Unlike dishwashers that are more energy efficient than hand washing when used full, until recently there is no such thing as an EnergyStar clothes dryer and the ratings agency is not really enthusiastic about them. Electric clothes dryers account for 10-15% of our home energy usage. If you have sunny weather, outdoors is the place; in dry climates dry time can be as short as 1/2 hour. In less dry and warm places, be creative around your house, the drying clothes can actually put some moisture back into a home being heated with forced air heating.
Americans seem much more enamored of the electric dryers than Europeans who often don’t use them due to space constraints. Those that do use them do so sparingly because of higher energy costs.
While you can find many fine clothes drying rack choices at Ikea, Target, Lowes’s, Ace Hardware you’ll have many more uniques choices if you go online. Do a search on “clothes drying rack” (aka clothes horse) and click on the images for an amazing array of choices, especially those space efficient models that those around the globe have developed over the years.
Here are some that I found intriguing at Bright Green Ideas.
While I won’t be giving up my dryer, there certain categories of laundry that I air dry regularly with a combination of hangers (shirts) and racks. Since time is a constraint I am blessed that I usually don’t need to bother with pins (pegs) and that my drying areas (racks on upper balcony, hangers in nearby bathroom, wire shelving near washer/dryer for lingerie). Like all parts of our homes, I am constantly tweaking for a more efficient combination of lines, racks and spaces for our home.Clothing & Fabrics, Electricity, Energy Wise, Solar | Comment (0)
Hello Eco- Mom!
Please explain to me why leaving water running is bad! Fresh water is a limited resource; how does running it and using it end up ruining the fresh water?!
Love, Your Daughter
Hello Wonderful, Curious Daughter,
In order for water to get to your faucet it must first:
- Be pumped from sewers, storm drains, resevoirs to a water treatment plant. Pumping takes lots of electricity
- That water must be filtered, stirred (again more electricity) and treated (lots of not so nice chemicals)
- Bad stuff from filtering must be lifted out, transported somewhere (more electricity and gasoline to transport to waste disposal site)
- Good treated water must again be pumped from the plant all around the city through the water mains (again more electricity)
- If you’ve used hot water, there is also the natural gas or electricity used to heat that water that is just going down the drain to no good purpose
20% of energy in the US is used just to pump, clean and filter water. Even if you pour clean water back into the drain it gets mixed up with the dirty stuff and has to be re-pumped and re-cleaned endlessly.
PS. Here’s a wonderful design concept to clean your water at home.
Electricity, Reduce, Solar Thermal (hot water), Toxic Chemicals, Transportation, Water | Comment (0)
We installed solar electric in July 2007 in Northern California. When you install solar in PG&E territory you change from a residential customer to a commercial producer and receive a monthly accounting. As days become shorter and colder we use more electricity and we’re starting to eat into our summer surplus. Next July will tell if we properly projected our usage and size of our system. Real Goods Solar (then operating as Marin Solar) did our installation and we are extraordinarily pleased with their service and work. We used Sunpower panels which, at the time, were the most efficient panels available.
Being an accountant, a cost-benefit analysis was a must. Being house rich and cash poor we took out a HELOC loan to pay for the system but our monthly payments are equal to our previous average electric bill. The previous 3 years electric bills increased annually an average of 12% so, just keeping the monthly payment the same for the next 20 years will protect us from energy inflation.
Many of the Federal & State tax credits which allowed us an affordable system are no longer be offered but at least one utility CEO has gone on record as projecting that your own solar will be cheaper than the grid between 2014 and 2016 due to decreasing PV costs
I’ve been considering a solar battery charger to keep those pesky batteries on cell phones, iPods & cameras on ready call. Some research though is making me reconsider. The jury is still out on this decision.
Update, July 2011: PG&E, calculated our year-end discrepancy and we owed the equivalent of one to 1-1/2 month’s bill to them at year-end. This is mainly because much of the family decided that “since we have solar, it doesn’t matter how much electricity we use” – NOT! All being said, I think we calculated our optimal usage and number of panels appropriately. As the children move out of the house we should be able to run a surplus and sell back to PG&E under California Public Utilities Commission ruling on Net Energy Metering (NEM) .
