Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's Earth Day!

Ah, Earth Day, when we fondle our collective guilt and think for a few minutes about what we could do if we put our mind to it to conserve and recycle. Here the Buddha in our garden meditates on our energy usage, and what can be done about it.

I was reading that the average American home uses 30 kwh of electricity per day. So, in hopes of documenting virtue I sat down with our electricity bills for the past year and figured out our average daily usage in kwh.

I guess we are doing our part for the environment after all. Averaged out over the year we used five Kwh per day this past year. That's going to go up, because it doesn't include the power we used doing laundry at the laundromat. Now with a washer and dryer at home that power use will be more visible. However the new w/d I keep rhapsodizing about has a high Energy Star rating.

According to the sticker, washing eight loads a week at eight cents per Kwh, which just happens to be what we have been paying, costs $11.31 for an entire year! And the dern thing uses a tablespoon of detergent and liquid fabric softener per load, so it's economical on the soap too.

Summerland is starting a blue bag recycling program. Alas, the beach community is not included in the route. Summerland is divided up the middle by mountains and we are sort of in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps later they will come out here, but we are going to call and see if we can take blue bags to a recycling depot. We haven't ever had the extra energy to recycle this way, but we're hoping to make it the next step in our conservation efforts.

The lights in the Beach House are all 12 volt DC and use the same DC bulbs that you'd use in your old Ford's tail lights. DC bulbs use about 30% less power than equivalent-sized AC incandescent bulbs. We are looking at replacing a couple of our DC bulbs with LED lights. I'm not sure how that will work, but they do have advantages. Cost is not one of them. The little bulbs cost over $20.00 each! But they burn for over 10,000 hours and draw less than a watt of power, so the cost of the bulb would be offset by power savings over several years.

I'm buying locally grown produce in preference to stuff flown in from Chili or Zanzibar. The 100 mile limit is pretty tough to stick to in Canada during the winter, and I'm not ready to give up those first fresh strawberries and asparagus from California. But you can buy fresh BC grown apples here all winter long, so why buy watermelons from Mexico that taste like cucumbers?

Canadians use more energy per capita than any other nation in the world. It's time we smartened up and did what we can to put a stop to the waste around us.

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