Monday, November 27, 2006

My Carbon Diet

Last week's tasks for the Carbon Diet were all about the car -getting the air filter changed and getting air in the tires. Those were the easy parts. The harder part was to assess and then reduce my mileage in the car. I want to see if I can drive fewer than 100 miles this week. I don't know, to tell you the truth. For whatever it's worth, though, that's my goal. (So far this week: 3)

This week's task is to focus on home heating. Here's the quiz and pledge for this week: Slate Magazine. I feel like I'm getting a free pass, because it's unseasonably warm. I'm good with free passes ;) Moreover, every single thing they suggest, we've already done. So.... what else is there?

We've caulked and put up the storm windows. (You do understand that by "we" I mean Dave, right? Me, on a ladder, with a 40 pound, 6' storm window.... well, there's no good end to that story.) Lowering the thermostat, wearing sweaters, planting trees, and purchasing carbon offsets.... all done.

Here's something we haven't done -get a programmable thermostat. There's a reason. Until quite recently, there was almost always someone home. We couldn't count on a long span of nobody being home, during which we could reduce the temperature. Now, of course, we can. I'm pretty faithful about remembering to take care of this before I leave the house, but I'm not as good as a machine would be.

Here's a question. Do any of our local utilities offer green alternatives? In Portland, they can choose to have a certain portion of their electricity come from wind. I know we have wind farms out here. Who's using them? What are they accomplishing? Where do I sign up? Should I sign up, for that matter? Who knows something about this, because I surely don't?


Michael said...

I don't think you can opt for green energy here yet. (Never, if Exelon has their way, of course.) I seem to recall that the plan to put in a wind farm down in Lee County was held up until very recently by an allegation that it would muck up the radar for air traffic control. The engineers looked and found that claim to be bogus, but I don't know where they are in the construction stage (or even if they've gotten to it yet).

Programmable thermostats are the best! Mine cost $45, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if I make that back within a year. Especially if it gets as cold as it's supposed to the end of this week and stays that way through mid-month: I'll be turning it waaaay down this time next week as I'm packing my bags for Frisco, and leaving it down until I come back five (or is it six?) days later.

Reducing mileage isn't an option for me. My mileage is entirely a function of my job and other responsibilities.

Wil Robinson said...

Don't know the rules in Portland, but I used to install solar panels in northern California. PG&E and other power companies would usually subsidize most or all of the cost to install solar panels in homes - and would buy back power if there was excess. I actually saw a few customers that MADE money each year from their power bill.

Not sure how solar panels would work in Portland...But you actually don't need constant sun for them to work.

Lisa :-] said...

I covet a programmable thermostat, but only so that it can turn the heat UP for me before I get out of bed. We turn our heat down to 60 degrees at night, or when we are out of the. A programable unit would make this all so much easier.

Lisa :-] said...

out of the....HOUSE. Sheesh. :-]

Andrea Rusin said...

I thought maybe I could edit your typo, Lisa -but I can't. It's probably just as well. Editing people's comments might not be the best precedent ever!

Mike, I know I've seen wind farms down south of here -not like Alabama, more like Lee County -when out on my bike. The problem with that is I can't tell you exactly where I was. I just wander around aimlessly, when I'm out cycling. The Noe's son, Stefan, is an environmental lawyer in the city and he had something to do with that case. I'll try to remember to ask them.