First off, we just want to thank everyone who has weighed in with ideas and methods for maintaining a sustainable urban lifestyle. Many of your efforts are truly impressive, and kudos to those of you who've shared photos and videos to make your sustainable lifestyles truly live for us.
Here, for example, is a fantastic video comment from message board poster kq4ym demonstrating how he's saving energy (and money) on his water heater in Florida:
And not to select favorites, but here are just a few of the other great ideas shared thus far on the message boards for this contest that we think everyone can learn from:
NewDream and his wife are biking to the grocery store and carrying their goods home in their own bags. (As well as using little air conditioning... in Florida, no less!)
batye shared an extensive list of ongoing efforts, including composting, creating a natural glass cleaner using water and baking soda, using solar energy for cellphone charging, and much more.
James@SanDiego is installing water-saving shower heads and faucets, getting rid of the newspaper, and replacing lightbulbs with LEDs.
jamespeck1 has installed smart plugs and light switches at home, and is linking up electronics with an Android device to analyze data, monitor energy usage, and switch things off remotely. Fantastic!
As for me, well, I spent the first week of this contest in Phoenix, giving me a late start on greening my own living space. (However, I'm happy to report that we spent part of that time working with Habitat for Humanity, where House Lead Dale Kollars spoke highly of the organization's focus on sustainability and energy conservation.)
Now that I'm back in the business of being a New Yorker in a new apartment, I've made various small changes -- like doubling my reuse and recycling efforts (including finding a facility to recycle my old electronics), purchasing environmentally friendly cleaning products, and putting an end to my use of paper and plastic cups and utensils both at home and in the office. This is, of course, in addition to being a subway devotee, and a great fan of walking whenever and wherever possible.
My plan for the weekend is to swap out my lightbulbs with energy efficient replacements; and look into water-saving faucet attachments for my kitchen and bathroom. I will keep you posted, and I am also happy to take your suggestions!
In the meantime, this contest is still underway, which means our brand new Kindle is still up for grabs. As you can see, the competition is heating up (in the most energy efficient way, of course). So please keep sharing your efforts and ideas on the message boards! Make it even tougher for us to choose a winner, we dare you.
Re: Where to start? 5 years ago when the kitchen was reworked all the lights were 50W MR16 low voltage spots. There was far too much light so quite quickly the 50s became a mix of 35s and 20s. There's no CFL alternative so I experimented with eBay LEDs but I found major issues with life, some lasting no more than 50 hours.
That's why I've gone for branded products - and still a few have gone back - but over the last six months I've got rid of all the incandescent bulbs.
In a family that is rarely able to turn off a light I'm happy when it's only a handful of watts I'm wasting!
Re: Where to start? Ahh Simon, Even I hope the LED's become more affordable so that even the common man can use it.
Anyways, some time back you said that you have installed these LED's in your kitchen. When did you install them? and What is the life you are expecting out of these LED's? Please share.
Re: Where to start? yes indeed there is a big difference in cost at the moment. I think that will change quite quickly - the range of LEDs available has expanded dramatically over the last year or so. At the same time some of the CFLs give a much better quality of light than others.
I also note that some of the higher output LEDs take a noticeable time to illuminate - getting on for a second though they don't do that irritating characteristic of some CFLs to start dim and get to full output over a minute or so.
Re: Where to start? I did a quick check over the internet to find out the differences between the CFL's and LED's. This below website sums it up nicely.
But despite the many advantages that LED's have they are very very expensive at this point of time. May be I will have to rethink about my decision to replace all my bulbs at once.
Re: Where to start? I think you have to experiment a bit with bulbs. The quality of light from CFLs and LEDs can be fairly awful, and it's not just the colour temperature. I'm pretty pleased with the Phillips LEDs which give a pleasant light but I'm waiting to see about longevity
Re: Where to start? Simon, wow, what fantastic efforts, and good for you for taking into consideration how your personal choices (in this case, your house size) have an impact on the planet.
I think having the ability to personally monitor energy through apps and such is incredibly powerful. "What isn't measured isn't managed" is a great way to put it. When we're not actively looking at our impact, or monitoring our energy usage, there's much less of a chance we're going to do anything to change it. This is one area where we can see the true power of data.
Re: Thanks! DSM419 - Thanks for the positive feedback, it's so great to hear that you've been inspired to make these changes. I have also been feeling more positive with each little change I make. It's great to have a community to check in with about ways to improve one's green efforts and attempts at more sustainable living. Keep us posted on anything else you try!
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