Reduce, reuse and recycle (Part Seven)

This is my last post on this topic since it’s the end of the month. Tomorrow, I’ll go back to being extravagant and wasteful! (sarcasm)

I live in military housing. Currently at this post, we do not pay for our electricity. It’s free! There is talk, and some posts have begun the process, of implementing a system whereby our electrical consumption would be monitored, a baseline would be established, and those who exceeded the baseline would have to pay for their excesses (those who went under the baseline would get a cash reward as well). This sounds reasonable, but change is never welcomed by the masses, and the protests (including legal ones) have been slowing the changeover.

This is my first experience ever with military housing. Two years ago, I lived in a house I owned in the real world. I had gas heat. I had no central air (just two window units). I paid for electricity, gas, water, and sewer. I dressed lightly (and still sweated) in the summer, and dressed warmly (and still shivered) in the winter. We turned off lights. We used blankets. We went to other people’s houses on really hot days!

I must confess that this past summer (and the summer before), I reveled in the cool of my air conditioned house, and I didn’t care how much energy it took to keep it at a reasonably refreshing temperature. Why should I? It’s free!

Well, that’s not entirely true. I did try to be responsible. If I wasn’t going to be home for a few hours, I would turn the A/C off (or set it at a higher temp). I would try to open the windows, especially in the spring and fall when the night temps dipped low enough to cool the house. Frequently, I have lain in bed at night with my windows wide open to the sound of the crickets…and the sound of all my neighbors’ A/C units kicking on.

One warm day a few weeks ago, I had a nice breeze coming in the open windows, and I heard my neighbor’s A/C unit kick on. It was the middle of the day. The temperature was around 70 degrees. There was nobody home next door (between work and school).

It really ticks me off. And it’s why I’m in full support of the whole baseline electrical consumption thing. There is no other way to get people to conserve energy (short of a gun to the head!). Even I, who don’t like to waste energy (it’s been ingrained in me from my youth to turn off lights, close the door (we’re not heating the backyard, you know!), and pay attention to how I use electricity), can easily get lazy about it. I forget to turn the heat down before going to bed…I’m only going to be gone for an hour, so there’s no point in checking the whole house to see if all the lights are off…oh, the kids accidentally turned that outside light on; I’ll get it next time I’m in the garage.

According to most people, I should be in opposition to this plan. I stay at home. I homeschool. I have a big family. We use a lot of electricity.

I think we’ll be fine. I don’t expect to get any money back. But it might be fun trying!

These new houses have programmable thermostats. I had one of those in my last house, and they’re great. I couldn’t figure this one out, though, so for months, it’s been unused. Last night, I was at a neighbor’s house, and I saw the directions to her thermostat still tucked behind it on the wall (ours came like that too, but I loaned them out to someone else and never got them back – and then they moved away!). I borrowed it, and finally was able to program my thermostat! Hooray!

2 thoughts on “Reduce, reuse and recycle (Part Seven)

  1. I’d be all for it! I think getting things for free just encourages wastefulness. (Not that I don’t like a good freebie, but you know what I mean.) It’s all part of being a good steward of what you have, whether you paid for it or not. And ultimately, utilities for base housing come out of tax dollars, so you DO pay for it, in a sense.
    Plus, you as a parent and home schooler are setting the example for your kids, who may not always live in base housing when they are adults. They should learn good habits that are modeled at home.

  2. I agree, barb.

    Alas, though, any savings by reducing wateful elecricity consumption will go to the deep pockets of the private companies who now run housing here. So, once again, the taxpayer loses, the soldier loses (by having to pay if they do need a lot of electricity like me), but the big company gains. I’m still in favor of it…just wish the government had done it before housing was private!

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