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I've been trying hard for years to change my lifestyle to be more environmental aware. I always like to throw around the line I am a hippie liberal, but maybe one time after some reflection felt how I lived wasn't so much.

I've done a ton of things (or so I like to think), which I will outlined blow the fold, but I still feel I am totally lacking. I like to think I will note a few things others here are not doing or have not thought of. But I KNOW others here are far beyond me and will laugh and say, "dude there is so much more you could do, then list those things." I would like that!

So without further intro, lets get to it.

I now have a large garden, raised bed. Made my own soil, no chemicals. Compost bin (not been very successful BTW). Just installed a rain barrel so I don't use "tap" water to water my yard/garden. Clearly recycle everything. I am down to less then a single full bag of trash a week.

I get about 70% of my food from local folks (meat). Heck factor out eggs, I only eat meat a few times a week (I realize eggs are in that meat but not meat zone). Trying to work with the city to put in a chicken coop, but there seems to be some "gray" area there and working through it.

I have a $40,000 German sedan (new, not worth that now) and I rarely drive it. I got my Cannondale mountain bike and saddle bags and I have figured out our bus and rail system, which is pretty amazing since I live in a rural area, not a major metro area. Now I will note I work out of my house, so this is easier for me then most, but if I didn't have to buy like 40 pounds of kitty litter or go on a date where I didn't want to pick up the women on a bicycle, I am not sure I'd need a car :).

Little things. Every light bulb in my house is energy efficient. Installed all low-flow toilets. Heck please don't laugh or mock me for this, but many years ago I used to buy pot from this 60s Deadhead. He had a sign in this bathroom that said:

If it is yellow let it mellow. If it is brown flush it down.
Now I drink a ton of water, so my urine is often clear with NO odor. I don't flush my toilet after every use. People have found this strange, but alas I don't so much care. Eight 1.6 gallons of water saved each time.

One area I am really proud of, if just a little thing. I am somewhat OCD and I have "germ" issues. I didn't realize how much money I spent on household cleaning items. Much less paper towels. I now buy like a quart of bleach every few months. Water and bleach into a reusable spray bottle. Those tee shirts I've been wearing for 15 years that look like total shit with holes in them, well they would work as rags wouldn't they? I buy no Windex or other cleaners, much less paper towels.

But what I am most proud about is my power usage. My bill used to average throughout the year, around $160. Now it is $85. I had a low month in March of $65.95. I did this via in the winter dressing in layers and keeping the temp lower. In the summer I installed an attic fan. I have also become totally anal about my use of power. I mean totally anal. No light or something using power is left on for a second longer than needed. I never thought this would make a difference, but my gosh it sure does.

So that is what I got. I'd love to hear what other folks are doing. What I could do I am not doing. And if you have some basic questions, cause I am nothing close to an expert here, I might be able to offer something of value.

Originally posted to webranding on Tue May 21, 2013 at 04:14 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  To Pat Myself On My Back Again, Power Usage (21+ / 0-)

    one resource issue I have is I am single, never married, no kids, and I live in a five bedroom house. If I had to do it again clearly I don't need all this space. Kind of a waste of resources. That I got my power usage under $100/month, well under that I am really proud about.

  •  I stopped eating meat, for many reasons (24+ / 0-)

    but meat is environmentally a disaster. I also put a 10kW solar system on my house and planted wall-climbing ivy all around it to insulate it and keep it cool. Only buy hybrids and looking at the Tesla. Only fly commercial.

    •  I Got A Solar Estimate, And I Need To Get Another (12+ / 0-)

      I was told $85,000. Two years ago and honestly I don't recall all it included, but that just seems off the chart to me. My car is a V6, Does 1342 MPH. 2001. Gets 32 MPG on the highway. Has 37,000 miles on it.

      But if I got another car, which I don't plan to do soon, it will be totally electric. Not even up for debate.

      •  132. Not 1342 MPH Fast :) n/t (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane, blueyedace2, PeterHug, The Marti
      •  Where do you live? (11+ / 0-)

        I sell solar power systems in Massachusetts, if you're local, I'd love to give you a quote.  Given your low usage, $85,000 seems awfully high.  Email me, ok?  john (at) tehans (dot) com

        Follow our efforts to turn Southern Worcester County (MA) blue! Greater Blackstone Valley Dems

        by AnotherMassachusettsLiberal on Tue May 21, 2013 at 04:35:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  For a residential system, you should (15+ / 0-)

        be paying around $4 a Watt, all in. That would be $2.70 net after your federal tax credit. Even less if you live in a state that has additional subsidies. Or of course you could do a no money down system with a SolarCity if the cash is a problem. I paid $5 a Watt (2 years ago) that netted to $2 after state and federal subsidies and I love it. We run the AC and I don't have to feel guilty. For people who actually care about global warming, solar systems (both PV and thermal) have a payoff way greater than the financial advantage. Highly recommended.

      •  You might consider getting an estimate on (15+ / 0-)

        a solar hot water system also.  We have one with an electric switch for turning on the heating element when it's cloudy for several days.  I don't think we turn the electric switch on more than about 10 days a year.  A system like that pays for itself even faster than the PV system would.

      •  Don't buy anything (7+ / 0-)

        Your electrical usage should be so small that it doesn't make economic sense to get solar.

        We always look for answers by buying stuff. Get your usage down so low that you can use a couple truck batteries hooked up to a couple cheap panels to hold you over for lights and computer during the night.

        When I hear of someone buying a 60,000 dollar hunk of metal that is electric I just see one big energy gluton. You have a good car, use it when you have to.

        I think your energy usage is pretty good, get the chickens, your municipality is just closing it's eyes. If they complain kill the chicken and eat it. Don't buy coop, make one out of old wood and wire.

        Do you have a large chest freezer? If you have a garden it's a better place to put your money than a solar panel. Food costs a lot of carbon. Shoot and eat animals.

        No more time, stuff to do. Good post.

        How big is your personal carbon footprint?

        by ban nock on Tue May 21, 2013 at 07:59:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Excuse me, but doesn't a chest freezer (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JBL55, The Marti, Eyesbright

          require electricity? Constantly?

