Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Simple Frugality – Conservation

Simple Frugality – Conservation

Conservation is a simple concept which is hard to implement. In my experience, conservation is effective when it is driven by economics. Outside of economics, it is a fad and sooner or later loses its potency.

So what are some economic drivers for conservation? It’s simply supply and demand. When supply is limited, or conversely, demand is high – you are forced to use less of that commodity. Interwoven with supply and demand is obviously the price. The more expensive a commodity, the more conservatively it is used.

Unfortunately, progress and enhanced quality of life have created commodities that are cheap, abundantly available and thereby routinely wasted. Since we can’t use economics to create conservation – we have to attempt intentional conservation to reduce waste, conserve resources and save money. With all these merits, conservation should be frugal living’s preeminent mantra.

Some conservation options I implement in my life and also recommend include
  • Conserve lighting usage – Switch off lamps when not in use, replace incandescent with CFL or use automatic sensors for switching off lights in a room.
  • Heat conservation – Get an energy audit, buy energy efficient appliances, regular maintenance of your heater and A/C, replace filters regularly, caulking/sealing your house against leaks.
  • Temperature control – Invest in a programmable thermostat, set the temperature appropriately, reduce/increase temperature when your house is empty or not in use, use ceiling fans and storm doors.
  • Water conservation – reduce water heater temperature, turn off faucets when not in use, showers versus baths, teach kids about prudent use of water.
  • Office supply conservation – Judicious usage of paper, pens, pencils and other office supplies by adults and children.
  • Appliance management – If you can easily unplug any gadget when not in use – it will help conserve some energy and money. TVs, VCRs, music systems, computers are known energy seepage culprits. Also lookout for kitchen appliances, chargers, bathroom appliances etc.
  • Gas conservation – combine many trips into one, carpool, public transportation, avoid excessive idling, checking tire pressure, avoid speeding, energy efficient vehicles and regular maintenance.
  • Yard conservation – grow some vegetables, plant trees, shade your house with appropriate trees/shrubs, prudent watering and regular maintenance.
  • In isolation, any one of the above practices may not yield a significant benefit but leading a conservative lifestyle will definitely have an impact. There is an impact on the environment and your wallet. And consistent practice of conservation will be emulated by your kids, and maybe your neighbors, coworkers and other people you influence. The overall impact is substantial and worth the investment.

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    SamK said...

    Grocery coupons are a lifesaver for us. My family of 6 saves hundreds every month by religiously using coupons, looking out for sales, visiting warehouse stores (Sam's club) and buying in bulk (we have a large freezer in the basement). Believe me - there is money to be saved in groceries.

    Dalia said...

    It is hard to teach kids (and even adults) to conserve when you have so much. I am appalled at the waste at the restaurant I work.

    I wish we provided better education and created more awareness about the benefits of conservation.

    Great post!

    Walt said...

    Booey - all this conservation talk makes me sick. It's a matter of economics - supply and demand - feast and famine. We have lived like this since the the beginning - and have done just fine. Nature does not support conservation - it supports balance.