Monday, 20 January 2014

Stop flicking the switch

Me and my three pusscats are snug and warm inside our cosy house. No we don't have the heating on we don't need it. They have their fur coats, and I have my layers. All the internal doors are open, I like them to have the run of the house to come and go as they please, and I am often up and down, moving from room to room. The windows in the living room have two sets of curtains hanging on each, making double insulation. It is not cold tonight anyway. 
I am becoming more aware of the consequences of flicking switches on either electrical or gas appliances. Every time I flick a switch it costs me money, so before I do it I ask myself, do I really need to. Am I really that cold, do I need to spend some money on an hour of heat. Mostly the answer is no, sometimes it is yes, so I treat myself to an hour of central heating, or put the gas fire on in the living room. Don't feel sorry for me, I am not a poor pensioner who has to make the choice between heating and eating. I can afford to do both, it's just that I don't actually need much heating because after years of working outdoors in all weathers I like fresh air, and hate stuffy rooms. Even now, tonight, I have windows upstairs open an inch to encourage a circulation of air through the house. You know my food situation, I eat well within my budget, because I know how to budget, so no hardships there.  
I noticed on my last utilities bill that my electricity consumption has dropped. Normally it's higher than the gas, but this time it's lower. That's because I have been taking steps to cut back on flicking switches. Ever since Autumn and the start of shorter days and longer nights, I have been looking at ways I can save money on electricity, and that means, looking for ways of using it economically, or not using it at all.  
I no longer boil a kettle for my coffee in the morning. My kettle has an element in the bottom, I cannot put one mug of water in there because it won't cover the element, so I always ended up with two mugs of hot water, one of which doesn't get used. I know you can put it into a flask and use it later, but I only ever have one mug of coffee, the rest of the day I have cold watered down fruit juice. So what do I do now? I put my mug of cold water in the microwave and heat it that way. The benefit of that is the mug also gets hot, so the drink stays hot for longer. 
What else do I do to cut down? A lot of people leave the TV on for background noise, as they go about their daily tasks. I don't have a tele, but I do have a radio. I only switch it on when I actually want to listen to something. There are a few programmes which interest me, and if I am doing something in the living room I will listen while I am crafting. Once the programme is over, or I move to another room, I switch it off. No point in paying for electricity if I am not listening to it. 
Let's look at lighting. These Christmas lights were free, I found them in the house clearing skip I mentioned a few months ago. They are now permanently installed in my living room. I no longer flick the switch on the wall to put the main ceiling light on. I am hoping that these small candle lights use less electricity. 
I also use a desk light. This is my table in the living room. These two lights are enough for me to see what I am doing, and it gives a cosy feel to the room. I don't need any more light than this. I also don't spend much time on the big computer upstairs in the winter. I use my small netbook. I am sure this is saving me money.

Over my clothes I wear a large, man's fleecy dressing gown, which has a handy pocket on the front. In here is my small wind up torch. When I move from room to room I don't flick a switch and put a light on, I use the torch to guide me through the dark house. I might go to the kitchen to get something out of the fridge.

 Aha, there is a light inside the fridge, that's very handy.

About three or more years ago, can't remember how long ago, the strip light on the ceiling packed up. Well I suppose it could be just the little round switch thing, or it could be the whole tube which needs replacing. I'm not bothered about it, because I don't need it. All I need is this small lamp. It gives out sufficient light for me to see what I am doing, on the area of the worktop that I am preparing my meals on. I don't need the whole blooming kitchen lit up. Just one small bulb is fine. 
So, I use the torch to go upstairs to the bathroom. The cats are all asleep so there is no danger of me falling over them. Surely everyone can spend a penny in the dark, I know where my toilet paper is, and the sink is next to the toilet, and the towel is on the stool. Easy peasy.

Here is my little torch. I take it to bed with me and lay it next to my pillow, so it is there if I need to get up in the night. When I wake in the morning I reach for the torch to shine it on my wrist watch to find out what time it is. It is so very handy, and I'm sure it is saving me money.

So, don't forget, stop flicking the switch if you want to cut down on your utilities. Every time you switch something on it gobbles electricity and gas, and it's going to cost you money. I don't have one of those fancy gadgets that tells you how much each appliance uses, I use my common sense. I don't read my meters weekly, because there is only me here, and I know more or less what I use, so no nasty surprises. My little wind up torch will stay in my pocket until the spring, when the daylight hours will be getting longer. Until then I will live in my twilight world inside my cosy house.
Toodle pip

27 comments:

  1. You sound just like my mother! (except that she liked a warm house, LOL). She opened the curtains in the morning and closed them as soon as it got dark. The only light burning was the one she was in the same room with at the time. She had a flashlight, too, LOL. Although I think that was mostly because she didn't want to wake anyone up if she got up in the night...but it became a lifelong habit, even after she was living alone.

