Conservation \ n  planned management of resource

The key to energy independence. If you have any desire to be energy independent, in whole or in part, the place to start is with energy conservation. Today's "modern conveniences" may require less effort but they do require more energy. In North America, and the US especially, we like big.  Big cars, big homes, big TVs. There are no economies of scale with these.  They take more resources to produce, more to operate, and more space in the landfill.

OK. So you are interested but not sure what to do first. The answer to that is simple - use less. Look at your current utility bill. There is likely a column that notes your daily KWHr (kilo watt hours, or a thousand watts consumed in an hour's time) electric usage. An average US home may use 7 to 12 KWHrs per day.  An efficient home might use 3 to 5 KWHr. Set a personal or household goal of reducing your usage by a 1/3rd. This  translates into immediate savings, money you can set aside for a possible first renewable purchases.

  At left is an actual spreadsheet one of our members used to track their electric and natural gas consumption. Click on it to see the trends revealed.

Your power company can provide this for you or you can simply take the information off your bills each month. Look at your usage as a trend.  You most likely use the most during the dark cold days of winter when you run the lights and heat more. Do you also see a summer spike?  Is it irrigation?  Understanding when you use power can go a long way towards reducing your consumption.

Here's a hint about conservation - beware of parasitic loads. A parasitic load, our current White House resident calls them "vampire" loads just so he doesn't use a renewable energy term, is one where power is being consumed for no useful purpose. There everywhere! If your TV turns on from a remote control it is using power while it waits from you to come home. The clock in your microwave is using power while you're looking at this page. Any device you have that plugs into the wall with a small "cube" transformer is using power even when the device is "off".

A study done by the DOE in the early '90's estimated that 12% of all the electrical power generated in the United States was wasted, their word, by inefficient parasitic loads. These convenience items are really just another indicator of how far we have gone around the bend with conspicuous consumption.  A study done in 1991 determined that parasitic loads in North America consume the equivalent energy production of Greece, Peru, Vietnam, and the Lesser Antilles combined.

What to do. To start, find the little buggers. Then determine which you just have to have - like maybe the baby monitor. Then go out an get power strips and/or outlet switches (these are small switches with plug prongs on one side and a receptacle on the other). Get your TV, stereo (anything with a remote) on them. How many clocks do you have, or need, in your kitchen? John and Carol went so far as to remove the back from their new stove and cut the wire to the clock. Be ruthless. These things are wasting your money!

alternative energy

Energy efficiency is something of a joke in America today. Most all frost free refrigerators use HEAT to keep the frost down (open the door and feel the edge!). You pay for this twice; first in added electric usage and, second in having to run the fridge longer to off-set this heat contribution. Look into replacing your major appliances with real efficient ones.

EnergyStar, EPA certified energy saving appliances. Click here to visit their site.

The EPA has started a program to certify energy saving appliances, everything from fridge's to computer displays. Several US companies have finally jumped on the efficient bandwagon. Do your homework and find what makes the most sense for you. Check American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy for a "Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings".. The web is a wonderful place to learn from. While you're out there looking - consider ConServ brand fridges and chest freezers. We know several happy owners. The fridge is an odd size for North Americans but standard for Europe where it is made.

Lighting. Here is where the average American home uses 1/3rd of it's annual energy.
Incandescent lights simple waste enormous amounts of power. If a bulb is hot it is wasting power to produce that heat. Yes, they're cheap, but only because they're so inefficient. Compact fluorescent lighting uses around 1/4 of the power to produce the same amount of light. A 25 watt CF bulb has the light output of a 100 watt incandescent.

CF's are more expensive, initially. But they outlast incandescent bulbs by 20 or more to one. This long life more than justifies the cost, and consider the reduced waste going into our landfills. The light is less harsh on the eyes, especially important for children. These make sense in many important ways. When you start looking at reducing that daily KWHr usage you would do well to start here.

solar tube lightingLast note on lighting - don't forget to let the sun in! Do you have a roo