I have been on a mission to reduce my energy consumption – questioning what I use and finding out where I waste. When I started, I found a bunch of tips on green sites. Some suggestions seemed big and some seemed so trivial as to be not worth the effort – with a lot in the middle. I found myself wondering which ones I should start doing in my own life.
Any project management person, or self-help book would suggest making a list, then prioritizing it and starting on the most important one. In my quest, I found that a different approach worked for me: just pick something to do now. And, do it. Now.
I’ve had quite a few success stories.
For one, I learned about compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs a few years ago and decided to give them a try. The “daylight” variety sounded neat — what could be wrong with that? So I bought them, and tried them, and found that I had made a terrible choice. Daylight color looks bluish, and doesn’t flatter skin colors. Let’s just say my wife and I still preferred candles for mood lighting 😉 But, I learned from my mistake and the next time, I bought CFLs with a “warm” color, or 2700K color temperature. Much better (though, I still use the “daylight” bulbs for reading). Since then, I replaced all the lights I could with CFLs – one or two bulbs at a time. And, as a reward, our electricity bill kept going down with each conversion – nice.
Another time, I felt a draft coming from the window by my desk. I bought a tube of caulk the next time I was at the hardware store and took a look outside of our house. To my surprise, I found about a zillion little holes to fill with goop. I now keep a spare tube and caulking gun at the ready and plug up other cold-air leaks as I notice them. Our heating bill keeps going down too – nice.
In the same manner, I’ve weaned my lawn from its chemical dependence to be totally organic. For snow, I’ve been trying to use a shovel instead of the loud, smelly snow-blower. To save water, I’ve changed my shower head (three times!). I’ve turned down my water heater. I’ve installed a programmable thermostat. I’ve educated myself about food and now eat a lot less meat. None of these things have taken time, a lot of money, or a big plan. I just did the ones that seemed easy, and I did them over the course of several years.
So, what’s next? I don’t have a deadline. I just keep finding new ways to save a little here and there. Maybe that new tankless water heater. I’m also thinking of saving a lot of bottles from recycling by making my own beer – environmentally friendly and fun!