Energy Saving

There is a lot of talk about carbon prices and electricity prices going on at the moment and a study has just been released that says because an ETS wasn’t introduced the price of electricity is going to rise. So it would seem that whatever Government results after the election they will be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. 

I’m a big fan of lifestyle shows like Better Homes and Gardens, but sometimes BHAG really bugs me. Last year they had a segment on reducing your heating bills. Great idea, turn down the thermostat by a couple of degrees and you can make fairly significant savings on your electricity bill. My beef was that they showed Jo turning down the heat from 27 degrees to 26 degrees. Now I appreciate that for medical or age related reasons some people might need to warm their house to this extent. I’m not advocating making yourself sick or otherwise unwell just to make a short term saving on your electricity bill. But I’m thinking that most TAB people don’t need their house heated to ‘warm summer’s day’ temps in winter. I’m not advocating that everyone turn down their heaters to 18 degrees, but come on most people could at least chop off a couple of degrees and put on a jumper. Feeling hot? Turn down the heater again. 

My other big beef is that they talk about installing solar hot water – which don’t get me wrong is fantastic, I have solar water heating – but also assumes that you have a fair whack of money available to do it and own your own home, or a really really nice landlord.  Likewise changing to energy saving lightbulbs. The initial outlay is pretty high (for a lightbulb), even though the savings come later.

So, what I’m after is your tips on energy saving which don’t cost anything to implement. What’s the most effective washing detergent to use in cold water that your household has found? Is it really worth the effort to turn off  TVs and microwaves and other appliances at the power point? How do you get the kids to play outside? Anything, at all.

This is also an open thread for discussing lifestyle programs, hints and tips, anything house related that your would like to share.

Categories: environment, Life


39 replies

  1. I use Biozet washing powder in cold water, which I’m perfectly happy with, but I’m also not terribly fussy.
    My hubby has been talking about buying a gadget for measuring the power used by various appliances in standby mode in order to answer the question of whether it’s worth turning them off. At the moment we don’t, mostly because we’re lazy and the power points are all inaccessible behind furniture. I figure if we were going to turn things off we’d need to get powerboards with on/off switches on them and put them somewhere we can reach so that switching off becomes as easy as turning off the lights when you leave a room. Actually, writing this just now has made me think that if/when we renovate and extend I should get power points installed in sensible spots for this purpose in the first place.
    I have no problem keeping my heating bills down, it’s 16.6 degrees outside at the moment and I have all the doors and windows wide open. (But don’t ask me about our air-con costs come summer.)

  2. You can manually turn your hot water system on and off, depending on what time you tend to use the shower. For example, if you shower at night you could turn it off just before you go to bed (it often has its own switch in the meter box if it’s electric) , and turn it on a few hours before you’ll need the hot water again. This stops it heating up overnight when it’s coldest – the outside temperature has a big impact on heat loss – and stops you having hot water sitting there in the tank when you don’t need it. Even if you do have solar hot water, you can turn it off during the day so the booster isn’t working while the sun is out (that’s what we do).
    I’d still encourage the lightbulb thing, even though it’s initially expensive. If you rent, when you move house you can take your lightbulbs with you and put the old incandescent ones back in.
    You can heat your bedroom up and then turn the heater off when you go to bed, rather than keeping it on all night. If you hang blankets over the windows it’ll help keep the heat in for longer.

