Saturday was Earth Hour: switch off your lights for an hour in the evening – so we spent an hour in a candle lit house. It was quite nice, it reminded me of spending time in my grandparents little summerhouse during my childhood. The house had no electricity, and to us kids there was something exiting about lighting petroleum lamps and candles in the evening, on special occasions we even got to light little plastic lanterns with tea lights in them on the patio – a ‘beautiful’ sight.
This was only in the 70’s, not thaaat long ago -yet can anybody imaging having a place with no electricity today. What would my kids think if they had to spend a week in a place with no TV? Could I manage for a week with no Internet? Not to mention warm showers and a fridge. My grandparents had a hole in the floor with a trap door, where they could keep milk and other things cool enough to last for a few days, but it wasn’t exactly a fridge.
We are so used to electricity now for all sorts of purposes that most of us would struggle if it became less available. In fact while I was reminiscing about candlelit summer holidays my husband was reminded of his time in Baghdad during the first Gulf War and he will tell you any day that life without electricity is not great! Maybe it is time we started appreciating this power a bit more, and started using it wisely.
Currently we produce a lot of our electricity in ways not very environmentally friendly. I am not going to go into details about coal fired power stations, nuclear power stations or even renewable energy for that matter, because I simply don’t know enough about it to say anything intelligent,(and no smart comments about the intelligence of my other entries please…) but I would like to raise a point about the way we just take electricity for granted.
We don’t just use it when we need it, we overuse it! Take a walk down any high street and several of the shops will have the lights on outside opening hours. In my own town we have a beautiful old historical palace and lights are shining on it all through the night – why? I know it looks pretty, it definitely does, but is that really what we should be doing with the electricity we produce at such cost to the environment?
What about our own personal actions. We all know that we are supposed to switch the lights off when we leave a room, but what about all the other electrical appliances that we just use without giving it much thought.
I remember in my home economics class in school we were taught that the first thing to do when baking was to switch on the oven; but why should I do that if it is going to take 25 minutes to get the mix ready, and it would take the oven max 10 minutes to reach the required temperature? (yes, it can take 25 minutes to get the mix ready, especially if you have 2 kids involved in the process…)
Not to mention when we buy yet another T-shirt, do we give it any thought at all how much energy was used in the production of just that one garment?
I think we all need to wise up when it comes to electricity, and if we realised that it doesn’t just appear by magic, we could save both money and the environment.
I have mentioned several times that I would like to put solar panels on our roof. I am no longer just saying this because I want to increase my green credentials – solar panels are after all quite a symbol of green homes, but also because I really don’t want to give up on all my electric comforts. It is not unlikely that prices for electricity will go up in the future – it will follow on from increased oil prices and stricter limits on CO2 emissions, and in that situation I would feel very happy to know that I have access to at least a basic supply. We still wouldn’t be able to continue the way we are at the moment, generally domestic solar panels can’t really supply that amount of energy, but we would have some power cheaply available.
Anyway time to go and put the kettle on, start the washing machine, get the shopping in the fridge, whisk up a cake, wash my hair, dry my hair, hoover the living room, watch some TV and do some work on my laptop…