Our house utilities

Light ©Janet Allen
Out-dated light bulb

It takes a lot to keep a house going — much more than we would like, but we try to conserve as much as possible and choose the most efficient alternatives.

These are all the "boring" parts of a green lifestyle — the things beneath the surface, but which represent much of the impact we make on the planet.

Here in the north, heating is an obvious need, but so is some cooling in the summer.

We also want to see what we're doing, so we've given a lot of attention to our lighting needs.

Various appliances make our lives easy, and we wouldn't want to have to do everything by hand, but we're trying to be mindful of choosing wisely regarding their utility usage. Laundry is a particularly easy area to economize on both water and energy, while simultaneously enhancing our lives.

Finally, here in Central New York, we're blessed with plentiful water resources, but that doesn't mean we're free to waste them. And there's a difference between water and clean water; we try to conserve and preserve our water

In addition to our usual conservation efforts, we've been supporting the development of renewable energy by participating in National Grid's GreenUp program, essentially paying the surcharge for the utility to purchase additional wind energy. (See sidebar for details — and yes, we're taking this on faith that it's a wise use of our money …)

We had also planned to install solar panels on our roof and even paid $300 to have an assessment done. Unfortunately, it turned out that solar isn't feasible in our situation. That our roof doesn't face south isn't a total barrier, but in combination with trees shading the roof, it just didn't seem like a viable project.