After completing the front yard, I begun to look for another challenge. A good friend of mine, Jennifer Treacey, mentioned to me that a new eco TV show was appearing on SBS Australia in the next few days and that it was touted to be informational.
The program was called “The Eco House Challenge” and was hosted by Glenn Hall as the presenter guy and Tanya Ha as the eco host. The synopsis is that two families volunteered to take up the challenge of reducing their impact on the environment by taking a series of cuts to their household consumption. Each week the families had to reduce one of the four environmental hot spots by over 50% and at the same time remain above a baseline set by the presenter. The four hot spots were energy, water, transport and waste removal.
It was a great show over six episodes and it really taught Kim and I a lot about reducing a homes consumption. So much so we decided to take action and see if we could reduce our consumption against three of the four hotspots. We believed that we already had transport licked as Kim’s main mode of transport was walking, I had my Hybrid, and the kids used public transport to get around town.
I knew that before you can make changes to anything, you have to be able to measure the current situation before you start. Otherwise you will not know if your changes have been effective or ineffective. So on the 14th of April 2007, I took the meter readings for our electricity, gas and water. For the waste challenge we would have to measure how much waste we produced by bin volume on a monthly basis. The first weeks readings were as follows for week one:
- Electricity daily average – 31.1 KWh per day
- Gas daily average – 55.8 Mj per day
- Water daily average – 575.4 litres per day
Now only having watched the first show, and not really knowing what was good or bad for the environment, I bought the book “Greeniology” by Tanya Ha. It is full of great room by room ideas on greening your lifestyle.
We started on energy first, mainly concentrating on electricity as we saw that as the easiest to do. Here is a week by week account of what we did for our power challenge;
Week 1. The Baseline
We didn’t do anything different than we normally did. Lights blazing, computers whirring, and all the TV’s on in nearly every room. The pool pump was running for about 5 hours a day. I did some research and learnt that the average Australian home used only 16 kWh of power a day. To our amazement we were using over 31 kWh a day. Mind you, we have six people living in our home, but our usage had only one place to go and that was down!
Week 2. Awareness.
This week Kim and I began the campaign to educate our three wonderful, yet wasteful children. We continued to watch SBS on Wednesday nights. We also began small and started to replace our incandescent light bulbs around the house with Compact Fluorescent lights (CFL). I also started to turn my PC off at night. Beforehand, I had run it all night downloading TV shows from the
Week 3. Standby power.
Week 4. The Solar Powered Clothes Dryer.
We discovered something that we had forgotten about that was lurking down the back of the house. It was the trusty old Hills Hoist clothes line. We began to utilise this seldom used appliance that dries clothes by the Sun. Amazing technology! As we began to use the Hills Hoist more and more, we saved power by not using the Electric clothes dryer (rated at 1950 watts!). I replaced a few more CFL’s
Continued in part 2…..