What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

conserving our resources

Garden Path
Cypress House
January 16, 2008

I apologize for not making an entry sooner. Somehow with respect to homemaking aspects I had a serious case of writer's block. It's not like I didn't have ideas, I just couldn't get them to come out right in writing. So winter preparations gave way to Christmas then we were off on our winter vacation. Energy conservation is weighing heavily on my mind as so it was while on vacation so I thought I would share some of my observations and our recent changes.

We vacationed at Cypress House in Key West, Florida for part of our vacation then rented a condo at Hallandale, Florida for the remainder. There seemed to be a huge difference in terms of energy conservation. There were no CFL bulbs at Cypress House in the rooms however there was a friendly tag asking us to conserve electricity by turning it off when not in the room and there were recycling bins. They also asked that we be conservative in our use of water and re-use towels if at all possible. Walking around the area of Cypress House and Duval Street seemed dark compared to what we are used to in even smaller towns. There were street lights but the streets themselves appeared to be quite dark. Even Duval Street is not bright and glittering but more of a quiet ambiance. One reason for this is electricity is expensive and water resources are being stretched. In a region surrounded by a lot of water, water is becoming precious. This should serve as a warning to all. On our way to the Fort Lauderdale area we stopped at my husband's aunt and uncle's home on No Name Key.

Their house is beautifully located, looking very much like a home one might find in a subdivision except this house is very different. It is 100% solar and let me tell you I am in awe! Not only that under the large covered porch entrance was their water storage. This space had to be a good 10' x 10' x10' for water storage alone. Both just absolutely amazed me. Here they supplied their own electricity and water subsidizing only a bit of heat by propane as needed. So of course I looked for energy efficient appliances, CFLs and other signs of saving. Aside of using a laptop as the primary computer there were none! The washer and dryer were old (>15 yrs old) models and the fridge was a normal likely older than 10 years old. I saw no CFL bulbs but only one television instead of more. I didn't see a dishwasher or chest freezer either. What they would save in freezer costs would more than be made up in traveling to a grocery store and in fact it would likely be more expensive factoring in the traveling.

Onward to the condo in Hallandale. The condo was on the 14th floor overlooking the ocean with a view of the intercostal waters. All cars were valet parked. Each floor had a laundry room with energy efficient washer and dryers. That is where it ended. There were no recycle bins anywhere. This was a one bedroom condo with two baths. The main bath drove me completely nuts because when you turned on the lights three 150 W flood lights blared down but if you turn on both switches five of these flood lights would light up. That's 600 W total for one rather small room just for lighting! None of the appliances (all GE) were EnergyStar rated. Now this doesn't see like a real problem for one unit but given that in this building alone we caluculated there were 300 units not factoring in the common areas. This one building is a huge source of energy wastage! Now times that by the number of buildings just like this one we could easily see and that amount would increase almost by 10x. See where I'm going here? As a single family homeowner (single family) we are encouraged to save as much as possible yet a unit that could easily sit on our property with perhaps a bit of our neighbour's yet instead of an impact of two families could have an impact of 300 families and there is no incentive for those 300 families to conserve at all? It's this kind of thing that does really bother me. Conserving seems to be left up to the little guy with multi-family units and industry doing little to conserve.

Yesterday our Smart meter was installed. When fully functional we will be paying for electricity according to time of use (TOS). For the time being until the new rates become effective (yet to be announced) we are still paying the winter rate of 5 cents per kWh but when you factor in the service charges the real rate is about 11 cents per kWh. The new rates will be 3.4 cents per kWh off-peak, 7.1 cents per kWh mid-peak and 9.7 cents per kWh on-peak hours. One thing is for certain, the little guy who takes the measures to conserve will be taken advantage of by the mult-family units and industry. Mark my work on this one. While I am a bit bitter that those who use more electricity continue to do so without any seeming measures of conservation, I for one will continue to conserve and move towards the time we can move off the electrical grid.

Garden Gnome
© 2007