  3. I used to work with householders, especially low-income peeps, for a non-profit called COOLmob. I try to follow my own advice.
    You can’t get incandescent light globes any more, but if you still have any, use them until they blow, and preferably in the areas that you use less (ie the bathroom rather than the loungeroom). Halogen downlights are a real problem, each one uses as much as an incandescent, or about 5 times that of a fluorescent, and there’s usually about a bajillion of them, so they’re a real waster. Unfortunately, to change them over is expensive. If you use LED ones, each one is about $55 at the moment. If you want to use fluoro ones, you have to get the voltage changed, and that involves paying for an electrician, as well as the new downlights. However, they will last a LOT longer than halogens, and halogens are especially prone to blowing if your electrical system is a bit dodgy. Also, in rare cases the transformers used with halogens have caused fires. If you can’t afford to change your halogens over, take out most of the downlights so only one or two are on, or use a lamp instead.
    Solar hot water is great, especially further north where there’s lots of sun. (It is expensive to install though, with the $1000 rebate it’s still $2,500 or so.) I was fortunate enough to move into a house where there’s already a system installed – it’s pretty common in Darwin. We turned the electric booster off as we didn’t need it, so we have free hot water (the irony is that we don’t need it much, and not at all half the year – often the water feels too warm coming out of the cold tap). If you have to rely on electricity or gas hot water, turn the thermostat down. That means less heat leaks out. Make sure your tank and pipes are insulated, you can at least do a bit by putting some insulating stuff over the tank if it’s outside in the cold. Turn off the tank if you’re going away for a day or more. If you only need hot water once a day for showers (using a kettle for other things), you might even save if you turn off the tank, and only turn it on half an hour before your shower, you can get a timer. That doesn’t work for every system though.
    Cold water washing works fine in most climates for most things. However, I reckon icy cold water with really dirty clothing might not do the best wash. Front loaders use a lot less water than top loaders. In Darwin just about everyone washes with cold water because the water is lukewarm anyway.
    In Darwin there is a revolting surfeit of fridges, it’s not uncommon to have four fridges. Even if you’ve only got one, the older it is the more it will chew up electricity. An old crappy beer fridge will use up to 4 times that of a new fridge. True, the hot weather means things like medicines and spices fare better in there, but seriously who needs allll their beer in a fridge at once, and is saving on bulk meat worth it if the fridge costs a lot. So if you’re shopping for a second-hand fridge, try to find out how old it is and what its energy rating is – we ignored that and got a two star cheapie from the tip shop and I’m regretting it. will help with checking out fridges past and present. Oh and make sure there’s ventilation behind the fridge so it will cool, and don’t leave the fridge in an area where it will get sun, or constant heating!
    I have never had to give heating advice, but I did give cooling advice. You save something like 10% of electricity with every degree higher on the thermostat for air cons. I tough it out most of the time with just fans, though I am not altogether able-bodied and have lots of people telling me to hang the expense and just turn on the air con all the time. I hate being boxed up in a small room though, without doors and windows open. Fans on are essential for running the aircon, and aircons dry the air out, at least in humid climates, and make fans cooling the skin more efficient. Fans mean your thermostat can be higher (c’mon, 26 or 27 is fine for most people). Air cons are a KILLER for the electricity bill, a house without it in Darwin can use like 25kWh/day, a house with it on all the time can use like 70kWh/day. Me and my partner use about 12kWh/day, which is really really good, ah but she’s gotten a PS3 and leaves it on all the time cos loading Final Fantasy XIII is kinda borked so it’ll probably be more with the next bill.
    Consider putting up blankets or curtains to partition living area spaces, whether you’re heating or cooling. Encourage vegetation to shade areas of the house, especially west-facing, if heat is an issue. Put good curtains in, or blankets, into the windows, as a LOT of heat goes through windows! Pelmets (boxes at the top) are good with curtains, but not always possible.
    You can buy a little plug-in-the-wall device for $25-$45 from B*nnings, J*ycar, etc, that will not only measure the current wattage an appliance or power board is drawing, but cumulative kilojoules (kilowatt-hours) over time. Your electricity bill is billed in kilowatt-hours, a unit of energy. It’s handy for checking out what is using a lot and what isn’t, and you can focus your spoons on what uses the most. If you’ve got a plasma television, especially a large one, that shit is a KILLER for the bill, and the standby (when it’s “off” but the little red light is on) can be a stupid amount too, as much as an incandescent light bulb left on. Turn the telly off when it’s not needed. Old style CRT tellies can use a tenth of that of a plasma. LCDs are somewhere in between.
    I’m on the fence about standby electricity. On one hand it does trickle away slowly and steadily, on the other hand, it’s a pretty small percentage of the bill (usually about 2%). If you get an individually switched powerboard, and make sure it’s accessible to hands, you can turn off (or just pull the plug out for) individual appliances easily without having to think about it too much. It’s up to you really, and how dedicated you’re feeling.
    Oh blah… I could go on all day…

