The Garden House is committed to eliminating its carbon footprint regarding energy consumption by purchasing carbon offsets. The two carbon-generating energy sources used for operations are propane (for the gas stove in the kitchen) and electricity (lights, hot water, heat, hot tub, administration, etc.)
Electrical power offsets are puchased from Opalco, the coop electric utility serving the San Juan Islands. The certificate below shows that all kilowatthours are offset, either by local PV sources in the county, or by small hydro and/or windpower resources in central Washington. 85% of Opalco's power comes from BPA (Bonneville hydro), so most of the power provided to Orcas Island is carbon neutral to begin with. However, the Garden House does not purchase just 15% (the non-hydro component of Opalco's base power) of its electricity needs from green sources; we purchase 100% of our power from green sources other than Bonneville.
Separate from ensuring that the electricty running in the Garden House veins is 100% renewable (i.e., "green"), there is a strong efficiency and conservation focus quietly at work, reducing electrical demand when and where possible. The Garden House has an Energy Star refrigerator purchased in 2008. CFLs are everywhere. The building is heavily insulated, including all interior walls and floors. As noted in the guest orientation materials, the hot tub and the hot water heater are on timers that disable electrical power during the 6 hour "peak period" between 6am and noon. By so doing, the peak load on the system is reduced, thus lowering the need for additional central power plants (that produce carbon dioxide or nuclear waste as byproducts). A heat pump hot water tank was installed in 2012, using approximately 60% less electricity than a standard electric hot water tank. Tours available!
There are three vampires in the Garden House: a music system, an alarm clock and a microwave clock. Guests are free to unplug them as they are entirely for guest convenience.
A wood stove and free firewood allow the interested guest to heat the Garden House with 100% carbon neutral warm wood heat, bypassing the need for electrical energy to power the baseboard heaters.
The Energy-Star rated Fisher-Paykel washing machine spins linens virtually dry to the touch, thus requiring less electricity to dry them.
Communications with guests has switched from a paper/u.s. mail format to email format to improve speed and eliminate another form of carbon production.
During periods when the Garden House is unoccupied, several energy conservation methods are employed: hot tub power is off (except during freezing weather), heat lowered to 50°, refrigerator unplugged, hot water set to vacation mode (50°F).
Your suggestions for advancing these initiatives most welcome.
© 2012 centripetus
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