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.
we sold the house about 6 months ago. i’ve been in this one bedroom apartment, in mountain view, since. i love my apartment.
as a con, it’s small. while it’s not the smallest place i’ve lived, it’s a close second. it’s three rooms and a bathroom, plus a space that some might call “dining area”, but blue calls home.
it’s got dated fixtures. the bathroom fixtures are a painful pink color. the PANTONE colorist tells me that it’s probably “698 C”, which looks like this: ███. the kitchen sink is really pretty charming, though.
on the plus side, it’s all hardwood floors. they really make the apartment, i think.
it’s very very bright. windows on three sides of the apartment, including south-southwest and south-southeast. i love the sun, so does blue.
i don’t share any walls, ceilings or floors with anyone. i listen to the music i want, when i want, mostly at the volume that i want. i picked up some klipsch promedia thx 2.1s for the living room. they’re loud enough for this space. no, they’re not crazy reference monitors, but whatever. they work. they sound good, esp for what i paid.
i’m surrounded by really good restaurants. (jatbar, courtesy of some former hotmail people, btw!) i eat sushi, mediterranean, hawaiian, bbq, thai, malaysian, burritos, italian, etc. etc. etc. etc. it’s hard to not love a downtown like this.
i’ve been treating this apartment like very temporary storage, more than a dwelling. i’ve still got stuff in boxes, in the livingroom. i’ve got old webvan tubs holding stuff that really should just be thrown out and plastic bins of rc stuff stacked around.
i decided to change that. started with a really cool clock (right) and new floor lamp (looks better in person). the clock flips hours and minutes over using far more complicated mechanics than i remember from the alarm clocks of my youth.
aeron is at the fedex depot, just waiting to be picked up. new desk and a restaurant rack for the livingroom and i’ll feel a little more like i’m “home”, i think.
got an almost immediate (7AM, this morning) reply from rangehoods.com claiming that ups lost my hood. i’m trying to decipher ‘origin scan’ on the ups tracking page. i don’t know if this means that they just printed the label or if it was actually billed and printed at a ups location. i would have expected a pickup scan; there isn’t one there.
i may have to write a www::screenscraper::ups perl module, if one doesn’t exist. (maybe they’ve published an api?)
i’m not sure, but it looks like our spanky new stainless steel range hood may be stuck on the rangehoods.com loading dock. the ups tracking info is less than helpful. sent email tonight and will be calling them tommorow to validate shipment.
to sod or not to sod…
the backyard on the new house is in pretty bad shape. i’ve been contemplating the options. the guy at dale hardware suggested starting with weed and feed, just to see what it’ll do. he said that there’s typically lots of grass lying dormant under all the thistles and weeds. we’ll see what it can do. i’ll try that later this week.
i’ll flip a coin, i guess.
update: an image referenced here is long since gone. removed the busted img src. (12.02.2008, while upgrading to wordpress from moveable type.)