Solutions at Home

How often do you find yourself looking outside for solutions to our environmental crises -- Federal regulation, conservation of wildlands, and the greening of industry.  These are all efforts that need to be pursued, but I end up spending so much time reading NEPA analysis or sending in public comments on proposed projects that I may lose sight of what is truly within my power to change.  That is why it was refreshing to learn that the US Green Building Council, and the Sierra Club's My Generation Campaign and San Gorgonio Chapter sponsored a home energy efficiency seminar in Southern California.  The seminar is part of a series that will focus on increasing awareness of efficiency and local clean energy (i.e. rooftop solar) solutions in underserved communities.  I hope to have advanced notice of future seminars in this series, and I will advertise them here on the blog.

An audience in Redlands learns how they can save both money and the environment by making their homes more energy efficient.
In the face of environmental disaster -- particularly energy sources that destroy our wildlands and pollute our air -- I felt that my current level of effort on energy efficiency was inadequate,  and decided to tap whatever resources are available to me to "green" my life.  I decided I was needed to balance my external focus with efforts at home.  It's a work in progress, but I started with the lights in my apartment.  I replaced four 75+ watt incandescent bulbs with two 17 watt, and two 10 watt Philips LED bulbs.   A couple hundred watts of energy use is not significant in the grand scheme of things, but being part of the problem means I need to be part of the solution.  If every 60W bulb in the US was replaced with a 10W bulb, we would avoid over 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions, and significantly reduce our electricity demand by 35 terawatt-hours of electricity.

This is a 10 watt LED bulb that I used to replace a 100+ watt bulb. Don't judge the quality of the light by this photo - the camera automatically adjusted the exposure.  The light output is actually much better than a CFL bulb and, in my opinion, better than the incandescent that it replaced.
When it comes to lighting and appliances, it is not just about buying more efficient products, but remembering to turn them off when they are not needed.  This is probably the most basic level of efficiency improvement.  There is more work to do at home, including weatherizing doors and windows, replacing larger appliances, such as water heaters and air conditioners. It starts with awareness, though, which is why seminars like the one held by the Green Building Council and Sierra Club earlier this week are so important.

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