We’re looking into solar thermal (hot water). I understand it, there is great variation on recommended systems depending on what part of the country that you live in so read this \”Homeowners Perspective\”, based in the San Francisco Bay area, with that in mind. Search out solar hot water information based in your local area for the best info for you.Economics, Electricity, Energy Wise, mortgage, Renewable, Solar, Solar Thermal (hot water) | Comments (2)
Have you scrubbed a pot using one of those green scratch pads lately? Most of us have. Did you know that they are made of oil-based plastic that breaks down as you scrub and those small pieces go down your drain, into the municipal water treatment, are filtered out and end up eventually in the Bay and ociean? Along with microscopic broken bits of plastic bags and bottlecaps they become part of fish and crustacean diets. Plastic has now become a defacto part of seafood flesh – yum, yum.
Solution? Loofah & agave scrubbers. Loofah (my sister grew some in LA one year) & agave are plants. Loofah can be purchased as a yarn if you have time to knit or crochet your own scrubber. As for me, 3M recently introduced scrubbers from agave (found some at Target) but there are probably others (let me know in comments).The sponge part of the old double-sided scrubbers has been natural sponge but with chemical dyes (bye-bye purple, orange, blue). The new sponges are made of recycled paper and natural fibers and have no chemical dyes.
I’m less enthusiast about the 3M soap loaded scrubbers. Soap is phosphorus free and scrubbers are from recycled plastic, but, again, plastic bits into the water stream. Their wipes are from bamboo, rayon (pulpy part of cotton plant), cotton & corn, presumably new material since recycled isn’t mentioned but all are compostable. Read labels & go online for details.
Remember, you don’t need to see scads of bubbles for a dish detergent to do its job. Though it seems counterintuitive, rinsing with cold water is best because bacteria thrive in warm (i.e. temperatures that our hands can handle) water but not cold.
Absorb grease and other food stuck to plate with old napkins, paper towels and put in garbage. Keep a strainer in the sinkhole. The more grease and food particles that go through your municipal water plant, the more energy they must use to clean your water.Energy Wise, Plastics, Reduce, Water, Zero-Waste | Comment (0)
1997 was the year that Amana won a department of energy prize for developing a refrigerator technology that cut energy usage 50%. Sadly, I bought my new top-of-the line model in 1996. You can learn from my mistake, though. Because they are on 24/7, refrigerators and freezers are a household’s top energy user. If you have a pre-2000 model, take a close look at your paperwork for it’ EnergyStar rating.
Here’s an Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator to help you determine if your annual savings might quickly repay the cost of a new refrigerator.
PG&E & other utilities are starting to offer rebates for old fridges, as well.
Consolidating so you can eliminate an extra fridge or freezer is a good first step. Keeping both your fridge & freezer compartments full, even if just with water jugs keeps them operating more efficiently, is another.
Wako has many more details on her Everyday Sustainable blog, so I won’t repeat.Electricity, Energy Wise | Comment (0)
Amory Lovins in the 8/26/2007 issue of Newsweek spoke about steps the government can take to slow oil addiction.
He also made is short, sweet and to the point on how the average consumer can promote energy efficiency in personal auto transportation:
1) Get the most energy efficient vehicle (both in terms of energy used to manufacture the car and energy it uses). Drive the vehicle properly to maximize efficiency.
2) Be thoughtful about whether the trip is necessary and how many people are in the car
3) Try to live nearer to where you work, shop, attend school and recreate.
4) Push for fairer competition between all ways to get around. Write or call your legislators at all levels, attend local meetings.Energy Wise, Reduce | Comment (0)
Despite my rantings about sustainability, I’ve discovered I have a long, long way to go even though I’ve made much progress. One of the best websites to find a good overall look at your personal & family sustainability footprint is Consumer Consequences . After you input your information you have the ability to compare yourself with others in different categories: house, energy, transportation, food, etc. It helped me identify which areas I should make more efforts in the coming year.
I’ve been reading online the NPR special report “Consumed” that was broadcast November 2007 and highly recommend checking it out:
Its goal is to answer the question, “Is the consumer economy sustainable?” in a serious way. They tackle the question in a comprehensive manner, with a lot of breadth but, if you don’t want to be overwhelmed, just choose one or two that most interest you.
A partial list of the featured topics: ecological footprint, landfills and the waste disposal sector, consumer debt, air pollution, freegans, marketing, junk mail, energy independence, the effect of consumer culture on mental and emotional well-being, carbon tax, food miles, fashion obsolescence, the green economy, e-waste, clean tech, globalization, Bhutan’s happiness index.
Interesting things to ponder as we consider resolutions for 2009.