Your grandmother was more “Green” than you! As Americans, we pride ourselves on being environmentally conscious, when in reality, our grandparents used far less energy than we do, even with all our conservation efforts. In Central Florida, our energy pie has a couple big slices and several smaller ones. The biggest slice of the pie is air conditioning and heating, coming in for approximately 41% of our energy costs. Water heating is our next biggest energy use at between 15-18%. Lighting and washing and drying clothes uses about 10%, while refrigeration uses approximately 8%.
When I consider all these uses, I realized that many of our grandparents didn’t have air conditioning, no TV (or maybe one small one) and often used a wood burner to supplement their heat. Light fixtures were few and used sparingly—and bed time came early. As for electronics, they may have had a plug-in radio.
The single fastest growing segment of energy use is the ever growing electronics and “plug count.” My wife and I are empty nesters and live in a couple thousand square foot home. We have three TVs, DVR, DVD, cell phones and electronic tablets. Many with children at home have four and five TVs, multiple computers and game stations. I just did a quick walk through and have no less than 35 light fixtures! I submit that even the most energy conscious among us would be energy hogs compared to our grandparents.
All this equipment uses energy, and it has one other downside; it generates heat. All the equipment can cause us to need a slightly larger air conditioner to combat the internal heat load. Plug-in electronics are the fastest growing area of home energy use.
What conservation measures can your family take to compete with grandma’s energy practices?
Scott Ranck is the Conservation Program Coordinator & Energy Specialist for Florida Public Utilities. Feel free to e-mail any energy-related questions or comments to Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.