Water, Electricity, Transport

Hi.  This is Jeff again.  My 3Acts are all tracking.  Water, Electricity, and Transport.  Special situation:  disability due to Parkinson’s Disease.   In our group Transitions Longfellow, someone said at a meeting that they paid all that money to put in solar and get off the grid as an expression of the morality of their choice.   That kind of got to me.  Honestly, due to my past history, my first motivation is to save money.  I am trying more to put my beliefs into practice and be more responsible.  So I contributed to the VOTE NO! on the marriage limitation ballot question and am trying to get a lawn sign.  Small steps.

So I’m not just trying to reduce use; I’m trying to save money.  I started tracking water use and looked at my bill from the city.  In Minneapolis we pay $3.20 per 100 cu. ft. for water used each month.  (100 cu. ft. of water is about 748 gallons.)  I found on the internet that Americans use on average about 64 gallons of water per day, or about 1900 gallons per month.  My use?   I can’t figure it closely, but it is in the range of 28 to 35 gallons per day or 840 to 1050 gallons per month.  So I use about half the water used by the average person in the U.S.  Why can’t I get more precise?  My water use varies month to month.  Now I can shower at the YWCA several times a week (I have to exercise to maintain core strength so I have less risk of falling) since it comes with the membership.  I may do more or less laundry and garden watering in a month.  Some months I use less than 748 gallons and pay the minimun $3.20.  Some months I use more water and pay another $3.20.   In order to reduce my use I would have to find a way to easily (physical limitations) reuse kitchen sink water and shower water, maybe even laundry water.  I do put dish cleaning water in a bucket in the bath and use that to flush urine.  And I reduce flushing by following the line “If it is yellow, let it mellow.  If it is brown, flush it down.”  (Yes, I am single.)  The result is it would be too hard for me to reduce more without a grant to replumb.  And the cost savings would be minimal, maybe $12 per year (city water is cheap).  There is another way to save water, though, on the outside of my house.  I could get a rain barrel.  I could have a rain garden in my yard.  I may try one or both of those things next year.

For tracking electricity I borrowed a Watts Up? meter from the East Lake Library and hunted for the elusive watts in my house.  The electric energy hogs in my house are the room air conditioner (the only A/C in the house) and the non energy star refrigerator.   The A/C (1990 model; got it free from my neighbor) runs 5-6 hours a day and adds about $25/month to my electric bill ($.72/day; I don’t use it every day).  In the winter the new high efficiency gas furnace replaces the A/C at about the same total cost, but runs on and off all day.  The spring and fall my electric bills fall to about $22 per month when neither A/C or furnace are on.  At the height of either summer or winter my bill gets up to $47/month.  The refrigerator, of course, is plugged in all the time.  It uses about $.285/day, or $8.55 per month.   The main reason why I don’t replace the A/C and/or the frig:  I may have to move to assisted living in a few years which means I would not get the pay back.  Pay back of replacement cost via energy savings for each appliance would be ~10 years.  I know what you are thinking!  What would the moral choice be?   Or, go solar!  Sorry, but I got one of those free assessments through LLC and solar is not viable at my house.

Lastly, I am tracking my transport.  My 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlas Ciera still gets 15 – 20 mpg in summer (up to 27 mpg hiway) and my guess is that it only costs about $300/month to operate (or about $1/mile).  Compare that to the HourCar at ~$600/mth.  Yes, it can be cheap to operate a reliable old car that is paid for.  It is hard for passengers to get in the doors, though, and it ain’t much to look at.  I want to see how many miles I am actually driving each month.  The exercise at the Y adds about 42 miles a month (12 x 3.5 miles round trip).  I am considering going carless when my license renews Nov. 1, 2014.  Partly because the car is dying.  I have two years to come up with alternatives.  Getting to doctor appointments and some of my activities would get very inconvenient and be more expensive without my driving and having a car.  Some trips I walk; bike and bus could be options for certain trips.  Sharing a car may be good; or a new mode of personal transit yet to be.  It would be nice to have more of a intentional community to be in to facilitate this.  That is the moral choice.  I’m willing to try it.  How about you?

Jeff Bell – South Mpls Cohort.

P.S.  A “raspberry” to math checkers.   How is it that some months I use less than 748 gallons of water but my guestimate is 840 – 1050 gallons per month?  It is dementia, obviously!  How wrong you would be!  I was an accountant.  To paraphrase General MacArthur, “Old accountants never die!  They just go out of balance.”


One thought on “Water, Electricity, Transport

  1. Jeff, thank you for this thorough report on your actions and insights. The low cost of water has been a problem since water conservation began and will continue to be for a number of years more. Although, since the monetary cost (many external costs not included here!) is so low with a resource like water, it seems feasible that for people motivated by ecological morality or personal sustainable behavior, making incremental changes to lower water consumption makes sense. Instead of trying to meet a next level lower to reduce cost, you can try to achieve a level of use that is more sustainable, but that does not stretch to meet a bench mark. This type of savings and change in behavior is much more likely to be achieved with energy – at least in the foreseeable future.

    Also, I am guessing your average water use is a range of median values, so your usage may sometimes fall below that average range. Is this what you were thinking?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s