Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Needs Vs Wants- Wasted Utilities

Welcome to this week's episode of Needs vs Wants, where I challenge the preconceived notions of what is truly needed to live a happy, healthy and fulfilling life.
Today's post is about utilities wastage.

I started this weekly series with this post in mind. I began doing something that people might think is a bit absurd or extreme and wanted to share this idea with you, but first needed to lay down the groundwork so you wouldn't think I'm too crazy.

Most frugal and green minded people know that you should conserve by tuning off appliances when they're not in use. Even so, it is amazing how many people just run things constantly even when they're not deriving any benefit from them, like those who listen to the water running while they're brushing their teeth, or always have a fan whirring just so that they can  have a breeze at the ready should they so desire one, or leaving a TV on for background noise. For those wishing to conserve, its easy enough to cut back on these wasted utilities- simply turn things off when they're not being used. Wash dishes using the water saving method, take submarine showers, and turn lights off when you are not present.
While turning off unused appliances is standard conservation, this post is about something a tad more radical- turn off utilities, even when you are using them.
Let me elaborate.

In my old apartment, the bedroom light would take its merry old time to turn on. Sometimes it would take as long as ten seconds for the bulb to flicker to life. In that time, I would usually would have come in, got what I needed, and left, all before the stupid light even began to illuminate the room.
I was turning on the light when I entered the room not because  I needed it, but because I'd been so programmed to flip on lights when entering that I would do so even when I derived no benefit from it, as the light wold only come to life after I left the room.

Once I realized that I was turning on utilities by habit and not because of need, I looked to see which other ways I was wasting utilities, when I was flipping on lights that I do not really need.
I started opening my blinds instead of switching on lights. I even began fetching things in the dark. Now I try to only turn on lights if a) there isn't enough sunlight to brighten the room and b) I'm going to be in the room longer than 2 minutes or c) I can't accomplish what I need to do in the dark.
I've made some interesting discoveries, namely that I know my house and belongings well enough to do most things in complete darkness. I can get things from most drawers and shelves in the dark. I can find my clothes and get dressed without the aid of any light. I've been showering and using the bathroom for enough years that I can easily do it in my sleep, hence I stopped turning on the bathroom light- I don't need it, even when using the toilet or showering.

Contrary to what you'd think, even doing this, my home is not a dark dreary place. We have lots of natural sunlight streaming through our many windows, and at night I do keep one light on in the central room of the house. We do have light bulbs in all the fixtures so I can turn on lights should  I feel like doing so.
I just see no need for it. In fact, now that I've stopped turning on lights by rote, and only turn them on as needed, I've begun to appreciate the feeling of serenity that comes with the muted light that comes through windows and doors, as opposed to the harsh unnatural lights that fluorescents provide.
(P.S. I don't know how much money I'm saving by doing this, but I am sure that every little bit adds up. Additionally, I don't feel inconvenienced, and I don't mind conserving for the sake of conserving, even if it doesn't save me millions.)

Do you think I'm crazy, or does what I'm doing actually sound like a decent idea? Have you ever noticed that you also turn appliances on by rote, even when they don't benefit you in any way?

This post is linked to Tuesday Tips

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