Monday, December 18, 2006

Turn It Off! - This Week's Carbon Diet

Oh man! This week the Carbon Diet sounds like flashbacks of my father. "Turn the light off when you leave the room! How many times do I have to tell you?" Okay, so that's an advanced concept. Let's start a little further back in the process. Ease into this thing.

The first thing we can do is assess just how bad the energy that we use is, compared to the national average. Using your zip code, the EPA can tell you how the carbon load for your energy compares to the national average. Follow this link to check it out: EPA. You can poke around on the site and also discover if greener power can be purchased in your area.

I, however, am stuck with just reducing the amount of electricity I consume. One right answer is to turn off the Christmas twinkle lights. It ain't happening. Other suggestions include:
  • replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents
  • putting the devices that use "standby power" (e.g. the computer, the television...) on a power strip and turn them off at the switch when not in use.
  • unplug all the various chargers from the wall. I count five chargers in this room!!
  • replace appliances with Energy Star rated newer ones.

There are more suggestions at Slate magazine. Perhaps other ideas will work better for you; these are the ones I am willing to work on. We have replaced several bulbs with the compact fluorescents. This is a big old house and the ceilings are high, which means that changing the bulbs when they burn out is a royal pain in the neck. So, math-man was studious about getting those replaced as soon as the compact fluorescents were available. The real motivation was that they last longer than incandescents. Whatever the motivation, though, they really do use less power. Now it's time to get to work on the lamps. So I promise to start that process.

It's a bummer to unplug the chargers from the wall when not in use. I've promised to do it before, but haven't. I know what will happen. I'll lose the charger. This is me we're talking about. But I'm going to give it a shot. Moreover, I don't turn the desktop computer off at night, as a general rule. I just let it go to standby. I can't promise to plug all such "phantom power" users into power strips, but I can remember to turn the computer off at night. Surely. And this is the year for a new television. You wouldn't believe me if I told you how old the one (the ONE!) we have is, so I won't bother. But it's starting to die, so I can get a fancy new one, and I promise that it will be Energy Star rated.

With all these changes (and to me they don't feel easy this week) I've reduced my carbon load by the equivalent of 0.06 cars on the road. And that's assuming I stick with the changes; changing for just one day won't help in any measurable way. Sigh. THAT was edifying.


Lisa :-] said...

I suppose there is value in the effort, even if the results are rather negligible...

P.S.--Your link didn't work for me. wonder if it's a "beta" problem...

Andrea Rusin said...

Nope, it was a bad link. Operator error. Sorry!

Bob P said...


I just wanted to wish you a wonderful, warm, safe and happy holiday. I hope Santa fills your stockings with everything you've wished for, and that you're able to spend some time with family and loved ones - though, around here, those two terms don't necessarily mean the same thing! :-)

All my best. Jingle, jingle...

Bob P
The Hue and Cry