Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Living green and feeling frustrated

I'm reading a new book, "Green Metropolis" by David Owen. He's comparing the greeness of living in New York with the greeness of living in other area's. In chapter one, he makes the point that the average kilowatt-hour use per household per year in New York is 4,696 compared with the average Dallas household of 16,116 (more than three times as much).(page 17) Which made me very curious...what is MY average household use? Now, our house is small, under 900 square foot, but still larger than the average New York apartment, still we aren't "insulated" as New York apartments are---but we try to live sustainably, so I wonder where we would be in comparison to those two numbers.

Dork that I am, I pull out my latest electric bill. Well, they give you a graph for the year, but only hard numbers for the past month. Herm. So, I call up Billing and wait on hold. And wait. And wait. And wait. (Gee, wiz. Is it really worth all this? But now, I am curious and somewhat invested.) Finally, I reach a human!! She looks up the number and tells me. Just over 12,000 kilowatt-hours for the year. And then says "yeah, that's a lot." WHAT?! What do you mean, "that's a lot?" How many people actually ask the question? Everything looks like a lot if you look at an entire YEARS worth of it all at ONCE! *breathing*

Still, in relation to the electrical use in New York City, my family DOES use a lot more than they do. Despite having done many many things to reduce the amount of electricity that we do consume. Truthfully, I am at a loss at this point in what to do.

We have switched out all our light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs a few years back. The windows have been upgraded for better ones. We put more insulation in the attic. I have a high-efficiency washer, and line-dry my clothes whenever possible. We just bought an energy-efficient fridge to get rid of the 10 year old leaking one. We have a heat-pump and installed a pellet stove (fingers crossed that that helps A LOT in our heating bill this winter). Other than blowing in insulation into the exterior walls (which would cost us a few thousand to do)....I am at a loss. We keep our heat low---right around 62 degrees in the winter. My kids are used to walking around with socks and slippers. We have portable heaters with fur, aka: dogs. We keep throws and blankets around. I offer tea and cocoa.

The "low-lying fruit", all the easy stuff to do to save money on our electric bill....we have done that stuff. And I am frustrated. Makes me want to throttle that faceless woman in the billing department who blithely said "yeah, that's a lot." If she only knew how hard I work to make that number as small as possible. And that one comment, tossed off without a thought, made me feel as if all my work is meaningless.

1 comment:

  1. You are OK. If you divide up that 12,000 by 12 months you are using 1000 kwh per month. That's not bad. A year ago I used just in the month of August 2218 this August with changing out the light bulbs, cutting up the thermostat and hanging out clothes along with cutting the water heater thermostat down then my usage went to 1184 this August. Sadly, the cost was about the same which is really aggravating.
    Now, my home is 1000 square feet. I have 7 people living here. That makes a difference too. Just keep at it and you'll see a difference. Don't give up. One more thing, in New York they don't have electric heat. They use oil heat which does not count into the electricity cost.