Advertisement

Archive for Monday, April 16, 2012

Go!

Simple sustainability: Energy-saving changes you can make today

April 16, 2012

Advertisement

Solar installer Matt Gammon prepares to lay one of the 224 solar panels within a grid on the roof of the Poehler Building, Eighth and Delaware streets, on Thursday, April 12, 2012. The building is in the process of being converted to artist lofts. Each panel will produce 255 watts of power.

Solar installer Matt Gammon prepares to lay one of the 224 solar panels within a grid on the roof of the Poehler Building, Eighth and Delaware streets, on Thursday, April 12, 2012. The building is in the process of being converted to artist lofts. Each panel will produce 255 watts of power.

Whether you call it global warming or climate change, science has become more definitive than ever: Humans are harming the Earth.

Since before Al Gore dazzled with his PowerPoint presentation, from individuals to industry, there has been an endless fount of ideas, large and small, to minimize humans’ impact on the Earth.

Most local residents will not go out tomorrow and convert their cars to run on vegetable oil or mount solar panels on their roofs — although both of those would help the Earth.

Here are some no-cost and low-cost quick fixes that anyone can do, starting today.

Start at home

Environmental experts say that taking action to help the Earth is more about changing behaviors than anything else.

“We know that if you have identical houses with two different families living in them, they can have vastly different energy use,” said Aron Cromwell, Lawrence city commissioner and owner of Cromwell Environmental. “It comes down to how those people choose to use or not use energy.”

Although most people remember to turn off the lights when they leave a room, Cromwell says that the same conscience doesn’t always carry over to when people are away at work or on vacation.

Cromwell closes his blinds in the summer months to keep out the hot sun. In the winter months, he closes his drapes to help insulate around his windows.

Also, when you are away for longer periods, Cromwell says to make sure electronics are off; additionally, turn off the power strip that connects them.

If you are not sure you can remember to close the blinds or turn off power strips, try something automatic: a programmable thermostat. That way, once you program it, energy use goes down during the times you need it least — when you’re sleeping or not home.

For those who don’t already have a programmable thermostat, Cromwell recommends taking advantage of Westar Energy’s WattSaver program to receive a free thermostat that can be controlled through the Internet.

“Where you set the thermostat can have a big impact on your utility bills and how much energy you use,” Cromwell said. “You should work on changing your comfort point in your own house by a few degrees.”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the household appliance that uses the most energy is the clothes dryer. In the past few years, there has been a strong movement toward encouraging people to air dry their clothes, either on a clothesline or drying rack.

Project Laundry List is a website dedicated to the cause, and according to the site, if all Americans were to air dry their clothes, they would save enough energy to close several power plants.

In addition to those suggestions for your home, Cromwell says there are two relatively small investments for homeowners that also can save both significant money and the Earth: The first is to add insulation to your attic, and the second is to go around your house with caulk to seal cracks around windows.

There are some everyday items found in most kitchens that can be an alternate, green approach to cleaning windows and other surfaces in the house.

There are some everyday items found in most kitchens that can be an alternate, green approach to cleaning windows and other surfaces in the house.

Clean house

Kim Scherman, Kansas University student and president of KU Environs, says that switching to environmentally friendly cleaning products helps the Earth by not sending chemicals into drainage systems and rivers. They also can be better for your health.

“People think if they don’t buy Clorox or something similar, their house won’t be as clean. It’s just not true. Honestly, you don’t even know what’s in it and how it could affect you,” she said.

She recommends going online to look for eco-friendly cleaning solutions and home remedies for stains and tough dirt. Most, if not all, of the ingredients can be found in your pantry.

Two effective cleansers — to be used separately — are plain white vinegar or baking soda.

Mix one part vinegar with four parts water to clean the stove and countertops, mop the floors or wash windows. Shake baking soda and a little water onto stains or grime, let it sit a few minutes, then scrub.

Scherman has stopped using paper towels in her home altogether and instead uses cotton washcloths. If you can replace your household’s dependence on paper towels, your contributions to landfills will diminish dramatically, not to mention decreasing the deforestation and chemical processes in paper towel manufacturing. The same goes for other disposable disinfectant wipes, mopping pads and toilet sponges that will go in the trash after one use. Use old T-shirts or socks as cleaning and dusting rags, and throw them in with the next load of laundry.

Wrap it up

Scherman’s two favorite reusable materials around the house are aluminum foil and glass. She recommends using foil instead of disposable plastic baggies to pack lunches or keep food fresh. She saves her foil and hand washes it with her dishes so she can use it again. If it tears or deteriorates, it can be recycled.

She uses glass containers to store leftovers and hold drinks at home, and she recommends having a reusable water bottle instead of purchasing plastic bottles of water.

“People are into being green,” Scherman said. “I think it’s exciting for people to take small steps to change and be able to say they’re environmentally friendly. Do things you can feel good about.”

Comments

Flap Doodle 1 year, 12 months ago

Be sure to poot into a reusable bucket.

