This is the Eco-Team coming to you LIVE from the Snowy Steps of Macalester’s Eco-House. With Snowvember in full swing, we decided to strategically conserve our HOT water this week. Although the shower has become a welcome reprieve from the frozen tundra, we forgo our comforts in order to set a sustainable example for all the world! Well- mainly for Mac campus 😉
Challenge 4: Earning our Green Belt
The Eco-House is specially equipped with super stealth solar panels. What does that have to do with gas, you ask? Well… if we shower while the sun is shining, then the sun heats our water (instead of our gas doing the work). The temperature of our water must be above 100 degrees for our shower to be solar powered. Therefore, this eco-team must be dedicated to fight climate change by strategic showering! This week’s motto: Gotta make suds when the sun shines! We can check the power of our solar panels on our system here:
(Those in the know will note that this is not the data from the actual week of the challenge, our system did not store data from far enough back)
Unfortunately, the week ended up being really cold and snowy! This meant that our solar hot water supply never made it above 100 F 😦 That doesn’t mean all our efforts were in vain, though. Only later shower times would be ineffective due to this, and it’s still always a good idea to make good habits. We still had a pretty good week in terms of hot water use, shown in comparison to previous, non-hot-water-challenge weeks:
(Green arrows represent the week of our challenge)
According to the American Water Works Association, the average American uses 20-30 gallons of hot water per day. Since there are three of us in the house, we each used around 10 gallons of hot water per day. Way to go EcoTeam!!
This mission meant changing showering habits, laundry habits, dishwashing habits and more. Let’s see if the EcoTeam survived:
Sustainably Savvy Superwoman: Let me be honest… If I could choose a challenge that I do not participate in, it would have been this one. That’s how much I enjoy taking a nice warm shower. I do everything — from turning off the water while brushing my teeth to washing dishes with little water — to have excuses to take a long shower. Well, this week was the time for me to give up listing them and take a step further. Shower during the day was not too hard for me as I’m free from 11-12 for most of the days. Taking a short shower was harder than showering during the day but not as hard as I thought it would be especially when I was warm before showering. I wonder if using the override system (our thermostat program that allows us to “ignore” the preset room temperature for a short period of time) to save hot water is eco-friendlier than taking long hot shower in a cold bathroom.
Locavore-ous Lavagirl: I already wash my hands in cold water, wash my face with cold water, wash most of my clothes in cold water, and wash all my dishes with cold water.. So I decided to focus on showers to reduce my hot water use. I normally shower in the early morning (which by now means when it is still dark out!), so I changed it up and showered in the early afternoon instead. Except for one day when I didn’t have any time in the afternoon, I was able to rearrange my usual patterns and delay my morning showers for a couple of hours. Hopefully no one in my morning classes figured out why I was suddenly rocking buns and braids all week… While showering after the sun had a chance to come out and warm our water supply meant leaving the house uncleaned, it did have the perk of letting me sleep in a little longer! I also tried to take shorter showers too, which was easier in the afternoon when I wasn’t still half asleep 😉
Waste-reducing Wonder Woman: This week was the most challenging yet. I tried showering immediately after class, but this probably was not effective, as the sun was starting to set just as I got home. I’m honestly never home during the day for long enough to shower. I’m not sure if my attempts made any difference. However, I definitely limited my time under the water. The average shower is 8mn so I aimed for 4mn. I also washed dishes in cold water and only did laundry in cold water. Did you know that you can do pretty much all of your laundry in cold water? So why not! 🙂
EcoTeam to AlphaControl: Mission accomplished. Waiting on our next assignment.