Sunday, October 19, 2008

Welcome to Energy Savers 'R' Us

I would like to say that I had an epiphany, that suddenly there was a break in the clouds, the sun rays hit me square in the face and I realized that I needed to start saving energy or perhaps an amazingly high energy bill arrived, a bill that I would be unable to pay without foregoing food and entertainment. In fact I can think of half a dozen different scenarios that are much more interesting that the truth, which is that, much like Germany in the thirties, this was a slow descent, not towards fascism but towards an understanding that I need not give my money to the utility companies unnecessarily. It was also a slow descent into the madness and obsession that only newly converted zealots are capable of.

Welcome to the obsesive world of energy saving (WES henceforth), next stop lower energy bills.

I am thirty one and I share a tiny flat with my girlfriend, who shall remain nameless. The flat is an old mid-terrace house divided up into three individual flats. We live in the ground floor flat. The flat has one bedroom and is around 40 square meters. The house was built around 1920 and it shows. Our kind landlord decided to install double glazed windows, for which we are very grateful as he did not increase the rent following such a leap into the twentieth century (thanks Olivier!). Unfortunately, the leap did not extend into insulation, which I can only presume that the house completely lacks as it appears completely unable to maintain any sort of reasonable temperature without the help of the central heating. The kitchen and the bathroom are on a sort of extension to the house, with only a roof on top. The flat on top does not extend above our kitchen and bathroom and I really wished it did, as the lack of insulation makes the kitchen and bathroom a nightmare of cold grey mornings, really unpleasant showers and terrible shaving sessions. As it happens, it is West facing, which means that all the misery the cold brings during Autumn/Winter is sometimes replaced by plastic melting heat, which unfortunately there isn't enough of. On the plus side it does remind me a bit of my grandmother's flat in Santa Cruz de Tenerife where one side of the flat was west facing and temperatures were easily above thirty all through the summer. Upon entry I would follow the ritual that all males in my family would go through: I would say hello, walk into the back room and take my t-shirt off. The problem with our flat is that unlike my grandmother's where the temperature was constant around the flat, here it is not. Candle wax goes soft in the kitchen but you need a jumper in the lounge, just like back home but in a forty square meter flat.

I think that what I was trying to say is that we can't actually change much in our flat, if we could I probably wouldn't be moaning in this Blog. I would have got insulation everywhere, changed the sole remaining light fixture not using low energy light bulbs and that probably would have been enough to reduce our heating bill enough not to care, but we can't and so I am moaning here.

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