0

deec 1 year, 12 months ago

Americans used to think being frugal and not being wasteful were admirable qualities. "Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do, or do without." How did this get twisted into our throwaway culture, where some people feel personally insulted because other people are thrifty? Why are people so angry that others don't use up a bunch of stuff? How did stewardship of the planet become altered into destruction of the planet? How did the concept of conservation of the water, air and soil become anathema to the Conservative?

0

Fossick 1 year, 12 months ago

Pace: "Also I don't see the point, feelings have little to do with the math. Feelings might make you more inclined to do the math. Do the math."

OK, one more shot at this and I'll move on, I promise. Jafs asked somewhere (I can't find it at the moment) why I seem so dead set against the little things. I'm not against them and have said so from the start. However, let's do the math.

Someone on this award-winning forum said that we would need 4.5 earths to sustain our current lifestyle, correct? That means, if I'm counting correctly, we are running about 350% too high to be sustainable or need to reduce our lifestyles on the order of 75% impact. Feel free to correct the numbers.

Now, let's throw onto that the last sentence of this article: “People are into being green,” Scherman said. “I think it’s exciting for people to take small steps to change and be able to say they’re environmentally friendly. Do things you can feel good about.”

So how much of a difference do these small steps make? 10%? 20%? Pick a number. Let's say that doing all the fun stuff in the article reduces our footprint from 4.5 earths to 4. Heck, let's be generous and go so far as 3.5. We've done all the fun little stuff and we are now using 3.5 earths.

Are we environmentally friendly now? It's a yes or no question. "Better than before" is not the right answer. At 3.5 earths, we are either environmentally friendly or we are not. We are either sustainable or we are not.

If we are not, do we have any right to tell ourselves that we are environmentally friendly? Should we now, as the article states, feel good about our actions? As soon as we buy into the 4.5 earths, then we have no choice but to accept its consequences, all of its consequences. And one of those consequences is that we are kidding ourselves if we think we are environmentally friendly because we are now only using 3.5 earths. If we are using 3.5 earths, we are not environmentally friendly.* We are horrendously destructive.

That's why I said that most green living is therapy. It makes people feel that they are environmentally friendly when by their own math they are not. It makes them feel good and that they are part of a solution, when by their own math they are not.

I'm not against the little things. If you want to do them, do them. I'm against doing the little things and convincing ourselves that they are big things.

  • And my point in posting the Guardian article was not really the measurements, nor the fact that it was England. It was that it's natural for us as humans, when we think we're environmentally friendly, to act in unfriendly ways that we might not otherwise and which undo our green actions. We all relax when we are convinced we are on top. It's human nature. Convincing ourselves that we are green is, ironically, the easiest way to kill our green.
0

jafs 1 year, 12 months ago

A fascinating transition to guns at the end here.

If I were Freud, I might speculate that the topic produces a certain amount of latent hostility, which is expressed in this indirect way.

0

Fossick 1 year, 12 months ago

So anyway, Ive got a Ruger Standard, ca. 1954. I broke it down, cleaned it re-assembled it, and it all checked out. However, when I try to break it down again, the lever comes about 20% out (clearing the latch) and will move no more. Can't push it in, can't push it out. The bolt moves 80% so long as the safety is off. I don't want to force the lever because I don't want to bend the pin, but I'm at something of a loss. Any ideas?

0

ljreader 1 year, 12 months ago

I save energy by turning the TV off when Obama is on.

0

George Lippencott 1 year, 12 months ago

Thank you Mr. Stubbs. The more encompassing me made our "green efforts:" the more demanding they seem and the greater the possibility they will be ignored. How about priorities and focus?

0

JerryStubbs 1 year, 12 months ago

I'm not sure how much energy we can save by abandoning paper towels and using vinegar but reducing the use of electric clothes dryers could make a very big overall energy use reduction.

0

tennesseerader 1 year, 12 months ago

Carbon Dioxide is GOOD! It makes plants grow and increases food production because CO2 is food for plants.

0

Fossick 1 year, 12 months ago

Jafs: "And, hypocrisy and inconsistent behavior should be challenged, not ignored, if we want to preserve the environment."

Perhaps, but I propose that if one actually challenged all the hypocrisy and inconsistent behavior in the green movement, one would have time to do little else. It would be a lifetime of work to point out Al Gore's hypocrisy or that of Prince Charles or David Cameron. There have got to be more effective things one can do with a life.

But the claim that most people are green because it feels good is not mine, or at least not mine alone. It's researchers at Exeter University who concluded that "People who believe they have the greenest lifestyles can be seen as some of the main culprits behind global warming." One must conclude from such a statement that since green lifestyles have no positive impact on carbon emissions*, green actions are being pursued primarily for the reasons Kim Scherman stated in the above article: "[I]t’s exciting for people to take small steps to change and be able to say they’re environmentally friendly. Do things you can feel good about.”

Small steps accomplish nothing, cost nothing, and make you feel good. What could be better guilt therapy than that?

