Sunday, May 23, 2010

The 2,385 Watt Lifestyle: expressing your life in terms of wattz consumed

I read a really great article in the New Yorker magazine last week about Saul Griffith (who I mentioned in connection to his guest blogs on Boing Boing a while back).  It was a really good article, but what I want to mention now is that it led me to one of Saul's ongoing projects, a site called WattzOn.  Here, after filling out a pretty brief questionnaire, the site lets you know how much energy your lifestyle is consuming, and puts it into terms that help you visualize what that means.

I discovered that my lifestyle consumes 2,385 watts (although there are a few things left out of that figure, the site is not perfect) which is below average for an American, and a little below average for a WattzOn user.  That wattage equates to burning 2 gallons of oil per day, or the power required to run 40 incandescent light bulbs non stop.

Mostly, my energy savings come in the housing category, as I live in a very efficient town house.  My biggest consumer, however, came as no surprise to me.  It was my car.  We live in a kind of suburban area right now, which is far from my ideal lifestyle, and as a result we end up driving a fair amount.  On balance, living in a very efficient house saves more energy than the extra fuel consumed by my car living in the suburbs, but I really wish that I didn't have to drive and lived in an efficient house.  Then I could easily get that wattage down below 1800, which would equate to the power generated a 26x26 ft. solar panel, or a wind turbine with a diameter of 16 feet.  That is actually a reasonable amount of energy for one person to use from renewable resources only.  Much more than that, and you're gonna need coal fired electricity.

So in summation, check out WattzOn, it is a great site and it will really help you understand the way your lifestyle and power consumption interrelate.
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