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Rioting in December 08

January 9, 2009

too cute, originally uploaded by

1. Gasoline Average American usage is 500 gallons PER PERSON, PER YEAR. A 90 percent reduction would be 50 gallons PER PERSON, PER YEAR.

I’m not really tracking our usage since J. has a 1 1/2 hour commute each way and I travel throughout the northeast for work. I know our numbers will be sky high. In the past two months we’ve been very good about non-work related driving but this past month we didn’t do as well. We had to drive to family parties and then when family came to visit us we took them sight seeing. January we will get back to normal.

2. Electricity. Average US usage is 11,000 kwh PER HOUSEHOLD, PER YEAR, or about 900 kwh PER HOUSEHOLD PER MONTH. A 90% reduction would mean using 1,100 PER HOUSEHOLD, PER YEAR or 90 kwh PER HOUSEHOLD PER MONTH.

Last month we used 172 kwh and this month it was 253 kwh. I’m hanging my head in shame… I know it is still way lower than the average household but… A lot of this was the number of house guests we had as well as Christmas lights. Today the tree is coming down and the guests are all gone so hopefully this number will at least go back to last month’s usage.

3. Heating and Cooking Energy – this is divided into 3 categories, gas, wood and oil. Your household probably uses one of these, and they are not interchangeable. If you use an electric stove or electric heat, this goes under electric usage.

Natural Gas (this is used by the vast majority of US households as heating and cooking fuel). For this purpose, Propane will be calculated as the same as natural gas. Calculations in therms should be available from your gas provider. US Average Natural Gas usage is 1000 therms PER HOUSEHOLD, PER YEAR. A 90% reduction would mean a reduction to 100 therms PER HOUSEHOLD PER YEAR.

Last month we used 34 therms and this month we used 35.24 therms. Two months ago we only used 11 therms so it’s pretty obvious that despite keep the heat at 55-60 using it all has a huge impact.

4. 4. Garbage – the average American generates about 4.5 lbs of garbage PER PERSON, PER DAY. A 90% reduction would mean .45 lbs of garbage PER PERSON, PER DAY.

We end up with about 10 lbs every 2-3 weeks. My goal last month was to reduce our recycling and I would say that was a success. Despite Christmas and additional house guests our amount of regular garbage staid steady and we had a 1/3 less recycling. In January we will see a small increase because we are finally getting around to cleaning out the basement. Most of will be sold or donated but some of it (stuff my husband has kept around since grade school) is going to end up as trash or recycle.

5. Water. The Average American uses 100 Gallons of water PER PERSON, PER DAY. A 90% reduction would mean 10 gallons PER PERSON, PER DAY.

We were at this goal, with house guests showering everyday I’m sure this went way up. I don’t have a problem explaining recycling or composting but I do have a hard time telling my parents or in laws they should only shower every other day and could they please limit it to 5 minutes…

6. Consumer Goods. The best metric I could find for this is using money. A Professor at Syracuse University calculates that as an average, every consumer dollar we spend puts .5 lbs of carbon into the atmosphere. This isn’t perfect, of course, but it averages out pretty well. The average American spends 10K PER HOUSEHOLD, PER YEAR on consumer goods, not including things like mortgage, health care, debt service, car payments, etc… Obviously, we recommend you minimize those things to the extent you can, but what we’re mostly talking about is things like gifts, toys, music, books, tools, household goods, cosmetics, toiletries, paper goods, etc… A 90% cut would be 1,000 dollars PER HOUSEHOLD, PER YEAR.

I don’t see us ever meeting this goal but in December we significantly decreased our Christmas spending and still got really thoughtful and useful gifts for everyone. This year we are going to commit to buying more local and used products.

7. Food

Our Christmas was probably 50% local but all the meals we served over Christmas were also 50% local so it’s actually an improvement over previous months.

All things considered I’m really proud of us. Over the next year we’d like to make some more changes to live a greener life, in fact at least half our gifts from other people were books. We want to build a solar food dryer and a solar oven, purchased a pressure cooker and start canning. I also want to start sewing. I don’t see myself making our clothes but I want to be able to complete basic mending, hemming, and patching.

How well did you do maintaining a green lifestyle in the face of holiday excess? What skills do want to learn or hone this year?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2009 10:57 am

    Mr Chiots and I use much more gas as well, but since we work from home most of the week and combine our shopping trips with our business trips we save a lot. We do have to drive about 200 miles for each of our professional projects.

