Back to Basics Monday – What is in a Barrel of Oil Anyway?

That 6.8 gallons that are used to make “other products” shown in light orange below contributes to more than 6,000 items we use everyday. Some of the items may surprise you, look for non-petroleum based versions of: shampoo, soap, shaving cream, perfume, lipstick, fertilizers, roller skates, and dishes. The easiest way to minimize your use of petroleum in products is to minimize plastics, which are made from oil and to check the ingredients on your personal care products. 



Go to: to see more items that are made with petroleum.

Back To Basics Monday – Running Water

Don’t forget that whenever you are letting the water run you are not only consuming water, but energy as well.  Letting water run at the bathroom or kitchen sink until it is warm; not turning off the water while you are washing dishes, or preparing food; lingering for long showers all uses plenty of energy. 

Not only is the heating of water an energy user, but pumping it to where you are using it uses energy as well. So, just because its cold water doesn’t mean you aren’t using energy. If you are on a public water system, there is the added energy used to treat that water to make it safe to drink.

This week, as you are preparing festive foods; cleaning the house; and, getting dressed up to welcome guests or be a guest at someone else’s gathering – relax, enjoy, indulge in tasty things and good company – but don’t forget that tens of millions are doing the same. If we all could get behind using just a little less water during this busy week we’d not only save significant volumes of water but conserve significant quantities of fuel as well.

Back To Basics Monday – Go For a Walk

It’s getting to be that time of year. Too much to do; too much to eat; too much stress. Combat these excesses with a good brisk walk. Clear your mind and recharge yourself to return home (or to the office) ready to begin again. While on that walk, complete an errand or two; make a mental list for what else you will do that day (or tomorrow); before and after your walk drink water and stretch.

Give yourself the gift of clarity everyday—but especially these days. Do not overspend —  ratcheting up what to give, what to serve, what to do in response to the well intended but oppressive onslaught of “holiday ideas” that are coming at us at every turn.

Let’s Get This Party Started

Last month the United States pulled more oil out of the ground than we imported from other countries. This is reported as a huge step toward energy independence—and it is, but the celebration surrounding this fact is extremely short sighted.

The U.S. has ramped up its fuel extraction work in a big way. People generally approve of this, and why not? The result is jobs, lower gasoline and heating fuel prices, less dependence on foreign countries, improved trade deficit numbers, and a general feeling of relief or reassurance. It’s hard to put your finger on it exactly—but the sense of, yes we can take care of ourselves, we do have the great minds to develop technology that will get us out of this mess.

Why be the killjoy that rains on this party? All you need to answer that question is to look at two simple facts:

1. Climate change and all that comes with it, e.g., Typhoon Haiyan; and

2. Fossil Fuels are a finite resource; the faster we consume them the closer we are  to no longer having them as an option.

Conservation and renewable energy are the only long-term options. When we “waste” a gallon of gas on todays convenience, we forever take that gallon of gas out of the picture for use toward something essential—say a tractor trailer bringing goods to market. We know how to make passenger cars that can use solar powered electricity to run and get us to work, to the grocery store etc. It is not nearly so simple to get a fully loaded 18-wheeler around on battery power. When we heat and cool our homes using high performance building materials and systems that allow little or no coal or natural gas use to keep them comfortable—that is when we should be celebrating. That is when we can feel proud of our ingenuity.

The knowledge and products are here, now. It is up to each one of us to seek it out, to embrace it as though it were the latest mobile phone or video game player – just gotta have one of those….

Back To Basics Monday – Which Way is North?

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. From that, you can determine which way is north and south. North facing is the coldest and shadiest side of your home; south facing is the warmest and sunniest. Open the window treatments in your home to allow in the warmth and light giving sunshine during the daytime and close up the window treatments to keep out the cold and for privacy in the evenings. High performance windows and insulated window treatments are ideal, but not everyone is lucky enough to have these where they live.

