Energy Diet

Shaw Family

Dirk, Jennifer, Lily, Sophia and Finn live in Colorado in the U.S. We moved our family to Colorado about four years ago because we wanted to raise kids in an environment that was about enjoying the environment. Since living here, we have taught the kids many ways to enjoy the benefits of the outdoors and what nature has to offer. The Great Energy Challenge gives us a chance to teach them how to take care of nature so they can enjoy the same experiences with their kids.


United States Participants

United States
Your Points Percentile:
Total Country Participants:

At Home (58%)

  • Changed thermostat
  • Changed settings on refrigerator, freezer, water heater and washer
  • Replaced at least one third of light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs
  • Disconnected electronic devices when not in use

Wild Card Items

  • Eliminated second freezer or refrigerator
  • Insulated water heater
  • Replaced appliances with green-certified products
  • Hung clothes up to dry instead of using the dryer
  • Sealed all of the windows and doors
  • My own action: Installed energy monitors on outlets

At the Store (68%)

  • Switched to organic produce
  • Switched to eco-friendly cleaning methods
  • Switched to locally made (non-produce) products where possible

Wild Card Items

  • Cut use of disposable items
  • Repaired or extended use of clothing items
  • Stopped using wrapping paper for gifts
  • Rented or borrowed instead of buying infrequently used items

Food (68%)

  • Ate a vegetarian diet one day a week
  • Cut down on take-away meals
  • Limited daily intake of beef to 8 ounces
  • Switched to sustainable seafood

Wild Card Items

  • Started a food-based garden
  • Ate vegan or raw for a certain number of days per week
  • Bought grass-fed beef instead of conventional
  • Gave up at least one processed food
  • My own action: Purchase local produce

Transportation (75%)

  • Drove no faster than the posted the speed limit, avoided rapid acceleration or braking
  • Removed extra weight from car, inflated tires
  • Used public transportation instead of driving
  • Reduced your planned air travel by one trip

Wild Card Items

  • Bought carbon offsets for travel
  • Carpooled or found a ride-sharing program
  • Invested in a more fuel-efficient car
  • My own action: Commute on bicycle

Waste Disposal And Reduction (0%)

  • Recycled all glass, aluminum, plastic, batteries and paper
  • Eliminated advertising mail
  • Changed to paperless billing
  • Eliminated the use of plastic and paper bags

Wild Card Items

  • Began composting at home
  • Used biodegradable bags for walking the dog
  • Recycled old athletic shoes and clothes
  • Recycled or donated old electronics

Water Use (45%)

  • Gave up bottled water
  • Turned off tap when brushing teeth, scrubbing dishes
  • Shortened showering time
  • Replaced shower head with a low-flow model

Wild Card Items

  • Used xeriscaping for yard
  • Installed a rain barrel to collect water for garden, lawn and plants
  • Insulated water heater
Total Points: 330

When we started the energy diet, I thought it would be easier to have the girls doing activities that could be shared via the blog. The further we got into the challenge, the more I realized that my wife and I needed to lead by example. So I found it was only fitting to interview…

Over the last 12 weeks we have all become much more aware of usage across all categories, especially around the house. Turning off lights, unplugging chargers and lowering thermostats are just a few of the things that do not require that much work but make a difference. When people initially hear about the “energy diet,” …

Passing Down Healthy Habits

I wanted to share an interesting partnership I noticed at the store this week. Kashi, the cereal company, has partnered with Recyclebank and is encouraging consumers to recycle their boxes to earn points. Recyclebank is an alternative to some of the larger waste collectors who has a totally different twist. They offer real rewards for…

Slips in the Diet

Some of the activities in this diet come very naturally, as they are already part of our life, some of the things I have tried are hard to sustain, and others are just not practical. It is probably the things that are not practical that yield the greatest benefits. The one thing I tried which…

Educated by Droughts

As stated in my earlier post, our water consumption is mainly showers, dishwasher and laundry. The basics. Now that we are family of five, we obviously use a lot more in each of these categories. We have started washing our clothes in non-peak times but with three kids, we seem to have lots of dirty…

A Green Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day this year, I found a restaurant in Boulder that was 100 percent local. Our waiter told us the story of the quaint place. They have a farm of about 200 acres where they grow all their fruits and vegetables, and when we asked about the meat, he told us they get it…

Pollution Makes Me Sad

Going the extra mile is the focus on this post. There are two things we have done. The first, and what I feel is most important, is educating our kids. The fact we have been talking with them so much about energy use and the impact on our environment is starting to resonate. Lily recently…

Chargers Galore

The infrastructure piece of this challenge is probably the easiest part of this diet for us. Our house is fairly new, so our appliances are green-certified, windows and doors are well sealed, and our water heater is insulated. The trickier part for all of us, as with every other challenge, is the behavior change. The…

There Are Free Rides in Life

This week’s post was not one where the kids have much involvement, and my wife works from home so she does not drive far at all. This is an area where I have to make some changes. The bulk of my transportation revolves around getting to work. The modes of transportation I take are car,…

A 20% Increase in Energy Consumption

After tallying our water, electricity and gas usage, we determined one thing: We use too much. My wife and I were both actually quite shocked at how much we use when we look at this at an aggregate level. But when I did some research on what others with a house/family of our size in…