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Monday, May 23, 2011

The Great Energy Challenge

Today 9 households around the world start their energy diet.

Mine is not one of the 9 being featured in National Geographic's 360º Energy Diet, but I've signed up.

Here are the points one can earn in each of six categories (Goods, Food, Transport, Home, Water, and Waste). I've colored the ones I'm already doing green, the ones I'm not yet doing red.


15 points each

  • Tally your water, electric, & gas use and calculate how you could cut CO2
  • Switch to organic for three produce items you regularly buy
  • Switch to natural/eco-friendly cleaning methods for three tasks
  • Switch from an imported non-produce item to a version produced locally
10 points each
  • Swap disposables that you regularly buy for reusables (e.g., cleaning wipes)
  • Repair or extend use of clothing items rather than buying new ones
  • Use old printer paper/magazines/retail shopping bags, etc. for wrapping paper
  • Rent or borrow an item that you rarely use, such as a drill or steam cleaner
2) FOOD 15 points each
  • Eat a vegetarian diet one day a week
  • Eat at home or brown-bag it at least once per week
  • Limit daily intake of beef to 8 ounces per person
  • Only consume seafood that has been sustainably raised and fished
10 points each
  • Start a food-based garden (hurray for aquaponics)
  • Go vegan or raw one day per week
  • Buy grass-fed beef instead of conventional
  • Give up one processed food that you normally eat
3) TRANSPORT 15 points each
  • Drive no faster than the speed limit, and avoid rapid acceleration/braking
  • Remove extra weight from your car and inflate tires to the proper pressure
  • Use public transportation instead of your car at least once a week
  • Reduce planned air travel by one trip
10 points each
  • Buy carbon offsets for your travel
  • Carpool or find a ride-sharing program
  • Switch to a more fuel-efficient car
4) HOME 15 points each
  • Turn heat/AC off when gone & change the thermostat by 3 ºF to reduce fuel use
  • Set frig to 37 ºF, freezer to 0 ºF, water heater to 120 ºF and washer to cold
  • Replace at least one third of your light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs
  • Disconnect TV, stereo, and computers and other electric devices when not in use
10 points each
  • If you have a second old refrigerator in your house, get rid of it
  • If your refrigerator is > 10 years old, get a new one with a top-mounted freezer
  • Insulate your water heater
  • Replace appliances with EnergyStar appliances
  • Hang clothes up to dry instead of using the dryer
  • Seal all windows and doors in your home with caulk or weather-stripping
5) WATER 15 points each
  • Give up bottled water for filtered tap water
  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or scrubbing dishes
  • Shortening your shower by one minute or more. If you bathe, switch to showers
  • Replace shower head or tap with a low-flow model
10 points each
  • Use xeriscaping for your yard and avoid thirsty plant types
  • Install a rain barrel to collect water for garden, lawn and plants
6) WASTE 15 points each
  • Recycle all glass, aluminum, plastic, paper, batteries, and CF lightbulbs
  • Eliminate junk mail by taking yourself off their mailing lists
  • Change to paperless billing for bank account, credit card and bills
  • Eliminate the use of plastic and paper bags, both when shopping and at home
10 points each
  • Begin composting at home
  • Using biodegradable bags for walking the dog if the family has one
  • Recycle old athletic shoes and clothes
  • Recycle or donate old computers, cell phones and other electronics


  1. Sorry - the green and red thing didn't work. Back to html school for me...

  2. So if you don't eat beef at all, how do you claim a credit for eating grass-fed beef?

  3. I'm not impressed with their logic, but I see what they're trying to get at. A few months ago I used the Carbon Footprint Calculator to study how much each of my various activities contributed to badness. Cars and plane trips are by far the worst offenders, as far as raw carbon footprint is concerned. The other things, like eating grass-fed beef (if any meat at all) or growing a garden at home are more aligned with weaning our society off of petroleum-intensive practices, or at least reducing our personal reliance on petroleum-intensive industries.