Arctic Sea Ice : Forum

AGW in general => Walking the walk => Topic started by: Paddy on September 08, 2016, 09:03:49 AM

Title: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: Paddy on September 08, 2016, 09:03:49 AM
A thread to post about steps you've recently taken in the direction of sustainability.

For me, just a tiny step to report recently: getting and using a travel mug so I'm no longer going through endless disposable cups to fuel my caffeine habit.
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: josh-j on November 29, 2017, 07:54:20 PM
This could be a good idea if it can encourage others to take steps too. But I don't want to make myself feel like I'm doing enough!

Anyway, I started taking a flask and cup to work for exactly the same reason. There are drinks machines in my office disposing endless plastic cups (for free) and half of them end up in the general waste so yeah, not good.

This year I am trying to see how much gas I can save by not heating my house (as low temperature as I can manage). I live in northern England and while its no Arctic, it can get pretty chilly (currently just below freezing outside) and my house is old. So it is now 8-9c inside the house. I do not recommend people go to this extreme (especially depending on health) but it has made me think about how what we consider as essential are really luxuries if we were really to treat climate change with the urgency it deserves. I have a warm sleeping bag wrapped around me and wearing 6 layers of clothes because I'm sitting at my desk. Only my hands are cold... :) (also, I've been using this as a way to talk about the environment to my work colleagues - it is lighthearted as they think I'm mad, but it means I can talk about things like decarbonisation!)
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: Neven on December 01, 2017, 12:29:59 AM
Well done, Josh.  :)

I hope to move forward again in 2018, because frankly, I'm not satisfied right now. It's insane how much stuff a family needs (or thinks it needs). And my daughter suddenly couldn't play basketball at the local club anymore, so now I'm driving her to another club in the nearest city, 60 km away, every two weeks. But they play at the national level and so this weekend we drove almost 700 km for a game (all the parents with their kids). It's insane, but as she's home-schooled, we need to make sure she gets out enough. Maybe we'll just have to buy an EV next year, but they don't grow on trees (either financially or ecologically).

One good thing we did this year, was snatch a plot of land from the agricultural war machine. We'll plant trees next autumn.
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: etienne on December 01, 2017, 01:48:22 PM

Here is the document to help you :

It is really interesting. I used some of the ideas that are in the document, but most of them don't pass the "wife acceptance test" at home.

Good luck,


Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: josh-j on December 01, 2017, 07:49:18 PM
Thanks Etienne, that is a very interesting study. I particularly like the details about older furniture design like winged or hooded chairs.

My house is very badly laid out for heat because previous owners removed dividing walls and made the whole ground floor open-plan. If I live here long enough I might reinstate the old walls so I can trap heat in the living room.

Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: etienne on December 01, 2017, 08:23:59 PM
I always thought that people weren't stupid in the old times, and weren't very rich either, so usually old houses are very energy efficient if you use them like in those times. So before changing something, it's always good to think at why people built houses that way.

Of course, houses could have been even more efficient, but insulation material (stroh, wood...) just wasn't available in the quantities we have now (and we only have these quantities available because most people insulate with styrofoam, rockwool or similar materials).

Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: pileus on December 02, 2017, 03:52:10 PM
I have continued my practice of not eating ruminants, and have extended it to all four legged creatures.  I moved close to an urban core and have increased my walking/significantly decreased my driving.  I now use almost no AC or heating in my home.  What I am most “proud” of though, is a growing commitment to reduce my consumption of products and things in general.  When I do need something, I try to shop local, and I sense there will be a growing backlash away from Amazon and the other consumer monopolies in the coming years. 
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: greylib on March 19, 2018, 01:41:04 AM
One very simple thing I did ten years ago - bought a dehumidifier.

We try to take the washing outside and hang it on the line, but this is the UK... we can only peg it outside around half the time. The rest of the time we schedule the wash for the evening and dry it indoors with the dehumidifier, running it at night to get on to the cheaper tariff. This has to be a lot more efficient than a tumble dryer - we throw away around ten pounds of lukewarm water per session, instead of venting ten pounds of steam. It's such an obvious saving that friends, family and workmates don't sneer "eco-geek" or "treehugger" at me - many of them are doing it now.

Other advantages: if a room starts to feel a little damp, a couple of hours drying will make it much more comfortable. Especially the bedroom - I tend to sweat into the mattress, but a short session leaves it feeling warm and fresh.

As the abovementioned friends/family/workmates are pointing out, a dry room heats up faster - when the central heating comes on, it doesn't have to spend a half-hour or so getting the moisture out of the furniture.
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: TerryM on March 19, 2018, 03:24:11 AM
In keeping to the clothes drying meme.

