“UNnatural Gas Use” a blog by Greener Faster Participants Margaret and Meg

October 19, 2010 at 3:14 pm 1 comment

You might want to be sitting down when you read this. We use twice the amount of natural gas most people in Madison use on an annual basis. DOUBLE, like living in two houses, except we only have one. The average therms per year in Madison are 856. In 2009 we used 1,698 therms! Ouch.

We learned this on our challenge to reduce our carbon footprint 40% below the average Madison household. Luckily our water consumption is already 60% below so we’re good there. Our electricity is 11% below average and we’re confident we can reach that goal, but 100% above for gas usage??? We might have to call the folks at Extreme Makeover for help!

Meeting these three energy reduction goals has similarities to our daughter’s current college application process. She has “stretch” colleges, “matches” and “safeties”.   While we feel we can match electricity, and water is our safety, reducing gas usage so significantly will be a real stretch for us. A big difference between the two scenarios is that while our daughter is considering a dozen different colleges, attending any of one of them will result in a great outcome. Not true for energy use. Living an average American lifestyle will not have a favorable outcome for our planet. Business as usual will likely cause a world of hurt.  We feel very strongly that everyone needs to identify and implement changes to mitigate carbon pollution, minimize adaptation and reduce unnecessary suffering.

At our house we have been remiss. Prior to this challenge we changed most of our light bulbs, bought a hybrid, and scaled meat back from our largely local diet. We even invented a unique window cover to reduce winter drafts from our old windows. Since the challenge commenced we’ve insulated pipes from our hot water heater and measured our fireplace for glass doors. But now that we know how ridiculously high our natural gas use has been it’s clear we need to consider major home improvements, like replacing our 40 year-old furnace for instance. In fact, we’ll probably get a home energy audit for help tackling this huge task.

And while we’re feeling a bit sheepish about our irresponsible gas use, we’re glad to know how extreme our situation is. Obviously it’s a waste of money, (which could have helped with tuition!) but it’s much more than that, it’s not who we want to be or how we want to exist on this planet. Which is why we joined this challenge. We intend to “be the change we want to see in the world”.

By Greener Faster Participants Margaret Mooney and Meg Gaines.


Entry filed under: consequences, conservation, consumption, energy, other, sustainability.

Small and Simple Things- a blog by Greener Faster Participants Melanie and Mike UW Energy Hub Alternative Vehicle Expo 2010 – This Friday!

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Mark McCaffrey  |  October 21, 2010 at 9:12 am

    We’ve had an energy audit on our late 70s suburban leaky home (the auditor said most houses from that era get a D in energy conservation/efficiency) and he indicated the #1 thing we could do to make a difference is replace the now +30 year old furnace with something much more efficient.

    He also indicated that the big McMansions down the road from us get an A or B in terms of efficiency because houses are built with much better insulation, etc. That said, they are also two or three times the size of our house and often have only two people living in them.


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