I have to confess that I don't like writing about conservation. It's hard to not sound preachy or judgmental when talking about things that are related to how people live. As a result, my conservation stance always seems to be either too strong or wishy-washy, depending on my mood.
That's one reason why I am excited that Audubon will be hosting an EmPower workshop by the Cornell Cooperative extension and the New York Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) at Audubon on Saturday, February 26 at 10:00.
The workshop will cover all the basics of how to save energy in the home and give out a kit to help people get started. (And the whole thing is free!) Call Audubon at 716-569-2345 to register if you are interested.
Audubon’s building provides a warm place to spend a cold day
Conservation is one of those things that many people feel strongly about. They may feel great about saving resources, lowering their impact on the planet and just want to learn more. Others just want you to get out of their homes. They don't want someone else poking their nose into their light sockets and would like very much to be left alone by the tree hugging society, thank you very much.
I can relate to both points of view. I do try to save energy in my house and lower my environmental footprint, but it also drives me nuts to have someone tell me how I should be living my life.
I went to an environmental education conference in Buffalo last fall. One of the presenters told about how she learned about her environmental footprint. An environmental footprint measures how many resources your lifestyle uses. She discovered that if everyone on the planet lived like her, it would take over ten planets of resources. That discovery changed her life. She stopped driving, became a vegan, moved into an apartment with friends and paid attention to all the things she had that used energy. Now, if everyone had her lifestyle, it would only take one and a half planets to sustain us.
As a result, she was over the top pushy. She showed doom and gloom videos of the planet being destroyed, children wondering why we didn't act when we had a chance and basically portraying people as selfish, evil, all consuming beasts that are wrecking the planet, me included. All of this was to prove that we could change our lives to live like her and save the planet. Somehow, that didn't sound all that appealing.
I went to myfootprint.org and discovered that, if everyone had my lifestyle, it would take 3 earths to keep us all going. The website also gives ways to reduce your impact on the planet.
At this point in my life, however, money talks. The great thing about saving energy is that it saves money too. It helps if you think of every draft in your house carrying coins out of your pocket. Every dripping icicle dumps a little of your hard earned money on the ground. Every hot old-style light bulb burns the dollar bills away.
There are a lot of inexpensive ways to use a lot less energy. We have done a lot of them in my house, and the bills are now about 40% less than what they were.
We changed the light bulbs to the curly-cue compact fluorescent ones. These have improved dramatically over the years. Their light is better and you can buy some that come on much faster, just look for ones that say "instant on" if you don't like that five second wait as the lights come on.
We put insulation under outlet covers, unplug chargers, turn the computer and router off when they aren't being used and more. These are all small things that didn't cost much, but save money.
We also did some big things, like insulating an attic and adding storm doors to the house. These help too, but the payback is in years, not months.
I don't want to get into the nitty gritty details, because that is what the EmPower workshop will be about. The bottom line is that conservation saves money. You'll lower your impact on the planet and your wallet all at the same time, and what can be better than that?
Call Audubon to register for the EmPower workshop, where you'll get a free goody bag of things you can use to start lowering your bills that anyone can install in minutes. (Hey, if it's easy enough that I can do it, ANYONE can do it, maybe even properly trained dogs.)
Audubon is located at 1600 Riverside Road, just off Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The trails and Liberty are open dawn to dusk daily and the building is open from 10-4:30 Mondays and Saturdays and 1-4:30 Sundays. Visit jamestownaudubon.org to learn more or call (716) 569-2345.
Jeff Tome is a naturalist at Audubon.