I’m tickled that The Elkhart Truth picked up our story about our tree planting project today. With Arbor Day coming up this Friday they devoted part of a page to local efforts to support trees, and our story was the lead.

When I announced the tree project in this space, I mentioned that I would come back later and share another baby step we’re taking to reduce our carbon footprint. Compared to all those trees, this one seemed small – almost trivial. But then I ran the numbers and it turns out that this one small step cut our electrical consumption by 16%. All of a sudden it didn’t seem so trivial after all.

Back in early February I started writing down the reading on our electrical meter every morning when I got to work. I subtracted the prior day’s reading to get the amount (in Kilowatt Hours) that we used the prior day.  If I missed a day (or the weekend), I just took the difference and divided it by the number of days to get the average rate for the period.

After about a month I pasted the data into GainSeeker Suite SPC Software and came up with this chart:
Using GainSeeker Suite SPC Software to Analyze Hertzler's Baseline Daily Electrical Consumption
I also calculated the average daily cost and sent out this memo to my staff:

Here is the challenge: Lets pay attention to your own personal habits and see what we can do to chip away at our electrical consumption. Here are a couple of things you can do:

  • Turn off monitors and desktop pcs on evenings and weekends.
  • Minimize use of space heaters.
  • Unplug any chargers or DC devices that aren’t actually charging anything. (An AC/DC charger consumes power if it is plugged in and not charging anything.)

You may have other ideas. Please try them out.

There are certain computers (like our servers) that need to be up all the time. But lets see what we can do if we try these minimal steps.

I’ll take the difference between now and sometime towards the end of April and buy lunch with the money we don’t give to the utility company. If it is a dollar a day it will be pizza. If it is more, well it will be nicer.

Then we continued monitoring the meter every day. Here are the before and after results on one chart. The Anchor Point (the vertical red line in the center) marks the day the email went out, and the shift in our process.
Using GainSeeker Suite SPC Software to Analyze Hertzler's Baseline Daily Electrical Consumption

According to GainSeeker stats, the average daily consumption dropped from 1.9KWH to 1.6KWH. This is a 16% reduction – achieved by something as simple as turning off equipment that isn’t being used!

We had a nice party!

Why is this important? Here are some (updated) statistics about my home state, Indiana, of which I am less than proud:

  • Indiana produces about 95% of its electricity in coal-burning generating plants.
  • Indiana ranks 5th in the nation as the largest producer of carbon dioxide air emissions from electric power plants in the United States (122,094,588 metric tons).
  • Indiana ranks 3rd in the nation in terms of the number of metric tons of sulfur dioxide air emissions (responsible for fine particle pollution and acid rain).
  • Indiana ranks 4th in terms of the number of metric tons of toxic nitrogen oxides emitted into the atmosphere (responsible for acid rain and smog).
  • Indiana ranks 1st in the nation for the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per person from all Indiana energy sectors.

All of this reminds me of the quote that was attributed to Pogo, the famous possum: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

So what are you waiting on? Turn off or pull the plug on stuff you’re not using. Its a great place to start.

And while I’m thinking of it, maybe Electrical Consumption needs to be on our list of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

Update: Hertzler goes solar in 2013

What are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint? You can leave a comment, tweet me, schedule a conversation, or call 800-958-2709.