  4. One tip I got from the cloth nappy mob is to only use half the amount of washing powder that the box recommends. It sounds like a dodgy tip, but I’ve being doing it for over two years now, and will never go back.
    Unless you have really hard water, the clothes come out perfectly clean (I use Eco Store powder), and there is no nasty detergent build up in the clothes, and we don’t reek like chemical perfumes.
    And if you’re hanging clothes in the sun, it’s ok to wash nappies in the same load as clothes – UV does a great job of disinfecting, and you have less loads of washing to do 🙂

  5. Likewise changing to energy saving lightbulbs. The initial outlay is pretty high (for a lightbulb), even though the savings come later.

    The payback period for changing from normal bulbs to CFLs is excellent – around 1-2 years. And you can just do 1 at a time if that is all you can afford. As koo mentioned, if you’re a renter, just keep the old bulbs and swap them back in if you have to move.
    Those power monitors are great (and reasonably cheap < $20) for working out what is worth turning off and what is not. We have a whole of house power monitoring system which helps remind us if we have forgotten to turn something off (like a heater) when we go to bed or leave the house.
    Most modern TVs/Microwaves etc are probably not worth turning off at the wall because they draw very little power. Older ones you need to test to find out.
    If you have curtains, but no pelmets you can make your own pretty cheaply out of balsawood. It’ll make a measurable difference to heating costs in winter.
    At the margins, can do things like put as little water as possible in the kettle (just enough for what you need). Make sure that the area around the fridge is well ventilated as it has to work much harder to cool if the surrounds are hot.
    Lots of good stuff here: <a href="</del&gt; [editor note: website has changed, here’s a current link: ]

  6. Is it really worth the effort to turn off TVs and microwaves and other appliances at the power point?

    Modern AC to DC power adaptors can detect when DC current is being drawn and go into a sort of “trickle” no-load power mode where their output is a small fraction of their rating. No huge savings there really. Modern AC appliances which have internal AC to DC (or AC to lower voltage AC) conversion usually do the same. I think using these convertors in a product is part of gaining Energy Star compliance.
    Only older AC to DC converters just keep chewing up power even without anything plugged into them. It’s worth switching those off at the wall.

  7. Use of air con and heating is an interesting topic (to me, anyway), and is often more to do with our attitudes towards internal environments than anything. It depends on subjective preference and because of that it represents an opportunity to reduce energy use for no cost. I thought I’d throw out a few ideas, maybe a little controversial, and I’d be interested to know what you think:
    Excepting for those with special needs, or during particularly extreme weather, air con and heating is a want, not a need.
    Heating or cooling a space does not do any useful work, as opposed to a fridge, which stops food from spoiling, or a hot water system, which provides hot water for cleaning (with the same qualification as above).
    Houses dont get hot/cold. People get hot/cold. Therefore it makes more sense to cool or warm the subject, not the environment the subject inhabits.
    It’s reasonable to expect to get cold in winter and hot or sweaty in summer.

  8. Do you mean, Sam, the adaptors as boxes attached to power cords? Yes, some of those can feel hot even when the appliance is off, and I guess that’s what you mean by older converters.
    I just remembered that televisions in Australia are now required to have minimum energy performance standards. (Before then I’d ask a telly salesperson and they would have NO idea at all of comparative consumptions.) I’d expect a rollback of the increasingly bloated consumption that large new tellies were developing. I think the worst one I measured was 500W, with 50W on standby. Some similar size televisions would only use 200W, so there was great (and rather unnecessary) discrepancy between models let alone brands. I still am not sure of when a telly might be in passive or active standby, is it automatic?

