Friday, April 18, 2008

#208 - In the Air Tonight

Turning Off the Furnace and the A/C... Again

Well it's that time of year again. The days are getting warmer, the nights are still a little chilly. It's in-between weather that fluctuates between hot and cold, shorts and long johns, or, in the case of my kids "naked" or "wrapped up".

In the past, I'm ashamed to admit, I would have spent my time at the thermostat switching from heat to cool to heat again in order to maintain a relatively constant temperature. But not EcoDorkess. Last fall I learned to live without my furnace and a/c by piling on or taking off clothes. This spring, I'm going to be tuning in to the weather a little more closely to see if I can't find a way to regulate the temps inside.

Previously oblivious to forecasts, I now keep a close eye on the weather. Because knowing whether it's going to hit 60 or 80 means the difference between airing out the house or sweating my ass off at night. It also means the difference between letting the sun shine in or keeping it blocked as much as possible. It helps me decide whether to run the dishwasher in the morning to take advantage of the heat, or wait until dark of night when it won't add to an already too warm house. Should I plan on grilling outside that day or cooking inside? Do I open the windows in the morning to let some cool air in or keep them closed tight until the sun warms us up a bit in the afternoon?

The only investment required here was an outside thermometer and a bit of my time and attention. You see, it's a lot easier to just set the thermostat to 70 and let the furnace and a/c do the work. But if I just slow down. If I just pay closer attention. If I just learn to live a little more deliberately. I can maintain a relatively comfortable, if not constant, temperature in my home. A little more work for me, a little less stress on the environment. Isn't that what living lightly is all about?

And so now I work a little more with the less-polluting resources like curtains, windows and fans; I plan a little of my day around the weather and, as a result, I'm able to rely a little less on the furnace and a/c - the two biggest energy hogs in our home.

And it makes a difference. I know because I see it in my energy bills. Which reminds me... I think I need to update my riot numbers. But not today. It's late, I'm tired and the house is the perfect temperature for sleeping. Good night.

8 comments:

Wendy said...

This is very cool. I've found myself doing something similar with regard to laundry. I watch the weather and if I know it's going to be a nice day, I'll try to make sure I wash and hang out a couple of loads - my line will only hold one load at a time, but if I get the clothes out early enough, I can actually dry a more than one load on the line outside ;).

AleciaMarie said...

I'm guilty of the heat/cool crime too. I live in Phoenix where it can rapidly shift from 90 to 45 in the span of 5 hours....I recently purchased large, thick (ugly) velvet curtains at a thrift store and I am amazed at how well they keep the heat out. Our apartment is already a mishmash so I really don't mind the ugly curtains, it's better than spending the money and feeling the guilt from the AC/heater game! :)

MamaBird said...

My dad (who grew up in Bethesda) used to have this elaborate series of rituals with shades and leaving the top inch of windows open and whatnot. He's a mathematician. I never mastered it. But he was of the PUT ON A SWEATER if you are cold (or 3) and a "GO STAND UNDER THE HOSE" if you were hot guy. Separate plea: will you explain how you come up with your Riot numbers and how you track all your assorted consumption for a goodhearted but ignant ecodork neighbor?! Ty ty ty in advance...

arduous said...

I have to admit, this is an unexpected bonus of walking two miles home from the metro each evening. Because at 8pm, I can tell whether it's going to be a roaster and I need to open my windows as soon as I get home, or if it's going to be unexpectedly chilly and I'm going to need an extra blanket.

Allison I said...

Hey! I just wanted to let you know that I called The Gap and asked what they did with their old hangers and was told (by a very nice, if slightly bored Customer Service person) that they get returned to the manufacturer and reused. I didn't think to ask if this policy was national and/or enforced though.

Keep up the good work! :)

Anonymous said...

Ha, I just called The Gap and got a service rep who didn't know anything but eventually said they reuse a few to hang up returned items.

I told him they need to change the policy to a total reuse/recycle before I will ever shop there again.

He also asked if I had called before. Clear sign that we are getting through with some numbers.

I said no, but the word was out that they were not recycling and they might be hearing from a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

Ha, I just called The Gap and got a service rep who didn't know anything but eventually said they reuse a few to hang up returned items.

I told him they need to change the policy to a total reuse/recycle before I will ever shop there again.

He also asked if I had called before. Clear sign that we are getting through with some numbers.

I said no, but the word was out that they were not recycling and they might be hearing from a lot of people.

Going Crunchy said...

Last summer I was able to go AC free a good deal of the time, but did get a couple of box fans. I would monitor the air flow and pull it off the shaded side of the house and get a nice breeze going throughout. With no trees shading the house I did pretty well!

I think the sticky feeling inside the house bothered me more then the heat.

P.S. I'm putting in two more volunteer hours if you want to add it to the previous. Heifer got cash, Knox Presbyterian Church got 3 1/2 hours and Hessed House Homeless Shelter is getting four hours.