click to return to the Solar Utilities Network home page Solar Utilities Network projects

How do YOU use energy?
Drawing a baseline

by Michael Potts
We all consume fossil energy. In the last century north americans have learned to use up phenomenal volumes. In one year, the average north american is responsible for reducing the sum of global stored energy by more than ten 18th Century north americans used in their lifetimes, a five-hundred-fold increase. Of course, these heritage fuels cannot be replaced in millions of years. The Solar Utilities Network bookshelf has several titles dealing with these matter if you wish to delve more deeply.

For the most part, we are unconscious of the energy we squander. Our vehicle addiction is beyond reason. At home, we throw away one out of every two units of energy we buy. Our appliances are inefficient, we use too many of them, and we use the wrong kind of energy in many of our activites. For example, using electricity for heat (in electric water heaters, stoves, or ovens) wastes up to 80% of the original energy. The all-electric dream home of the 70s has turned into a costly energy-hog nightmare in the 90s.

Reckoning Home Energy

You are here invited to participate in two exercises. In the first, you will be asked to record a baseline of the energy you consumed in the last four quarters. By noting how many kilowatt-hours of electricity, therms of heating fuel, cords of firewood, gallons of gasoline and water you consumed, and how many gallons of sewage and barrels of garbage you produced, you quantify your impact of your energy behaviors from the immediate past.

thumbnail of Energy Audit form : view Energy Audit form: (23kB GIF file) : (59kB PDF file)

The point of this exercise is to promote awareness of energy consumption. On the form you will note a column marked something happens here and we sincerely hope something does. Almost everyone agrees, we simply cannot continue wasting energy at the present rate. In fact, many serious thinkers believe we will find ways in the next decade to reduce our per capita energy consumption by a large amount …or perish. We believe we know how to resist this last idea, and invite you to work with us.

Experts from the Solar Utilities Network help clients reduce energy waste using this form as our starting point. With this information in hand, we can show you how to live a much more sensible energy life. Our clients report that the information and techniques learned in their work with us pay them back for course costs within months, and that they are easily able to reduce energy expenses by 50%, using the surplus to finance further measures for energy efficiency. For information about our consulting services please email us at the address shown below.

Home Energy Map

In the second exercise you are asked to make a drawing of the space you inhabit, extending out about 100 paces in every direction. In our work, we are constantly amazed at how homes (and most other structures) built since 1920 turn their backs on the free energy around them - sunlight, wind, and running water. Once again, to start using this energy well, you must understand where it is, and the second form gives you an instrument for finding it.

thumbnail of Home Site Map : view Home Site Map : (18 kB GIF file) : (39 kB PDF file)

Although site is all-important when building a new house, we are often amazed at how much energy can be found and used in the ambient of existing houses. Our students systematically find a quarter to a third of the energy they need to run their homes "lying around". Again, we invite you to join one of our courses to learn how to harvest this free, renewable energy.

What do YOU do next?
Here's the lowest-hanging fruit:
Get your hot water from the SUN
with Solar Water Heating

if you haven't seen it already,
please take a look at
Berta's Monster: how to pay for conservation

 click for the Solarnet home page    click to the previous article TopB.gif - 904 Bytes  click for Projects list click to the next article click to the next topic     click for Solarnet Opinions  click for the Solarnet Bookshelf click for relevant Links

Peace is Patriotic -- click to the originators of this lovely logo
Regime change begins at home. Participate!
Michael Potts, webster
updated 1 January 2005 : 16:37 Caspar (Pacific) time
this site generated with 100% recycled electrons!
send website feedback to the Solarnet webster

copyright © 1993-2005 Solar Utilities Network. All Rights Reserved.