Opalco is San Juan County's electricity provider. Opalco is one of the most progressive utilities in the country. A recent triple rebate program allowed the Garden House to purchase a heat pump hot water tank.
In this system, hot water is created by extracting the heat in the air and pumping it into the tank's water, which is 60% more efficient than just heating the water with a large electric coil. If every household in America switched to heating hot water via a heat pump hot water system, 118 500 mw coal fired power plants could be taken off line. You get the same hot water, while America sets a leadership bar for the world to follow.
Washing clothes in cold water is a fast, zero cost way to start. Clothes washed in cold water last longer, smell just as clean, and retain brighter colors than clothes washed in hot water, since hot water, along with soap and agitation, is much more abrasive. Clothes washed in cold water use 90% less electricity; 10% of the electricity runs the washing machine, while 90% heats the water. All that hot water is waste, since it buys you nothing but a larger electric bill, clothes that wear out sooner and look faded, and much more carbon in the sky. If everyone in America just pushed the "cold" water temperature setting when washing his/her clothes, sheets and towels, (figuring 4 loads a week at 4 kilowatt hours per load just for the hot water) 32 500 mw coal fired power plants would not have to run 24/7. They would not have to run at all. They could go in the "old technology" museum, along with rotary phones and horseshoes.
Habits are hard to change, especially when they never went through a conscious process on the way to becoming automatic. Next time you are running a load of laundry, stretch that mind. Press the cold water option and live on the new, wild, 21st century side.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Monday, May 7, 2012
doebay.net, the umbrella site for a variety of activities going on at the east end of Orcas Island run by the international headquarters of the Doe Bay Triangle, aka me. Across the street (remember this is rural) is the Orchard Falls Farm, maintained by a fairy goddess who joy is creating garden abundance. She would describe herself as an herbalist: the garden (besides vegetables and flowers and raspberries and blueberries) raises calendula flowers, arnica and comfrey for their medicinal properties. The garden was recently expanded to allow for some fruit trees to get protection from the deer. That means a larger fence. That means new fence poles and, more importantly, fence corners. Fence corners must be gnarly to handle the tension of the fence, which means big posts, which means big holes in the ground. A sweet friend donated some old telephone poles cut to length; he also loaned a tractor-mounted post hole auger. Sadly, the 8" auger is just too small for the telephone poles. Another friend loaned us his 12" auger, which we mostly installed today. Turns out the 1/2" bolts from the original mama bear auger were too short for the papa bear auger, requiring a trip to the hardware store. While there, the 5 gallon yellow plastic fuel tanks will be filled with biodiesel to keep Kermit the tractor moving sustainably (smells like french fries). Garden House guests are welcome to walk over to the farm (10 minutes) and, if the goddesses are smiling, procure some bounty.
Friday, April 20, 2012
|Garden House's new roof!|
|The old roof|
The big bandwidth enchilada has been an engagement with the biggest dragon of the 21st century: global warming. Lacking everything save the madness of Don Quixote, I've decided to charge that part of the dragon that represents electricity. You may know that 90% of the electricity made in America is unsustainably produced. What you may not know is how much electrical energy is being lost, or wasted. Carbon dioxide is an odorless, colorless, invisible gas. Electricity is likewise invisible (yes you see the wires but you don't see the moving electrons). Electrical waste is likewise invisible, whether it takes the form of vampire loads, or insufficient insulation, or old appliances, or benign neglect. Enter, stage left, a new character in the play: the Negawatt. Electricity freed from the bondage of waste. But who's Negawatt's agent, pounding on the door of studio (read: utility and many other) exec's hoping to get a screenplay accepted to be the next Oscar winner? Why, it's the Garden House's own Sundance Here We Come Hopeful, Negawatt Media. Using a philosophy familiar to Garden House guests, the intention is to delight, inform, welcome, introduce and guide the electricity user (that's you since you are reading this) toward the challenge and opportunity to visualize the electrical future you want (I call it V 2.0), find the bridge that gets you from here (V 1.0 with all its outdated and now-harmful side effects) to V 2.0, and then start crossing that bridge. Hopefully with the joyful participation of your household. Then neighborhood. Then community. Then region, state, and country. How about fast!? Viral anyone? Make a change that would normally take 2 generations (40 years) in half a generation (10 years)? You can see why my sword keeps getting dull / I'm whacking it on that dragon constantly. I spend way more time whacking and sharpening than I do writing Garden House blog entries.
|Click this link to see a Negawatt Media sword in action|