Electricity Eco-Challenge Update

In August I wrote about my Electricity Eco-Challenge here at the house. The goal was to reduce our power consumption as much as possible, without having to always live in the dark or anything. I now have an update almost a year later, and after the initial success the electrical savings have kept rolling in, (or not rolling in, depending on your point of view). Hydro-Quebec has a nice chart of my electrical use on their website:

My power usage over the (almost) last two years.

As you may be able to see from the chart, (click it if you want a bigger version), for 6 months of the year we have reduced our use by 200kWh per month! At current rates, we saved $64.80 in the past year on our power bill. However, in real life we saved more, because by reducing our power consumption we kept our use below the threshold where the price of power increases.

We are now looking for ways to reduce our use even more. I have set up the office so I can shut off almost all of the phantom loads in it by flipping an easily-accessible powerbar switch. We’re also trying to hang dry as much of our laundry as possible. I’ll post again in a few months with results.

Garden, and a Waste Reduction Challenge

Baby GardenIt seems to be springtime here in MontrĂ©al. The snow is pretty much melted, bulbs and some perennials are up, grass is getting greener, and most of the stuff that was hidden under the snow has been swept away. That means it’s time to garden!

I started early this year. Last week I started a bunch of different seeds, mostly herbs & flowers, (tomatoes will be bought), and I already have some cinnamon basil and marigold seedlings. The plan is to produce as much as possible! I’ll also try to write about it sometimes with photos as I have previously.

Spring CompostWith the spring thaw I am once again able to access my composter, so starting today on Earth Day I am starting the Waste Reduction Eco-Challenge: a challenge to reduce the amount of garbage I throw out as much as possible. This won’t be as formal a challenge as the electricity eco-challenge, (update soon), it is more of a personal challenge without charts & stuff, but it is a challenge! The plan is to compost and recycle as much as possible, and to try not to bring as much stuff that needs to be thrown out into the house.

Al Gore Strikes Again!

Despite my several green-themed posts I just recently watched An Inconvenient Truth, and was amazed. I really hadn’t realized how much had changed in the past century, it’s incredible.

Now, Al Gore has a new slideshow that he’s presenting, and it’s pretty darn good. Here is the video from Ted:

Found via Earth2Tech.

AOL Doesn’t Let Foreigners Change their Webmail Passwords

I’ve been working recently on a project that involves E-mail integration with various service providers, including Yahoo! and AOL. Since I’m no longer an AOL subscriber, (I was for years when I travelled a lot), I set up a free webmail account, and was quite impressed with the interface.

However, when I went to change the password on my account to something generic that I could share with another developer, this is what I was presented with:
A screenshot of AOL telling me I\'m not allowed to change my password

Awesome. Could someone tell them that it’s not only Americans that like to change their passwords once in a while for security? I tried by clicking the “Contact Us” link at the bottom of their Help section, but got a pop-up informing me that support is for paying customers only.