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dubone

How are you responding to higher energy costs?

How are you responding to higher energy cost?   24 members have voted

  1. 1. How are you responding to higher energy cost?

    • I have stopped driving a car for commutes and errands.
      5
    • When I drive a car, it is more efficient (smaller size, hybrid drivetrain, etc.).
      5
    • I have moved closer to where I work.
      7
    • I telecommute part- or full-time.
      7
    • I take long distance trips less often.
      11
    • I live near the places I run errands.
      13
    • I use my bicycle often.
      2
    • I walk to places most of the time.
      11
    • I live in a smaller home.
      8
    • I buy only energy star appliances.
      7
    • I replaced my light bulbs with energy star bulbs (CFLs, LEDs, etc.)
      16
    • Other (Explain)
      3

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18 posts in this topic

There is a lot of crossover between urbanism, environmentalism, and energy conservationism. There are some cases where they conflict, such as the incompatibility with urban cities and some natural processes. There are trade offs between toxicity and energy conservation (like mercury in CFLs). Many urban buildings and transportation options do use more energy and pollute (like toxic diesel emmissions of city busses).

For the most part, however, it is fairly well established that urban and dense land use patterns and city designs that promote transit, walkability, and attached housing are far better at conserving natural resources than those that are not. New York city, being the densest US city, reportedly uses the least natural resources per capita of any city. Buildings are made to last and be reused, transit options are ubiquitous, most pleaces can be walked to, etc.

In honor of Earth Day (belated), and the fact that many of these environmental choices also help make Charlotte a better city, I thought I would make a thread where you can show off the things you do to help make a difference.

I know a few of you on here have done a major lifestyle change of going carless and hyperlocal (not leaving your neighborhood much at all), so here is your opportunity to share what you've done in hopes of maybe giving others the idea of doing something like it.

I actually really can't stand the news of high gas prices that seem to focus on a twice yearly car trip versus the fundamentals of how our culture deals with commutes, car sizes, etc. Even with $4/gallon gas, our country has among the lowest gas prices outside of the OPEC. As a result, our culture is setup where Americans drive an average of 12000 miles per year in substantially larger and less efficient automobiles compared to Europe and Japan, which drive an average of 6-7000 miles in much smaller and efficient cars. The news just focuses on people choosing between gas and food, continuing the destructive stereotype that everyone should have a car.

Having a Carectomy or going carless CAN be done in Charlotte, with $4/gal gasoline prices coming, I'd hope that more people would consider it.

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unfortunately for me I work at Carolina Place but live in the University area since I'm in school. I have no choice but to drive to work as it would be a 2 hour bus ride (wouldn't have been so bad if there wasn't a 30 minute waiting period between transfers) to get there. When I'm driving around the university area, almost all of my trips are less than 2 miles so its cheaper for me to just drive than it is to ride the bus. I'll occasionally ride a bike somewhere, but this area is not very biker friendly. I'm thinking of buying a motorcycle in the next few weeks though to cut down on my gas costs. Depends on whether or not I get a stimulus check.

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Good topic dubone...

First of all, I've definitely been guilty in the past of feeling the need to have a big SUV to drive around and taking it anywhere I went and not caring how often I filled it up. However now, I've become far more concious of that. I'm actually looking to dump my SUV for something more practical and better gas mileage. I make more of an effort to not even drive on some days (I work remotely from home). Instead of going to the gym for a run, I now run outside several times a week. If I head uptown I usually take the light rail. And when I do, I almost always take the 10 minute walk to the station unless it's raining. I always make a point to take one trip to run my errands and not go back and forth between places I have to go to. Sometimes it's all about planning your trips to cut down on how much you have to drive.

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The one about avoiding the gym is a good one. There are often articles on green blogs about all the surface lots around the gyms and the irony of that, including a case where an historic urban building was torn down to build a surface lot for the YMCA. Also, running on a treadmill uses a lot of energy, as does the air conditioning and televisions, etc. Running outside saves all that, or alternately running to the gym saves a lot of it but lets you go for weight training, the pool, classes, or gymnasium.

I don't lift weights (I probably should), but I run outside a few times a week with my dog, usually up and down Tryon Street and often at night when the downtown streets could use a little life to feel safer.

