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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Peak Oil Hausfrau: Riot 4 Austerity

Peak Oil Hausfrau: Riot 4 Austerity

Monday, November 10, 2008

Riot 4 Austerity

My husband and I took a big step yesterday. We agreed to track our expenses in three categories - food, consumer goods, and gasoline - for the next two months. Then, on New Year's Day, we'll begin the Riot 4 Austerity challenge (in these categories). The goal would be to decrease our impact to 90% of the average American, which would be only $1000 in consumer goods, most food local and organic, and 50 gallons of gas per person, per year. I don't know how close we'll get, but the journey will be worth it even if we can only get 30 - 50% down.

We have already been working on our energy efficiency for several years, but lately I've felt that we lacked focus, lacked urgency to our efforts. Yesterday we watched this speech by David Suzuki (42 minutes, but well worth it) and finally got the kick in the pants that we needed.

We have already spent a lot of effort on retrofitting our 60's home to be more energy efficient, and I've calculated that we use about 75% less electricity and heating than the average American household. Here are some steps we've taken:
  • Installing the Geothermal Heat Pump
  • Adding cellulose insulation in our attic
  • Sealing HVAC ducts in the attic
  • Purchasing Energy Star fridge and washer
  • Replacing 80% of light bulbs with CFL's
  • Weatherizing windows and doors
  • Replacing drafty single pane picture window with double paned argon window
  • Replacing old rickety ceiling fans with newer ones we would actually use
  • Using the Sun Oven to cook when possible
  • Improving energy habits

We've also been working on growing our food in our garden, buying local food, buying used goods, etc. But we've never "officially" tracked expenses or participated in the Riot. I think we've done far less than we could if we focused our efforts.

Now we are ready to move on to this new challenge, one that might be more difficult than just applying technology and making small changes to our habits. Luckily, the Rioters grant a 50% exemption for any item that improves preparedness for peak oil, a 50% exemption for locally produced consumer goods, and a 90% exemption for any used item. So, I think we're up to it! We better be, if we want our son to grow up in a healthy and sustainable world.

If anyone is interested, check out the Riot 4 Austerity page. They are very supportive, informative, and interesting. It's not about being judgemental and strict - they just want to inspire you and help you on your journey towards sustainability.

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