Archive for April, 2009
While picking out the farm property/house, obvious points of interest were the electric, water supply, sewer, water heating, and house heating. I think about each of these as “supply systems” and have been working to build plans to improve the “sustainability” of each.
The term “sustainable” used in marketing misses the mark when used to describe my goals. Yes, I want what I do to have a minimal ecological footprint and examine the source, transportation, and materials used to produce what I buy… but that’s not the only way I’m using the word. I want my “supply systems” to a) help us survive (supply clean potable water, keep us from freezing, keep us out of the dark, etc.) and b) require little input to continue function.
sus·tain·a·ble [ sə stáynəb'l ]
1. able to be maintained: able to be maintained
2. maintaining ecological balance: exploiting natural resources without destroying the ecological balance of an area
My primary focus for the past year has been on water, electric power (for lighting, cooking, computing and entertainment), and heating. The house is on Puget Sound Energy utility power, a well, and septic tank. It has forced-air electric heat, a small Jøtul wood stove, and a big propane hot water heater.
I posted about my water woes in December, but haven’t posted the full impact that this had on my electric consumption. The shocking thing to me is how much of my electricity usage is driven by water consumption. The well is fed by a 79 foot deep 1.5HP submersible pump and a 9 amp Franklin Electric pump control box. To put this in perspective, that’s the equivalent of flipping on 10 100 watt light bulbs, when it runs! For much of the month of December, the pressure switch was misadjusted and even when working property, I was running the water to try to clear the sediment out of the lines. The effect is clearly visible in the “January 09″ bill. What’s going on in that Jan-Apr 08 timeframe?! My well was broken. There was a crack in the pipe leading from the well to the house. That was fixed in late Feb. and you can see the drop in usage immediately after.
My goal for the summer is to draw less than 500 kWh/month. To do this, it’s going to take some diligence, but I think it’s doable. The house has several very large skylights that almost eliminate the need for interior lighting until after sundown. I put a clothes line, last summer and that should supplant my clothes dryer. I’ll probably even use the solar oven (caramelized onions, Israeli cous cous, and lentils work well).
I’ll post again, about my overall energy conservation (and which definition of that word I’m using) and some more metrics another day. I also endeavor to post more about the rest of my “supply systems.” I have to run, though… there’s a light on in the kitchen.