Monday, February 16, 2009

M'illumino di meno

The banner of the event
February 13 was energy saving day, organized by RadioDue radio program "Caterpillar", in occasion of the anniversary of Kyoto protocol.
The hosts of the program invited viewers to turn off as many lights and electric appliances as possible for one hour and a half, starting at 6:00pm.
They computed that it had been saved about 500MW, against the 400 of last year's edition, so it was a big success.
Besides private citizens, several associations and public sites participated, such as the Coliseum and St. Peter Cathedral at Rome. The event was also exported in some foreign countries.

Also in previous years, I always thought that this event has a big symbolic value, although a small practical one.
In the 2008 edition they estimated that the energy saving for that hour and a half was equivalent to the electric needs of the entire region of Umbria for the same amount of time. Sounds like a big lot, but, if we carefully consider it, the conclusion is that only Umbria region consumes 400MW of electric in just one hour and a half, so not a big lot at all!
Without mention that if for example one avoids to use the microwave oven during that hour and a half, most probably he will have the need to do it after, using then the same amount of electricity saved.

This year, Maddie, Mr. Bentley, R and I decided to try to do it (to tell the truth only R and I have the authority in this matter). We turned off the lights, the PC, the TV and the other household electrical appliances, also the ones in a stand-by position.
Except the telephone.
And the clockalarm.
And the fridge.
"I go to take a shower", i said... In the dark? I decide to take a candle with me.
Dammit, the thermostat that switches the methane heater for the hot water is electric. Another exception.
I exit the shower. And now how do i dry my hair? Well, i could have thought about it before, now i have to use the hairdryer.
Then i have to take some clean underwear. It's in the cabinet. And the opening of the doors switches a light into the cabinet. Well... could i ever stay in my robe till 7.30?!
After the shower I went out to get a couple of takeaway pizzas. The gate of the condominium is electric driven. The light of the condominium are lit, so are the street lights and the lights in the pizzeria. I don't think the pizzeria itself, even if it has a wood oven, could ever work with no electricity.
I went back home with the pizzas, being very careful not to light anything. We ate by candlelight (which is also kind of romantic, worthy of valentine's eve). Finally we hear the 7:30 tolling from the bells of the nearby church. They are electric driven.

I thought again about it. Saving electricity is very important, but this experience taught me that doing completely without it, although for one our and a half, is quite impossible.
The only thing to do is to use clean sources.


Rowena said...

We did speak of practicing "lights out" from long before. I say we continue to do so -- if anything, it kept the dogs quiet because they wondered what the heck was going on!

dario said...

Yes, we could do it every friday evening...

tychecat said...

I think you demonstrated the virtual impossibility of living your life electricity free.
Back when we were much younger (1970-84), my wife and I used to leave for our cabin in Maine as soon as school ended and come back to Florida the day before school started - about 10-12 weeks.
In those days our cabin had no electric hookup as well as no running water - or indeed any modern utilities except an LP gas bottle - which we had to haul in.
We could bath in the lake (cold!) and use Aladden lamps for light as well as a wood stove for heat. It was fun to be out of touch for a couple of months.
That cabin now has a road to the door and a couple of satellites for TV, computer, etc. as well as full power - from the generator on the dam at the outflow of our lake.