The Mayoral Race

I’m talking about the race between my Mayor, Ernie Daykin and I to see who can go without fossil fuels to heat their home the longest. Which mayoral race were you thinking of?

By now you know that I am refusing to turn on our oil furnace or buy more furnace oil. We insulated and sealed the house as best we could by ourselves in 2008 and it helped a lot. We buy much less oil.

Didn't think we would use this wood so it is not well-covered. Sigh.
Didn’t think we would use this wood so it is not well-covered.

But after anticipating our renovation and retrofit for three years, I’m really sick of buying oil, the dirtiest climate-changing fuel next to coal. My post about the Empty Tank Challenge drew the Mayor out and he challenged me.

It wasn’t too tough. The wood-burning insert warms the front rooms and the heat trickles meagerly into the rest of the house. The challenge was the extra work of waking up and feeding the fire in the morning. If I was busy campaigning, the temperature in the living room dropped to 17 degrees Celsius, which meant other rooms were colder still.

Quit posing and move that wood!
Quit posing and move that wood!

I have a friend in Japan who reminds me that, with no central heating in her place, like most, her interior is 10 degrees Celsius. We’ll be OK.

Mayor Daykin and I had some friendly jostles on Twitter. Pieces of these conversations are on various facebook groups, and hard to find, so here are some random samplings. Chelsa Meadus, candidate for City Council, also chimed in.

James A boy and his fire. House still warm with no furnace.

Ernie 24 Oct 2014 No Furnace yet!! An extra blanket & cuddling!!:)

Ernie 26 Oct 2014 you are a wee bit behind ……our wood stove has been lit for an hour 🙂

Ernie 27 Oct 2014 Yes when you put your mind to it you can save a lot. Oh and also put a sweater on!

James Didn’t even light a fire today.  Shall we challenge other candidates?

Ernie 03 Nov 2014 how are things at your home…… Did I hear your furnace running today. My wife is freezing. 🙂 wants the heat on

Ernie 03 Nov 2014 you bet and some fun with the story. Our little airtight stove has kept us toasty for years.

Ernie 12 Nov 2014 I have to admit some natural gas was consumed this am to take the chill off til the woodstove kicked in. Still into reducing

So there you have it folks. I win!

After I read the about the IPCC report that warns we must be a 100% fossil-fuel free planet by 2100, I challenged, via Twitter, every other mayoral candidate to join us in our friendly competition. None responded. I also asked candidates for City Council on the Maple Ridge Council Watch facebook group:

Examining home energy use on my Hammond Forever House blog has been interesting. In response to my personal challenge to not buy any more fuel oil for the furnace, Ernie Daykin and his wife challenged us to an energy duel. Neither his family nor mine have turned on our furnace yet. Meadus chimed in, too. It’s not a competition, just a discussion tool. I asked all the Mayoral candidates via Twitter to join us but I haven’t heard from anyone but Ernie. Everyone is busy I’m sure and not everyone is on Twitter.
I invite all candidates to comment on how we, as a City, can help us move toward a post-fossil fuel economy.

Two candidates responded with how they, personally, reduce energy use in their homes. One, Alex Pope, gave a full response to the question at hand. Thank you Alex!

With the temperature dipping below freezing this week, it just got real. Every morning my routine now includes feeding the fire before I do anything else. It’s like it’s 1874, but with better insulation.

Let’s have one last look at what our Smart Meter tells us. I think I didn’t explain this very well in my post called consumption. We entered a new billing period on November 7th and so far we have used $10 of electricity. You can compare a few different things to your consumption on this graph. Here, you can see the temperature drop, but we’re not using more electricity. We are, however, burning through a lot of wood, literally!

It got colder but we soldier on!
It got colder but we soldier on!

Published by

James Rowley

James lives in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada with his amazing partner, Leanne Koehn, and their two amazing kids in their beautiful house. He studied Science and English Literature at the University of British Columbia where he met Leanne. He also studied acting for a while at Studio 58 in Vancouver. He works as a teacher of English and curriculum writer for new Canadians.

2 thoughts on “The Mayoral Race”

  1. We heat with electricity and gas. I keep the thermostats at 15C and have noticed that the gas is hardly ever on in the gas insert. Hurray!! (Electricity here is, thankfully, hydro, so I’m less concerned with this.). We do have several young adults living here at the moment who love to drain the hot water tank on a daily basis. When they move out I’m expecting a drop in my gas bill.

    We all wear sweaters, wooly socks and we often have a fuzzy throw on us as we read. It’s gotten so that I find other people’s places, at 20C, unbearably hot.

    Adaptation. It’s what we need to do. As people and as a community.

    By the way, do you know anyone who drives an electric car yet?

    1. Thanks for commenting Elizabeth! I think the trick is to play with reducing our consumption without feeling deprived. A sporting challenge helps with this. Too bad individual action will never be enough. I just watched Annie Leonard’s Story of Solutions video again. She puts it so clearly.
      As for electrics, I know several people via The Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association These cars are so practical, sporty and reliable, not to mention much cheaper to maintain than gas cars. We love our 2001 hybrid Prius and now I’m commuting on an electric limited-speed motorcycle (OK, you can call it a scooter, but it’s not a moped!)
      The big hope is to create micro-grids where electricity is produced in our communities instead of far away to be transmitted vast distances. Maybe one day we could require developments to produce a certain percentage of their own power to reduce pressure on the grid. Later this could be raised to 100% 🙂

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