Thursday, October 05, 2006


Energy diet

Andrew Postman writes in today's New York Times:
Flipping channels, I came across the news that Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative had just ended with Richard Branson, the British mogul, pledging $3 billion to fight climate change over the next decade. On another channel, Mayor Bloomberg stood at a podium in California and announced, to my pride and delight, his sweeping eco-initiative for New York: the city’s carbon emissions would be measured, an Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability would be created. Meanwhile, the man standing next to him, Governor Schwarzenegger, was set to sign legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for his state — the world’s 12th largest contributor of such gases — at a level the federal government had continually rejected. Everyone was chipping in, even Arnold, the first civilian ever to drive a Hummer. I took another bite of doughnut.

And that’s when it came to me. I should go on a diet.

A half-ton diet.

I knew, having taken the “Calculate Your Impact” survey on, the companion Web site for the Gore movie, that our household produced some 19,100 pounds of CO2 last year, 4,100 pounds more than the national average...

As a family, as a household, couldn’t we drop a half-ton, a mere 5 percent of our weight?

Andrew Postman's attempts to reduce his energy consumption made me think about how much less energy my family uses in Uruguay. We've gone from two cars to none (at least for now). Our apartment is maybe a third the size of our house in Kalamazoo, so heating costs are lower. Radiant slab heating is more efficient than forced-air heat and winter in Uruguay is much, much milder than winter in Michigan. The oven here is less than half the size of our Kalamazoo oven-- again more efficient. Our refrigerator, big by local standards, is about two-thirds the size of the fridge in our kitchen (and we have a second full-size fridge in the basement there). The washer here is a tiny front-loader. No dryer, so a big energy savings. In Michigan, we usually have 3 desktop computers running (between home and offices); now we just turn on the laptops when we need them.

Energy conservation is the norm in Montevideo. Motion sensors control the hall light outside my apartment door. Compact florescent bulbs are common. Nearly all the cars are small and many residents rely on public transportation. I can't claim to be doing anything special.

And, the flight to Montevideo wipes out much of the savings. According to the “Calculate Your Impact” survey, my flight (one-way) created a full ton of carbon dioxide per passenger.

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My wife Alejandra discovered your blog two weeks ago and we have been following it with interest since then. We are actually your oposite since we spent 5 years in the US and I still remember how we used to compare how simple things are done in a different way in our societies.
The energy topic is very interesting. I do not think we Uy´s are naural energy savers. The explantion is on the energy cost. Gas costs more than one dollar per liter, that is more than 4 dollars per gallon!! Same stands for electricity or natural gas.
Hey, Welcome to Uruguay! The summer is not far ahead and you will have tiem to visit our beautiful beaches. Enjoy the heat and the water!! (AC is very expensive, too)
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