This era in history may be remembered as the "Peak Age", a brief time when nearly all materials used to power and create our society reach the maximum extraction and production potential. Past this point, all of these resources become increasingly difficult to extract until they are no longer economically viable resources to be using. There are hundreds of examples of resources, currently embedded in our industrial society, which have reached their peak in the 50 years surrounding 2010, but the one which will most impact our society is petroleum.

The goal of living for 100 days without oil is to understand the extent of our dependance on oil in American society today. Specifically, how it will affect my life, as a 25 year-oil living in Minneapolis, MN. By using myself as a metric I can take a close and conscious look at where oil dependance occurs in all aspects of our daily lives : How we transport ourselves from one place to another, what we eat, how much waste we create, how water is cleaned and transported, where oil is used as; an energy resource, in conventional medicine and for hygiene and how oil affects how we entertain ourselves and communicate with others. By demonstrating how someone would be forced to live without using any oil resources, outlining both what the sacrifices will be as well as the benefits, we can can identify the many systems which will have to be re-designed in a world without cheap oil, and explore a new way of living in which we live in an energy balance.

(At the bottom of this page is a link to my version of a flow diagram of 'Where Petroleum Exists in Our Daily Lives' (using information from the Energy Information Administration-Annual Energy Review 2008 fig 5.0 Petroleum flow) click and zoom to enlarge)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


15 November 2010

One of the interesting realizations I've had during this project is that we need to have different our attitudes about the various resources we use depending on our habits of use. 

I blogged earlier about identifying the big water users in your lifestyle and working to reduce them as the most effective way to reduce water use (and live within our water budgets "Don't sweat the small stuff-Water use" (  Electricity, however, seems to have the opposite story to tell.  While there are some very high-wattage appliances I use regularly, they are often the ones that only get used for a brief amount of time, so they don't end up being the main energy users.  On the other side, many of the seemingly small energy users (a single light bulb of only 60 watts, or even the fridge at 68 watts /hour) end up being big energy users because they are used almost all day.  The small stuff adds up, wattages need to be taken into account but the time-of-use is critical in electricity counts.

The following pie charts show a comparison of watts per hour of energy users vs watts per day:

 As you can see, the appliances with the highest  watts per hour (hair dryer, toaster oven, microwave) are very different from the appliances that actually contribute to most energy use as seen in the watts/day pie chart.  The biggest energy users when taking time of use into account end up being light bulbs (we have about 6 60 watt bulbs on most of the time), the refrigerator and the grow light.  Each of these energy users are have fairly small wattages compared to some appliances, but add up to a lot throughout a day of use.

This chart shows the two values next to each other- Watts per hour vs Watts per day.  The three biggest energy users are in the dashed boxes, notice how small the wattages/hr are compared to some other appliances that don't end up adding up to much!