          "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

          by Alice in Florida on Wed May 22, 2013 at 06:58:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes. (4+ / 0-)

            But it uses less if it's full, which is why people put gallon jugs of water in them.  It also helps in frugal meal planning.  

            I freeze bones and things for when I make (and can) stock a few times a year which then goes on a shelf until I make soup.

            "War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate." ~ Al Cleveland & Marvin Gaye (1970)

            by JBL55 on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:40:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I had a huge vintage chest freezer (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PeterHug, JBL55, Debby, The Marti, BYw

              that held all of my veggies, gallons of berries and 30-40 lbs of fish at all times.
              When i would close it down at the beginning of the summer, when i had used everything up, and left it off until august, there was discernible difference in my electric bill- it used next to nothing when opened occasionally.

              It is the best investment for serious veggie farmers and husband fishermen.

              The cost of preserving food in other ways, canning and drying, uses a large amount of electric.

              And yes, when my frozen supplies got low in late winter, i always filled the spaces with water jugs.

              'A scarlet tanager broke the silence with his song. She thought of the bird hidden in the leaves somewhere, unseen but nevertheless brilliant red. Nevertheless beautiful.' Barbara Kingsolver/ Prodigal Summer

              by flowerfarmer on Wed May 22, 2013 at 10:38:03 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  We had a vintage model ... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                flowerfarmer, The Marti

                ... which we left behind when we moved.

                We got a newer (and smaller) model a few years ago, and the uptick barely registered on the electric bill.  We also decided against a chest freezer -- we got a small front-opening model (about three feet high or so) and Mr. L built a little stand for it out of scrap wood so we didn't have to kneel on the floor to reach the bottom shelf.

                Right now the asparagus is coming in nicely and we are freezing most of the spears as we harvest.  Then we'll make (and can) soup.

                As the season goes by and other fresh crops are coming in (either in our little garden or at the farmers markets), we'll freeze what we don't use and eventually make jams and relishes and things.

                When it's time for Christmas shopping, we do most of it in the basement.  :-)

                "War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate." ~ Al Cleveland & Marvin Gaye (1970)

                by JBL55 on Wed May 22, 2013 at 11:29:13 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Having that experience (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  The Marti, JBL55

                  of growing such a bountiful garden is better than any insurance policy.

                  Opening that jar of cucumber pickles or watermelon rind pickles, infused with the taste of summer, is best savored in the depths of winter.

                  Beyond satisfying.

                  'A scarlet tanager broke the silence with his song. She thought of the bird hidden in the leaves somewhere, unseen but nevertheless brilliant red. Nevertheless beautiful.' Barbara Kingsolver/ Prodigal Summer

                  by flowerfarmer on Wed May 22, 2013 at 03:14:01 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  :-) (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    flowerfarmer
                    watermelon rind pickles
                    They are practically a requirement for Thanksgiving dinner in my house.

                    This:

                    infused with the taste of summer, is best savored in the depths of winter
                    reminds me of Ray Bradbury's observations about dandelion wine. Since I can't reproduce all of chapter 3 here, I'll just bring in Grandma:
                    Yes, even Grandma, drawn to the cellar of winter for a June adventure, might stand alone and quietly, in secret conclave with her own soul and spirit, as did Grandfather and Father and Uncle Pert, or some of the boarders, communing with a last touch of a calendar long departed, with the picnics and the warm rains and the smell of fields of wheat and new popcorn and bending hay. Even Grandma, repeating and repeating the fine and golden words, even as they were said now in this moment when the flowers were dropped into the press, as they would be repeated every winter for all the white winters in time. Saying them over and over on the lips, like a smile, like a sudden patch of sunlight in the dark.

                    Dandelion wine. Dandelion wine. Dandelion wine.

                    ~ Ray Bradbury, from chapter 3 of Dandelion Wine (1957).

                    "War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate." ~ Al Cleveland & Marvin Gaye (1970)

                    by JBL55 on Thu May 23, 2013 at 04:22:43 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  JBL55, it would be great if (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      JBL55

                      we were next door neighbors.

                      Kindred spirits, for sure.

                      Love Bradbury- i have Martian Chronicles on tape, which i have listened to when i have hand work.

                      Every copy of his work has traveled thru the decades with me, from Arizona and back again to New England, dog-eared and yellowed, but much loved.

                      Looking at a piece of land today, in Effingham, NH.
                      Abuts 3000 acres of state forest.
                      I am feeling lucky.

                      'A scarlet tanager broke the silence with his song. She thought of the bird hidden in the leaves somewhere, unseen but nevertheless brilliant red. Nevertheless beautiful.' Barbara Kingsolver/ Prodigal Summer

                      by flowerfarmer on Thu May 23, 2013 at 06:02:33 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  When Bradbury died ... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        flowerfarmer

                        ... I left work early, drove home, went straight to my bookshelves and pulled out several battered collections of short stories so I could read some aloud to my husband as we sat on the porch.

                        It was also in honor of my late seventh grade English teacher who read "All Summer In A Day" aloud, a moment which introduced me to Bradbury and started a lifelong love.

                        Somewhere along the way I lent (and lost) my copy of Dandelion Wine so I couldn't read my favorite passages from that, including:

                        “Stop!” cried the old man.

                        Douglas pulled up and turned.

                        Mr. Sanderson leaned forward.

                        “How do they feel?” The boy looked down at his feet deep in the rivers, in the fields of wheat, in the wind that already was rushing him out of the town. He looked up at the old man, his eyes burning, his mouth moving, but no sound came out.

                        “Antelopes?” said the old man, looking from the boy’s face to his shoes. “Gazelles?”

                        The boy thought about it, hesitated, and nodded a quick nod. Almost immediately he vanished. He just spun about with a whisper and went off. The door stood empty. The sound of the tennis shoes faded in the jungle heat.

                        Mr. Sanderson stood in the sun-blazed door, listening. From a long time ago, when he dreamed as a boy, he remembered the sound. Beautiful creatures leaping under the sky, gone through brush, under trees, away, and only the soft echo of their running left behind.

                        “Antelopes,” said Mr. Sanderson. “Gazelles.”

