Rock Lake Wilderness Area

Lifestyle Project

Karin B. Kirk and John J. Thomas

Supplemental Material


Lifestyle Article

Lifestyle Quiz

Baseline Data

Baseline Data

BTU Usage Charts

Energy Facts and

BTU Usage Charts

Karin B. Kirk

Energy consumption for an average U.S. family of four in 1990

125,000,000 BTU/yr
Space heating (gas)
70,000,000 BTU/yr
Water heating (gas)
27,500,000 BTU/yr
Central air-conditioning
12,200,000 BTU/yr
7,700,000 BTU/yr
6,100.000 BTU/yr
Other appliances
15,000,000 BTU/yr
263,500,000 BTU/yr

Average American uses 6 gallons of petroleum per day
Average German uses 3.5 gallons per day
Average African uses 0.25 gallons per day


U.S. cars and trucks use 114,000,000,000 gallons of gas each year.

Raising the fuel efficiency of U.S. cars and trucks by 1 mpg for one year would save the same amount as all of the oil that could be produced in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

How to reduce gasoline use:

1. Buy a fuel efficient car.
2. Drive less! (walk, bike, bus, carpool, combine trips, no joy in "joy rides")
3. Drive efficiently.
4. Maintain your car.

Home Heating

1. Insulate your house/apartment/room (prevent conductive and convective heat loss).
2. Turn the heat down (dress warmly inside during winter).

Hot Water Heating

Uses: Shower 3 - 5 gallons per minute
Laundry 20 - 40 gallons per load (depending on load setting)
Dishwasher 12 gallons per load
Sink 3 gallons per minute

How to cut down?

1. Take shorter showers
2. Use lower water pressure
3. Take cooler showers
4. Shower less often
5. Wash laundry in cooler water
6. Run washing machine and dishwasher with full loads only
7. Don’t let water run while doing dishes, shaving, etc.
8. Buy efficient appliances

Electricity (not including space heating and hot water heating)

Biggest users:


Other users: TV, stereo, lights, computer, answering machine (even when these appliances are turned off they use electricity), fan, humidifier, hair dryer, bread machine, ETC!

How to cut down?

1. Buy efficient appliances
2. Do you really need that dorm fridge with only one diet coke in it?
3. Use microwave instead of stove or oven
4. Use oven for several things at once (i.e. lasagna and garlic bread!)
5. Try studying without the TV or stereo
6. Turn off lights when leaving the room
7. Try fluorescent light bulbs (bring them with you when you move)
8. "Roompool"
9. Avoid batteries

Water use

The average American uses 143 gallons per day for personal use. Compare this to 36 gal/day in Belgium.

Total consumptive use:

82.5% irrigation and livestock
5.3% industrial and mining
4.7% electrical cooling
7.5% public use

Household use*:

38% toilet flushing
31% bathing
20% laundry and dishes
5% brushing teeth, etc.
* does not include lawn/garden watering

How much water does it take to...?


1 egg - 40 gallons
1 ear corn - 80 gallons flush the toilet 6 gallons per flush
1 pound potatoes - 24 gallons
1 loaf bread - 160 gallons
1 pound beef -2,500 gallons
1 pound chicken - 815 gallons
1 pound pork - 1630 gallons
1 Sunday paper - 280 gallons
1 pound steel - 32 gallons
1 pound rubber - 300 gallons
1 pound aluminum - 1,000 gallons
1 automobile - 100,000 gallons

Take a shower - 3-5 gallons per minute
Run the sink - 3 gallons per minute
Run the dishwasher - 12 gallons per load
Run the washing machine - 40 gallons per load
Take a bath - 40 gallons

How can you save water?

1. Take shorter showers, use lower water pressure, shower less often. Reducing your daily showering time from 15 minutes to 8 minutes will save 245 gal/week, 1,050 gal/month, and 12,775 gal/year. This will also save 5,621,000 BTU of  energy required to heat the water. This is equivalent to driving a car 1,200 miles.

2. Put a full bottle of water in the toilet tank

3. Go vegetarian, or at least avoid beef

4. Do laundry and run the dishwasher only with full loads

5. Don’t let the water run when shaving, brushing teeth, or doing dishes

6. Fix leaky faucets and toilets

7. Water the lawn and garden judiciously; plant drought resistant varieties, mulch, use drip irrigation


The average American produces 4.5 pounds per day!

What are we throwing away?

By Volume
By Weight
Paper products
Organic wastes

How can you cut down?

1. Reduce, reuse, recycle!
2. Only buy what you need
3. Buy long-lasting products, avoid disposable products
4. Buy in large quantities or in bulk
5. Use Tupperware and plastic mugs for food and drinks to go
6. Bring your own bags
7. Get off junk mailing lists
8. Use cloth napkins and towels
9. Buy products made from recycled materials
10. Reuse paper, bags, plastic bottles and containers
11. Learn the rules of recycling in your area
12. Try composting


Most of our food originates from farms. Problems with farming?

Massive water consumption
Pesticides/herbicides/chemical fertilizers
80% of U.S. crops are fed to livestock,
20% fed to people
Soil erosion

What can we do?

1. Eat lower on the food chain (reduce meats, especially beef)
2. Buy locally grown, seasonal produce
3. Chose non-processed or minimally processed foods
4. Buy organically-grown products whenever available, this promotes more sustainable farming practices


Most of the environmental problems discussed above are related to the production of goods:

Energy consumption (mining, manufacturing, processing, shipping)
Water consumption
Mining, logging
Use of petroleum products
Creation of wastes

What to do?

1. Buy less stuff!
2. Buy long-lasting products
3. Avoid trends

Karin B. Kirk

An Adobe® Acrobat® PDF® of BTU Usage Charts is available by clicking the link.

If you do not have a copy of Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® click on the link.

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