Cider Press Hill

90 Percent Project - Week 13

Friday, 2:00 pm

By Kate

Aug

31

2007

sunny

And here are my values for Week 13 of the 90 Percent Project. Or, as the founders like to call it—The Riot for Austerity.

Electricity
Week 13: 27 kWh

My newest electric bill (a whole $31.04) was online this morning. I was a little surprised to see the month of August end up with 36 kWh less than July. Cool beans! I’ll take it. That puts me at 82% less than the national average. Onward and downward!

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Gasoline purchased (for 1 person)
Week 13: 7.145 gallons

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Water (for 1.5 people)
Week 13: 703.21 gallons

I’m not sure how to calculate this. The above values are for last week and this past week. One week there were two of us and then just me this week. I guess we’ll leave it as is and move onward. Looking forward to better values.

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Natural Gas
Week 13: 8 cu ft

This represents two weeks. I also bought 3 cords of wood which, according to 90% rules, counts as 20 therms each. Since I haven’t used them yet, I don’t suppose I need to add them into my weekly values yet. On the other hand, I have no idea how to measure a cord as it is used until the wood is gone. And I hope that I don’t have to use it all this year.

I have come to the conclusion that there is no way on earth that I can achieve the 90% reduction values in natural gas under current circumstances. My usage would have to be 100 therms per year and I’ve already used close to 60 therms since the beginning of June. Adding my 60 therms for wood, that already puts me over the limit with 9 months to go. And I haven’t even turned the furnace on, which I probably will a couple of times this season. It’s all hot water, pilot lights, and cooking (and not all that much of that, either.). My hot water heater is turned down as far as I can realistically turn it down and still call the water warm enough for a shower. It’s surely not hot water. I need to get rid of pilot lights, which are a gross waste of gas, IMHO.

I will have to reduce further in other areas to compensate, for now.

Also...I don’t quite understand how my utility converts cubic feet of gas into therms. The conversion value seems to change every month. It looks as if I’ve been slightly over converting my natural gas into therms. I think I’ll just stick with measuring cubic feet for the time being.

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Trash (for 1 person)
Week 13: 3 lbs

This included the skunked dog bed. That troubled me as it sat out by the curb waiting to be gingerly collected and tossed into the truck by the thumb and forefinger pick-up method. Dog beds make Terry a very happy doggy, but they do wear out or the unexpected occurs which ultimately puts them in the landfill. It’s back to blankets that can be washed and washed and washed and....

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Consumer Goods
Week 13: $0

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Food
Purchased some pasta this week. And 3 bags of coffee, which, though not local, were at least Fair Trade and organically grown. All other food from the farmer’s market.



 

What rain?

Friday, 9:54 am

By Kate

Aug

31

2007

partly cloudy

According to the little weather icon thingy in the sidebar, you might think we were having a touch of rain or mist or some such precipitation event this morning. But no. As usual, any moisture falling from the sky has gone around us. Dry as a bone here.

And when you look at this weather radar image, you can see that mess of rain that ambled off the coast in recent hours. How is it possible that it could pass right over us and not shed a drop of rain?

Perhaps if I washed the car, watered the lawn, and hung some laundry out on the line....



 

The one kilowatt hour day

Thursday, 10:33 am

By Kate

Aug

30

2007

sunny

Well, I’m back after a couple of days of quietude. It wasn’t due to spiritual reasons or battery recharging...I was being cheap with electricity. My end of week tally for usage wasn’t shaping up well and I needed to get the numbers back in line. And I succeeded.

At this stage of the 90% Project, it becomes a little embarrassing to keep making excuses for over use. Especially when I am the only one using resources in this house and I am the one responsible for making the decisions about such use.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, my electricity use had bumped up slightly from what it was before the lad came home. I decided to get to the bottom of it.

On Tuesday, I spent an abnormal amount of time visiting the electric meter. I wanted to make the little dial stop turning. When everything in the house was off or unplugged, I went back out to look at it. The dial was still moving. What the heck?

I took a tour through the house to see what could possibly still be drawing juice. The air conditioner was still plugged in and its little screen merrily announced the room temperature. I yanked the plug out of the wall. Then I pounced on a lamp in my room that I’d recently installed by my bed. It’s a halogen floor lamp with a dimmer switch on it. The dimmer switch is attached to a transformer and there was a little light glowing on the transformer...and the transformer was quite warm to the touch. That means it was drawing juice even though the light wasn’t on. I yanked that out of the outlet, as well.

I went back outside to watch the electric meter. It was not moving. Whoo! And then....it started moving again. Talk about a head banging against the wall moment. What the heck was still on?

I took another tour around the house and couldn’t find anything. As I passed through the kitchen again, I heard a little click. The light dawned. When the lad came home, we had turned the water dispenser’s cooler back on. Since I still have three bottles of Poland Spring water sitting around, I told him that he might as well use it. He drinks a lot of water and it was hot out.

I turned that off and went back outside to look at the meter. It was totally still. Success!