                        He bent to pick up the boy’s abandoned winter shoes, heavy with forgotten rains and long-melted snows. Moving out of the blazing sun, walking softly, lightly, slowly, he headed back toward civilization . . .

                        "... the boy’s abandoned winter shoes, heavy with forgotten rains and long-melted snows."  Brilliant.
                        Looking at a piece of land today, in Effingham, NH.
                        Abuts 3000 acres of state forest.
                        I am feeling lucky.
                        Wow.  Best wishes for happiest outcomes!

                        "War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate." ~ Al Cleveland & Marvin Gaye (1970)

                        by JBL55 on Thu May 23, 2013 at 06:51:27 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

      •  That estimate sounds insanely high (5+ / 0-)

        If the folks really gave you a number that high, it means they didn't want to do the job. Get a couple of other estimates. Also, check to see if one of the lease-to-own options is available in your state. Most now install panels & you pay them back at your current electric rate. They make their real money via the carbon credits.

      •  costs are way down. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Marti, Eyesbright

        way down.

  •  Excellent job! We do so many of the same (17+ / 0-)

    things, glad to see a fellow energy mizer~  !

    My wife and I love riding  bikes for groceries etc!

     photo OccupySantaFe077.jpg

    Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

    by divineorder on Tue May 21, 2013 at 04:26:56 PM PDT

    •  I've Read Studies & Articles That Says It Takes (15+ / 0-)

      30 days for a habit to form. I found that is true with many things, but what I outlined above even more so. I see you in a pretty heavy coat above. After I rode my bike to get groceries for months it didn't even phase me I might do it in the snow or if it was cold. It was just a habit.

      I'd argue there is an added benefit. I do it 2-3 times a week. I buy less stuff. I buy fresh food that I need to use now.

    •  Bikes are amazing short mileage transportation (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Marti, BYw, Eyesbright

      devices.

      Incredibly efficient, plus they do quadrupal duty:

      1. They get you there
      2.  They help your state of mind while getting there -- a nice was to combat the stress of the day
      3.  They help your body.
      4. They save bunches of bucks.

      A car will get you there a little faster, maybe.
      On short hops, the difference between biking and driving will be small. If the paths and the lights and the traffic are right, biking will be faster than driving.  

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:56:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Don't plant the ivy. (10+ / 0-)

    it looks nice but will destroy walls and roofs if it is not maintained on its own trellis. I know, I haz it. It ruins brick and clapboard and trees.

    I have LEDs almost everywhere as I am phasing out the cfls.

    I do the small compost thing in empty plastic coffee cans. the deer ruin most everything I have on my lot which is almost a jungle so I have not done the full out gardening thing I used to do and it makes me mad. I can have 20 deer at a time and this is the burbs. I have probably 10K hostas and they eat every last one.

    Anyway my small composting operation has yielded me a superlative stand of fish mint or houttuynia. Deer don't like it. Basically I let the stuff accumulate in the coffee cans and then throw it out the door on the fish mint after it gets moldy.

    I'm half tempted to run 100 lb test around the trees so when the deer run through the yard it cuts them in half. Yes I hate deer that much.

    I'd love to have photovoltaic and passive solar, but as I said, my  lot is a jungle and I'd have to spend more in tree removal than on the solar installation, but I'm seriously considering it.

  •  I drive a Volt (16+ / 0-)

    However I use virtually no gasoline.   In the last year I have driven almost 19,000 miles and have used around 0.5 gallons.   All of that gas was for routine 6 week engine maintenance that is required if the engine is not used.

    I would also have solar if my house was not ringed with 120 ft oak trees.   Not enough sunshine on my house to make it feasible.

    So, I just continue to drive without using gasoline.

    http://www.voltstats.net/...

    •  I am going through replacing a 20-30 y/o (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      patbahn, The Marti

      heating and solar DHW system.  Electric thermal storage system for heat, and a flat plate roof collector for DHW. The latter worked only in the summer and an electric boost heater was added on when there were two teenagers here.

      I have mostly-now installed a propane-fired heating system for heat. I looked into doing PV on the roof, but same problem with large trees ringing the S exposure. I can't see having to spend my own $$ removing 20-30 big trees worth the not-snow time for PV.

      Thinking about a house-sized wind turbine, at least that could run all year.

      Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

      by riverlover on Wed May 22, 2013 at 02:40:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  minor edit (9+ / 0-)
    Installed all low-flow toilets.

    * * *

    I don't flush my toilet after every use. People have found this strange, but alas I don't so much care. Eight gallons of water saved each time.

    Low flow toilets are designed to use 1.6 gallons or less for each flush.
  •  Having to Run Machinery in House for a Living, We (16+ / 0-)

    are somewhat limited. We're not doing anything game changing but we are tilting the odds.

    But we use almost all fluorescent or LED lights. We use the smallest machines we can get by with for work. We use paper towels for some cleaning and final polishing of wood and plastic, and those get reused till they fall apart. It's in our immediate financial interest to use the smallest size stocks of raw materials for our biz: plastics, metal, woods and to stretch every possible drop of adhesives, coatings and such, and we do all that.

    Our house was built in the WW2 era so it has lots of cross ventilation. We went on to install a roofed front porch, and those things allow us to skip air conditioning use until well into the 80's, especially with a window fan set to low speed blowing out in the top of an upstairs window. Of course we set the AC at about 80 when we do use it. I added 2 types of roof/attic insulation to the house when we bought it, and we upgraded to high efficiency water heater and hvac. I ran an HVAC duct to the unserved far corner of the main living space which helped even out the indoor heat and cut back on the furnace & ac cycling a bit.

    Our community has a recycling program so we use it every week for as much of our trash and shop waste as we can. There's a community household hazmat recycler that is open summer months and I'll be taking a load of that there next month.

    We're heading for a new house but the yard is too shady for growing most foods. However it will get us even more energy savings on cooling. Since the garage is attached we'll save a few joules of heating during the winter season, not needing to open an outer door directly into cold and wind.

    We have 2 cars but they get light use since ours is an old rustbelt inner suburb with most destinations at close range. Once we move we'll be able to do more walking and biking to some restaurants and stores.