My washer and dryer were outside in Las Vegas. Because of the very dry climate I simply disconnected the dryer heater and let it spin everything dry.

In California the dryer was in the garage. By filtering the exhaust and not venting it outside I could add supplemental heat at night by simply opening the connecting door. It also added a little humidity, which helped in that environment.

Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: sidd on March 19, 2018, 05:32:03 AM
Insulation. And before insulation, caulk. First thing to do is also the biggest bang for the buck: a tube of caulk, caulk gun, weatherstrip, and 10 dollar infrared thermometer.

I just helped a friend this last, fairly brutal, winter with that. Just moved into brick building from the 1940's and winter descended. After the first day and night when his gas furnace never turned off with the thermostat down to 55F, he yelled for help. Good timing, winter is slow for construction (bar exclusively interior) in that kinda weather, so couple three guys showed up.

It was about 20F outside, so finding all the drafts inside with the IR thermometer was a piece of cake. Went thru a bunch of caulk and weatherstrip, tho. That shut the furnace up forabit.

His windows were a disaster, and we were not going to fix those in this weather. So we got some plexiglass and framed the sheets in on the inside. (watch out for local fire code. this might be illegal. if it is, put hinges in the frame and a latch. we used eighth inch plexi which can be snapped by  non infants, we are ag zoned, and he had pulled permits so it was and will be a construction site for the forseeable future. he's not exactly supposed to be living there, but since the neighbour, who is a township commissoner, helped with the job, i don't think thats an issue.)

Then we got a bunch of the rigid pink foam insulation surplus from another job and put it in on the inside of the outside walls of his bedroom, kitchen, bathroom. The stuff we had was paintable so we even matched the color. Then we moved the thermostat to his bedroom.  Couldn't really close off heat vents in less trafficked rooms without risk of pipes freezing.

Then we crawled in his attic. (Big mistake.) Suffice it to say there were old, dead raccoons involved. We fixed the animal entrances, and rolled out a bunch of fiberglass.

Three days. I think he laid out less than 2K US$ in materials, including beer. We didn't charge for labor, but we worked him pretty hard, too.

He still has to fix the windows, and put in the right insulation, and replace the furnace and tuck point the masonry and fix the chimney and the flashing, and the sump drains and  ... he ain't gonna fix that house without laying out a hundred K or so.


Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: etienne on March 20, 2018, 05:58:36 PM
I developped a thumb rule to calculate how much money you save when replacing light bulbs or other simple electrical systems by more efficient ones.
It’s very easy.
In a year, you have 8760 hours, so a system using 1 W per hour uses 8,760 kWh. Since 1 kWh costs around 15 cents, the yearly cost of 1 Watt  24h/day is around 1.30€. Than you just have do define how many % of the time the system works. A 100 W system running 8 hours a day costs 43€  a year (1/3 of the time, so 1/3 of 130€). This is why reducing base load is often more important than reducing peak load.
It is sometimes easier to calculate with 1€ per year per Watt then add 30%.

To take example that are more related to daily life, if your 40 W bulb is burning 2 hours/day, or 2/24, you just calculate 1.30*40*2/24 so the cost is around 4.33€
If you replace your bulb by a LED using 5W, you save 35W, 2/24 hours, so the saving is 1.3*35*2/24, so the saving is around 3.80€.
If you are at work, light bulbs will be on 10 hours/day, 5 days a week, so the calculation would be 1.30*40*10/24*5/7= 15.48€
Saving would be 1.3*35*10/24*5/7=13.54€
So I have now LED in each place where it was possible.
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: Grubbegrabben on March 20, 2018, 06:27:35 PM
So I have now LED in each place where it was possible.

I also tried to do this but noticed that I'm sensitive to the flickering light. Most LED lights just do a half wave AC conversion (it's a LED, duh) resulting in a 50 Hz strobe light. Some people (including me) are sensitive to this, some don't notice anything. I have searched the web periodically but so far no results, except professional studio LED lamps for photographers (which are insanely expensive and not suited at all for home lightning). All light bulb replacement LED lamps I've found so far flicker.

Anyone else having this problem and found a solution?

Note: Some LED lamps have a wall transformer and produce DC current for the LED light, I have a few desk/window lamps like this and they are of course flicker free.
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: etienne on March 20, 2018, 09:02:45 PM
I have a flashing issue in the places where I have 12V bulbs with an electronic transformer, I went back to halogen, but I guess this not what you describe when talking about flickering.

Is this also an issue with professional lightnings ? Like in supermarkets, public transportations... ? Or in refrigerators ?

