Enviro Girl braces herself every month when the electric bill arrives–it seems that no matter what she does, her family owes a little more each month. It amazes her that with each new installment of technology, the energy consumption seems to climb exponentially. Like most families, hers is in the habit of adding on with each new trend, not reducing their use of electronic gadgets. To Enviro Girl’s mind, the opposite should be happening in this modern age: advancements in technology should create more energy efficient conveniences.
It started with the microwave oven in the kitchen. For years it seemed fine to use a conventional oven, but when microwave ovens came on the scene, Enviro Girl’s family added one to their kitchen, along with a dishwasher and several smaller appliances like a toaster, blender, griddle and crock pot. In the living room it seemed enough to have a TV and a stereo back in the 1970’s. Now her family has a TV, stereo, DVD player and Wii system plugged into the wall. Their electronic office technology once included a desktop computer and a phone. Now Enviro Girl’s household has two cell phones, a regular phone, laptops and iPod Shuffles. Everything’s plugged in, draining the grid on a daily basis, contributing to global warming and for what?
Compounding the issue of consumption is grasping exactly how much it costs to run electrical gadgets and appliances. Enviro Girl struggles to comprehend kilo watt hours and wattage and voltage and whatnot. She’s thankful for websites like Saving Electricity and Energy Savers that explain in specific terms the most energy-greedy appliances and gives tips for how to reduce electric consumption. To save electricity, Enivro Girl uses clotheslines for laundry, unplugs seasonal equipment, installed power strips and invested in energy efficient light bulbs. All of their appliances are newer and have great Energy Star ratings.
When Enviro Girl’s not badgering her family to “Turn off the darn lights already!” and “Unplug that if you’re not using it!” she’s taking a huge step back from the consumer model of modern living and asking this question: “Do I really need (this electronic device) to make my life better?” She’s learning the answer is “NO!” Recently she decided NOT to upgrade her six-year-old digital camera, despite the fact that it takes almost 3 seconds to take a picture with it, rendering action shots a blur. She’d love to get an iPad someday, a device that would include a decent digital camera and recorder. For now she thinks it’s wiser to hold off on purchasing several electronic devices and buy one that bundles many features like camera, e-reader, phone and DVD player together.
The other solution to her family’s energy consumption involves switching to renewable resources for power. The world currently runs on electricity, so Enviro Girl has begun exploring wind and solar options to fuel their plugged-in lifestyle. So far solar looks like the best bet, and as her family’s electric bill keeps rising each month, investing in a solar electric system does not seem terribly expensive anymore.