    Herself went fully vegetarian; as I'm recovering from several years of digestive troubles, I need to eat meat 1-2 times a day while my veggie processing recovers, but my meat portions are small, 2-3 ounces tops. We usually don't drink commercial beverages, sticking with tea or sometimes fruit drinks some of which we make ourselves.

    Lots of little things.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue May 21, 2013 at 04:42:02 PM PDT

  •  One thing I always recommend to my customers (16+ / 0-)

    If you have AC, either window units or central air, and the units are located on the south side of your house, put them in the shade.  If it's a window unit, hang an awning over it, if central air, build a small structure with a roof over it, high enough that you don't impede the air flow but low enough to keep the unit shaded.

    AC works by rejecting heat - the outside part of the unit needs to get hotter than the ambient air temperature around it.  If the unit is baking in the sun, it's already hotter than the ambient air temp before it even begins to reject heat from indoors - this means it has to work harder, and get even hotter in order to do its job.  Shading it will save you electricity - a $15 awning will pay for itself in a single season.

    Follow our efforts to turn Southern Worcester County (MA) blue! Greater Blackstone Valley Dems

    by AnotherMassachusettsLiberal on Tue May 21, 2013 at 04:42:04 PM PDT

  •  Dude, you are doing more than most people already (16+ / 0-)

    Too much farther and you'll be up for canonization.
    The one thing you haven't mentioned is consumerism.
    Think, a lot, before you buy. Do you need this item? Will it serve you well and for a long time? What happens after? Is it made out of toxic or rare materials? Who made the profit on it? Was it made by slaves?
    I get the feeling you already run this kind of mental checklist.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Tue May 21, 2013 at 04:45:18 PM PDT

    •  I Am TERRIBLE There. Terrible (10+ / 0-)

      I totally epic fail. I buy way more than I need. I've gotten a lot better in recent years, but still have issues. Case in point the size of my house. Five bedrooms. I left a few rooms almost sit empty when I first got this place. My parents and folks said I needed to "fill" them up. I was like why?

      But I did. I have "trophy" rooms that I never use.

      Working on that. I have one room, I kid you not a "third" guest room. I got rid of all the stuff in it and all I have is a yoga mat, some weights, and an ad chair.

      •  Being the kind of person I am, (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JBL55, flowerfarmer, BYw, The Marti, Debby

        there would be shelves and storage in spare bedrooms for things I do use like bundt pans and bulk sale items like toilet paper. I certainly wouldn't heat or air condition them though. English houses are tiny and have almost no storage room. It can actually make life more inefficient because the tiny refrigerators require more trips to the store per week, and cooking utensils take up all the room in cupboards. I process most of our food and would do more if I had room for things like sausage grinders and cider presses.
        As to compost, my garden was too small to have room for a big one, so I started digging three foot deep trenches, throwing about a foot of vegetable scraps, garden clippings, and horse manure into a section, and then burying it through fall and winter, and only used the bin for summer. We have very loamy soil full of happy worms though, so that made a big difference in how fast the material broke down (and how easy it was to dig down three feet!). I did this for three years and the results were magnificent.

        You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

        by northsylvania on Wed May 22, 2013 at 02:40:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Tankless water heater (17+ / 0-)

    That's saved a tremendous amount of energy over the years.

    Clothing. There's a nice 2nd hand shop where we always go first when shopping for clothes. They sell unblemished clothing.

    We don't do packaged food because that's so energy intensive (and bad for the body anyway). We don't get tempted by off-season fruits and vegetables shipped from South America.

    Cheap is green.

    "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

    by Crider on Tue May 21, 2013 at 04:47:03 PM PDT

  •  Passive hot water. (11+ / 0-)

    I am thinking about it and how to set it up to assist my hot water.

  •  Am NOT going to do the toilet thing (13+ / 0-)

    I have a water-saving toilet that paid for itself the first year.  We use CFLs.  Hubby leaves lights on constantly and we've got "vampire" drainage going on with the appliances.

    Would like to get a clothesline if I can figure out where to site it in the backyard that won't bring the wrath of the HOA down on my head. Chickens? Fuhgeddabout it, they'd never sit still for that.

    Wish we didn't have a lawn. Would like to dig up the front for a potagere, but the HOA would screech and moan, so that's out.

    Ever since I read James Kunstler's The Long Emergency, which tells about the ghastly life we're going to live without electricity or other mod. cons, I've been thinking about getting a percolator--oh, wait, we wouldn't have coffee, either. Can a person make coffee out of roasted dandelion root?

    We do have three rain barrels that we use to water our desultory vegetable garden. We'll all have to make our own apple cider and use a manual cider press too.

    I'm going to HATE not having the Internet, e-mail, texting, and Facebook.  

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Tue May 21, 2013 at 05:21:56 PM PDT

    •  We'll always have coffee (5+ / 0-)

      unless there's no shipping at all. Coffee beans store very well and are fairly light. What we won't have is produce out of season. No grapes in June, that kind of thing.
      Eating locally in season has been a revelation. I never thought I'd get to like rutabagas, parsnips, and leeks, but there you go.

      You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

      by northsylvania on Wed May 22, 2013 at 02:51:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Northsylvania, I've always loved those vegetables (4+ / 0-)

        but then, I'm weird.  The smellier the vegetable, the more I like it. Brussels sprouts?  Cabbage, both green and red?  Broccoli?  I love them all!

        Fannie Farmer has a wonderful recipe for Parsnip Stew, which she called "an old-fashioned lunch for a winter's day."  There's probably a vegetarian version of it somewhere--Auntie Google would know.

        My family has a long tradition of oven-roasting diced rutabaga, carrots, and parsnips in butter or olive oil in a casserole dish to serve with the Thanksgiving turkey.

        Leeks--I use them in Honfleur Fish Stew, one of the two best-tasting fish stews I've ever made.

        "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

        by Diana in NoVa on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:59:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Mmmm. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JBL55, The Marti

          I'll have to look up parsnip stew. I use them for "noodles" in lasagne, grate them and carrots into veggie chilli, and use a mix of chopped up rutabagas and carrots to lighten up cassoulet (which is probably heresy, but there you go).
          Now I've got to go look up the fish stew. Thanks.

