Energy Diet

Now that third round of the 360º Energy Diet has come to an end, we can sum up the highlights as yet another group of dieters from diverse locations around the world showed how a little bit of attention can lead to a great deal of change when it comes to energy use.

Dieter Results

On the basis of points, Catherine and Jean-Denis led the pack with 490, making their biggest changes in the areas of eating a carbon-light diet and reducing their landfill waste. But while points are a good indicator of progress, they can’t be the sole gauge. As we have noted in previous rounds, some dieters don’t earn as many points because they are already ahead – no gas-guzzling car to maintain or trade in, no yard to xeriscape, no meat-eating to curb. Samanta, for example, was already living a pretty energy-lean lifestyle getting around by motorbike, but she went even further by deciding to walk more often.

Beyond racking up points, all of the dieters made significant strides and found creative ways to cut energy use. Alberto and Michelle, among other things, reevaluated their supermarket habits and installed a timer for their water heater. Gerald made a big dent in his water use, which you can see from the handy chart that he produced to track his progress over eight weeks. Marta spotlighted some interesting facts and research on contact lens waste. Alicia focused on changing her speedy driving habits and visited a local farm to get more in touch with where her food was coming from. Emma, James and Georgina set up composting in their backyard, but unfortunately went MIA toward the end of the diet.

Tidbits from Around the World

One of the best aspects of this round is that the bloggers were challenged to describe energy issues not just in their own homes, but in their countries at large. Every single blogger rose to that challenge and incorporated amazing research into their posts, allowing us to learn, for example, that:

In Costa Rica, more than 80 percent of the power comes from hydroelectric plants; and yet despite its dependence on both water power and tourism, the country only treats a small fraction of its wastewater before dumping it straight into rivers.

About one quarter of New York State’s land is used to produce food. New York ranks third in the United States for milk and dairy production.

Per-capita domestic electricity use has gone up 81 percent since 1994 in Portugal.

The cost of using a standard dishwasher twice a week in Québec, Canada is less than one quarter what it costs in the Netherlands.

About 40 percent of all household waste in the United Kingdom is sent for recycling.

The price of electricity in South Africa has risen 25 to 40 percent each of the last two years.


Your Opinions

Readers of the 360º Energy Diet are a pretty conscious bunch: More than 40 percent of you said in polls that you always bring your own tote to the store, and more than 50 percent said you live in a community that is either very or somewhat aware of conservation issues. People seemed evenly divided on where they could improve most, but “what you buy” had a slight edge. You can see more opinions on the polls page here.

You also shared on Twitter many disturbing (and, frankly, amusing) instances of energy waste, including commercial buildings that leave lights on, overused cars and/or electronics, and (in the amusing category) Twitter itself.

If cutting energy use is among your resolutions for 2012, be sure to check out our comprehensive energy diet tips, calculate where you stand with the Personal Energy Meter, and see how making some lighting changes can make a difference with the Light Bulb Savings Calculator.