 If you do not have the time, or the patience, to open and close all of the window treatments in your home each morning and evening; focus on the sunny south facing windows for warmth and protecting your home from the colder north when the weather is cold. If you are in a home with drafty windows, consider a few options: shrink-wrap plastic window cover kits are available from most hardware stores (but then you cannot open the window if the weather is nice), putting up your own plastic (use bubble wrap, the trapped air greatly improves the insulation effect), or use Window Draft Stoppers (made in the US and sold by Energy Shift, go to our web site to view sizes, colors, and prices).



Green Roofs Save Energy While Serving Up Sustainability on Many Fronts

Ten years after it was installed, the largest living roof in the US – about the size of eight football fields – is thriving on top of Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant. Various plants, insects and animals are living in the ecosystem that is roughly a 10.4-acre garden. It’s planted throughout with low-growing, drought resistant sedum, which requires little maintenance; it is fertilized and weeded once a year and it never needs mowing.
The living roof also serves as a cost-effective alternative, saving five percent on heating and cooling costs at the building, which is significant since it is such a large building. Also, it is expected to last twice as long as a conventional roof, which provides more savings. To watch a short video about the roof go to:–ten-years-in–rouge-center-experiment-helps-.html

To learn about the benefits green roofs provide go to:

Okay, We’ll do the Math… (Follow up to Oct 10 post)

U.S. proven reserves (26.5 billion barrels of oil) divided by 365 days times U.S. daily consumption of oil (18.55 million barrels of oil) equals 3.9 years. The United States has less than four years of oil at present consumption rates.

Okay, we do continue to import more than a third of what we use, so that extends the 3.9 years out. Even better, we are currently consuming fewer barrels per day than we did in years past.

But our message continues: We need to make an Energy Shift! Away from fossil fuels, using conservation and renewables – via better products and practices!



You Do the Math…

Top oil producers in the world*:

1 Saudi Arabia 11,726,000 barrels per day
2 United States 11,115,000 barrels per day
3 Russia 10,397,000 barrels per day
4 China 4,416,000 barrels per day
5 Canada 3,856,000

Ranking of Proved Oil Reserves*

1 Saudi Arabia 267,000,000,000 barrels
2 Venezuela 211,000,000,000 barrels
3 Canada 173,600,000,000 barrels
4 Iran 151,2000,000,000 barrels
5 Iraq 143,100,000,000 barrels
6 Kuwait 104,000,000,000 barrels
7 United Arab Emirates 97,800,000,000 barrels
8 Russia 60,000,000,000 barrels
9 Libya 47,100,000,000 barrels
10 Nigeria 37,200,000,000 barrels
11Kazakhstan 30,000,000,000 barrels
12 United States 26,500,000,000 barrels

U.S. Daily Consumption of Oil*

18,554,570 barrels per day

*U.S. Energy Information Administration

Frustrated and Feeling Like You Want to Shake Some of the Decision-Makers Out There?

Feel powerful by doing good things that absolutely make a positive difference. Save energy everyday by remembering the following:

Recycling Fast Facts

It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminum than it does to make it from raw materials. Making recycled steel saves 60%, recycled newspaper 40%, recycled plastics 70%, and recycled glass 40%. These savings far outweigh the energy created as by-products of incineration and landfilling. Read more at:

What Would Henry Kissinger Do?

On the Sunday morning talk show, Face the Nation, that aired on September 22, 2013, Henry Kissinger said that, “we are on our way to solving the energy situation. Not just solving but becoming a major factor in the energy situation in the world…” He went on to say that solving the energy situation will bring back manufacturing and other jobs to this country.  Was he talking about the so-called XL pipeline? Or was he referring to solar panels, wind turbines, more efficient windows and doors, better insulation materials, fuel-efficient cars and trucks, fuel-efficient heating and air conditioning systems and the huge infrastructure that can evolve to develop, improve, produce, distribute, sell and install these things? Let’s hope the latter, or at least both.