  9. @calyx
    Yes, I mean the power bricks we all know and hate. Sometimes they are incorporated inside the appliance too.
    Plasma screens are very power hungry (I remember the early ones had really thick power cables that would be warm to the touch), but the newer LED backlit LCD screens are much better (in theory at least). Organic LED screens are meant to be even better again, but are taking some time to get to market.
    I’m probably saying stuff that people know now though.

  10. My husband did some reading and switched us to Omo “Sensitive” laundry powder, which got great reviews from Choice for being good in cold water and still doing a great job even if you don’t use nearly as much powder as the box suggests. Plus it’s hypoallergenic (which for me just means less irritating scents, but of course has more benefit for many people).
    Our big problem, aside from recent entry into car-ownership, is running a home server around the clock, it probably accounts for a fair amount of our energy bill. There are reasons I want to run it full-time, but it would be great if PCs would come up with laptop-like hardware, which is much better with power. (Some people use laptops as their home servers for that reason, but it makes swapping the hardware around a lot harder.)
    We (Currently Not Disabled, in Sydney) don’t heat and cool with fans, but I don’t know how long we’ll do that for. One flipside of telecommuting is needing your house to be somewhat comfortable to be in during the heat of the day.
    The other presumption with solar hot water is that you are in a house, not an apartment. I guess it would be possible for strata schemes to put in solar hot water, but I don’t know if any actually are. I find as an apartment dweller that a lot of “green tips” either don’t apply, or would need to be implemented by the owner’s corporation.

  11. We don’t really use a heater during the day at all, even when I’m working from home like I was today. I wear warm clothes, and a beanie, wrap myself in a rug and stick a wheatbag down the front of the rug.
    When we do put the heater on in the evening, we shut off everything but the living room (I hate going to bed in a warm bedroom anyway, so this is not exactly a sacrifice for us!)
    In summer we have a ceiling fan in the bedroom, a pedestal fan and a stand-alone evaporative cooler (which we like to put iceblocks in). We do have a split system air con, but we chose to have it put in the study rather than the bedroom so we’ll only use it if it’s really unbearably hot, in which case we can sleep in here on the sofabed. I also put the bathroom exhaust fan on when we open all the windows/doors in the evening to help suck the hot air out of the house. Fans generally use very little electricity. Oh, and we have an indoor/outdoor thermometre, so I can check when it’s time to open the house up (i.e. when it’s cooler outside).
    All our lights are CFLs, except one in the hall, which I replaced with an LED globe because it’s practically impossible to reach, and the LED is suppose to last around 20 years. Even with the energy-savers, I’m pretty much a fascist about lights being turned off.
    Everything gets switched off at the powerpoint, except the pvr, which needs to be on to record – even if appliances are only draining a little bit of power, why would you want to pay for it?? Our power bill is under $150 a quarter, so I think we’re doing pretty well. Computers are switched off, not put in standby when we’re finished using them, and we have a pretty energy efficient fridge (four stars – five are really, really expensive).
    And we use either Aware sensitive, which works great in cold and is unfragranced, or soapnuts, which also work great in cold (and which have a peculiar smell when you smell them in the bag, but which don’t make your clothes smell funny at all). We never wash in hot, and don’t have a dryer (with the consequence, admittedly, that there are clothes hanging EVERYWHERE in winter – bedroom, study, stair rail, living room, bathroom…) but we did have a pull out clothesline installed (thanks dad!) in the bathroom on the wall that contains our heating flue – anything that needs drying quickly hangs on that.

  12. Oh, and don’t underestimate how much warmer you are with an animal on your knee (I reckon my kitteh is currently adding several degrees of heat – we haven’t turned the heater on yet tonight). He’s like a furry hot water bottle in bed at night too.

  13. Our big problem, aside from recent entry into car-ownership, is running a home server around the clock, it probably accounts for a fair amount of our energy bill.

