Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Dancing in the Dark

I’m a changed woman. Yes, I know I’ve put on a few pounds, but apart from that. I’ve changed my attitudes to lights and electric appliances. It happened pretty quickly, and now it’s stuck.

The more I read and immerse myself in the issues of energy, fossil-fuels and the rate at which we are wearing them out and using them up, the more determined I get to keep the lights out.

It is summer, and it’s going to be a lot tougher in the winter, but I’m finding I really don’t need the vast pools of light with which I used to surround myself. My office has spotlights on the ceiling using 60W and my desk light has a 27W daylight bulb in it. All were previously on pretty much from when I arrived in the morning, to when I left at night - about 10 hours a day.

The monetary value of this little light-fest is about £20 a year. Whilst that amount of money isn’t sufficient for me to change my habits, it is a measure of some of the energy I am consuming. Of course it is only the lights – not my desktop computer, two large flat screen monitors, printer and assorted gadgetry. The two monitors, as it turns out, chuck out a good deal of light in their own right (250 cd/m2 each) so I’m hardly roughing it by turning the lights out.

So by changing my attitude I have found I can do without something I previously considered essential. Despite the title, I’m not actually working in the dark: I sit next to a large window and two bright computer monitors.

I confess to being shocked. Together with my other habits of turning off appliances that previously sat their whole lives on expensive stand-by I’m guessing I’m cutting electricity bills both at work and at home by a noticeable amount. Saving money is always welcome, but it also highlights how wasteful I have been. It is as if I have been leaving taps running the whole time or watering the garden with milk.

In the process I feel like I’m making some small effort to stem the flow of coal, oil and gas we are extracting at such alarming rates. As David MacKay would point out, it’s not much, but it is a little.

And I’m pleased to be doing it.

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