          You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

          by northsylvania on Wed May 22, 2013 at 07:36:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  And... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JBL55, The Marti

          if you like fish stew, you might like fish "pie". I use this recipe, disregarding Nigel's swanning about. Use the fish that's common and good in your area. I do put in a few prawns (shrimp) but don't have any dill so I use a mess of parsley and some thyme instead. Smoked salmon is more common in the States than smoked haddock or cod, but you don't need very much of it. The crumbly crust is lovely.

          You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

          by northsylvania on Wed May 22, 2013 at 07:54:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  A most interesting recipe--thanks! (0+ / 0-)

            Sounds as if he spends a good bit of the day making it.  Don't know whether I'm up to that much effort, but I do like the sound of the apple and orange cake.

            "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

            by Diana in NoVa on Thu May 23, 2013 at 02:44:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  not if the plants can't produce the beans (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Marti

        . . . run a search on growing coffee and climate change.

  •  I'm working hard to minimize (5+ / 0-)

    my power usage.

    When I remodeled my kitchen I installed task lighting that has helped quite a bit. The area I use for food preparation has track lighting that uses halogen bulbs that I will be replacing in the next year, but the others are florescent or LED lights.

    I've also installed an LED ceiling fixture and task lighting in my laundry room, in the bedroom, and at my desk and I'm very happy with the LED lights that I've purchased.

    The ceiling fixture in the laundry/utility room is on an occupancy sensor and stays on for less than a minute when the area is unoccupied before going back off. That light gets triggered pretty often but it's only on for a short time.

    I suspect that a year from now the only incandescent bulbs will be those over the mirrors in the bathrooms. They aren't used very much and I'm partial to incandescent bulbs in those places.

    I'm also very good about switching off any lights that I don't really need.

    I'm also doing what I can to recycle and minimize what I put in the trash receptacle.

    The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

    by Mr Robert on Tue May 21, 2013 at 05:24:00 PM PDT

  •  Congrats! You didn't mention whether you'd done (9+ / 0-)

    any weatherproofing. Insulation, weatherstripping, etc. Those things can save tons. And midwestern windows need to be replaced periodically, as I recall. Double or triple pane, low E windows also make a huge difference.

     An efficiency audit can be really useful. Finding drafts and areas where an older house has settled and where air leaks from/to the outside, or between areas that are closed off to lessen seasonal heat transfer is well worth the investment.

    And how old is your fridge, freezer, cooktop, etc? Anything more than a decade is considerably less efficient than something new, (and on sale at Sears, etc), and can have a pretty decent payback time.

    Do you have a south facing roof or side of the house where a sunroom could be added? Good for planting through the winter and solar gain can be routed into the house via fans.

    A heat pump, when the furnace needs replacing. A solar water heater does surprisingly well, even in the upper midwest. And they can be homebuilt, you don't have to buy the ready mades that are very nice, but spendy.

    Efficiency has a much better ROI than anything else, the low flow stuff is great and you might check with an ag supply company about a larger tank to store rainwater in.

    Hope your mom's doing well.

    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
    ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

    by FarWestGirl on Tue May 21, 2013 at 07:22:52 PM PDT

  •  DOOR DUH!! [If anyone's still reading] (6+ / 0-)

    I think outer doors on walls facing east or west should open to the south.

    You need a door to funnel air when the weather is warm. North winds at all times of year are cold; you really don't want to funnel them when you open a door in the winter, but in the warm months often in the cooler evenings, funneling in a south breeze 4-5 degrees cooler than the house will save you running either AC or a fan.

    I've got a lovely 78 degree south breeze flowing by tonight but a door that opens to the north.

    The whole neighborhood is humming with AC but I've got just my attic loft window fan blowing out, and doors/windows for cross ventilation doing their things.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue May 21, 2013 at 08:14:18 PM PDT

  •  I rarely drive anymore, (8+ / 0-)

    walking or biking the 1.4 miles to work (8.2 miles round trip) with only driving once a week, when I pack in as many "errands & shopping" in on one day. Shop at Costco and buy in bulk, haven't been in a Wal-Mart in years.

    Only free-range, grass-fed, hormone & cruelty-free beef & lamb; organic eggs & tomatoes. I cut down on meat consumption considerably as well. I try as hard as I can to buy local & organic, and look for options online that don't support folks like Rush Limbaugh, etc.

    My house is older, and is bad about energy use, so once I have money I have a long way to catch up there. Still, I don't mind the heat so I won't run the AC unless it's really hot, and then only set it to 74. And no more lawn, either: all xeriscape, although at this moment that mostly means "weeds". That's slowly being worked on too, with money the big delay.

    Unrelated to the environment directly, but related to the economic environment: improvements are being financed with honest paychecks, no excess mortgages or loans or other leverages. Pay in cash-- no money to the big banks.

    I'd love to get solar eventually...

    The internet is ruled by cat people. Dog people are busy playing outside.

    by Canis Aureus on Tue May 21, 2013 at 08:57:47 PM PDT

  •  Hang clothes to dry (10+ / 0-)

    Rather than using a dryer.  

    Great on the use of rags rather than paper towels.  We keep an small waste basket in the kitchen next to a large pile of rags.  Rather than paper towels, we grab a rag, then throw it into the waste basket.  Whenever we are about to do a load of laundry, we grab the rag bucket

  •  I buy 100% wind electricity from AEP in Illinois (7+ / 0-)

    at 6.3 cents per kwh. If everyone started doing this there
    would be a big increase in wind farm installations.
    I'm not worried about intermittency because the US wind is only 4%, a long way for the 20% in Denmark.
    It's great reducing my carbon foot print to my gas waterheater, gas dryer, stove and my downsized 40 MBH
    furnace.

    Also I drive a hybrid.

    I'm pretty much at the end of my carbon reduction which is 3900 pounds per year vs 20000 pounds for the
    average American.

    http://www.epa.gov/...

    If I buy an EV(Nissan Leaf), I'll get down to 1700 pounds of carbon per year.

  •  We live in a small house (12+ / 0-)

    Very, very small. Unbelievably small.