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I looked at my house one day (shortly after getting addicted to good ole' UP) and realized how much of it I didn't use. And I am not even talking about some huge suburban house. I realized we never ate dinner in the dining room, and we very rarely had guests in the guestroom. We had two car garage, but only owned one car (I had already downsized to a moped). So anyway, we sold our house and decided to move into a neighborhood where we could be a part the betterment of a rebuilding neighborhood, not a new plot of land clearcut to make room for US and ONLY US. (Ultimately from a 1550sq. ft house to a 1090sq.ft.). It's not huge, but it does make a difference. Why would anyone take MORE than they need to be happy? For us, that means 1090 sq. ft., walkability, a part of a rebuilding neighborhood, one car, recycled and reused products.) There is a lot more we could all do, but mostly we should all try to only consume what we need - not what we think we want.

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The one about avoiding the gym is a good one. There are often articles on green blogs about all the surface lots around the gyms and the irony of that, including a case where an historic urban building was torn down to build a surface lot for the YMCA. Also, running on a treadmill uses a lot of energy, as does the air conditioning and televisions, etc. Running outside saves all that, or alternately running to the gym saves a lot of it but lets you go for weight training, the pool, classes, or gymnasium.

I don't lift weights (I probably should), but I run outside a few times a week with my dog, usually up and down Tryon Street and often at night when the downtown streets could use a little life to feel safer.

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I nipped the majority of my phantom energy in the bud with three strategically placed power strips. That made a much larger impact than I had expected.

The biggest thing that I have left to conquer is a debilitating addiction to my long, hot, morning shower. Sadly, I doubt my rental complex would be too pleased if I had a solar hot water heater installed.

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I updated the light bulbs, and ugraded home insulation to R30.

But I actually moved farther from work a few months ago, and drive a little more than I used to. However I can always move back to my rental near the light rail if we see 1970s style gas lines again. :o

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.... but I run outside a few times a week with my dog, usually up and down Tryon Street and often at night when the downtown streets could use a little life to feel safer.

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I put together a "Going Green" guide in UP's Treehugger's Lounge forum a while back that goes over several things that one can do to limit their footprint and to make good of what Earth has laid before us. You can view it here: http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/green-t42219.html

Personally I moved closer to my workplace a couple of years ago (I know, it isn't RECENT, but I moved to make a dramatic change in lifestyle and how much gas I was using up). Now instead of traveling 72 miles per day (ouch) I do just 5 miles total per day and we live in close proximity of most anything we need (grocery stores, restaurants, entertainment, shopping, etc).

We have a small garden that produces quite a bit of food for us during the summer which limits our need for purchasing some produce at the grocery store.

Every single light bulb in our home is a CFL and when they die we put them in a box for when IKEA opens we can take them and have them recycled. I also installed a programmable thermostat that really reduces how much A/C and heat is used when we're not home or while we're asleep (an added benefit to this is that it makes a very noticeable change in your power/gas bill). We only wash clothes in cold water and we only wash and dry clothes when we can fill it to capacity. We use the dishwasher for everything that can be washed in there and again only use it when its full (dishwashers are WAY more efficient than hand washing in terms of the amount of water used).

We recycle anything and everything and I am notorious for digging through other people's garbage for recyclable materials. We also compost anything that can be composted and we reuse that compost in our garden each year (the plants LOVE this).

Unfortunately we do live in a subdivision (I know...but my wife and I both work in the suburbs so it makes sense for us) and we both need a car. My car however is a ULEV2 emissions vehicle and we're pressed to replace my wife's aging car and we're looking at compact cars and possibly even hybrids as the replacement.

I will say that I lived in downtown Chicago in 2002 and had a 650sq. ft. apartment and it honestly was enough. It seems like a match box compared to what we have now, but it was truly enough for me (and two other people). I had no car and used mass transit for everything. For those who don't believe how 650 sq. ft. is livable I assure you that it is more than enough to live within your means and quite honestly I was happier in that apartment than I am in a suburban house with a garage. Life is MUCH easier if you don't have to worry about yard work, maintenance, cars, etc. My wife and I would switch over to a condo along the South LRT if we both worked anywhere near it, but we don't so it just isn't an option for us unfortunately, but for those who can, you won't regret it. Your life will thank you in the years to come for minimizing the stress you put on it.