The main issues I knew about are dazzling, light that doesn't go in all the needed directions, availability of high power replacement bulbs (I still have to use some energy saving bulbs) and color.
I also had some bulbs that were early out of order, but this seem to be better.

Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: Hefaistos on March 20, 2018, 09:58:57 PM
You have to filter the half-wave output from the transformer to get rid of the flickering of LED lamps, especially if you want to use a dimmer. You can retrofit a capacitor, the bigger the better (eg. 10 000 uF will do fine). Costs 1 euro or so, but you need to solder it in place somehow.
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: ghoti on March 21, 2018, 03:31:20 AM
All the regular 60W LED replacement bulbs I've purchased have had no flickering issues (operate at 60Hz here in North America). 100W replacements have been rare but seem to be hitting the market now. I've found the "warm white" colour balance to be just like the incandescent bulbs they've replaced but the "cool white" are much too harsh.

Seems like specialized LED light fixtures suffer from issues of flickering but not the regular bulb replacements in North America.
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: Dietrich on April 16, 2018, 08:53:09 PM
Always looking for more are a few I've been able to easily adopt:
- Choose power generation which is 100% renewable (in Pennsylvania customers get to choose power provider).  This was merely a phone call to implement and my cost for electricity is level with last year
- Garden.  Everything I grow on site is less that has to be transported / commercially cultivated
- walk bike to local stores
- encourage clients to meet over video / phone directly reducing emissions
- adopt led lighting where possible
- recycle
- mulch biodegradable waste.  yes this contributes co2 but it directly reduces methane production in landfills and reduces transportation emissions
- talk to people and share perspectives
- Like / promote information which raises awareness (dislike / demote information which is clearly denialist propoganda)
- reduce meat intake
- choose investments which are low carbon.  There are good funds out there which socially responsible AND have solid returns
- Vote
- Contact representatives and let them know your preference.   Some actually do try to consider their constituents
- Plant Trees. More sequestration and less lawn to mow!
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: oren on April 17, 2018, 03:49:50 AM
Nice list Dietrich, and welcome!
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: ghoti on August 02, 2018, 04:36:59 AM

We have stopped using fossil fuel in our house.

The natural gas connection to my house was shut off this week and the meter removed. We just had a ground source (sometimes called geothermal) heat pump installed with a 540 foot deep (165 meters) ground loop. The unit is extremely efficient with Coefficient of Performance of 5.1 - 5.3 for heating and
36.0 - 41.0 EER for cooling.

This heat pump also does hot water preheating which will supplement the 40 tube Apricus solar hot water I already have. Final hot water heating when needed is electric.

We live in Ontario, Canada where electricity generation is now over 90% fossil fuel free.

Our one car is a PHEV and most of our travel is electric. Long distance trips, for example, Ottawa to Montreal return to  visit our son, still use gasoline. Overall though we use more electric than gas. The last time we filled the tank our fuel economy worked out to 2.2 liters / 100 km. Next car will definitely be full EV.

We have a 6kW peak AC solar array on our roof in addition to the solar domestic hot water system. Before switching from natural gas heat to heat pump we were annually producing 50% more electricity than we consumed. I'm wondering what the balance will be with the heat pump.

Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: etienne on August 02, 2018, 06:28:59 AM
Congratulations. I guess you have a high thermal insulation on your house, otherwise I would recommend to add a wood stove. This would allow to run the heat pump at a lower temperature (higher efficiency) and to have comfort temperature in the house only when required.
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: ghoti on August 02, 2018, 03:52:05 PM
The heat pump has a ground loop which will stay at constant temperature year round independent of air temperature. The pump circulating the ground loop exchange fluid is variable speed to reduce the power needed to maintain optimal heat exchange. The compressor is continuously variable allowing it to run at optimal rates.

I did upgrade the insulation in the attic and basement about 10 years ago which helped reduce the heat loss almost 25%. The house has decent double paned windows which also helps. Insulation in the walls is limited by the "2 X 4" stud size. With brick veneer I'm not inclined to add insulation to the outside of the walls.

Here's a photo of the ground loop connection from the house to the top of the well all placed well below the frost line.
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: oren on August 03, 2018, 03:04:04 AM
Nice setup ghoti.
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: josh-j on September 03, 2018, 12:01:15 AM
Ghoti - a 6kw array - that makes me jealous! Well done on your heat pump setup, it looks like an investment in time but nothing unachievable for a lot of houses assuming they can be adequately insulated. A few years ago the government here (UK) was going to make all new houses be built to that kind of standard, but just before it came into force it was cancelled...

My house was built around 1930 and designed to "breath"; it would need quite a lot of work to be heated by heat pump though I'm sure it could be done. So like Oren I'd be interested to know how well insulated your house is!

