Crew Commentary

The 2% Solution

David Houle - Futurist


There are so many actions to take as crew members of This Spaceship Earth [TSE]. A short list is on the Acting as Crew page.


People should take actions that resonate with them. Some will feel good about growing gardens, replacing lawns and planting trees. Others will be inspired to try to move toward a zero plastic household as much as possible. The goal is to do what you feel strongly about and enjoy doing, all the while having the consciousness of crewing TSE. Everyone can’t do everything. Start with one crew action. Then, let crew thinking expand elsewhere in your life.


There are however, some actions that we can all take that are easy and that, when a large number of crew members do, truly can be felt at state, country and global levels. One of them is the 2% solution.


The first step is to look at your electric bill. Note the amount of energy that was used in the last or current month. Start with that usage as the starting number for your home. Commit to having that number decrease by 2% in the next month. If you live alone, that will be a pretty easy thing to do. If you live as a family unit or there are several people on the one electric bill, then all act as crew. Create a group crew consciousness.


The first month will be easy. A 2% decrease can be simply turning off lights, not leaving the TV on if you are not watching, adjusting the thermostat so that the heat or air conditioning is on less. When the next bill comes in, compare with the baseline month. Note the exact amount of energy used. Was it a 2% reduction or more? Keep track of monthly energy consumption.


The second month, do the same thing. Lower your energy consumption by another 2%. This can be a sliding scale or from the first baseline month. For example if the first month was 1,000 kilowatt-hours [kWh], then the second month would be 980 kWh. Then the third month you lower use by either 20 or 19.6kWh.


Now the question becomes, how many consecutive months can you do this?


After six months, if you stayed with the 20 kWh reduction per month, your monthly consumption will have dropped down to 880 from the original 1,000 for a 12% drop. That should be the minimum goal for any household. A moderately aggressive goal would be to commit to a year of lowering by 2% a month. That would mean that your consumption would have dropped from 1,000 to 760 kWh per month.


The interesting insight occurs when you feel you will be putting undue restraint, discipline, discomfort or denial on the people living in the home. That is a break through crew consciousness moment. It sets up the crew morality issue of whether feeling a bit of personal or household hardship is part of being crew of TSE. Whatever you decide is okay!


If you have cut your energy consumption by 24% in a year and can keep it at that level you have taken a great crew action. That means the rough equivalent of 1.5 fewer barrels of oil or a 1/3 ton of coal in a year. The obvious goal is to get as many households as possible to do the same. If 10 million households reduce by 24% that would, using the above household numbers, mean that 15 million fewer barrels of oil or 3 million fewer tons of coal would have been used to create electricity.


We all have to act as crew to get down to our comfortable minimum. Some crewmembers will just cut 12% – a crew minimum. Others will be committed and conscious enough every day to lower electrical consumption by 50%. Installation of solar panels is a quick way to get to that level.


This exercise will do two things. First it will cut carbon emissions. Second it will make you develop the habit of acting from a crew consciousness every day. This develops behavior and habits to carry forward.


Of course this is just an example of implementing the 2% solution. Here are some others:


  • Measure the total number of gallons of gas a household’s cars and trucks use in a month. Then cut that by 2% each month. This will make you think before you drive, to coordinate car use within the household. And to measure the actual numbers of gallons that is used in a month. Most households have no idea and just learning that number will cause reflection
  • Measure the amount of water used in a month and reduce by 2%. The first few months will be easy.
  • Measure the amount of garbage and waste on a weekly basis. Number of trash bins filled, number of 22 gallon trash bags. However you like. The average American creates more than 4 pounds of trash a day.


This 2% solution of course has a wonderful side benefit: saving money! Create a “crew account” over a year of money saved. At the end of the year, look at how much money you have saved. For many that will be a key motivator to continue the process. Then put those savings toward a goal such as paying for college, saving for retirement, saving for an electric car. Perhaps you might want to give 10% of the savings to a non-profit such as TSE.org or any of those listed on our web site.


All of these benefits start with a simple commitment to lower your electrical usage by 2% a month.


Please start now!