I’m entirely convinced there’s a freckle-faced bureaucrat with two fingers up a nostril trying to navigate the stray hairs while sitting at his mahogany desk somewhere in the non-Blogosphere wondering how he can hoodwink us all into thinking we’re bettering the environment and our wallets at the same time, while accomplishing little in the way of energy reduction. (Run-on sentence much? I don’t care, it still bothers me.)
Aye, it was me. And I’m bitter.
They get television personalities like HGTV’s Carter Oosterhouse to break in-between segments bursting with smarm and a head full of curls, willing us to unplug things around our home to help save us another 40% on our energy bills. Anyone that knows me also knows I’ve never been one to leave a stray light on or use electricity with flamboyant, reckless abandonment. My Mum would always get at us for walking away leaving lights on in our pathway of destruction and I soon learned to flick it off or hear the wrath of it with the words ‘Blackpool Illuminations’ thrown in there somewhere for good measure.
Like any good mother, I have passed on the heaving neurosis to my oldest, who undoubtedly will pass it to his sibling and save me the bother. (I’m all about saving any kind of energy, really.) So like any self-respecting lecky-thrift, I went to task unplugging items I don’t use on a regular basis, and waited. And waited. It was pre- air conditioner weather and post- heavy furnace usage weather – a prime time, or so I thought. Imagine my horror when we hadn’t SAVED money, but actually USED a whole extra dollar! I felt violated!
Undeterred, I went about with new faith before our impending trip to Scotland literally oozing with glee that my efforts then would not go unnoticed when the financial docket slipped into our box. We were gone from 10 March — 03 April. Exactly three weeks. I unplugged EVERYTHING except the DVR, the fridge and the stand-alone freezer in our garage. We also turned the thermostat of our (natural gas) furnace down to 50ºF. And as a courtesy, you may like to know our cooker/stove is gas also. Now, it should be noted that our expenses for an average billing cycle is around $135-ish. Imagine my utter disgust when we received our new bill the end of April and it was a whopping $100 for the previous cycle. So basically, a week’s worth of usage.
We paid it, and I thought about it from time to time, but in the back of my mind, if the truth be told, I quietly hoped there had been a calculation error, despite knowing full well the metres are read remotely from the comfort and safety of their wee swanky vans. Months past and my curiosity couldn’t take it anymore. I picked up the phone and dialled.
“I just have a random question and I should have phoned you 4 months ago about this…”
She chortled. “OK, how can I help you?”
“My family and I were out of the country from hence to thence and I unplugged everything we absolutely didn’t need to have plugged in … our furnace is gas. Yes, the stove is gas too.”
“For that time period, it does show a dip in the kilowatt usage–”
“Yes, but not as much as I would have thought, I don’t understand it. We weren’t home at all…”
“Even if you unplug things, there is still electricity running through your home.”
“OK, that makes sense (but I was quietly cursing Carter Oosterhouse’s name). We’re leaving for a trip again next month, what can we do to minimise the cost? Do you have any suggestions?”
“The only thing you can do to bring down your energy costs while you are gone is to switch off the breakers for the rooms you don’t need power to.”
So, you heard it from me first everybody, flick the main switches, go live with the Amish and save a pretty bundle. I’ll still be flicking lights off right behind people as they leave a room and ticking them off, but maybe from now on I’ll flick them with my fingers instead.