Energy Saving Tips?

April 16, 2007


A bit of talk was certainly flying around last Saturday about energy saving.  While alot of discussion was focused on energy alternatives, remember that lowering energy consumption goes right along with that.  Though most of this isn’t the more integral approach of a ‘culture change’ as Alexis Zeigler mentioned (i.e. we’re not giving up cars, just using different fuels),  it’s easy to get swamped in literature about energy saving.  Just like, well.. anything else, people are trying to sell you things and promise you a better life.  And likewise make you feel better, because you think you’re helping.  And maybe you are a little bit, but no one wants to be the dumbass who buys a fancy energy alternative saving car, when everyone knows you can walk or bike to work. 

Culture change over capitalist change.  As a speaker at the forum mentioned, “global warming is big business.”  Exactly. You can buy into the ideas for free, but buying a bunch of solar panels or a hybrid car, while undoubtedly very cool, is your firm grip on a slick oil covered rope held 100 stories high. Have fun.

Many variations of ‘turn off the light’ wisdom can be found at the US Department of Energy tips page here, and the Powerhouse Group’s page here.  Plenty of other webpages and books exist brimming with similar advice.  Even most local power authorities, like JEA’s page here, let you calculate how much energy your appliances use, and remind you to fix the leak in your toilet tank.  This is all very useful information for the consumer and the local power authorities.

Here’s another power solution they aren’t advertising, though I’m sure you’ve heard of it.  It’s a clothesline. You hang clothes on it to try in the sun.  The most complicated you can make this is to say it ‘uses solar power to dry your laundry.’  If it costs you more that $10, you’re doing something wrong. It’s going to save alot more energy (and money) then you buying a new energy saving dryer.

Now when it comes to fixing that leak in your toilet… some people would think that a leak occurs every time you flush (not just before, harhar).  And it does. When you flush you are using clean water, the same water you are washing dishes with, etc.  You can use sinkwater to flush your toilet. This is a simple and totally safe way to use greywater.

Step one: Disconnect the pipe from the evil sewer.
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Step two: Brush your teeth, wash your hands.
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Step three: Bucket is getting full, use that water to flush!
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You can also have a bucket in the shower to collect the waiting that runs while you are waiting for the hotwater.

And if you’re looking for a fun project and have an old bike laying around you can give a pedal powered washing machine a go! Here are links to various types of bike powered washing machines. Wash! Your! Clothes! The first link has detailed instructions for the construction of it’s own container for clothes. The next two modify existing washer containers.



  1. this is an awesome post, josh. emphasizing conservation and decreasing one’s personal consumption are the two easiest and most efficient ways to be more green-minded. speaking about things in these terms also shifts the discussion away from more politically polarizing issues, which should be helpful in adding momentum to the movement.

  2. Nice! Thanks Nick!

  3. I second Nick’s opinion. This is super helpful, Josh. One group that participated in a New England area Step It Up event was Project Laundry Line. They very simply advocate using a clothesline instead of a dryer. Duh.

    The mommy-grapevine tells me that the wife of the publisher of the Times Union does things like this to conserve. My mom always says, “Rita saves the water from running the shower to water her plants.” Not the same as your homemade greywater system, but it’s good to know that older rich people like these actions as well as feisty, notrich, young-er folks like us.

    I’ll be a-linking to this post from jaxgreen.org as soon as I update that sucker.

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