had already put a brick in our lowish flush toilet cistern and adopted the “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” mantra.

While we wait for our water to heat up (for a shower), we collect it in a bucket and use it for washing laundry, cleaning, to flush the toilet or before it started to rain I used to water the garden.

I’m still working on ways to cut the water used in the laundry. This is ongoing. I have been re-using the last rinse water to wash the next load. This has reduced the water use in the laundry by 30%. Interfering with the wash cycle of a front loader is not an easy task. A combination of soaking and agitation in the tub and a rinse spin in the machine is more water and power efficient, produces better results but does take more time.

The remaining categories will be detailed in the next post.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2008 4:34 am

    At the rate the barrel-price of oil is going, soon we’ll all be doing this stuff. Or perishing…

  2. June 27, 2008 9:12 pm

    Anaglyph : And you know, it’s not weird or fringe or whatever…it takes that change in mindset to take action. Plus I think my life has improved by putting into practise what I believe. I am much happier. Also, I get a perverse pleasure from giving energy companies less of my money.

  3. June 27, 2008 9:19 pm

    Perishing only, if we believe that we cannot live without oil or electricity or the dishwasher. We will have to choose what we use these resources for, so I’d rather see oil used for medicine, public transport and the like than to fuel a fleet of hummers or electricity to operate air-conditioning in millions of houses. Yes, it is hot in those houses but it’s down to poor housing design and cutting down every bloody tree to fit in more houses(I’m referring to Western Sydney about the a/c and poor housing design but take any sprawling city, it’s the same0

  4. lidna permalink
    July 5, 2008 10:51 am

    It seems we already use 95% less energy than the rest of England (according to a Guardian survey) and that was when I was at home every day. I am now googling vinegar and mustard making.

  5. Cusher3Eibell permalink
    December 2, 2011 5:19 pm

    Types of Developer Purses * What one (As well as Two or Three) meets your requirements?

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