Monday, January 19, 2009


When I began reducing the amount of electricity
my household used, I began with awareness.
I found that I like light.

It was 1990, when I first began my hunt for waste.
I looked at the meter.
I grabbed a leftover notebook.
My job was to find the ways in which my household was wasting electricity.

As I walked around my house I turned off any light I was not using.
The under cabinet lights in the kitchen burned all day.
The kitchen is on the North side of the house. It has always seemed dim.

These lights are florescent tubes so they were efficient yet still they were using electricity for no reason. I was not in the kitchen all day. I realized I like my rooms to be welcoming. I was using light to bring warmth not always for reading or tasks. I decided I needed a plan. Some way to bring light into my rooms with out electricity. I needed ideas. I spent one year becoming aware. I looked at our use in the daytime and at night. I watched how our use changed seasonally. I began asking myself questions, " How can I add warmth and enjoyment? Am I using this light or am I wasting?" Each lamp was looked at. I asked myself, " Is this light for reading or task? Is it to chase the dark away? Why do I have this lamp here?" I wrote ideas in my notebook. I learned that often a lower watt bulb would give me what I needed, I learned to love shadow art!
I began one step at a time. In the first year I reduced our use by 50%!

Since that first awareness I have done many things to add enjoyment and to reduce use.

We painted the walls white and I started finding antique mirrors for decorating.
I removed the curtains from the windows on the south side of the house. I raise the blinds on sunny, winter days. I use crystal and silver in the winter. It reflects the light and adds a shimmering beauty to the rooms.
I added glass doors to my cabinets in the kitchen. I added dresser mirrors to the inside of a dark china cabinet.

Each January I check again all the different ways I use electricity.
I get my notebook out. I ask myself my questions. If I have ideas I write them down.
I still would love to add skylights in the kitchen and one for a windowless bath. It is in my notebook as a, "good idea". Adding solar panels would be nice too.
I walk around the house and look at all the appliances and schedule the cleaning of the refrigerator coils. I plan the spring window washing.
I make sure our furnace filter is clean.
I make a plan for the year.

Last year I added two carafes to my counter top. One is for my morning coffee and the other is for hot water. This way I have my hot coffee with out leaving the coffee maker on. I have my hot water for sipping or for making tea without having to turn my kettle on more than once.
I am looking at adding a clothes line for 2009. I would like the umbrella style. One I can bring out on wash day and put it in a sleeve in the backyard.
Something pretty. I like pretty.

We switched out another six bulbs in a couple of ceiling fixtures yesterday. This was a saving of 300 watts.
I seldom use these fixtures but now when I do need the extra light I will be using efficient bulbs.
I wish the bulbs did not contain Mercury.
This afternoon I will start looking at our water usage again.
Often water and electricity are tied together.
The washer just finished.
I heard the chime.
May your week be filled with green ideas.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

The crocus is so pretty Sherry.
We too like to be concious of water and electric usage. Our electric bill is higher than it has ever been. ~~sigh A sign of the times.

Cheryl said...

Hi Sherry....a wonderful post. So informative and detailed. I love the mirrors used for reflecting light....they are of a good size so do their job well. Also very beautiful, which enhances the area even more.......

I live in an old dark house with beams.....Mr P, like you, loves light.....I tend to like shadows......I rarely use the lights in the house except in the evening. I have mirrors and quite a lot of glass in the house to. Nothing quite so beautiful as yours I hasten to add.
My walls are white, my curtains are white (fine lace) I try to keep the house light....

I use the low energy bulbs in many you I do not like the mercury issue....

A good post.......

Anonymous said...

Dear Sherry I share your views at this point completely.
Energy saving bulps were a miracle of a discovery to me. Now I use only such lamps instead of usual ones. And when we'll finally move to the new appartment my husband plans to make a light emitting diod lighting because diods consume even less energy and are very fancy at the same time.
I also love to lit candles. No lamp can create such peaceful atmosphere in the room as candles do!
However I'm usually not that saving when it comes to water. Bubblebathes are my eternal love...

Marimoy said...

Sherry, your mirrors are beautiful. This was a clever and informative post! I too wish the CFLs did not contain mercury. LEDs are so expensive, but do not. Perhaps we will eventually get to a happier way of doing things.

Wendy said...

Sherry - what a thoughtful and informative post! You certainly do put a lot of planning and energy into living well.

Your white crocus is so pretty - I can't wait for it to open!

I like your idea of mirrors, silver and crystal, and other ways to bring light into dark corners. You've inspired me to check around my home too. I like leaving lights on when not in a room, just to make it cosy and inviting. Candles are good too, but we have to be very careful with hubby's oxygen in the house. I usually light a candle on a side table where I'm sitting and blow it out when I leave.

Have you noticed more light in the late afternoons? It's not dark at 4:00 any more. Yippeeeeeee!

Q said...

Dear Lisa,
Thank you. The forced crocuses are blooming. I think they are so pretty. I do like the white giant ones.
I have been tracking the kilowatt hours we use and every year we use less. The cost has gone up. I am trying to think of some more ways I can reduce consumption. I have an electric dryer so the clothes line will help. Plus I can have sun kissed sheets!
I am thinking and working on my awareness once again.
Hope you are staying warm.

Mel said...

Hola querida Sherry,
I am on my quest for saving energy and enjoying natural light too.
Thank you for always being an inspiration.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Thanks for the tips. We put coffee in a carafe. I should do the same for hot water for tea.

Anonymous said...

Very insightful post. I like how you used mirrors to reflect and enhance existing light. Subtle uses of light can change how we perceive and feel about our selves and the world.

Q said...

Dear Cheryl,
I am so happy you like "Green Monday". It is part of my household and gardens. It is part of me.
Mirrors add lots of light and can be pretty. Adding the glass to the cabinet doors in the kitchen made a huge difference too.
I love shadows...and light!
Hope you are staying warm. I have all sorts of tricks for staying warm...

Q said...

Dear Aluajala,
I love candles too. I burn the non-lead wicks and bees wax or soy. I never have made candles but it looks to be fun. Maybe when I get my studio I will make some bees wax candles.
I shall look up "diod" lighting. My husband knows about it but I am in the dark...
Thank you for doing your part...together we make a difference!

Q said...

Dear Mimi,
Thank you!
Mirrors are really nice for when you want to bring more light in for plants and seed starting. I use the large dresser mirrors as trays. They are pretty and I think my plants love the light!
I will look for the led lamps. The mercury is a problem for me.
Thanks for the tip,

Q said...

Dear Wendy,
So happy the idea of the mirrors is helpful for you. The awareness of how much we are consuming makes a difference too. I found that in the evenings I like each room to have a light on. I began using the 2 watt night light bulbs and pretty holders. It was fun finding different ones.
Conserving can be creative and fun and very beautiful.

Q said...

Dear Mel,
When I became a photgrapher I became very aware of light. I really like the way different objects reflect and give a pink glow to a wall! The picture of the crocus has a pretty background colour because of reflection...
My office has corner windows and the natural light makes working easier.
I would love to install sky lights!
I hope new construction will be required to be green! People need to demand it.

Q said...

Dear Sue,
I love having the coffee and the hot water ready.
Fixing a cup of tea is easy when the water is already hot. Being energy conscience is also convenient and pretty!

Q said...

Dear Bernie,
Light does effect mood. I did a little study on light a couple of years ago. Amazing how our bodies respond to natural light.
Not only do I enjoy being outside in the sun but I enjoy having the sunlight streaming into my Winter home. Come Summer I close the blinds holding the nighttime coolness in...
The mirrors make a huge difference.