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  2. I don't switch the light on every time I go into a room; often the light from another room is plenty. If your upstairs computer is a desktop one, then you are saving loads of money using your netbook; according to my computer geek hubby, a desktop uses 10 times the electricity of a laptop, so I am guessing a netbook costs even less!

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  3. My husband likes too many lights on. I'm always asking if he needs the one on the other side of the room, and he always says "yes". Some days i'm okay with it, others , not so much. I use a lot of candles in the Winter. One in the bathroom is perfect; the kitchen most nights. Also, i have a string of Christmas lights in a large potted plant that i use until we start turning the regular lights on. Of course, we use the energy efficient kind.
    This is a nice reminder to be more mindful.

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  4. Lights on when you need them...off when you don't, is how we live.Hydro (electricity) costs are stoooooopid here,sowe hae to save where we can.
    Just threw another log on the fire as it's going to be -35C overnight.
    Jane x

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  5. I felt like I was walking round the house with you on your torch journey, I loved this post.

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  6. Be careful youre not reported to social services , thats just happened to my father in law , but hes in his 80s . Hes worked outside all his life so doesnt feel the cold , it has to be proper pipe freezing weather before he puts the heating on . He doesnt use lights much because hes on his own so whos going to trip him up as he says . He also likes to sit with his memories , because theres nothing on the tv or radio he would find interesting . Hes not a poor pensioner but theyre trying to send him for alzheimers testing now, hes not amused at all .

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  7. Saw an interesting article, on the BBC One Show, last night about the cold and blood pressure and the risks. Itt might be worth a look on iplayer. I would be interested to hear your comments. My husband is always cold in his layers and I'm always warm in my T-shirt, similar to the Frank Skinner comment afterwards. our living room is nearly always 21 degrees if not more and I have to open a window and he closes it. We don't have central heating but a multi fuel stove that heats the whole house.
    Carolx
    Carolx

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    1. Hi Carol, I saw that report on another programme. I don't think it is a case of one rule for all. Everybody has a different tolerance level towards cold, it will affect different people in different ways. I thought it was a bit scaremongering, the man from Age Uk seemed to imply that anyone living in a house where the heating is only switched on for a couple of hours a day, is at risk of a heart attack or stroke. I wonder if they have done any research on the people who died during the cold weather, were there any other factors involved, such as age and other medical conditions, which may have contributed to their death.

      Some people are more hardy than others. The woman in the report is like me, although I think she should have been wearing more clothes than she was. Those skin tight leggins are no protection at all, unless they are just one of several layers. The man seemed a bit older, and not quite so active.

      They talked of pensioners being at risk. Although I am technically a pensioner I am only 64, hardly old at all. I may be at risk in twenty years time, I'll let you know how I go on.

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    2. I'm glad you saw it. I felt concerned and I thought of you when they were talking to that lady. They did say that she was still at risk because her blood pressure was up when she was cold and that caused thick, sticky blood. perhaps she should have had more layers on and her blood pressure might not have gone up. I agree legging are not warm on there own.
      Carolx

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  8. I have one of those circular light fittings in the kitchen where you have 3 bulbs which can be individually angled to light up a specific work area. Two of the bulbs have blown and I haven't bothered to replace them and you know what, the one bulb I have left illuminates the kitchen perfectly.

    Must get myself a wind up torch though.

    Linda xx

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  9. My other half's nickname for me is 'The Switch Police' because I'm always going round switching off after him.He'd kill me if I wandered round in the dark with a torch though, he says it's too dangerous, I once fell down the stairs because I couldn't see where I was going!

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  10. You can get wind-up radios as well as wind up torches, that way you won't be using any electricity at all :-) I have one and I take it into the greenhouse with me to listen to Radio 4 when I'm pottering around
    Kay x

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  11. With the price of energy I think lots of people are becoming more aware about their use of gas and electricity. I find the same as you with my kettle - I have to put two mugs worth of water in to cover the element, but I save the rest in a flask, kept by the kettle, or pour it into the dirty dog bowls to leave them to soak until washed. I use the shower instead of the bath and have a flannel wash every second (or second and third) day. Curtains are heavily lined in winter and closed at dusk. Washing machine washes on a low temperature on a quick wash cycle. I check the weather forecast before deciding to put the washing machine on the following day so I can dry clothes on the line whenever possible. I bought an extra cheap clothes airer so I now have two clothes airers to finish drying off clothes and hang shirts etc on coat hangers on door handles and curtain poles. Also, my mini oven (£30 from Lidl) is saving an absolute fortune compared with using the main oven. Like you, we just use a lamp in the room we are using - all other lights in the house are switched off. Using a steamer for veg saves money too - potatoes or sprouts in the bottom in the water and the other veggies in the steamer part on top. My freezer is usually full but apparently if you fill empty milk cartons with water to fill up the freezer space this saves energy. Despite the rise in energy costs, my electricity bill has decreased too.

