In an effort to reduce my own carbon footprint, I topped off my home heating oil tank with 242 gallons of B30 biodiesel… back on October 1 of 2006. It had been about a year and a half between refills, and I can probably make it through most of this winter with what I have left in the tank.
As you can tell, I’m pretty stingy with the heat, but I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed all that much comfort. It’s 55 degrees in my living room right now, but with a rugby shirt, a fleece pullover, and a flannel shirt on top, plus my signature fisherman gloves (fingertip free to allow me to type) I’m cozy enough. I turn the thermostat up to about 62 degrees when my daughter’s around, and she sleeps with one of those little oil-filled electric space heaters in her bedroom, but the furnace is off all night with nothing to keep me warm in bed on most nights than a thick down comforter and a dog. I sometimes heat the house back up to around 60 in the morning, but except during the occasional cold snap I keep the furnace off most of the day when I’m home alone.
No doubt my friends and family think I’m a little nuts, but I’ve grown accustomed to the cool temperature and the $3.40/gallon it saves me. And while I don’t really expect many others to go to such an extreme, my own example does illustrate how rather small lifestyle changes are much easier than people expect. Most Americans balk at the simple energy saving tip of turning the thermostat down to 68 degrees during the winter, but that’s only because they haven’t really tried tried acclimate. Put on a sweater and dial it down to 62 degrees for a few weeks, and 68 will feel like a fucking sauna. Really.
As the climate forecasts grow gloomier and the immensity of the impending catastrophe sinks in, there is a tendency for folk to simply give up in despair, but in fact there is something we can all do to at least mitigate the impact of climate change, if not prevent it altogether. We can substantially reduce our individual carbon emissions without spending much money or dramatically reducing our standard of living. And if we all reduce our own carbon emissions a little bit, we’ll reduce worldwide emissions a helluva lot.