Riot for Austerity: Month 2 – Some Ouches

Riot 4 Austerity fist with thermometer

We finished our second month of the Riot while not at home, so my meter readings are a couple of days off. These numbers are for the period from 1 December 2008 to 4 January 2009.

1. Gasoline: OUCH!

We did so well last month: 7.939 gallons of oil/person or 19% of the US National Average. But for the New Year we visited friends in NY City and Washington DC. For the three of us it was much cheaper to drive than fly. I do love road trips, I admit it. I love singing along with the 70s and 80s music we always play when on the road, and looking outside, concocting stories about the places I glimpse, through the trees, and getting a feel for the vastness of this country… But the memory of all that doesn’t lessen the pain:

22.6 gallons per person = 55 % of the US national average.

I’m enjoying winter, but I’m looking forward to when I can bike Amie to school. That will save us 32 miles a week, or 128 miles a month.

2. Electricity: up a little

We spent a little more on electricity than in month 1: 345 KWH (up from 300).

That’s 38% of the national average.

The rise probably has to do with the fact that we recently started heating the bathroom with a small space heater.

3. Heating Oil (and hot water): DOUBLE OUCH!!

We burned an incredible 93 gallons of oil in little over a month, 10 days of which we weren’t even at home (the thermostat was set to the minimum, and no water was heated). That’s almost double what we burned last month (52.7 gallons), and

151% of the US national average

(which ranges over a year and the entire country, not to forget).

Evidently it was terribly cold here in neck of the woods. For instance, on the day of our trip back up North (1 January), the temperature in DC was 36 F, 19 F in NY and 6 F in Mass. – we were happy to stop in NY for a couple more days. And it continues to be freezing cold.

We’ve insulated the house as tightly as can be, we Freeze our Buns, and as long as our budget doesn’t allow more measures to be taken (like a woodstove, and a home-built solar thermal collector), this is how it will have to be. I hope it averages out at the end of our Riot year…

4. Garbage: made it

This is unchanged from month 1. We produced 3 lbs. of garbage on average, so at 0.15 lbs a person a day we made the goal of

10% (.45 lbs) easily.

5. Water: very close

We consumed 324 gallons per person, which is

11% of the US national average.

I ascribe the drop (it’s down from 459 gallons in month 1) to the fact that we weren’t home for part of the month.

6. Consumer goods: Christmas fling

We spent $326 on consumer goods last month – not bad considering it was the holidays. We did a Handmade Christmas, but we also got a globe and a small computer mouse for Amie and some books and crockery for ourselves.

It amounts to 40% of the US national average.

It’s an aberration and we’re back on our thrifty track.

7. Food: Huh?

I am no longer going to calculate this category.  The more I think about how to, the less possible it becomes. Can anyone tell me how they do it? By weight, by bulk, by cost?

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