Posts Tagged ‘Kill-A-Watt’

My two cents per kilowatt

May 21, 2010

It ain’t easy being green, as in environmentally conscious and responsible. It certainly costs to initiate and implement the necessary steps.

In our town, green has always been more than just the preferred color of its manicured lawns and surrounding nature. As a community, we have created frameworks that encourage and implement environmental forward thinking and we readily comply with recycling regulations and sustainability measures. As longtime citizens of the community we even grew to appreciate these added responsibilities. From nature conservation to energy efficiency, as a community or as individuals, we all try to go green, or at least greener.

About two years ago, we were excited to learn that the library offered a device called Kill-A-Watt, which will monitor energy usage of home appliances and will display kilowatt per hour readings of the efficiency of any appliance hooked into it. We put our name down on the waiting list, and were told that there was a long wait . . . It seemed to be a good first step in assessing our own usage of electricity, monitoring the readings as reflected in our monthly bills.

Coming from Israel, a country where solar energy has been regulated and available for consumers’ use for decades, energy conservation and efficiency are not new to my family. However, I have to admit that we never seriously entertained any thoughts or visions of wind turbines in our backyard. Yet, we loved the heavy cast iron wood and coal stove that was put in by the original owners of our previous house. Positioned amidst the vast open main living area, near an outside wall of glass, it stood in testimony (once we got it to work) to the energy efficiency and sustainability measures taken by many home owners in response to the energy crisis of the early ‘80s.

A lot of kilowatts have gone under New England bridges since. The 2008 Massachusetts Green Communities Act was designed to promote cost savings and renewable, clean energy technology. By requiring state utilities and electricity suppliers to obtain renewable power equal to 25 percent of their sales, the new law will bring down cost of generated power, which in turn will lower consumers’ electricity bills.

The utilities and power suppliers, though slow to adopt changes, are constantly exploring innovative ways to smarten the grid. National Grid announced two weeks ago that it signed an agreement with Cape Wind to purchase “green power” and became Cape Wind’s first customer.

The very close vote adopting the Stretch Code at Town Meeting last week, preceded by a lengthy public debate, showed that change is slow in coming. However, it is clear that joining other area communities in adopting the Stretch Code will bring down energy use in new homes, and will bring the town closer to meeting eligibility criteria for the state’s Green Communities grant.

At the heart of the discussion lies the broader question of whether energy efficiency will come faster through enforcement of federal or state legislation, or through personal measures of energy conservation and environmental sensibility.

The upcoming vote on the Stretch Code got us back to the library to check out our status on the Kill A Watt wait list. (The device is available at any home improvement or online shopping portal.) We never got to borrow that Kill-A-Watt device, but we keep doing our homework, taking small, personal steps to lower our footprint on the electric grid, one kilowatt at a time.