    We use much more electricity than most, but we do run 2 computer heavy businesses out of our home, and we have a sewer pump. We also have an electric dryer and hot water heater. So we use between 5-600 KWH per month. We do pretty well on our gas usage. We use it for cooking and heats, this past year we only used 135 therms for the whole year. Next year we’re hoping to get a wood burner for heating which will greatly reduce the amount of gas & electric used for heating.

    We do produce much less garbage than most, only 2 small bags each month. Now that we’re using compostable cat litter that will be cut in half. We probably only produce about 10 pounds of garbage a month.

    We’re way over on water, using about 1400 each month. But once again we are here all day every day working, so we use water when most people would be using water at work.

    We have been able to eat much more local food this past year and are hoping to get it up to almost 100% this coming year with at least 20% coming from our own gardens. We hope to increase this each year with the addition of fruit trees in our yard.

    It’s always good to keep an eye on usages like this. I keep a chart in numbers that charts our usage throughout the years (I started 3 years ago). It’s nice to see that those lines keep going down each month. So we’re consistently using less and less.

  2. January 9, 2009 12:01 pm

    I like this post, not sure I have posted before, I did use your waffle and pumpkin cookie recipes on Christmas they were a big hit.

    The only things I can calculate specifics on are Gas, Electric, and Heating, which I had a lot of fun figuring out so here is what I did figure out:

    I fill up about 10 gallons sometimes a bit more, every two weeks so thats, 20 gallons a month, 240 gallons a year, if I’m doing my math correctly which I’m usually not doing correctly, hehe. We have just the one car, I have wanted to get a bike but it would be a pleasure thing not a replacement for any of the car trips.

    I’ve never paid much attention to the actual usage of our electricity besides the dollar amount, never had a comparison to look at before and it is all kinda jibberish to me but last month we were at 347kWh, it was a bit higher than the month before, probably because of Christmas festivities.

    It should be going down from now on mostly because my Iguana just died so I don’t have to heat her up anymore, I am still amazed I get it as low as it is seeing as I have quite a collection of dessert animals that have heat lamps all year. By heat lamps I mean regular incandescent bulbs, they create so much heat there is no need to buy specifically marketed reptile “heat lamps”. The “heat lamps” are just fancy over priced incandescents anyways.

    We are at 11 therms, I’m pretty sure that’s just for our water heater. If only I could get my husband to shower less . . . a bit higher than normal since we had so many dishes at Christmas and mom was the one doing them.

    I found this real fun and interesting to compare. As for the other stuff, garbage is pretty low not counting the HEAVY cat litter that goes out everyday.

    Water is probably pretty high, again with the husband and his showers, they don’t call me mudnessa just cause it’s cute . . .

    Consuming, we don’t regularly buy much but we do have a lot of video game consoles and do buy a few games a year and I buy movies a few times a year so its probably pretty high since besides the normal purchases what we do buy is not cheap.

    As for food, we do what we can but the prices at the local farmers market are pretty high so we go to our “farmers market” grocery store, I don’t know why it is called that but a lot of the stuff is local but a lot of it is not. We are definitely eating a lot more local than we were last year just by shopping at that store versus the big chain store.

    Very intriguing post and very thought provoking too. Although I really would rather not think about my water usage.

  3. Sarah permalink
    January 15, 2009 6:54 pm

    How do you manage to use so little electricity? There are only two of us here and we’re both gone all day during the week, and we still use around 400 kwh. Any tips?

  4. badhuman permalink*
    January 15, 2009 7:52 pm

    Some simple things like making sure you turn lights off in rooms your aren’t in. We also leave just about everything except our TVs unplugged unless in use.

    At night if we are just watching TV we won’t bother with a light. CFLs bulbs are good but to be completely honest we only have a couple lamps with CFLs. We rent so we left the regular light bulbs in the permanent fixtures.

    We have a programable dishwasher and we run it at night. Supposedly you save by using electricity during non peak hours.

    We hang most of our clothes to dry instead of using the dryer.

    Our heat and water are both gas but depending on your situation washing everything in cold water will save you some money.

    Another thing we really watch out for is our computer, we used to leave it on almost constantly now we make sure to turn it off and unplug it.

    Hope that helps!

  5. Sarah permalink
    January 16, 2009 10:56 am

    Yes, thank you! Could be the dryer, we unplug everything when not using, and I use a laptop that gets unplugged when not charging. Hard to stop using the dryer as we’re in such a wet climate and it takes days for anything to dry! Thanks. 🙂

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