Thursday, November 15, 2007

My family’s attempt to conserve energy – and our challenge to you.

I've said before that one person cannot effect meaningful change by himself. I could stop driving my car, install solar panels on my house, and begin harvesting rainwater, but none of that would make a bit of difference to the greater Phoenix area. The key to change is to have many people make a little effort. This month my family is going to begin making changes towards consuming less energy (and sending less money to APS!) And I'm going to challenge each of you to do the same.

Our Goals

  1. Reduce our energy consumption by 10% compared to the same month last year, or the average of the two previous years when applicable.

  2. Shift our usage so that 67% is during off-peak hours.

  3. Reduce our APS bill by 20%.

  4. We are not going to make any drastic lifestyle changes, spend large sums of "investment" in capital, or make major home improvements. (at least, not at this time. We should be able to achieve our goals without doing this.)

Our Back-story

We moved into our current house about 18 months ago. We haven't purposefully wasted energy, but we haven't really gone out of our way to conserve energy, either. I've replaced a few light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, and we try to be careful about things like the thermostat setting and not leaving lights on, but that's about it. Earlier this month I downloaded our usage history from APS, and I was blown away by how much we've used! Now it's time to make some changes...

Our Current Scenario

We've been on the APS Combined Advantage 9pm to 9am plan, although with two kids and both of us having hectic schedules, we don't pay as much attention to on-peak/off-peak as we should. (when we have a few extra minutes, we're throwing some clothes in the wash, regardless of the time). We currently average about 56% of our usage during off-peak times – slightly more in the winter months and slightly less in the summer.

We both basically work out of the house, so the typical idea of turning up your thermostat while you're gone during the day doesn't work very well for us.

We have a 2-story house, with 2 A/C units. We also have a portable A/C unit, which vents out a window, to help keep the warmest bedroom cool during the summer (rather than freeze out the rest of the rooms by turning down the thermostat).

Our Strategy

We are still working on the specifics of our strategy. What are the major contributors? What can we do that will have the greatest impact on our usage with the least impact on our daily lives? Determining what we can do differently is going to be the first step in the process. I will post our specific strategy once we develop it, with exactly what we will do differently from what we've been doing in the past.

Our Challenge to you

We challenge each of you to attempt a similar plan: use less energy, and save more money! (without making major lifestyle changes or home improvements.) Obviously, each of us will have a different strategy, or differing parts of their strategy, but we can also compare with and learn from each other. I would love to see all of us make a 10% reduction in our energy consumption.

In Conclusion

Everyone has different energy uses and needs. Larger homes use more energy. More people living in a home will require more energy. Some people tolerate higher temperatures that others. Some homes already have great shade trees. Yadda yadda yadda. No excuses. What can you do to make a difference?

I am going to post updates along the way to let you know of our progress (and hopefully our success!) I would love to hear from any of you who decide to take us up on our challenge.

Your excited to do his share Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

[tags] energy consumption, green living, APS, Fletcher Heights [/tags]