So where do you fall on the eco scale? Do you consider yourself an environmentalist or are you just and eco poser? Paul Wheaton’s recent post on Make it Missoula discusses a test that Paul calls The Wheaton Eco Test. It’s a simple test to measure one’s eco level. The test is simple. If you spend more money on electricity per year than the average American you can’t consider yourself eco based on the criteria of this test. I thought it would be interesting to see if our family passed the test.
Eco Scale Test
It’s a simple test. Do you spend less than the average American on electricity? Paul’s post states that the average American household spends $1000/month per adult for electricity with heat and $250/month per adult without heat. This does not include kids in the home. Basically Paul states that if you have kids and you want to call yourself eco you should keep your energy consumption down due to overpopulation. So if you spend less on electricity than the average American, you can call yourself eco (at least eco level 1), if not then you might have some work to do.
We are Eco Poser
I really don’t claim to be “eco” or an environmentalist or “green” for that matter. But we are following a path to become more sustainable, to live more within our means, and to live more in touch with the natural environment. But we failed the eco scale test pretty bad. Our household (2 adults, 2 teenagers, and 1 five year old) would need to spend less than $2000 on electricity with heat. For 2011 we spend $2725 on electricity.
I agree with Paul that this is a simple acceptable measure of one’s eco level. It’s a good place to start. If the average American does in fact spend $1000/year per adult on electricity with heat, then I think our environmentally mindful household should definitely be trying to spend less if we are to call ourselves eco. So what steps can we begin to take to lower our energy usage?
“Most of our pollution problems are rooted in the source of our energy use. Pollution and war are the two biggest side effects. People who really care about humanity and the earth, will use (I think) less than average.” – Paul Wheaton,Testing to see if you are an eco poser
Reducing Our Electricity Usage
We need to try to reduce our electricity usage to decrease the amount we pay for electricity by about $725. I’m not really sure if we will be able to accomplish this. When you are dealing with change within a family unit, it should be gradual.
I plan on first monitoring our daily kw usage by reading the meter everyday. I should probably also chart the outside temperature with the kw usage. This will keep us more aware of our kw usage.
Our laundry is another area we will try to save money on. By using the laundry cost calculator (see results in the figure below, Case A) it estimated that we spend $363/year on laundry. Wow! By making a few changes (Case B below) it’s estimated that we can reduce our laundry costs to about $178. That’s an estimated savings of $185/year.
The main factors we changed for potential savings are only washing in cold water, making an effort to hang more laundry on our clothes line, making our own laundry detergent, and trying to reduce the number of loads we wash per week. In order to compensate for using the clothes line more, I just adjusted the calculators dryer time to 30 minute dry times instead of 45 minutes. We could potentially see more savings. I plan on trying to not wash my clothes as often to reduce loads per week, and encourage the family to reuse bath towels when possible.
Last year we had a couple of months in the winter were our electric bill was $400 – $600 for a month’s bill. We found out that our unit needed to be replaced so we replaced it with a heat pump unit. This should save us at least $400 – $500.
I think the Wheaton Eco Test is a good simple way to test were one falls on the eco scale. Whatever that means to you is for you to judge. As Paul states in his post, it would be very complicated to come up with a test or model to accurately measure all aspects of a person’s lifestyle to measure where they fall on an eco scale. I plan on keeping a daily log of our kw usage and will document it in a monthly post for this year. I hope with the steps mentioned above, being more aware of turning of lights when not being used, and just being more aware of our kw usage, we can get below $2000 for our electric costs this year.