Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In



Twittering For Earth Day

A Maine family chronicles their daily energy use on Twitter

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.

With the 39th annual Earth Day in full effect, news about our Mother Earth is a-buzzing. President Obama is pitching his energy plan and environmentally friendly jobs to rural Americans today, Disney released a documentary (simply titled “Earth”) to animal-obsessed audiences everywhere, and two Earth-like inhabitable exoplanets—Gliese 581 581ƒ|e and 581ƒ|d—have been discovered by scientists. With all this excitement, you might forget to go green tin your own life.

Here’s a reminder: Thanks to Peter Troast and the oh-so-popular 140-character limited messaging service Twitter, we may just get a glimpse into just how much energy an average American family might use on a daily basis.

Troast, his four-person family and small dog, who live on the “beautiful coNeast of Maine” according to their Twitter page (@EnergyCircleKW for those following), are using a small home electricity monitor to measure and report on the amount, in kilowatts per hour, that their home electronics and appliances use.

A tweet from a few hours ago read like this: “Mmmmm…Toasted cinnamon bread with peanut butter. (5.4kWh / 1.09kW now).” They are then graphing the energy use for the entire project, giving a clear readout of how much, when, and the time of day that more energy is used.

Troast, who is the CEO and founder of the home energy efficiency site Energy Circle, hopes that the project will bring awareness to everyday home energy use and how even small changes can matter. Troast commented on the project on his website.

Troast and his family have monitored their home energy use for months now, and after only one day, one can certainly see how the energy bill gets so high. His tweets include everything from “doing a little clothes drying and running the dishwasher (8.35kW), to making “toast and popcorn (5.34kW),” to watching the TV coverage of their own experiment, (1.55kW), to including the lengthy period that is the “teenager in the shower” (0.49kw).

So with this home-efficiency transparency experiment underway, the simple idea of “when not in use, turn off the juice” stays relevant, even when counting the smallest kilowatts of energy.

If you’d like to embark on your own home-energy experiment, you can purchase your own monitor, like the one Troast is using, over at his website for around $145. He has a wealth of other money-saving products for sale.

–Matt Draper

How to Pack for Backcountry Skiing

Get to know the winter safety gear you need in your pack.