    With off-grid solar electricity, piezoelectric-start propane range with no glow-bar in the oven, composting toilet, efficient refrigerator (a small GE with their new HE insulation), instant-on gas hot water heater, LED lights, a small microwave, a small woodstove for heat, and I have a hybrid car (though the others in the household have non-hybrids).

    One great thing about a small space - no room to collect crap. You want something new, there'd better be something you plan to get rid of. As a result, our collecting is in the form of things like plants. This year, we're putting up a pair of grape arbors and planting 3 varieties of grapes. One arbor will shade the south side of the house, the other will go over the picnic table. Last year, it was blueberry bushes, which seem to be settling in very nicely this year.

    •  That's my dream future home. :-) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radical simplicity, The Marti

      I plan to downsize in about ten years when I retire (i.e. am working part-time) and I hope if I cannot find a tiny place where I can garden, I can at least find a condo/apartment where I can container-garden.

      "War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate." ~ Al Cleveland & Marvin Gaye (1970)

      by JBL55 on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:18:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I commend everyone in this diary for their... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Creosote, JBL55, The Marti

    ...commitment to "doing their part" and leaving the earth a better place. I encourage -nay, beg!!- you to listen to the entire video.

    We've been saying this shit for 40 years!!!

    Besides you'll see John Belushi, Chris Guest and Chevy Chase before SNL. Among many other future stars.

    All talented musicians! Chase played drums for Steely Dan before they were Steely Dan....

    "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

    by CanisMaximus on Tue May 21, 2013 at 10:16:27 PM PDT

  •  Dumb question (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Thinking, JBL55, The Marti

    Is it better for the planet to keep the AC fairly cool (78 F) and shower once a day or turn it up higher and shower more often due to sweating? I know there are a lot of variables and there's probably no single answer, but does anyone have general advice?

    Chechnya: Russia's North Carolina.

    by NE2 on Wed May 22, 2013 at 01:05:47 AM PDT

    •  No Answer (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBL55, red moon dog, The Marti

      I don't have a definitive answer (obviously), but I think I'd start by making the air conditioning as efficient as possible. You'd probably save more carbon by doing that than trying to adjust the balance between showers and temperature.

      If you have whole-house air conditioning, then I'd look at the duct system first. This is one of the most important things to look at in any home because it is often the place with the biggest ROI. And leaky ducts can not only hurt energy efficiency, but they can also draw in air from places you don't want it, like crawl spaces, reducing your indoor air quality. (If it gets pulled into the ducts it likely bypasses the filter--if you even have one. And, it pays to check and replace the filter, too, because a clogged filter makes everything less efficient.)

      The Home Energy Pros website, sponsored by the US Dept of Energy, has some great videos. You can also go to my YouTube channel (GreenMakingUS) for videos on techniques.

    •  Since you ask ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Marti

      ... I would say in general the fewer showers, the better.

      Mr. L insists he needs a shower to wake up in the morning, and all the available evidence supports his contention.  But I get by with two a week in the winter, taking more in the summer depending on how dirty I've gotten in the garden.

      If it was up to me, I'd use the AC minimally and shower minimally as well.  Washing up at the sink is usually all I need to do unless I have to wash my very long hair.

      "War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate." ~ Al Cleveland & Marvin Gaye (1970)

      by JBL55 on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:10:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Running air conditioning consumes far more energy (0+ / 0-)

      in the form of electricity than you would consume in natural gas to burn in your water heater for taking showers.

  •  Pellet Stove! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55, flowerfarmer, The Marti

    I live in NH, and winters are pretty cold.  I live in a double-wide mobile home which is not well-insulated.  I have an oil furnace, but with the oil costing me about $800 a month (and I take home about 300 more than that...), I needed an alternative.  We don't get a lot of money in fuel assistance as we used to, either.
    This past winter, I invested in a pellet stove (about 1600, installed).  The pellets range from 4.15/bag to 5.50/bag.  On the coldest days, I used a bag.  In addition, my electric bill dropped by 300-250/month.  It's down to about $60 now.  
    Since mid-April, I've used 10 bags.  
    So, my savings are huge.  There is little waste, and what there is goes back to the earth.  
    I've used CFL's exclusively for the past 10 years.  I installed water-saver faucets and toilets.  I compost.  And, I recycle as much as my local facility will allow.  Several years ago, I installed a radiant barrier inside the base of the house.

    The purpose of live is to live a life of purpose...and serve your neighbors with joy and love and make a positive difference in their lives.

    by MinervainNH on Wed May 22, 2013 at 07:34:11 AM PDT

  •  We have made a few changes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55, The Marti

    in our daily lives as well and invested a little money in double paned windows, extra attic insulation, etc.

    We also are die-hard recyclers !!!  Our Recycle trash can, well, first, we asked for a bigger one than the regular trash can because we do recycle as much as we can.  What they don't take from the curb we drop off down the street at the recycling plant.

    -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

    by MarciaJ720 on Wed May 22, 2013 at 07:39:49 AM PDT

  •  We live in a house built in 1770 and enlarged ... (4+ / 0-)

    ... in 1795.  It's a pretty big Federal, and there is only so much we can do, but we try.

    Like many homes in Maine, it's heated by oil, and our three-zone system circulates heated water through old-fashioned radiators.  In 2006 (a few years after we bought the place) we replaced the furnace (c. 1940) with a snazzy blue German model which paid for itself in oil savings within a remarkably short period of time.

    There are lots of doors in our house (all thumb latch save one) which are employed in the quest to save on heating.  Any room not in use (e.g. a guest bedroom) has the door closed and the radiators turned off.  We use less oil than friends of ours in houses half our size with more open designs (i.e. fewer inside doors).

    We use newspapers to clean windows (no lint) and keep a stack of white dish rags in a kitchen drawer which we use instead of paper towels for all kinds of things.  

    We haven't used paper napkins in the twenty-three years we've been married because in 1989 a friend inspired me to buy two sets of cloth napkins for everyday use in addition to the nice linen ones I already had for more formal occasions.  I still have all sixteen of the napkins I bought that day (amazing!) and they get washed when all the other laundry gets washed.