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    1. Hi Sue, Thanks for those great tips. I have one of those electric steamers which I use sometimes, but mostly I steam in a pan on the gas stove. My freezer is usually full, but when I go away I fill the fridge and freezer up with bottles of water

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    2. Hi Sue, I do similar things to you, I also bought a mini oven which has been fantastic. Our winter statement has arrived and I am £20 a month better off since last year regardless of rise in energy costs. To me that is a lot of money to save.

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  12. I was a little bit worried about you going up and down stairs with just a head torch on, tripping over kitties could be an issue but I guess you are grown up enough to take this chance. Now will you come around here and teach my lot how to switch lights etc. off?

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    1. Hi Kate, I got tired of my son leaving lights on so I threatened to deduct the cost of the electricity he was wasting from his monthly allowance! It worked. Mean Mum eh?

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    2. That is a cunning plan, wouldn't work here though as mine pays me board and I think I would struggle to get him to pay me more....

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  13. I know my way around my house in the dark, so on my (increasingly frequent) trips to the loo in the night I don't bother with any kind of light. I feel in front with my toe if the cat isn't on the bed, just in case she is on the stairs.
    I'm with Sue on the steamer though I don't have an electric one, just a couple of steamer pans that I put on top of saucepans. Potatoes / carrots/ swede etc underneath and greens / beans /peas or puddings etc on top. I bought the pans for 50p each from a Charity Shop many years ago.
    Gill

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  14. It's a case of what works for you. Here in Canada we HAVE to have some sort of heating on in the winter regardless as it gets so cold and as Jane said minus 35 oC was last nights temp. I am also married to a man with poor circulation so he is cold all of the time. We do turn off lights when not needed and I do try and heat water on top of the wood burner when I can.

    It's good though for you to show us what works for you and for everyone to take that info and apply it to our daily lives,

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  15. Many eons ago when my husband was in the military there was an outbreak of meningitis on the post in the midst of a very cold winter. All the barracks windows were flung open to circulate the cool air as the stagnant warm air kept it alive. I like a cooler house and I love to burn candles. Your house would suit me perfectly!

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  16. You have just answered a question for me lol. My husband has to have the bedroom window open a bit all year round. He too used to have an 'outside in all weathers job'.

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  17. For as long as I can remember I have had two night lights in the kitchen. One by the sink and one over the cat's bowls. They're the kind that automatically come on at night, then off when it's light. I never have to use the "big" lights in the kitchen and it makes enough light to walk through the house at night without tripping over anything, plus as I am an early riser, I can see to feed the kitties, make a cup of coffee, etc. without disturbing the hubby (our bedroom is right outside the kitchen). Jan

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  18. We have 4 solar lights that we charge during the day (over winter we charge the batteries during lowest tariff periods) and place them around the house to provide light during the night. The lights are fantastic. The sensors come on as one approaches and switch off when there is no one about. They create enough light to see and we can move about safely. We believe the lights are saving us money as we are not constantly switching lights on and off. By using less power we are also being kinder to the environment which is important to us.

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  19. Some brilliant ideas from Ilona and others here. I always chase after DB to switch off the TV as he leaves it running when he decides to spend some time on his computer in an upstairs room. No point in wasting electricity downstairs.
    I never bother with lights when nature calls during the night. I know my way around the house and don`t disturb anyone else that`s sleeping. Having a pee in the dark is second nature to me. Not switching the lights on also tells the cat that I`m not getting up to feed him, so he will often not even move from the foot end of my side of the bed when I go to find the toilet. As DB is often not sleeping well during the night (due to health problems) he now likes to have a bit of a rest in the morning. I therefore get dressed in the dark before I have to go to work. If I lay out the clothes in the evening before this is never a problem for me. We have been using the central heating very sparingly this winter, not having had it on at all for the last week. We only use it for an hour on occasion, just to take the chill off the rooms before night time. I`m active enough during the day not to need any heating in the house. Hot tea or spicy soup often warms you up when needed. Older generations often are frail and not physically able to keep moving around so much, and that`s when they will feel the cold far quicker than anyone else. Keep moving as long as you can and tank up with plenty of hot beverages during winter, is the answer.

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  20. I'm surprised not to see energy saving light bulbs.
    How do you know that the light has gone off when you close the fridge door. I'd be worried that it was still on and using unnecesary power and worse still the heat from the bulb would make the fridge work harder and use even more electricity. I think i'll put my phone in the fridge to make a video just to be sure.
    Going to the toilet in the dark could lead to all sorts if trouble for us chaps, far safer to put the light on.
    Dave.

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  21. You motivated me to go to the shed, get 3 of my lamps, dust them, and set them up. One had a good bulb, but I needed 2 new ones. I have a local Aldi, and was wondering if anyone thinks they do good light bulbs. Anyone recommend Aldi bulbs? I live in Australia, but they probably sell the same type as the UK ones.

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