Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Countdown to Earth Day

Sunday is Earth Day. So, in preparation for that, I'm going to (try to) count down to Earth Day with a daily tip to help the environment. Because I'm feeling extremely uncreative, I'm going to borrow these from Stonyfield Yogurt.

Tip 1:
Read up on
energy efficiency and renewable energy with fact sheets from the U..S. Department of Energy.
Conduct a do-it-yourself
home energy audit, with information on how to make your home more energy efficient and the profitability of making energy upgrades.
Energy Savers
Evaluate your
home’s energy usage with the tools available in this Energy Department website.
Compare and contrast homes appliances and learn about home improvements at
Energy Star, a government-backed program that can help you choose appliances and other home improvements based on their energy efficiency. In 2004, enough power was saved through Energy Star efforts to power 24 million homes, greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by the equivalent of 20 million cars, and saved $10 billion.

The things we have done include growing used to warmer temperatures. We slowly bumped up our thermostat until we had it as high as it would go (88F) for a good portion of the day. The programmable thermostat we have really helps, we can set it to be 84 during the evening when we're all home, eating supper and being active. Then gradually go up when it's time to go to bed. We are lucky that our climate is such that it gets much cooler at night, even in the hottest days of summer, so most nights we can turn the AC off completely and open the windows and use fans.

Of course, the clothesline makes the list. This did require getting used to stiffer clothes and planning ahead. It takes longer to do the laundry when you don't use a dryer (well, most of the time, on the hot windy days I find that the clothes on the clothesline dry in less than an hour - the amount of time they would take in the dryer).

We do buy energy star appliances, but most of our current appliances were in the house when we bought it. We'll replace them with energy star when we get the chance. We plan to replace our current water heater with an on-demand heater. We'll replace the stove with a gas stove when we replace it. For our anniversary, we plan to buy a solar oven, probably this one.


Tanya Brown said...

I really want a clothesline. I'd adore a method which would let me temporarily pull cable out and run it across my back yard. Have you seen anything like that?

Amy Dacycyn's Tightwad Gazette books - one of them, anyhow - have instructions for building a solar oven. It sounds intriguing, and I suppose that knowing how to build one out of cardboard boxes could be good. Still, there's a lot to be said for ordering the darned thing and being done with it, which would be my inclination!

Have you used a solar oven before? I'll be curious about how it works out.

Gaia said...

They do make pull out clotheslines, but they tend to be somewhat flimsy - more for camping or hanging "delicates" in the home. You could put an hook in a post and then using a clothesline tightener rig your clothesline to another post and then hook the tightener on the hook when you want it hung out. When you want it "reeled" in, just unhook the tightener and pull it back to the original post.

I have not used a solar oven, but a friend of mine used this one in OKC during the winter solstice and had sufficient temps for cooking. I know it's possible to make one, but they can be hard to get the right temps for bread baking (which is what we want to use it for mainly) and with our bugs, I want one that's more impregnable.