Sunday, 8 June 2008

Energy, Food and Water

Given Molly's post on Peak oil? Peak Food? .....and now peak water?, I'd thought I'd do a little comparison on our energy and water consumption with where we were at this time last year. We've been trying to reduce our consumption over the past year and we've just received our end of financial year bills, so it is a good time to compare.

Water - over the past 12 months we have used 58% of what we used the previous year. Most of this saving came from over summer, when our water consumption fell to less than half of what we used the year before. Given I've got more food growing, I'm rather surprised at the result, but very, very pleased.

Electricity - comparing this quarter to the same one last year, we are using 59% of what we used the previous year. A lot of this saving is probably due to installing a solar hot water system and replacing our old electric oven and cooktop with a gas burner, electric oven stove (which is also lovely to cook on!).

Natural Gas - we are using about the same amount of gas as we did in the comparable quarter a year ago. However, since we are now using gas for cooking, this means our heating usage has definitely gone down.

Petrol - I don't have any accurate figures on this, but judging from our budget spreadsheet, we were filling up two to three times each fortnight and now we are filling up mostly only once and sometimes twice. We have been making a concerted effort to use the bus, so obviously our strategy is working.

Food - this is pretty hard to judge, as the children are getting older and are therefore eating more. However, I have more weeks where I don't need to buy any supplemental veges and so we must be heading in the right direction. Also, there are definitely less processed foods entering the house - we are pretty much cooking from scratch these days and snacks tend to be raw nuts and dried fruits or homemade treats, rather than stuff that comes in packets. Which reminds me - we often shop at the co-op where you supply your own containers, so we've reduced our packaging that way, too.

I know we still have a long way to go in terms of saving energy and water and growing our own food, but I'm feeling pretty pleased with what we have achieved this year. It will be interesting to see what our consumption is this time next year.

So here's the challenge - get out your energy and water bills and, if they record the information for you, see if your consumption has decreased. I think we will be trying to set ourselves some goals each quarter.

love and light


TheCrone said...

"the children are getting older and are therefore eating more"

Surely B & R have stopped growing by now :p

Anonymous said...

You are doing brilliantly NW, I wish I could cut our power more, everything in this house is electric (I'm terrified of gas-long story)

We have cut as much as possible, once I get the wood bbq built we will cut summers bill more.

We actually don't need heating inside in winter, the house stays reasonably warm with throw rugs for the knees in the lounge.

Water will become easier to cut once our tanks are delivered towards the end of the year and the wicking beds installed.

All a part of the journey...thats half the fun lol


naturewitch said...

yes, we really do need to do something about tanks in our yard!

Cheryl said...

You have done so well naturewitch, I wish there were more people like you.
I try to be as energy efficient as I can.
We do use less electricity now, using energy saving light bulbs, washing machine on eco cycle only. No standby lights left on etc etc and it has worked.
Our cars have been converted to LPG saving us money, and hopefully a bit kinder to the planet ( not really sure on that one as I have read conflicting reports)
In the winter we had log fires and turned the oil central heating right down....we have no gas out in the sticks.
I like you prepare all our food, and our veggies and fruits come from our local farmers. They live on my doorstep virtually.
So I am not doing too bad but there is always room for improvement.

naturewitch said...

Hi Cheryl

Sounds like you are doing better than us! Nothing like being close to nature to remind you that we need to play our part, too.


flmom said...

Sounds like you are doing fabulously! I know our electric usage is down (all electric house). Our electric provider does print on each bill the current month's usage and the usage from that same month one year previous. We thankfully don't have a water bill as we have a well, but it's poor quality water (high in sulfur and iron) so we do have a filtration system that has to be maintained - no way around those expenses. I would love to go solar for our hot water and it would be easy for my hubby to install as that is what he does in his line of work anyway. The things holding us back though are cost (for materials - prices have gone up dramatically)and really no suitable place to position the panels (due to trees on a neighboring property). There is also always the possibility of having the panels damaged or completely destroyed if a hurricane strikes. Many of hubby's customers had this happen in 2004 when we had 2 hurricanes hit. Unfortunately, insurance companies weren't great about paying a fair amount for repairs or replacements. A huge number of people couldn't afford to go back to solar because of it.