True story: My grandmother is on an energy-efficiency crusade. I called her on Thursday to wish her a happy Thanksgiving, only to get an earful of conservation tips.
This is all on her own initiative. Although Ma knows that my work relates to climate change, she’s unacquainted with this blog and fairly fuzzy on the details of what I do. She’s extremely well-informed, but I’ve never detected much of a green streak in her, and I certainly haven’t pushed her to lighten her impact.
Turns out that Ma’s electricity bills had become shockingly high. So she called Florida Power & Light (to what end, I can’t really be sure). The customer service agent quizzed her about her energy use, and suggested she focus on the big ticket items: air conditioning, the refrigerator, hot water, etc.
Not all of these tips were helpful. Ma doesn’t actually use the A/C very often, and she’s in no mood to swap out her fridge. She decided to focus on the boiler and the golf cart.
Her boiler, she knew, was sucking way more power than was necessary for her modest hot water needs. Unfortunately, boilers aren’t that easy to adjust. Ever resourceful, Ma has hit on the solution of simply flipping the circuit breaker that controls power flow to the boiler. She does this on a daily basis, leaving the boiler on just long enough to heat her water.*
Next, the golf cart. Ma puts a few thousand miles at most on her car every year. Otherwise, she gets around the neighborhood in an electric golf cart. She used to leave the cart plugged in all the time. Now she just plugs it in when she needs it.
With these two measures, Ma has knocked 25% of her energy bills, and almost the same amount off her carbon footprint. Pretty good for an 82-year-old. What changes will you make in the new year?
* Someone who knows more about boilers than I do would undoubtedly be able to suggest a more convenient way for Ma to conserve energy. Most likely, she just needs to replace the stupid thing with a smaller, more modern model.
Photo available under Creative Commons license from Flickr user purpleslog.