Does it work?

Energy prices are soaring everywhere – except in our house. Just the other day our supplier changed our standard bill – downwards. While energy prices as a whole are leaping up almost by the day, ours are falling. We have made no significant physical change to the house yet – not even upgraded the loft insulation. We haven’t even finished replacing the light bulbs, which is as easy as it gets. What we have done is changed our behaviour in all those small ways that look so unlikely to make a difference, but they seem to have done the trick.

Things we have been doing since February include:

  1. We turned the heating (space and water) down a couple of degrees – which is to say, down to the temperature all homes were heated to a couple of decades back – not exactly a major sacrifice! After a week I started to find anything higher quite oppressive.
  2. We also slightly trimmed the times the room and water heating were on, especially in the morning. It made no difference to our comfort at all.
  3. When we got cold, we put on a woolly jumper. Or two, if necessary. I actually find an extra layer of clothes rather comforting, just so long as it doesn’t make me sweaty. When sitting down for long periods, I use a rug – it’s very nice.
  4. Lights off as we leave the room. Don’t worry about that hoary old myth that fluorescent lamps are better left on – according to the US Department of Energy, that is only true if you plan to turn them back on again within between 3 and 11 seconds, depending on the light. Incandescent bulbs are always worth turning off.
  5. The only lights we put on in the first place are those we are actually using. Which turns out to be surprisingly few.
  6. All standbys off. Obviously. What could be more useless than a piece of technology that saves you literally a moment’s effort for such a high price.
  7. We closed doors as we went through. This meant that the heat we were paying for was kept in the rooms where we wanted it.
  8. We turned of the heating in rooms we seldom use.
  9. We stopped filling kettles any fuller than necessary. Given that the average kettle is twice as full as it needs to be, this is a ludicrous waste – it slows you up, adds to your electricity bill and wastes energy. I also stopped waiting for the kettle to turn itself off. The internal detector keeps the kettle boiling going for quite a while after the water is obviously bubbling.

The curious thing is that after a week or two of all this, I can’t remember why I ever behaved otherwise.

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