Monday, July 20, 2015

Laudato Si In Your Home: Energy Guzzlers

If you recall, I used to write a post once a day.  On Wednesdays (if I'm not mistaken) I used to write posts about being green.  Who would have thought years later the subject of being green would be an encyclical?  I thought I'd start a series of sorts in that same vein.  Basically how you can apply the principles discussed in Laudato Si into your own home.

This week I'd thought I'd tackle energy guzzlers in your home.

55. Some countries are gradually making significant progress, developing more effective controls and working to combat corruption. People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption which, rather than decreasing, appear to be growing all the more. A simple example is the increasing use and power of air-conditioning. The markets, which immediately benefit from sales, stimulate ever greater demand. An outsider looking at our world would be amazed at such behaviour, which at times appears self-destructive. ~ Laudato Si
I live in Arizona.  It would be rather inhumane to not have a place for the poor and the homeless that is cool.  I'm sure the Pope is not expecting people to reside in buildings that can get upwards of 100F inside.  I think he was referring more to areas that usually are much cooler in the summer months like London Ontario.  We went most of the summer without air conditioning and what unit we did have was in one room only.

That said there are two types of air cooling devices in Arizona: evaporative cooling and air conditioning.  Evaporative cooling works well in dryer climates and is more energy efficient, but it does use a lot of water.  We originally rented our current home because it said it had both.  However, once we moved in we discovered that nobody has used the evaporative cooler in years and it was dysfunctional.  The maintenance people have basically said that it would have to be replaced.  I doubt our land lord plans on replacing it especially since the air conditioner works.

Unfortunately the air conditioner uses a knob.  This isn't very energy efficient either.  Using a digital control is better.  Many of them come so that you can preprogram.  Our condo had a digital a/c control.  We were able to set it to a higher temperature when we left for work, and then program it for a lower temperature before we returned home.  We'd do the same thing at night.  Digital controls are also more accurate.

In any case, try setting your temperature to a higher one.  We hover somewhere above 80.

The same can be said of a heater.  Although it's not mentioned in Laudato Si, one would assume that if you live in a warmer climate you would use your heater less and set it to a much lower temperature.  You can also increase your heat efficiency by using heavy drapes to keep out drafts, but open them during the day to allow in more light.

Additionally not mentioned in Laudato Si is another big energy guzzler: the dryer.  It doesn't matter where you live, you can forgo using a dryer or use a dryer infrequently.  I realize that some areas do not allow outside laundry lines, but you don't have to have one.  You can use a portable drying rack on your porch or patio or inside.  You can install a line inside a basement or attic or shower.  It doesn't matter if you live in an apartment or dorm.  There are ways.  You can simply use plastic coat hangers and hang your clothes on the shower rod inside a bathroom.  The key is that you can't do all your laundry at once.  It's best to make sure that you have enough space to hang up one or two loads at a time and only wash one or two loads.

For more information:
When I took the Diaper Challenge and Handwashed and dry hung diapers 
My Thoughts on the Right to Dry


  1. Wow, your house temperature is at about 80?! 0_0

    If you don't mind my asking, have you lived in hot climates much of your life? If the house temperature goes over 70, I get hot enough to be, *ahem*, "dewy." Very "dewy." Like, "can't rewear these clothes without washing them" "dewy." :p On the other hand, my in-laws have lived in southern Florida for a long time, and their house is usually around 80, while they find our house quite cold. Perhaps it's a combination of acclimatization and genes?
    (On a third hand--ha!--I'm perfectly happy with the thermostat set to the low 60s in the winter, so...*shrug*)

    1. Yep. I'm not sure if that's the actual temp in the house, but that's what the a/c is set to. Usually about 81 or 82.

      I grew up in Mississippi which is usually more humid. I don't think my parents kept their a/c that high. I was usually freezing all the time. My mom's usually very hot even in winter. And the dorms I didn't control the thermostat there either.

      Arizona is actually a very dry climate. We use fans if we start feeling hot. I'm not sure how much more energy saving we are, but at least you can keep the whole house set to one temp and turn on a fan in the particular room your in.

      London Ontario is humid but a lower temp in the summer. We opened windows and if it was an especially hot day use the window unit in the one room.

      We also only use sheets in the summer. We sleep in a minimum of clothing. For the kids it's underwear. I imagine our neighbors would have a nice sight should we have to evacuate the house at night.

      For day time clothes, its the fabric. Natural fibers are my friends. And I wear skirts so there's nothing going to stick to my legs except maybe another leg. It's kinda rare to sweat a whole lot because it is such a dry climate.

      You do really get used to it. I wasn't so sure about the snow, but once it gets that cold, you figure it out and it's no big deal. Same with heat. I think humans can get used to a variety of climates. We just don't push ourselves to anymore.

    2. I live in the Houston area now, so *very* humid. In a dry heat, I could set the thermostat rather higher in the summer than it is.
      Interestingly, a friend who grew up in Houston also sets her AC to about 81/82, and finds it comfortable, though in the winter the heat gets set to about there as well; she can't seem to stand much cold, while I overheat easily. (I grew up in the north.) I have found that I've adapted slightly to the heat after ten years: I can now walk outside in the mornings during the summer without getting sick from it, which is certainly a nice change! Perhaps as I get older, I'll continue to adapt...should be interesting to see.

    3. Ack! The sweltering life of Houston. I am concerned about your friend though. If she's setting her heat up that high during winter because she's cold sensitive, it could be a health issue that's causing it. Some autoimmune disorders make people cold sensitive so does hyperthyroidism. A friend of mine in college was cold sensitive. When she couldn't gain weight and began loosing her hair, that's when they discovered her cold sensitivity was due to hyperthyroidism. Maybe something to mention to your friend? But it could just be her.

  2. If your house is well insulated, and you think ahead about opening and closing windows strategically, you can survive easily without AC. My husband and I just handled two weeks of temperatures around 100* without turning the A/C on. Granted, our rental house is newer, but I really think that part of not wasting resources is accepting that you will not be comfortable all the time.

    1. Sure. Problem is that both myself and my husband are allergy sufferers so that's something to consider too. If opening a window affects your ability to work, then perhaps it's best to close it and use the a/c. My husband has had to change medications because some of them make him too drowsy. Currently his doctor thinks his eustachian tubes are swollen. He's been experiencing tingling that's been keeping him up at night.

      So it's like anything; you've got to discern based on your situation how far you can go between being uncomfortable and it affecting your health.


I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!