In a recent post, we talked about Willits, California and an engineer named Brian Corzilius. He conducted an energy audit for his whole town, in an effort to assist the community in planning for localizing their economy. He discovered in the process that just under 25% of the town’s after-tax income was being spent on energy. Sobering, when calculated with gasoline at $2.00/gallon. Recalculating his spread sheet based on current gas prices puts the amount he and his neighbors pay every year for energy at over 30% of their net income.
In response to our post, a reader from www.energyauditdirectory.com, where you can find professionals to come and size up your home and discover how to save both cash and energy, suggested that we should focus our attention on tightening up at home. Good idea. You can even find home energy audits online – there’s a fun one at the Department of Energy’s www.energystar.gov. Give it a try. And check out their suggestions for saving energy at home – more than $10 per year for each CFL you install, for example.
Here are some interesting things that we learned while looking into home energy usage, costs, and potential savings. First, most homes pollute the air at about 1.5 cars worth, assuming a car that gets about 25mpg. To put this another way, most homes in this country generate about 14,000 to 18,000 pounds of carbon pollution per year. A Honda Civic generates about 12,000 pounds a year, if you drive about 12,000 miles per year. So if you have one car (we wish) and are average in your home consumption, you are generating about 30,000 pounds of carbon a year. Not so good.
In 2008, the average home in the U.S. will pay $5,500 for energy. The DOE breaks this down this way: $2,200 per household for gas and electricity, and $3,300 for gas in the buggy. So here’s a challenge. Cut your energy costs and carbon emissions in half next year. Go from 30,000 pounds of carbon to 15,000. Or go from $6,000 to $3,000.
Commute sans auto. Install CFLs. Button up the house. Get a checklist and do what it tells you to do. As a simple example, the Department of Energy tells us that the average American home has 2 TVs, a VCR, a DVD player and 3 phones, and if each of these were “Energy Star” rated, it would save 25 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, equal to taking 3,000,000 cars off the street.
Try it. Go for a 50% reduction. It’s possible. The easy way? Get rid of your car. Keep those dollars at home – we’re going to need them for the next city.
Madison, Wisconsin. Hmm.