Energy Diet

Breaking a Bad Electricity-Use Habit

This past week, I’ve been mostly concentrating on cutting down on unnecessary electrical use, with the main targets of my energy slim-down being the TV and pointless background lighting.

I’ve found that I have the bad habit of leaving the TV on between two programs that interest me while I’m in the room doing something else… and, let’s face it, sometimes interesting programs are eons apart. So my new best friends this week have been the TV schedule and the Power button on the TV set.

The other wasteful energy-drain I identified was unnecessary light fittings. Though we had previously made a point of trying not to leave lights on when we aren’t in the room, I’ve realized that some lights that DO stay on when we’re in a room, don’t really need to.

The main culprit I’ve found is my bedside table lamp. I do my best intellectual work on my laptop, on my bed, at night. Though I always keep the main lights off, I used to keep the bedside lamp on for… well, I don’t know, really.

Over the last week, after an initial conscious effort, I’ve actually grown to appreciate leaving the light off. I find that nighttime is the really creative moment of the day for me, and switching off the bedside lamp heightens the creative experience (since night starts, in fact, to look dark).

As an added bonus, I’ve come to realize that emotional teenagers are actually on to something – listening to music in the dark really IS a different experience, and pushes creativity even further.

The energy situation in Portugal:

According to official data (“Pordata”), the per-capita electricity use in Portugal was 4,590 kilowatt hours in 2009 (1,335 of which were for domestic use), up 65 percent from 1994 (with domestic use increasing 81 percent). All endeavors to cut down on superfluous domestic electricity consumption are clearly a pressing necessity in this country.

On the positive side, the amount of energy derived from oil has decreased steadily over the last five years, from 15,877 toe (tonne of oil equivalent) in 2005 and 11,765 in 2009 (down 26 percent). The use of coal has simultaneously decreased, with an increase in the use of natural gas (up 105 percent) and renewable energy sources (up 30 percent). Energy production from renewable sources accounted for 38.5 percent of all sources in 2009, up from a low of 19.2 percent in 2005.

Lessons for the week:

• There’s no point in leaving TV sets on while waiting for the next program you want to watch: that’s what the hour indications on TV guides are for…
• Even if you think you’ve cut down on unnecessary lighting, you might still have some improvements to make… and you never know what impact reorganizing your environment might have on your creativity and productivity.

Next week:

Over the next week, I’ll be looking at transportation, and the tweaks I can make on that area.