Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Life in the 1 percent

You know all the conversations about those living in the 1%, meaning the top earning families? Well, we found ourselves in the 1%, but not in the way we might have wanted.

Commonwealth Edison sends regular updates about our energy usage. These are supposed to inspire us to do a better job with our energy conservation. Every time I read these, though, I want to call Commonwealth Edison and let them know my reaction. Let's just say my reaction isn't to say, "Gee, we should do a better job conserving energy."

A really efficient home is a five star home. We're a one star home. This means we're among the least efficient homes when compared to other houses similar in size. Really? I spend my days working at home with a radio on. I supposed that could account for some extra electricity use. We do have a lot of laundry, so that increases our usage.

Other things I don't understand at all. We don't turn on our air conditioner until it's really hot and humid. We turn it off as soon as possible We spend a lot of time listening to air conditioners cooling every house around us. Still according to Commonwealth Edison, we use twice as much energy to cool our house as our neighbors. Our air conditioner isn't new, but it's not that old.

At the same time, our lighting uses five times as much electricity as the highly efficient home. I spend most of my day working at my computer with one desk light on. One small light. I walk around turning off lights all day. At night we just have two lamps on in the family room and one in the living room. It's not like we have every light in the house blazing, which is what I'd expect for the kind of highly inefficient life we lead.

Rather than inspire me, I've developed a "why bother" attitude. I still turn off all the lights, but that's about saving money instead of saving the world. On the one hand, Commonwealth Edison has set an impossible standard for energy-efficiency. On the other, we finally made it into the 1%. It's the bottom 1%, though, so maybe it's not worth celebrating.

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