Yesterday, I decided to establish a baseline of electricity use...at one kilowatt hour for the day. What could I use for a total of 1 kilowatt hour per day? According to my scribblings and calculations, it wasn’t much, but I wanted to make sure that my calculations and the electric meter agreed.

As it turns out, they agree. For one kilowatt hour of electricity use over a 24 hour period, I got to use:

coffee maker (one pot) - 160 watts
fridge - 560 watts
one lamp (14 watt CFL bulb) - 56 watts
one hall lamp (3 watt CFL bulb) - 15 watts
computer (1.33 hours at 157 watts) - 209 watts

Total: 1000 watts or 1 kWh

After spending an entire day like that, a 3 kWh day looks like riches. And a 4 kWh day looks positively decadent.

I think that I’ll build in a 1 kWh day per week to remind myself.



 

Haybox Cooker

Monday, 8:17 pm

By Kate

Aug

27

2007

clear night

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned something about purchasing an Igloo cooler and that I had plans for it. Today, I tested my plans.

As part of the 90% Project mailing list, I’ve learned a lot of useful ideas over the last couple of months. One idea that really grabbed me was a Haybox Cooker. I’m not sure where the idea originated, but the concept is simple. By packing insulating material around a very hot and already cooking vessel of food, the food will continue cooking without additional energy input.

This afternoon, around 4:00, I tossed a cup of rice and a cup and a half of water into a round covered casserole dish. I also added some chopped summer squash and a bit of red bell pepper and onion, 3 small chicken drumsticks, and the usual herbs and seasonings. I put the casserole into the microwave and nuked it on high for 6 minutes, until the water was boiling. Then I removed it and placed it in my small igloo cooler. (I’d already lined the bottom of the cooler with about 3/4 of an inch thickness of newspaper.) Once the casserole was inside, I tucked clean rags around it and tossed a bunch on top of the casserole until they came to the top of the cooler. Then I shut her up and tucked it away in a kitchen corner.

I forgot about it until about 8:30 PM. When I opened the cooler, a waft of very warm and moist air escaped. I removed the rags and grabbed hold of the casserole to lift it out. Bad idea. It was so hot, I burned my fingers. So, with potholders, I brought it out and placed the casserole on the counter. When I removed the casserole lid, steam poured out. The rice was cooked to a perfect turn and the chicken was moist and tender and falling off the bones. I had to wait several minutes before I could eat my dinner because it was still so hot. Just as if I’d taken it directly from the oven and onto my plate. And it was delicious.

I’d say that this haybox cooker idea works pretty darned well.

Of course, it saves quite of a lot of energy and is as good as a crockpot with the advantage of not having to worry about anything shorting out while away from home—or burning/overcooking. I suppose it could be quite useful if one wanted to go traveling for a day or even camping and desired an easy and tasty meal. Or, like me, the idea of cooking a meal so simply, and with very little energy input, just thrills to pieces.

I think this will be an excellent method of slow cooking chili, too. Can’t wait to try that when the weather turns cooler.



 

90 Percent Project - Week 12

Monday, 12:37 pm

By Kate

Aug

27

2007

sunny

Some of my figures are absent for week twelve of the 90 Percent Project. I just didn’t get around to reading all the meters while in the midst of packing the lad up and out the door.

Electricity
Week 12: 47 kWh

It was a disappointing week in terms of electricity use. With three days to prepare the lad to leave and the washer going near non-stop, I had to use the dryer a fair amount. For every load that hung on the line, there were two that went through the dryer. After a month away, he returned with a lot of laundry.

Now that the lad has gone, I’ve downsized to the 1.5 cu ft fridge again. While he was home, we used his larger dorm fridge. Today I’ve plugged the little fridge into the kill-a-watt meter to see exactly how much electricity it uses. Seems to me my daily electricity use has bumped up a small amount from the usual since plugging it in. His fridge used .66 kWh per day. I hope the tiny one doesn’t use more. I’ve now reached the point where I wonder what on earth I used to put in the 18 cu ft fridge.

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Gasoline purchased (for 2 people)
Week 12: 0 gallons

Miraculously, we squeaked through the week without needing to refill the tank.

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Water (for 2 people)
Week 12: ? gallons

I don’t know how much we used. A lot, I’m sure. At least there was no lawn watering. It’ll have to be averaged in with this week’s water use.

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Natural Gas
Week 12: ? therms

I didn’t read the meter, but it shouldn’t be much more than usual. It’ll be averaged in with this week’s meter reading.

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Trash (for 2 people)
Week 12: 9 lbs

I’m surprised it wasn’t more.
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Consumer Goods
Week 12: $150

$5 - dog chews, the rest was divided between a pair of shoes for the lad and other items needed to take back to school (socks, underwear, supplies, toiletries, etc.)

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Food
All food from the farmer’s market. Plus...fresh peaches! Oh yum!!!



 

Skunked again

Sunday, 8:29 pm

By Kate

Aug

26

2007

partly cloudy

Ohhhh...you know...it was bound to happen at least once this year.

Terry got skunked in the back yard. She reeks to high heavens.

I have to go get vinegar. Crap.



 

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