Monday, December 28, 2009

Happiness Project: Energy Consumption

An oddly restful Christmas holiday with just my parents and grandmother, and I am delighted to report that my niece called from California to tell me she loved her new quilt. She has yet to realize the patchwork is different -- miracle of miracles! She and her sister also loved the Project Runway dressmaking kits I got them, as well as the extra bits of fabric I sent, and my sister reports that they are Very Busy playing Fashion. Tim Gunn, watch out! My own favorite gifts include marshmallow lip gloss and an itunes gift card from the cat (aka my sister), with which I was able to download a bunch of much-wanted songs by Snow Patrol.

But moving along...I mentioned that I am embarking on Gretchen Rubin's "Happiness Project Challenge". January’s topic is energy, and (obviously) I got a little bit of a head start on this one…for some reason this whole thing really motivated me, and if I’ve learned anything it’s that very little motivates me, so I need to ride the wave while I can.

So. I started focusing on energy by looking at my energy consumption. At least during the winter months, when I am not running the air conditioner, my energy consumption is actually fairly low. I live in a small apartment that is in a converted mill, and that decision alone significantly reduces my own personal carbon footprint. My electric bill runs an affordable ~$30 a month, so there’s not much financial incentive to further reduce my costs. Plus, I own a car that gets 35-40 mpg, I take the train to work every day, and I recycle as much as possible. On the downside, as a renter I have no control over my appliances, which from what I can tell are not of the energy efficient variety, but I can use the cold water cycle in the washing machine, adjust the settings in my fridge/freezer, and limit the use of my dishwasher….all of which I do regularly. And, although heat is included in my rent, I have also made sure that my windows are shut tight, and I close the blinds at night to help retain heat.

My energy sins, though, are as follows:

  • I habitually forget to turn off the bathroom light.
  • I leave my phone and ipod chargers plugged in.
  • Things like my DVD player and printer, which I use infrequently, are plugged in and turned on.
  • My sewing machine is always plugged in.
  • I have a small fan in the bedroom that runs 24/7.

As “baby steps”, I’ve gone around the apartment and unplugged all the things that I use infrequently, and I’ve left myself a note on the door to remind me to turn things off – like the fan and the bathroom light. I know many of you are thinking, why on earth is she bothering to write an entire blog post about putting a note on her door…all I can say is, this is so antithetical to my default behavior it is almost akin to my skin spontaneously turning blue. I’m Just Not That Organized. But also – the point is that even small changes in our lives can lead to improvements, and a series of small changes can have a tremendous cumulative effect on our wellbeing. Even if I manage to save $5 a month on my light bill, that’s $60/year…which is a week’s worth of groceries, a new sweater, or a contribution to a charitable organization. And somewhere along the line, a little bit less of fossil fuels are being used on my behalf.

Next up in the energy challenge: Physical energy!

1 comment:

Karen said...

I am proud of you! All of these things and your efforts make a difference. Congrats!