    We recycle, redeem, and compost as much as possible.  Our trash and recycleables are picked up by a guy who charges us $3/week, which saves us time and saves the use of one more pickup truck going to the dump -- after all, our guy is going there anyway.

    I'd like to make the following changes:
    - capture rainwater for watering our vegetable garden
    - employ green energy in a room addition we're planning
    - hang laundry out to dry as much as possible

    We are researching the first two.  The retired Mr. L does the laundry and feels his time is better spent using a clothes dryer, so this is his call completely.  

    "War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate." ~ Al Cleveland & Marvin Gaye (1970)

    by JBL55 on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:03:46 AM PDT

    •  I knew I was forgetting something: ceiling fans. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      red moon dog, The Marti

      We installed a number of ceiling fans.  They are great in the summer and keep the AC to a minimum, and the one we put in the second floor ceiling of the center hallway helps circulate heat in the winter as well.

      "War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate." ~ Al Cleveland & Marvin Gaye (1970)

      by JBL55 on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:14:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No A/C needed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JBL55, The Marti

        at my house.  For the 2-3 really hot days each summer.  I live on a hill and get good cross-breezes.  

        When I bought the house, there was an A/C.  Had it removed immediately.  I have a ceiling fan, but I rarely need to use that.  Don't get me wrong...it's a sizable home.  But, it's also on one floor.  

        The purpose of live is to live a life of purpose...and serve your neighbors with joy and love and make a positive difference in their lives.

        by MinervainNH on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:53:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The AC we have are window units. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Marti

          As you know, even New England has hot & humid days, the days that remind us why we moved north, and there are times when seeking refuge in a cool dry place seems to be the only way to get a decent night's sleep.

          There is one in our bedroom, one in the office, and one in the guest room used most often.  If the second guest room is pressed into service, the office unit is moved in there.

          But as long as we keep the shades drawn and the doors closed during certain times of the day, the house is noticeably cooler inside than out all summer long.

          "War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate." ~ Al Cleveland & Marvin Gaye (1970)

          by JBL55 on Wed May 22, 2013 at 10:53:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Ceiling fans -- if you use them correctly -- are (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JBL55, The Marti

        an awesome way to save electricity.
        They look nice, too.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Wed May 22, 2013 at 10:03:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  lots of good thoughts here (4+ / 0-)

    I second the person who recommended examining every purchase pretty carefully. There's an app that scans barcodes and tells you who the parent companies are for everyday products. That can help a lot. I research major purchases pretty thoroughly, and even minor ones like shoes get a certain amount of attention.

    Minor purchases that I keep having to buy over and over get a lot of scrutiny too. I used to go through plastic cat litter scoops pretty frequently (cat with kidney disease = mega clumps), so I bought a stainless steel scooper that I expect to last forever. I used to go through hand-turned can openers, so I did a bunch of research on that and found one that's lasted for five years and counting. Buying second hand is also always a good option when you can. I take into account how much packaging something has as well. Packaging is so wasteful.

    Using bleach and old t-shirts for cleaning is good, but have you considered steam? Steam cleaners are incredibly efficient at producing vast quantities of steam quickly, and the good ones produce steam hot enough to sterilize anything pretty well. And dirt and grease comes off everything really easily. I love the fact that my bathroom has only a nice steamy smell after cleaning as opposed to the smell of bleach.

    You're doing a great job in general, though.

    "The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more often likely to be foolish than sensible." -- Bertrand Russell

    by wide eyed lib on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:29:58 AM PDT

  •  Little things count, too. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Marti, Debby

    We can't all do big things -- especially if we lack money or don't own our home, but...

    We save a little by buying non-perishable items in bulk.  Fewer trips to the store, less packaging.  Good all around.

    While we're buying those items, we try to double up errands if we take the car.  Fewer trips is a good thing.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Wed May 22, 2013 at 10:06:40 AM PDT

  •  Well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Marti

    No car only public transportation.

    Buy all wind power through our utilities company (ConEd Solutions though I hear Green Mountain Energy may be better).

    Mainly shop at our local food co-op.

    Do some carbon offsets as well (I particularly like Native Energy).

    We do eat meat but not every day and mostly chicken.

    FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. NYC's Progressive/Reform Blog

    by mole333 on Wed May 22, 2013 at 10:26:25 AM PDT

  •  All good ideas. Anybody do any proselytizing? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Marti

    That sounds like a bad word, but it's important to multiply our efforts by bringing ideas into the mainstream.

    I don't mean being preachy but making sustainable living the norm and not odd.

    Is there a way to make it sexy?  That would help.

  •  Another single and/ but also retired. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AZ Sphinx Moth, The Marti

      I installed an air conditioner / heater - hotel style in the room that I use most day.  That is the only one that I use most of the time (but I do live in S. TX).  My utility bills (gas and electric are separate), but manage to keep them (combined) under $80/ month except for 1-2 really hot summer months when they approach $130.  
         Last year I xeriscaped the entire front yard and reduced the back yard grass by 25-30% and replaced it with flowering plants found in the wild (aka the empty field next to my home)  that require little to zero water.  
          For single folks with low food waste, I have found that putting leaves / grass / coffee grounds (of course) into a sturdy black plastic bag and ignoring if for a couple of years works well -and yields good soil but it does require patience, as in out of sight out of mind!   I saved plastic bags from grocers for years and regular trash is down to less than one / week sans investment and won't be recycled by WM. The recycle bin gets everything else.
          The ? obvious advantage of being single is that you are not held to any convention, especially dietary or 3 squares per day regime, which is great for grazer's like myself.   Rarely eat meat / downfall is beef taquitos!
          The market is close, so I walk.   Bulk grocery shopping is 1-2 / month.  
           I hate to drive - my 2002 car has less than 21K on the odometer.

         It is nice to read that there are others like me - as most folks in S. Texas think I'm nuts!!!!

  •  Vinegar, baking soda, and dilluted Doc Bronner's (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AZ Sphinx Moth, The Marti, lady blair

    are about the only home cleaning supplies I use.  Tons of info out there about cleaning with vinegar and baking soda.

    In the summer I shade my south facing windows with trellissed ornamental hops.

