Tuesday, January 3, 2012

December Riot Summary

According to the Riot calculator here, the results for the items I tracked for the month of December 2011 follow for a household of 4 people:

transportation: 26.8 gallons + about 300 public transportation miles between school buses and the T, 18 % of US average
electricity: 440 kwh, 49 % of US average
heating/cooking: 85 therms, 103% of US average

Still, I'm not sure what these averages are telling me. For example my electricity bill is measured in kwh/month. Specifically comparing month to month seems not as meaningful and one December to the next. However, the kwh on the bill is not always based on the same number of days. And certainly, the temperature varies which determines how much heat we use.

Some numbers that make me more aware of my use and progress are shown below:

December 2009
average daily electric use (kwh) 17.4
average daily temperature (degrees F) 38
gas for heating/cooking/hot water (Therms) 166

December 2010
average daily electric use (kwh) 15.4
average daily temperature (degrees F) 32
gas for heating/cooking/hot water (Therms) 124

December 2011
average daily electric use (kwh) 13.7
average daily temperature (degrees F) 40
gas for heating/cooking/hot water (Therms) 85

If anyone knows how to make a nice chart or insert one in blogger, please let me know in a comment. Thanks.

According to the numbers on my electric and gas bills that would be a 21% reduction in electric use and a 49% reduction in gas use in 2 years. In February of 2010, we had the house sealed and had insulation blown into the walls. The further reduction the following year may be from the higher monthly temperature, bulb replacement and shutting off our coldest room most of the time.

Here are some workers pumping insulation into the old, empty walls:

Through little holes like this:

Regarding our relatively low transportation use in December compared with previous months, it's likely a result of the fact that both D and I filled up very close to the end of November, and again toward mid Dec. January may be higher for that reason.

In the bigger scheme of evaluating our transportation use, I can frankly state that compared to 5 years ago, the cars we are driving are significantly more energy efficient. I went from driving a car that averaged about 16mpg to one getting 24mpg. I traded in my 10 year old car with 140,000 miles. It would have needed expensive fixes to pass inspection. I am driving about 1000 miles per month now, slightly less than when we lived in NJ and I drove my kids to a private school about 8 miles away. Now they take the bus to a local school.

D changed from a small pickup truck that got 20mpg to a small diesel car getting 38mpg overall and up to 45 to 50 driving carefully on the highway. While he loved that truck, it was necessary to get a safer more efficient car when he was commuting every weekend from NJ to MA before we moved. D gave his 15 year old truck with about 90,000 miles to a very good friend who needed a vehicle. The friend got a free means of transportation and was therefore willing to do the repairs it needed. D's work is about 20 miles from home in the city rather than 5 miles down the road as it was in NJ. He drives about the same distance though then takes public transportation from a commuter lot.

The old truck with the new car (VW Jetta TDI) behind it:

By the way, the truck's new owner loves it also: you can see how he decorated it for xmas here.

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