Borrow a power meter from your library

Portable power meters are excellent tools for helping you save on energy, because they measure the power consumption of anything that plugs into a wall outlet.  Your power bill might tell you the total amount of energy consumed in your home, but it doesn’t provide any indication of where it was consumed.  How much power does your toaster use? Or your PVR?  Or your hair dryer?

A portable meter can tell you precisely.  As well, it can help you find phantom power users.  (Phantom power is the trickle of power used by many devices even when they are turned off; it can be eliminated with the use of a power bar.)

Here’s some great news: many libraries now have power meters you can borrow like a book.  It’s an excellent, zero-cost opportunity to do a little measuring so you can identify ways to lower your energy bills – and do the planet a favour.  It’s great fodder for a school science fair project, or to stimulate a family discussion about ways to save energy.

(Of course, you can always buy a meter if you like – they’re available in many hardware stores, including here, here and here.)

Connoisseurs take note

August 7, 2012

It would be a HUGE stretch to call me a vintner, but I do enjoy going to a local commercial establishment where I can buy a kit and, with a bit of expert help, turn it into pretty nice wine.  However, I’ve always been uneasy about even the small amount of waste from wine making and consumption – labels, corks and foil seals.  (Not so much bottles, because they’re reused or recycled.)

If you make wine, here are some small steps you can take to reduce the eco-footprint of your beverage:

  • Forego labelling individual bottles and instead label cases
  • Skip the foil seals
  • If you use synthetic corks, try not to pierce them all the way through with your corkscrew, and then save them for reuse again and again
  • If you use real corks, compost them and consider using (and reusing) synthetic corks

If you don’t make wine but enjoy sipping it:

  • Compost real corks, and save synthetic ones to give to friends who make wine (you might get a gift bottle out of it)
  • Consider the distance wine has travelled and choose the most local one that satisfies your palate
  • If you’re hard-core green: make a vineyard’s green credentials part of your purchase decision

Some small ways you can say cheers to the planet!