Reader's Exchange

Are tall people more energy efficient?

Could be--and not just because they create more shade outdoors.  I developed this theory following a recent local newscast (topic: Let's Avoid Blackouts) reminding us that the clothes dryer is a major electricity consumer.  

For those of us exceeding average stature, three-quarter length sleeves (a term preferable to "long-sleeved but not long enough") are a default fashion statement.  We hang jeans and trousers to dry upside down so the weight stretches natural fibers, producing another quarter inch of ankle coverage.  Actually, since the clothes dryer is a threat to hem length, putting all garments on hangers to dry is the way to go.  That strategy works so well that I give my dryer a further vacation, draping towels over backyard furniture and railings to benefit from solar action.

Energy-saving inspirations are everywhere.   The live deck monitor for the solar array at Round Rock City Hall is data-rich and a visual learner's delight.  As we make incremental improvements--efficient light bulbs, solar shades, reduced appliance use--we can share in the more impressive achievement of a CO2 offset equaling 3,719 trees.  The State Energy Conservation Office's "Energy Conservation in the Home" Fact Sheet concisely illustrates keys concepts: radiant barriers, ridge venting, heat transfer in windows, etc. that all homeowners should know. 

From the U.S. Department of Energy, "Estimating Appliance and Home Electronic Energy Use" lists enough specific data about individual appliances and how much they consume (not to mention what you'll be paying annually to run your aquarium, dishwasher, toaster oven, etc.) that you may begin to reconsider whether they truly enhance your lifestyle.

The good news?  You could justify doing less ironing and vacuuming.  The bad news?  You're probably hosting energy vampires.   According to this National Geographic article (and numerous other sources), those are electronics and appliances that drain energy even while switched off.  Don't reach for the garlic; get a power strip.Energy sharing

Here's a summer entertainment option costing you relatively little in terms of energy use and cash:  group viewings of library DVDs.   True, the television and DVD player require electricity; however, the family or bunch of friends and neighbors shares one screen instead of utilizing multiple devices.  You're not consuming fuel driving to another destination, and library checkouts are free. 

You probably knew that the library offers hundreds of children's DVDs; you can also pinpoint a television series that you either already love and want to revisit or sample for the first time.  A subject search for "television series" results in nearly 200 offerings, including True Blood, Prime Suspect, Sherlock, Dexter, The Sopranos, Midsomer Murders, and lots more.

A subject search for "documentary films" lists several hundred choices: serious (Regret to Inform; philosophic (The Nature of Existence); historic (Freedom Flyers of Tuskegee, British Royal Weddings of the 20th Century); even wonderfully specific (Tupperware!, The Meaning of Tea: A Tea Inspired Journey).

You will discover an engagingly informative treatment of a topic perfect for your audience, literary (Dickens in America), pet lovers (Dogs Decoded), area history fans (Texas Rangers) or whomever.  Should your gathering relish a spirited or even controversial discussion, consider Sicko, Hot Coffee: Is Justice Being Served?, Finding Life Beyond Earth, God in America or another title that you'll readily identify as a conversation-starter.

Thoughtfully saving energy, you'll also spark opinions and generate excitement.  Your activity won't register on the City Hall deck monitor, but it'll make the world a better and more entertaining place.

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