    I have a solar, linear clothes dryer.  I didn't use my dryer once last year from mid March to mid September.  I even dry my towels on the line which a lot of people don't do.  I like them kind of scratchy.  In the winter, I put stuff that will dry quick on a line in the basement.

    My brother and I both have large veggie gardens.  My flower beds are now in herbs.  I mostly eat salad, gazpacho and other fresh veggies all summer.  I barely use the stove which helps keep things cool.

  •  Go Green (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smileycreek, The Marti, Debby

    Plant trees.  Eat less red meat.

  •  I'm fortunate to live in Southern California near (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Marti

    the coast so the temperature is very moderate.

    We seldom need air conditioning and don't have a built in system - only a furnace.  I do have a window unit that goes in only when it is stifling hot which is only about 2 - 3 weeks a year.

    Biggest utility usage is in the winter when days are shorter and the weather ranges from the low 40s to high 60s with some frost days.

    All lights except hall lighting (used very intermittently) are either CFL, fluorescent or LED.  Electrical bill averages $55/month.  Gas about $40/month.  Water is the biggest bill but includes sewer and trash service.

    We seldom buy cars as I prefer to learn how to do basic maintenance and some repairs.  After so many years without car payments as well as lower registration and insurance, it makes it easy to resist the marketing pitches for a new car.  If we do get one, it will be at least a hybrid, if not full electric.  We have a full roof face with unobscured southern exposure so solar is a possibility.

    My business partner and I car pool whenever possible.

    I used to golf but quit since it is so expensive and the impact on water usage and chemicals is out of proportion for the number of people who benefit.  Tennis and beach volleyball are my current sports - cheap and very beneficial exercise.

    Having been in the Navy, I am accustomed to thrifty water use as it was drilled into you in the days of limited water at sea.  I also don't need to have every light turned on in the house as again, living on board a ship that is mostly darkened at night, you learn how to get around safely once your eyes are accustomed to low-light conditions.

    We recycle religiously, do not buy bottled water (have a RO system which wastes a little bit of water) and have energy efficient appliances.

  •  I wrestle the seasonal swamp cooler maintenance (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Marti, jan4insight

    and refuse to switch to oh-so-convenient and energy-hogging refrigerated air.  

    Evaporative coolers take work.  When the weather starts getting hot, climb up on the roof (over and over).  Discard the old pads, scrape off the scale, and scrape it off some more.  Vacuum up the scrapings.  Visit the home improvement store, ane expect to visit it more than once.  Spray on layers of sealant to cover the invevitable rust.  Insert new pads after trimming to fit.  Oil the bearings if you don't want screeching sounds.  Clean out the water distribution tubes and replace the "spider" when it gets too clogged.  Replace the water supply tubing because it oxidizes to brittleness every year.  Adjust the float if you notice overflow.  Drain the system, block the vents, and cover it all up tight come fall.

    But in the high desert climate, evaporative cooling makes SO MUCH sense.  It cools effectively, taking 100 degree outdoor temps to 70 degrees inside at minimal cost and with much-needed extra humidity.  It's true that a rare spell of muggy weather can reduces its effectiveness to indoor temps of a not-so-comfortable 85, but usually that's only a week or so per year.  

    When I'mup on the roof scraping away, I'm thinking of that cool damp breeze, and I"m feeling virtuous.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Wed May 22, 2013 at 02:37:46 PM PDT

    •  The other part is adjusting windows and curtains (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Marti

      so that entry of hot air and light are minimized in the daytime, and the cool breezes of night can come in.  First thing in the morning and last thing at night I run around every room and make those adjustments.  

      And nice thick, high-mass adobe walls do the rest.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Wed May 22, 2013 at 02:46:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Are you hanging your wash out on a clothes line (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Marti

    to dry?   Not consuming energy to dry clothes makes a major contribution to energy savings.   If you must dry clothers, use a gas dryer and get rid of any electric dryer you are using.

    If you are using electricity for your water heater, switch to a natural gas water heater.

    If you are using any other electric space heating devices, get rid of those and use a 96% efficient condensing gas furnace for space heating.

    Everything you do to limit the amount of energy you use for space and water heating helps....particiularly if you switch from electric resistance heating to natural gas combustion/passive/active solar heating.

  •  Switch from electric range for cooking to a gas (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Marti

    range/oven will save considerable energy and money.

  •  Get rid of your current refridgerator and freezer (0+ / 0-)

    and buy an Energy Star model instead.   I saved about 150 kilowat-hours per month from making this change over my old fridge.

    In a house that does not have electric space or water heating, your refridgerator will be typically your largest single electricity consuming appliance, followed by your forced air furnace blower motor.

  •  Living in an apartment has it's challenges. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight

    For safety reasons I don't open my windows so during many months the a/c and/or fans are on. Also, I live in FL and it's always humid here. I don't have a washer/ dryer and rarely use my dishwasher so my elec bill is always under $100. My building is brick which seems to help. I've started using baking soda instead of commercial chemical cleaners and it works better w/o the awful smell but I'm sure everyone already knows that! We don't have recycling at home but take it to sites at a local park. I try to organize my errands to minimize driving and pay more attention to my purchasing choices. If I were a better gardener I could have a porch garden, just not really motivated to do that. I have relatives that garden & get my herbs from them. We started a recycling program at work that we've had for a few years. There are always ways to do better, this is a good diary.

  •  Vinegar is non toxic and just as effective (0+ / 0-)

    as bleach killing germs. It can be used on most household surfaces and the odor disappears when it dries.

    When added to laundry it acts as a cleaning agent and fabric softener.

    Mix 3 parts vinegar with 1 part table salt to clean shower stalls this is very effective getting rid of mildew.

    I used to try to use Windex but it made me cough. To clean hard surfaces/windows use a mix of 4 parts vinegar 1 part rubbing alcohol.

    To clean stove top coffee pots fill with vinegar, heat. Move from stove to sink, add separated stem and basket. Pour in a 1/4 cup baking soda stand back. Let soak for a few minutes and wipe then rinse.

    I use all these and there are many more recipes for using vinegar can be found on line.

    Politics is like sports, it doesn't build character it reveals character.

    by Sassy on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:24:01 PM PDT

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