  • And it must be science if "researchers" say it's true.
0

tange 1 year, 12 months ago

Can it be said that the Earth (a planet) is being harmed? Humans are harming themselves and other species.

0

George Lippencott 1 year, 12 months ago

There are a bunch of good ideas here that will reduce energy consumption with minimal impact. We had a different solution for power peak usage back in Virginia and we never noticed the compressors cycling. The real issue becomes extreme environmentalist blocking new power generation and causing ever deeper compressor cycling and very hot houses for some. We might also see differential pricing that rewards those who work away from the home at the expense of the elderly, the infirmed, shift workers and those “evil” stay at home moms.

Mixed into this thesis are some interesting notions like not using Clorox. That confuses me as to the goals here. If global climate changes is the issue how exactly does us using other chemicals to keep our home clean contribute anything useful to doing something useful about climate change?? Are we overreaching and mixing culminate change with all the old “Mother Earth” remedies that while potentially reducing our footprint on the planet do little or nothing for climate change??

0

Gotland 1 year, 12 months ago

I compost all my waste in the landfill.

0

tomatogrower 1 year, 12 months ago

The conservatives would have us all living on the mountains of their trash soon enough. We have no impact? Try visiting the landfill sometime.

0

Fossick 1 year, 12 months ago

“People are into being green"

Stewart Barr, of Exeter University, who led the research, said: "Green living is largely something of a myth. There is this middle class environmentalism where being green is part of the desired image. But another part of the desired image is to fly off skiing twice a year. And the carbon savings they make by not driving their kids to school will be obliterated by the pollution from their flights."

Some people even said they deserved such flights as a reward for their green efforts, he added. (from a source) http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/sep/24/ethicalliving.recycling

People are into being green because it's therapeutic. It fulfills their desperate emotional need for relevance. Which is all well and good - making your kid walk the four blocks to school is a good idea whether you're doing it to save the planet or because he's fat.

0

pace 1 year, 12 months ago

An article about reducing pollution and energy waste seems to have encouraged the multiple personalities of one poster to blather. Interesting they brazenly change the wording of a quote then argue as if their lie wasn't their own delusion. Brain damage from alcohol poison is a possibility.

0

rockchalk1977 1 year, 12 months ago

Minnesotans paid $70 million for "green energy" they did not need thanks to mandates on distributors to buy from green-energy producers.

http://hotair.com/archives/2012/04/19/minnesotans-paid-70-million-in-2011-for-green-energy-they-didnt-need/

"The legislature attempted to dictate market supply and demand, and it produced the failure that this kind of central planning always produces. As a result, Minnesotans have to pay energy costs above current market levels at a time when their disposable income has become more and more restricted, thanks to price increases in gasoline and food. It’s yet another demonstration of the folly of central planning."

0

Flap Doodle 1 year, 12 months ago

Start saving now for the coming global urine shortage. Pickle jars make great storage containers.

0

FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 12 months ago

Glaciers and icefields are getting "larger" around the world. Some are shrinking. "Sustainability" is not a wise word to describe ice because it melts and it freezes. Mt. Rainier in WA. glacial field has been growing for some time now.

"Liberaltines" climate change...or is it global warming.....? narative has made them some money and given them power.

good for them. The little "busy bodies" need something to fuss over.

0

pace 1 year, 12 months ago

I have almost no use for paper towels. I cut up old cotton clothes, socks, etc and use them. Works better and if they get too messed up I toss them. Cheaper and better. Why someone would equate their manhood with using paper towels is goofy. But they do.

0

Flap Doodle 1 year, 12 months ago

A proper gander if ever there was one.

0

cato_the_elder 1 year, 12 months ago

"Whether you call it global warming or climate change, science has become more definitive than ever: Humans are harming the Earth."

That's complete BS, the product of brainwashing the gullible. A great number of real scientists do not agree with that statement.

Is Emily Mulligan a reporter or an editorial page writer.? Her comments are opinion, not fact.

0

sad_lawrencian 1 year, 12 months ago

Why is "Earth" capitalized throughout this article? I'm consulting several grammar references and most of them say to not capitalize "earth", especially when referring to "the earth".

“People think if they don’t buy Clorox or something similar, their house won’t be as clean. It’s just not true." Umm. Clorox cleans really well. And you're not taking my paper towels away, either.

0

sad_lawrencian 1 year, 12 months ago

Cromwell neglects to mention that those 'free' Westar Energy 'WattSaver' thermostats, while being electronic and programmable, also give Westar control over your air conditioning during the summer:

"Demands...are highest from June through September. At these times, we may cycle participants' central air conditioners. Your thermostat will display "SAVING," your compressor will operate [at] 50% of its normal run time...and the system fan will...circulate air. You have complete control over how your thermostat is programmed, except during cycling events."

http://www.westarenergy.com/wcm.nsf/content/wattsaver%20faq#q1

This is scary and so Orwellian. Westar--you're staying out of my living room. I for one do not support this program and the effort of any utility to control my usage! And neither should anyone else.

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.