The Green Amber Isle

Valt & Sandy
Sun 16 Jun 2013 14:17
June 13, 2013
Of course, we boaters are always conserving water, electricity, foods and more. This is a necessity when on the hook for long periods of time. We love the waters and preserve them.
But this year we made a huge leap!
We switched out 80 power-sucking halogen light bulbs for LED bulbs, indoors and out. Even anchor and navigation lights. The new bulbs use very little electricity and last forever!
Next we removed our water-guzzling ice machine and replaced it with a new energy efficient ice maker. The old machine used 50 gallons of water a day compared to 3 gallons a day with the new one. Then we reevaluated our ice usage and decided to bag ice and stow it in the freezer for drinks. Only when we are fishing do we run the ice maker.
We continue running 5-6knots per hour on a single engine and can get up to 2.5-3 nautical miles to a gallon of diesel. That a about 2 gallons per hour compared to 45gph we burn at 18knots!
By far the biggest improvement was adding 5 solar panels to our hardtop, giving us 1300 watts of power on a sunny day. Before solar panels we usually ran the generator 3-4 hours each morning and 3-4 hours in the evening to keep our living system batteries charged. Sometimes we'd return to the boat late at night and have to set an alarm clock to wake one of us to shut it off. It annoyed us, and our neighbors. The solar panels start making up the overnight shortfall at first light. We can even make coffee and breakfast without the generator.
At dinner time, we run the generator an hour or so to power the stove, water heater, watermaker and the 220 appliances. We have cut 5-6 hours off generator use saving diesel, oil changes, maintenance and generator repairs. Just diesel fuel saves $750-900 per month. An unexpected benefit is that the batteries get an all-day trickle charge instead of a big slam of energy. They stay cooler, and require less water added each month. Hopefully they will last longer, too.
Of course, on cloudy days we use the generator more. But as the season goes on and the sun is nearer the earth we expect more good results.
Just for fun, we installed underwater lights to the stern transom. Makes us more visible, costs little to operate, and is such fun.
Someone reminded as that "there is green, and then there's green." Meaning to save the earth or to save money. Luckily these improvements are good for the environment and also good for the wallet.