A year only plugging in once at NYU

April 13, 2024 by Joshua
in Leadership

Many TVs use more than 100 watt-hours in an hour or two when turned off. I used that much last year from grid power, from plugging in at NYU, which I allowed myself while I unplugged my apartment. My use at home was zero, of course.

Last year, I published an article in Ars Technica, I disconnected from the electric grid for 8 months—in Manhattan. Eight months off the grid seems so simple now that I’ve learned how many more ways to improve life without drawing grid power, though I had only one battery and panel then.

Ars Technica Josh Spodek Disconnected In Manhattan
Ars Technica Josh Spodek Disconnected In Manhattan

I started my experiment living off the grid not knowing how I’d make it past a few days, let alone nearly two years and counting. I didn’t plan on how to solve everything, “just” to disconnect my apartment (physically disconnecting—I disconnected the circuit breaker), so I still allowed myself to plug in at work at NYU. I called it my “cheat,” though it wasn’t a cheat, just outside my experiment.

Still, several readers there didn’t get that I wasn’t really cheating and suggested I was just offloading my power consumption elsewhere. They missed that I had reduced my power use precipitously, though in their favor, I didn’t quantify my use. At NYU I would only plug in my computer and phone, so about 100 watt-hours on a typical day.

I did more anyway

I decided to give it a shot anyway. On April 13, 2023, I decided to avoid plugging in at NYU. On one day in September, I plugged in, but the rest of the year, I only plugged in that one time in September. Otherwise, I haven’t plugged anything into an outlet in a year.

Was it fun?

Hell yes! Fun, liberating, educational, and helping learn ways others can do it too, including you, especially people without the resources you do, especially people who pollute the most.

In any case, I’ve used about 100 watt-hours of grid power in a year. I’ve been looking forward to this date a year. Now I can’t wait until September to make it a year with zero, though I didn’t record what day last year.

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