Energy Diet

Our Vital Statistics

Electricity average: 35kWh/day=1065kWh/month = 12775kWh/year
Water: 27Kl/ month= 324Kl / year *
Petrol: 160l /month = 1920l/year**
Anthracite: 15 bags of coal x 75Kg for year=1125Kg of anthracite coal /year
Meat: Red meat: 4x month = 4 x 400g =1.6kgx12=19.2Kg/yr
Other meat: (chicken, fish) 6-7x weekly= 11.2Kg/month =134Kg/yr
Plastic bags: 3-4 bags twice a week = 7×4=18 bags/month
Nappies: 5xday, 150/month
Wipes: 2-3/nappy, x5, x 30= 330 wipes
Water bottles: in-house water filter, but buy bottled water at restaurants approx 8 bottles / month
Laundry: 4 loads/ week
Plus 4 small loads extra of Hannahs baby stuff every other day
Dishwasher runs every other day.
*we also have a borehole on the property which we use for the swimming pool and garden, so this must add up to more, I am just not too sure to how much more…
**1 Tank of petrol for me (40l) and 2 tanks for Mark 60l

We think that saving electricity is a major priority for our household. To that end we have decided to look at switching off one of our two geysers in the house. We have already replaced all our lightbulbs with energy-saving CFLs and ripped out the electric heater and underfloor heating the previous home owners left us.

Unfortunately, a major black smudge on our score sheet must be the anthracite coal heater, which we had fixed and running since last week. It burns 24/7 and keeps the house toasty warm. Unfortunately it uses coal delved from the belly of the earth to work. Not sure how to get around this one. Minus a gazillion points? I cannot bear to even think going without it. At least it doesn’t use electricity. Does that count?

The bore hole in our stand gets used for the garden. I realize that it is still not ‘green’ to tap the city’s water table for private consumption, even though it is ‘free’ and not billed by city council. Luckily the garden is getting ready to hibernate for winter.

I should probably get the watering can handy (rather than the hosepipe) to water our newly planted vegetable garden (Yessss!  I pre-empted the energy diet and planted one six weeks ago: Fifteen points for us!) A couple of unidentified plants are sprouting. We will have a proper update post soon!

To reduce our petrol use Mark and I can switch cars. He drives more than me, and my car (Citroen C3) is more compact, and therefore more efficient, than his (Honda Accord).  Of course, I can also walk more, weather permitting. Unfortunately, but wonderful news, in other respects, ( and this is full disclosure here) all three of us are flying to Cape Town next week. Any petrol use we would have saved just got blown out of the water by that one. Next.

We didn’t really consider each other as great meat-eaters before I did this tally, but it does look a little excessive. I guess we are still of the mentality that a meal without meat is not a proper meal! I am looking forward to introducing a meat free meal once a week. Winter is a nice excuse for wonderful soups, and it is also an opportunity to explore other meat free meals. (Think I will have to rope in one of my vegetarian friends: Deborah, help!) I can smell the butternut soup already!

I can and should cut right down on plastic shopping bags. 7/ week is just too many and unnecessary. This should ideally be brought right down to 0. Starting today. Canvass shopper, into my handbag you go!

Which brings me to the bane of my existence: Disposable nappies. I despise having to use them, I think they smell horribly chemical, they add up to mountains of non-biodegradable waste, and they are so thin nowadays  that its no fun to pat my baby’s bottom. I have 6 cloth nappies on trial, but Hannah has been too small for them. Thanks to a growth spurt I think we are good to try again. I am going to give it a good go starting this week. The search is still on for an alternative to the throwaway wipes though. Any ideas out there?

The energy diet has begun, folks! We are ready!


  1. Stacey Byers
    New Zealand
    June 6, 2011, 2:56 am

    With a bit of google research it seems you buy or make re-usable cloth baby wipes to use when you change nappies. Also, is your house insulated in the ceiling and floor? We just added insulation when we recently bought our house and it means we don’t have to run the heater 24/7. Baking helps too 🙂 Good luck!

    How to make your own baby wipes:

    Pre-made cloth wipes:

  2. Chad Lipton
    June 10, 2011, 10:26 am

    @Cecilia, Good home energy data and well done for being so honest. Regarding the anthracite coal heater, it might not be ideal, but it has to be better than purchasing electricity from a power plant that burns coal. Todays modern coal heating furnaces are typically much less pollutive, with low sulfur and a high carbon content. Further, from a typical coal power plant, you are likely to lose 6-8% transmission and distribution loss and 30-35% of generation loss. You will not have the same inefficiencies with your anthracite coal heater, so don’t beat yourself up over this one.

    Regarding your swimming pool, I’m not sure if you heat the pool, but if you do, this would be a great opportunity to reduce electricity costs. One quick suggestion is to use a smaller, higher efficiency pump and operate it less. Here are some good tips:

  3. Cecilia
    June 15, 2011, 1:53 pm

    Ha! Stacey, this is a little belated but thanks for your post! We are definitely looking into insulation for the ceiling, it will probably only happen after the energy diet has run its course (and winter…brrrr!). Your baking post made me smile. I think I should look into it! 🙂
    Chad, thanks for the info on the heater as well as the pool pump. The pool is not heated though. We converted the chlorine pool to a salt chlorinator. I feel better about using less chorine and other chemicals at least!
    Thanks for taking the time to reply to the post!