Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The year in review ..

I love the news programs on TV that review the year and remind us of all the events that took place in the last 12 months. So, what better time than the last day of the year to update you on some of the green living changes we made and how they worked out. Here are a few of the things that had the biggest impact on our house.

Composting and Recycling

This year we began composting ... something that we thought would be difficult in an Apartment. It has worked surprisingly well. We turned planters, not in use, into compost bins and started tossing raw fruit and vegetable matter into them. We now have three bins "working". There is no smell, no bugs and no "icky" factor. The food scraps are decaying rapidly and hopefully we'll have fertile soil in the spring.

Recycling was another activity that we thought would be difficult in a small space. But ... where there is a will, there is a way. We converted trash cans in our office to "paper only" cans. We also put some boxes in our laundry room, which is right off the kitchen, and now toss all recyclables into them. Every week or so ... we make a run to the local recycling area.

The result of these two actions is that the garbage bin has become our smallest can. And, before tossing anything into any bin, we consider whether or not it can be re-purposed.

Energy Consumption

This year we kicked up our energy saving practices. Out of 12 light bulbs in two bathrooms, we twisted off 8 (no one needs that much light). All electrical devices, with the exception of the VCR, the refrigerator and the stove, were put on power bars and when not in use, the power was completely off ... no phantom power gluttons. Things like cell phone chargers or battery chargers were unplugged until needed and then, they were only plugged in long enough to charge up the device. In the summer, rather than use air conditioning, ceiling fans were employed and we ... well ... opened the windows. Adjusting the curtains throughout the day also helped keep temperatures comfortable. In the winter, we dressed warmer and used blankets while watching TV. If the temperatures dipped too low, we turned on the heat ... but only long enough to warm things up and take the chill out of the air.

By far our biggest energy change was the use of the hot water heater. Rather than leave it on, all the time, we opted for turning it on for 30 minutes a day. Our water heater doesn't have an on/off switch but ... the circuit box is easy to get to so ... we just flipped it on and off as required.

These efforts were rewarded by lowering our electric bill considerably ... from $90.00 at it's highest to $34.00 last month. More importantly, there was an energy savings ... from a high 1054 kWh to the current 320 kWh.

Starting this blog

One of the most important green living changes in my life has been writing this blog. Through it, I have learned so many things. In addition, I've met wonderful people ... people who care about each other ... and the planet. In the beginning, my goal was to create a place where we could share ideas and perhaps, between us, compile a large enough list that everyone could do something. Thanks to all of you, that goal has been met.

Now it's your turn

What green efforts have you made this year? What are the efforts that you are most proud of ... and why? Of the green efforts you began this year, which has had the most impact? And has there been anything that was a bust?

I look forward to 2009 and sharing even more green ideas.

To all of you ...