View Full Version : Well I had an electric eye opener

9-22-13, 9:26pm
I have struggled as many have with what my small contribution of saving electricity really accomplishes. I have realized it is all just to feel good. I live in the northern part of the country, we have for the most part electric for lights, fridge, maybe oven and dryer,gas or propane for heat.
I guess I knew this somewhere in my mind that not all parts had gas. Husband took a relocation to the south. I went there this week. The home is in a subdivision of very large homes. Gas is only for the oven and the silly gas fireplace. The entire home is electric as are the rest. Every home has two AC units running. I really I'd try to notice if anyone had windows open, none that I saw.
It saddened me that I worry about unplugging the cell charger and then to see entire neighborhoods keep the meters spinning.
( ps as you can see we don't come close to agreeing on things like this):|(

9-22-13, 9:51pm
Alright. It sounds as though you are discouraged, but I do not see how what other people do matters all that much.

As I look around my neighborhood I see lots of lights on, window air conditioners going and all the rest. The woman who lives in the back flat of this old house leaves with all the lights on and last night I noticed that she had the ceiling fans on as well.

I am certain that her reasons are valid and meaningful to her, and whilst it only mildly interested in what other people do regarding the use of resources, knowing why she leaves the lights on is none of my business.

I just keep plugging...or in this case un-plugging :~)...along, doing what makes sense to me.

I suppose that caring about the larger issues and working publicly to help our sweet planet is what everyone should pitch in to do, but the truth for me is that all that matters is the choices I make about conserving my own, personal resources. If that helps the big-picture, then so much the better.

It does not make me sad or upset if I am different from other people. Good thing, because the chances of me ever fitting in with normal people is just never going to happen.

9-22-13, 10:09pm
Just keep on keeping on. We are the pioneers of a movement so we will not see mass change in our life time but I believe it is on the horizon or there will be forced evolution due to the environment. I'm happy that you are one of the pioneers!!!

9-22-13, 10:44pm
Our apartment complex of 40 some units shares a laundry room. It's air conditioned. People the door wide open in 110 degree heat. Drives me crazy ...

9-23-13, 4:16pm
My Mom's neighborhood (near Boston) was like that - gas was available, but they used oil heat, and electric dryers and water heaters - what a waste! It's like they never heard of heat pumps or swamp coolers. Crazy.

Miss Cellane
9-23-13, 4:36pm
My Mom's neighborhood (near Boston) was like that - gas was available, but they used oil heat, and electric dryers and water heaters - what a waste! It's like they never heard of heat pumps or swamp coolers. Crazy.

The humidity in Boston in the summer is high enough that a swamp cooler really wouldn't help. All it would do is add more moisture to the air and make things worse. Heat pumps need air ducts throughout the house. Most of the older housing in New England doesn't have ducting. There are radiators for heat and nothing but the windows for cooling. I'm sure a heat pump could be retrofitted, but it would be costly and there might be issues figuring out where the ducts would go.

My last apartment in Boston had oil heat, gas stove and hot water and electric everything else. It was nice to be able to cook when the electricity went out.

While the use of air conditioning down south might seem wasteful, I can say that air conditioning would be an absolute necessity for me if I lived there. I can barely take a New Hampshire summer; I can't imagine how I would fare in Georgia or Texas without air conditioning.

The flip side of the air conditioning argument is that in most places where a/c is necessary all summer long, the winter heating costs are much lower. Just as I don't spend much electricity on cooling my place, I do spend a fair amount on oil every winter to heat it.

And someone who uses a lot of a/c might be very careful about composting everything possible, using reusable grocery bags, walk or take public transport everywhere so as to avoid using a car. It's hard to judge someone's environmental impact basing on just one element of the whole package.

9-23-13, 7:18pm
I grew up in South Carolina with no air conditioning for the first several years of my life. (I really don't remember when my parents purchased central air conditioning. I do remember for a time after having no air conditioning all we had was a window unit). Once the central air was installed, the house was sealed off from the outside. I found it very depressing, particularly in later years when I was an adult. My mom had shades and some kind of gauzy curtain across the picture window. The shades would be opened, but the gauzy curtain was permanently in place. And she kept it cold inside. I always told her that the house had come to feel like a funeral parlour, which perhaps was not too polite.

I have lived most of my adult life in Northern New Mexico, and one of the things I love about it is that few people have air conditioning and the houses are thrown open in the summer. However, now it seems that more and more people are buying swamp coolers, and I've seen some advertisements for air conditioning, which is completely unnecessary in such a dry climate. The air conditioner was not necessary in the South when I was a little boy. The attic fan did the trick nicely. Swamp coolers aren't necessary in the desert Southwest. It's odd how people just seem to acclimate to more energy usage.

I don't think that adds much to the discussion. We don't use much electricity because that is the way I enjoy living, and it is the right thing to do. We bicycle as much as possible for the same reason. There are other things we do that we shouldn't on the "moral" grounds of sustainability. We fly rather than take the train if we don't have much time for visiting family. By my sustainability yardstick, we shouldn't be going out to visit family at all. But human behavior is rarely 100% ethical. Even Gandhi traveled to London. He would have had a smaller carbon footprint if he had stayed in India. We all do what we can. I'm sure there's some people sitting in an air conditioned McMansion in the suburbs somewhere who are doing amazing work on the part of life on Earth. It's not my part to judge. I just have to do the best I can.

9-23-13, 7:52pm
Some things are local. To be hoped for: as wind and solar power comes up and everything becomes more energy efficient the need for nuclear power in California becomes ever more dubious. San Onofre down, now we need to decommission Diablo Canyon. Since nuclear power in the "ring of fire" seems not to be working out too well ... I wanna give it all the push I can.

But yes Jeavons paradox would say that for everything thing you save in terms of energy and resource use someone else will be more wasteful (but I don't know I'm still not entirely convinced it doesn't make a difference in local energy plannning, but globally is another story ....).

Hey, and at least your utility bills are cheap right?

9-24-13, 8:49pm
We're very fortunate to live in San Francisco, a city where the only places that are air conditioned are office buildings and large stores. No one's house has a/c because it's just not necessary. And in modern buildings with insulation, like we live in, heat is only needed when there are several cloudy days in a row, so our gas and electric bill runs about $40-$45/month year round, including gas for hot water, cooking and the rare use of heat. That said, I wish that SO had learned as a child, like I did, that light switches go both directions. He seems to believe that they are only used for turning lights on...

I can understand why people in the south use a/c. Especially in modern homes that weren't designed with effective cross ventilation and shading. My grandparents lived the last 30 years of their lives in an old farmhouse from the 1800s in SW Missouri. One summer, while in their late 70s, they decided that it was finally hot enough that they wanted a/c, so they bought a little window unit for their living room. They found it to be so enjoyable that the next spring they actually spent the money to have central a/c installed, which included the cost of having ductwork run and a new transformer installed because the electric coming from the road to the house could not support such an increase in load. They never set it much below 80 but the difference in comfort level was amazing.