… by Susan Maggioni
Today marks the 7th day my three daughters and I have biked our way to Sprague Elementary School. It may not sound like much, but we’ve only missed one day since school started and that was because of an early morning thunderstorm. We live two miles from Sprague and have committed ourselves as a family to ride our bikes whenever and wherever we can. So we bike to school, we bike to in-town doctor’s appointments, and we bike to the grocery store for milk.
Why do we ride our bikes and what does it mean to us? For me the answer is easy: I bike with my kids because I like to see them active. Yes, it’s green and I feel good that we’re doing our part to reduce our carbon foot print. Admittedly, we have a huge SUV that adds more than its share of CO2. But for 25 minutes every morning, we are outside, getting fresh air, waving to friends and enjoying our time together. Often, my husband runs alongside us and we all get our morning workout in!
I have so much enjoyed watching my daughters grow in strength and confidence since we’ve started our two mile trek each morning. My fourth grader now speeds on ahead and just loves the independence! And I’m amazed at how confident my second grader has become. Last year, she biked to school reluctantly, often complaining that it was too far or that she was too tired. But today, for instance, was a landmark day. Not only did she finally bike all the way up a particularly steep hill that she has always had to stop and walk up, but when she fell off her bike and skinned her knee (occupational hazard), she picked herself up, shrugged it off and kept going. Sure, she was shaky at first, but soon she was back to her energetic and cheerful pace, bloody knee and all.
So that’s why I bike to school with my kids. But as every parent knows it’s not about me, it’s about them. When I asked my daughters why they like to bike to school, this is what they said: My fourth-grader was quick to say, “I love saving the world!” My second-grader told me, “I end up with just the right amount of energy when I get to school.” And from my kindergartener, who pedals along behind me on her tag-along, I got a simple, but enthusiastic, “It’s fun!”
Soon winter will be upon us and we’ll be back in the monster SUV, but for now, we’re outside, we’re biking, and we’re having fun.
We are surrounded with opportunities to reduce energy use. Many reductions do not require purchase or change in life style.
Change the picture setting on your TV to reduce energy consumption up to 53% watts reduction
Standard 277 22%
Cinema 167 53%
When you do buy a new TV check the power ratings on internet reviews such as CNET energy efficiency guide
Some models use 63% less energy
- Phlillips 42″ LCD 91 watts
- Panasonic 42″ Plasma 245 watts
**The above tips were presented at the Power of One Climate Solutions seminar
As the nights get longer, the amount of energy that we use for lighting increases significantly
Many of us have changed some of the bulbs in our houses but sometimes we get stuck with an unusual bulb type or buy one that has poor color. Dont dispair, many of the bulbs that used to be hard to find such as recessed can flood bulbs can now be found in many stores (try local first!). Another good source is www.efi.org.
Here are some favorites. The bulbs in the pendant and shaded fixtures are 5 watts each, enough to light a kitchen/family room with 25-40watts total lighting.
Each of the above bulbs is enclosed so that the spiral is not seen and therefore need about 1-2 minutes to reach full brightness, but offer warm white light with pleasing aesthetics and 75% reduced energy use.
A few things to watch out for:
- Only bulbs marked “dimmable” or “three-way” can be used in dimmable or three way fixtures.
- Electronic light switches with fade-on / fade-off switching do not work well with CFL
- Many enclosed CFL require 1-2 minutes to come up to full brightness.
**from www.energystar.gov – An ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) will save about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in about 6 months. It uses 75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.