It takes energy to save energy…

a high point?

a high point?

To be praised by my thirteen year old son on my choice of Christmas presents was one of the high points of the festive season for me.

He, of course, has no concept of the hours of thought, planning and co-ordination that had gone into each item in his present collection. Neither would he have any idea of the agonising that went into getting the balance between extravagance and frugality, between waste and real pleasure.

I’m with him, though. I did do a good job. Rather than lots of small gifts for each of the five children, we favoured joint presents for us all from our relatives (thanks to you all for complying). This has meant that we are two weeks into January and no-one has said that they are bored and there are no unwanted toys lying broken on bedroom floors. Singstar, Buzz and Guitar Hero have saved the day.

Or have they? Imagine my horror when I picked up Lucy Siegle’s article on staying in (Observer Magazine 21/12/08) in the family library (the smallest room in the house!). My husband and I have always favoured staying in. Scrabble was a firm favourite in the early days; now we just sleep more. Anyway, having a large family does confine you to staying at home more – not many people have the courage or capacity to invite you round and eating out requires an extension on the mortgage!

it's not just a gadget, it's a motivational tool

it's not just a gadget, it's a motivational tool

We play our fair share of family games and eat our fair share of family meals. But we also all enjoy watching TV and playing on the PS2 together. I tend to close my mind to all the electrical products switched on at any one time in our house – computers or TVs in nearly every room at times. But we all know deep down the cost to ourselves and to the planet of this level of energy consumption, if we’re honest. And if we need persuading, the OWL wireless energy monitor can provide incontrovertible information on how much energy we are actually using – a great motivational tool for any gadget man with sceptical wife and lazy children.

The only way forward for me is to switch off. Not to switch off from caring or acknowledging the problem, you understand, but to switch off anything that is not being used. I’m considering a poster campaign around the house ……. SWITCH ON YOUR BRAIN AND SWITCH OFF YOUR LIGHT!…….. USE STANDBY AND STAND BY FOR WORLD DESTRUCTION! ….
that sort of thing.

Being responsible about the energy that we consume requires discipline, which is severely lacking in our house particularly at bedtime. Ironically, it takes energy to save energy. But this is nothing new. My dad’s generation have been going around the house at night making sure everything is switched off for decades. If we really believe it makes a difference, we will find the energy.

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