Riot for Austerity – Months 7, 8, and 9

Riot for Austerity fist with Thermometer

Months 7 – 9, that is, May to and including July. So I’ve been slacking a bit, not on the practice – I hope – but on the monitoring and recording. Then again, if your practice isn’t wholly a routine yet, monitoring and recording may well be essential (not sufficient, of course, but necessary)… Let’s see  if that is the case for us.

Our household has been in flux quite a bit. We said goodbye to our (ultimately very energy conscious) co-houser around about the first of June, at which point we gained one grandmother, and two weeks later added one grandfather and an aunt, all staying a bit into July – and all were more or less energy-conscious too (*, cf. water, below). The last week of July we enjoyed the company of two friends. That, on average 4 in May, 5 in June and 3.5 in July… O my, this is stretching my statistical abilities somewhat, especially since the Riot calculator only reckons whole persons. To make it easy, I’ll just count 4 throughout the 3 months.  Phew.

Gasoline: 26 %

With school finished at the end of May, there were no more daily trips to Amie’s preschool to pick her up. And with the University also on Summer schedule DH doesn’t drive to the shuttle so often, but when he does go into work he has to drive all the way into Boston because the shuttle too is on hiatus. Then there were trips to and from the city airport to pick up our guests, and our trip to Cape Cod which necessitated that we drive two cars. Our house project also involved many trips to the local Home Depot. And what with all this rain I’ve not been biking at all. That makes for:

10.7 gallons/person/month = 26% of the US National Average

Electricity: 10%

The lights in the basement were turned off at the end of May and, hooray, it immediately showed on our electricity bill. The days being longer also helps, though I wished we had had better weather so we could have grilled more.

360.6 KWh = 10% of the US National Average

Heating Oil and Warm Water: 27%

It’s not like it has been summer, but it hasn’t been cold either – chilly, yes, sometimes, but not so as to necessitate turning on the heat. Still, we needed warm water and so the boiler consumed:

16.7 gallons of oil = 27% of the US National Average

That’s only for hot water! How will we ever get this down to 10%?

This shows that hot water is a large factor in our heating oil consumption. Let’s make work of the solar hot water heater, and wWe should also make work of wrapping the hot water tank and the pipes soon.

As for heating (in the future), good news: our new woodstove will be installed in a couple of weeks!

Trash: 7%

I am pleased to report that our Town has started a PAYT (Pay-As-You-Throw) program, in which you can only bring special garbage bags to the dump, which cost $5 for 5 14 gall bags and $8.75 for 5 30 gall bags (this on top of a year’s sticker fee at $155). I told the guy at the landfill how happy I was about PAYT and he was surprised: “Most people have only complained!” Well, it will make everyone more conscious of what they throw away. The majority of my town uses private haulers, but no doubt they to will soon be moving to PAYT.

As for the usual household trash we’re still on track. We are ultra conscious recyclers, composters, and packaging often figures into our decisions to purchase something. Just a few days ago I complained to a vendor about the huge cardboard box that he sent me, filled with one slim book and about 2 cubic feet of bagged air.  I stash almost everything that could be  remotely useful as a seedling pot, container for nuts and bolts, or crayons. So though I don’t weigh our garbage anymore, I’d say that we have been throwing out

10 lbs. of garbage a person a month = 7% of the US National Average

and I doubt it was even that. With these new bags I’ll try to weigh in again, just to make sure.

But there’s a big BUT: we have still to account for the guest room renovation, which is now more or less wrapped up. In the end we had to rent a dumpster. We’re still waiting for the bill which, will tell us how many tons (ouch) we put in there. I’ll count that in once that bill comes in, and then we’ll see that needle shoot up…

Water: 20%

614 gallons of water = 20% of the US National Average

Needless to say, we’ve hardly needed to open the tap for watering our garden, but…

… (*) our family house guests took short showers, and were quite water conscious, but unfortunately they could not  be persuaded to do the selective flushing (and, ahum, euh, nitrogen collection was not even mentioned). We had several discussions about this, and one of my arguments was that clean, potable water is as precious, if not more fundamental to life, as food – something they would not ever see wasted. The argument that “you should finish your food because so many children in the world don’t have enough to eat” also counts for water. Still, personal and cultural notions about hygiene run very deep. But looking at these numbers now I think we managed to find a good balance.

Consumer Goods: 20%

We purchased mostly and almost exclusively tools and materials for our house project (the guestroom), and A big purchase was the wood stove, but I won’t count those. I did buy some new clothes for Amie, as we no longer seem at the end of the hand-me-down pipeline we had come to rely on. , but again I did not, however, take notes… my bad. I would guess though that we did the same as usual, that’s about

20% of the US National Average

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