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I just purchased a townhouse that I am renovating for resale in a few years, and most decisions and upgrades that I have made I have attempted with the "green" frame of mind. I am in the process of replacing light bulbs to CFL's and installed halogen low wattage bar lights, as well as several dimmer switches that do more than just set a mood. I had some glass replaced already in some windows to make them more efficient and have upgraded some spots that were poorly insulated. I upgraded to a programmable thermostat and will be replacing the old appliances to new appliances that are Energy Star rated, hopefully at the end of this year. Where I moved to is a semi-self contained community where I can walk safely to a Lowe's Foods as well as several restaurants and retail parcels, as well as get my exercise outdoors through a walkable and pedestrian friendly neighborhood system that has bike lanes, separate sidewalks for walking and tennis courts/pool. I also run fans instead of AC at times like now (low 80's), and only turn on the AC in the bulk of summer when it becomes much more unbearable. I also ONLY run full loads of laundry and the dishwasher (btw- anything that heats or cools uses a large amount of energy- even things like hairdryers).

Everywhere that I travel is within 4 miles (Northlake, CIC, UNCC, Shopping), aside from going to Uptown. I've cut back most unnecessary trips and do everything while just going out once. I use the light rail 85 percent of the time that I am in the uptown / South End areas as well as going down to Pineville. Now if the North and NE lines would only get a move on, I could loose my vehicle all together.

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I went carless about 5 months ago after being inspired by some fellow UP'ers and wish I had gone carless much earlier. I live uptown and telecommute most of the time for my job so it works for me. I walk or ride my bike to most places within the "inner ring" (places like Plaza Midwood, Elizabeth, NoDa etc.) and for futher distances I'll take CATS/Lynx.

Growing up in suburban Charlotte I never rode the bus...always took a car where ever I went. It really is a mental change to go carless in this town...not just for me, but my friends. I have literally had some friends plead with me not to take the bus...that they would rather give me a ride home. I didn't realize just how negative a connotation the bus had in this town till the friendly pleading started. Now they have gotten used to me riding the bus (some have even riden the bus with me) and so they have stopped pleading with me to let them give me a ride home.

For long distance trips to the mountains or the beach I have riden Greyhound a couple times or caught a ride with friends going to the same town. Before I sold my car I thought that I might have to rent a car maybe once a month....but so far I havn't rented or borrowed anyones car. I'm sure that day will come...and when it does I'll walk 3 blocks down the street to the rental car place and get one.

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I have used CFLs for 95% of my home lighting for a few years, but I voted for moving closer to work. I moved from Lincolnton to Gastonia and now have a 0.7 mile commute. My main reasons were saved wear and tear on my truck (120 miles a week) and less time on the road (with 8hrs between shifts, I need every minute of rest I can get) but I am also getting the benefit of using less fuel to get to/from work.

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I've done a few things to start to conserve more, but the biggest is starting to carpool with my brother everyday. That is going to cut my gas comsumption in half. In fact, it has already been about 3 weeks since I filled my car up and I still have almost half a tank.

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Freelancing allows me to work from home a good chunk of the day. My pet sitting job in the aft makes a car mandatory for me. Although my clients are all in central Charlotte, they are scattered and I am on a tight sched daily so this makes mass transit untenable. Living in Dilworth, I walk to East Blvd as much as possible for routine needs.

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For the last six years and three past jobs, I've taken transit to work. What's changed more recently is my driving on evenings and weekends for non-work trips. I now think about how to combine trips and plan the most efficient route. I also bought a home not only a short non-motorized commute from work (25-min. walk, 15-min. bike, 10-min. bus), but also within a quarter-mile of groceries, drug store, dime store, and more (Plaza-Central). When I get my stimulus check, I'm buying a new bike. And best of all, more shopping is coming to the urban core, as seen in Midtown. I don't wish to go completely carless in Charlotte (this surely ain't NYC or SF). But I'll likely continue to just fill my compact's 14-gallon tank monthly.

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Well my wife uses my car 3x a week instead of her Durango all week. That has saved us hundreds because she works 25 miles roundtrip. It is next to impossible to go carless in Vegas but we have started to walk to the corner store for miscellaneous household things. Although we don't do that at night. Its not as safe as it was a few years ago. Also those weekend daytrips we used to take have been put on hiatus till we both get days off and we can consolidate the trips. It sucks cause we have to drive hundreds of miles just to experience something new. Can't wait till we get back home.

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