Archive for January, 2010

Using Energy for Good

Seed Starting ShelvesSo we signed up for the SIREN Energy Challenge and have been trying to figure out where we use electricity and how we can cut back, which means Will is running around using his Killowatt on everything.  At the same time, I am planning my garden for spring and also thinking about how we will take advantage of the summer bounty.  My dad helped me set up a seed starting system with three shelves of fluorescent lights and I’m trying to talk Will into getting a chest freezer so we can store the summer’s vegetables but all he can think about is the increased electrical consumption.

It’s a tough balance!  We have managed to cut down on our natural gas consumption this winter despite unusually low temperatures.  I hope it’s from our vigilant caulking or perhaps our installation of a homemade insulating curtain over the window by our bed.  Still, our electrical use seems relatively high even after replacing our water heater (which we thought was wasting a lot of electricity).  The two main suspects right now are our refrigerator and our laptops.  Laptops are more energy efficient than desktops but we both do use our computers quite a bit since we mostly work from home and we also use Will’s laptop for much of our TV and movie viewing.

I think we’re getting close to the point where we can’t cut much more energy use without major changes to our standard of living.  I also think that it’s reasonable to use electricity for food production and storage, since homegrown food has other benefits in the form of increased nutrition, lower grocery bills, higher assurance of organic quality, and reduced transportation of food.  Still, it’s always tough to evaluate all the pros and cons and I know for now much of my lobbying is based on the fact that I’m super excited about gardening.

Did you know it’s not too early to start planting seeds indoors, even though it’s freaking cold outside here in Indiana?  I am ready to plant onions, kale, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage so I have nice fat seedlings ready to transplant when the ground thaws in March.  (All those except Brussel sprouts are available through Nature’s Crossroads and I’m enjoying the employee discount on seeds very much.)  I suspect this will be another year when I bite off more gardening tasks than I can keep up with but I’m really hoping this will be the year that I feel like I mostly get it.  Of course, there’s always more to learn so I won’t be too upset if I face a few more garden disasters…

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