There must be millions houses like mine here but no real plan to help people take the sort of steps you've taken. The people who can't afford to do so include the people stuck in fuel poverty because their leaky homes use tons of gas to heat...

Anyway this is the Pat Yourself on the back thread so: (!)

A while ago I posted about trying not to use heating over winter. I'm happy to say that my own slightly reckless venture to reduce emissions was very successful - I didn't freeze to death! Lowest temperature inside the house was about 3c but more often about 6-8c if I remember correctly. That seems pretty good considering the "Beast From the East" we had in the UK, outside temperatures down to about -6c or so at night. Even my pipes didn't freeze (I think it was close) But I needed a ridiculous amount of warm layers, sleeping bag, sleeping bag plus warm bedding for sleep, and so on. Nevertheless, this is supposed to be an urgent problem, right?  ;D :o

Same again this winter :) The things you can do when you're single and living on your own.... lol :)
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: ghoti on September 03, 2018, 01:10:34 AM
I'd be interested to know how well insulated your house is!

It isn't insulated all that well compared to the most modern standards. It was built around 1955 with "2X4" stud walls with brick veneer. The walls have are insulated to R12 (RSI 2.1). The attic is insulated to R50 (RSI 8.8). The windows are all vinyl framed double pane sealed units.

It needs about 14 MJ per heating degree day to maintain 19C inside. We have about 4500 heating degree days per year here. On the very coldest days of the winter (windy -30C) we needed about 22,000 btu/hr to stay warm and the heat pump can deliver 36,000 btu/hr so should be fine.
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: etienne on September 03, 2018, 08:46:37 PM
In Luxembourg right now, many air heat pump are installed, and this requires a better insulation. A heat pump pumps heat from the cold side to the warm side, so if the cold side is very cold like in an air heat pump, you really need a low temperature heating inside the house to get some efficiency (to get subsides, the water in the floor heating has to stay under 34°C). Here in Ghoti's situation, he has a cold side that never get's very cold, so it's not so much an issue if he heats water above these 34°C. Anyway, I would recommend a small pellets or wood stove, not only for the efficiency issue, but also to avoid using too much electricity during peak time during the winter. A trick could be to heat the seats and beds instead of the house.
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: josh-j on September 06, 2018, 09:18:02 PM
Thanks Ghoti and Etienne. I think I need to remember this thread and take notes. Perhaps it is more feasible than I thought!
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: jacksmith4tx on September 21, 2018, 10:58:22 PM
Thanks to everyone here for their conservation efforts and commitment to make a better future.

I just did the math on how much CO2 emissions I have saved since I installed my solar panels (Jan. 2012) and it comes out to 45.6 tons (67.3 MWh) according to my Enphase statistics. Since I use Green Mountain Energy that uses 100% renewable energy to supply my grid electricity they show I have offset 17.2 tons of CO2. Add them together and my total CO2 offset is now 63.7 tons. Not sure how to calculate my CO2 offsets from my Volt but I have driven about 9,000 miles since I bought it (used) and 90% of that was in electric mode. The onboard computer says I have a lifetime rating of 78 MPG by dividing total miles (since new) by total gasoline used. I'll have to do some more calculating to figure out how many KWh/CO2 that works out to.

I have accumulated a nice quantity of RECs (Renewable Energy Credits) that might be worth something someday if they ever put a price on carbon.  :)

*Details of my PV array, photos and a screen shot of a recent utility bill are at:
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: ghoti on September 25, 2018, 10:12:55 PM
Enphase calculates how much CO2 my PV system has avoided but it is completely bogus. I live in a jurisdiction where no CO2 is released generating electricity. Therefore generating electricity with solar doesn't save any CO2 emissions.

It is still worthwhile generating solar electricity but I shouldn't claim credit for reducing CO2 emissions.
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: jacksmith4tx on September 25, 2018, 11:40:34 PM
What's your public Enphase URL

My system is also listed on PVOutput where it ranks as # 855 from a global population of 31,374 PV systems and according to their calculations I have offset 60 tons of CO2.

Since the PVOutput API doesn't support my eGauge energy monitor they can't show how much I have exported but it's over 12 MWh since I turned it on.
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: ghoti on September 26, 2018, 04:05:27 AM
I think this is a  public view:

It shows 37.7 MWh lifetime but my meter from it to the grid says closer to 39 MWh.
Title: Re: Pat yourself on the back
Post by: etienne on May 04, 2019, 07:19:50 PM
Well I've been only by bicycle to work for two weeks now. It's really nice, but my body hurts everywhere. Transition is not so easy, good that there are week-ends to get some rest. I know times will make everything better, but improvement time is longer than expected. I only drive around 12 km per day.