Update on Energy Conservation
I had mentioned that one win-win way to combat global warming would seem to me to be by (painlessly) reducing our power consumption. Conserving power should not only reduce the amount of fossil fuels we have to burn, together with the associated dependence upon Mid-Eastern oil, but should also reduce our utility bills. That would seem to me to be the only way to immediately reduce global carbon dioxide emission. Even a 10% reduction in power use would improve carbon dioxide emissions considerably. (Among power guzzlers that might be difficult to throttle back might be freezers, refrigerators, and trucks.)
There are undoubtedly many ways even in industry to cut power consumption. For example, one company that specializes in Stirling Cycle engines is suggesting their use to improve the efficiencies of power plants.
There are probably numerous ways that power usage could be cut 10% to 20%. This, in turn, would buy time to fully develop alternate power sources.
What Tommie Jean and I have found is that by replacing with fluorescents the relatively- few incandescent light bulbs that we use most of the time, it hasn't been necessary to replace the rest of our incandescent bulbs. We've substituted 13-watt fluorescents for the front post and backdoor burn-all-night lights, the lamp in the foyer, the chair-side family room lamp, two bedroom lamps, and the lights in the computer room. The rest are used so little that we haven't undertaken to replace them.
Not only does this cut the cost of lighting, it also reduces the load on the air conditioning. Every watt of power released in the living area must be pumped up a "thermal hill" by the air conditioner.
Our upstairs heat pump/air conditioner recently reached the point where it could no longer properly cool the upstairs. I suspected that it was getting low on refrigerant, and that turned out to be the problem. It cost $65 to have it serviced, and the unit is now functioning efficiently again, cutting off often. I figure I'll save $65 in utility bills in two or three months. For me, this has underscored the importance of checking out the air conditioner every few years.
Two other measures that we haven't yet implemented but are about to enact is the installation of storm windows, and the insulation of the crawl space under the floor. We could also put a storm door on the back door. After that, we'll have done all the improving we can reasonably do. Our house is well-insulated, so there isn't much more to be accomplished in that quarter.
I've continued my habit of using much less hot water for showers. I don't miss higher shower volume. I've gotten accustomed to a lower water flow rate.
The Electric Clothes Dryer.
We're continuing to take towels and socks out of the dryer while they're still damp, and air-drying them over the bathroom towel racks. Works fine.