    Mary you’re probably aware of this, but for others reading – you can get low power servers these days. mini-itx based ones use about half to a third of a normal server and if you really want to get power usage low you can use something like a fit-pc which consumes only about 5-10 watts. May need a bit of extra power for external disk.
    Rebekka – agreed about cats – they’re hot water bottles that never go cold 🙂

  14. Pets are also an expensive luxury of the landed gentry.

  15. Linda, that’s a pretty ridiculous generalisation that shows a lack of understanding of the rich and very varied history of people and companion animals.
    And in fact as you’ve personally berated me for – in your opinion – not appreciating that dogs are a status symbol for “bogans” and that I am therefore “classist”, I can only conclude you are trolling.

    • I am also confused. My understanding was that peasants throughout history have viewed both dogs and cats as essential adjuncts to their subsistence farming – terriers are great ratters, other breeds help hunt small animals to supplement the food-pot, while cats keep the mice out of the grain store and the birds and bugs out of the crops. That they are fun to snuggle and play with would not have kept them domiciled by all levels of society for millennia on its own.

  16. @ Koo It’s reasonable to expect to get cold in winter and hot or sweaty in summer. YES!
    I currently live the US, where the expectation is overwhelming that no-one who should suffer moment of weather-related discomfort at any time. Where I live (in the rich suburbs just outside a big city) it’s expected to be “t-shirt weather” all year round. That means a perfectly comfortably 75F/24C whether it’s under six feet of snow like last January, or during a massive 100F/40C heatwave like now.
    I do my best to save energy by *really* simple things like adding blankets to our bed in winter, hanging out clothes instead of using the dryer, keeping our old “fat” television instead of buying a flat screen, and driving a Honda Civic instead of an SUV. These tiny concessions to the weather are considered pretty radical where I am!

    • Flitter, I remember when I lived in the UK that some of our neighbours used to do the house-heating until it’s “t-shirt weather” inside, and how astonished I was that they didn’t wear jumpers inside the house in winter, and the number of women especially wearing strappy shoes to go out even in mid-winter, rather than boots.
      The shops too were heated to the point that one had to take one’s coat off if one was going to be inside for more than a minute or two, and the shop attendants all wore short sleeves and had permanently flushed cheeks.
      I went over there well prepared with thermal underwear and layers for the winter, and unless I was actually hiking outside it was pretty useless, because I had to dress light and just wear a big coat otherwise I roasted whenever I went inside somewhere other than our own house.

  17. Admittedly this was a significant outlay of $ for me, but we just built a clear plastic roof over our outdoor clothesline. Sure, it takes a few days for stuff to dry in winter, but that’s why you wash stuff before you run out of clothes.
    I also second having a hot water bottle or a wheat bag (or a cat! but mine doesn’t always feel like sitting still) rather than a heater.

  18. Flitter – It’s crazy isn’t it? There are quite a lot of published thermal comfort studies out there which have shown that where people have air con and heating, they prefer it to be cooler in summer and warmer in winter – so they’re actually cranking down the thermostat in summer, up in winter – using far more energy than is necessary for basic comfort. For people accustomed to no air con or heating (natural ventilation), they prefer the opposite, because they appreciate that they can’t control the weather. It’s mad. It’s an addiction to air conditioning that spirals towards more and more energy use.
    Australia in general I don’t think is quite so extreme, but you’d probably find something similar in McMansionland where homes are built to be totally dependent on air con. But you can see it’s more to do with people’s attitudes and expectations than need or even building standards.

  19. I heat and cool the bedroom freely, because if I don’t, I get sicker. In winter I heat till I’m comfortable in trackies, a fleece, and socks; in summer, I cool till I’m comfortable in a cotton skirt and sleeveless top. The house is well insulated, there are wide verandahs, and our windows are small and not south-facing.
    I drive rarely – maybe once a fortnight? We’re a one-car household, and that car is garaged most of the time. When I do get out, it’s usually on a highly efficient electric scooter. I use the dryer when I’m too sick to hang clothes out; the clothesline when I’m up to it or there’s someone else around.
    Showers are short both for watersaving/energysaving and because standing up for a long time is a struggle.
    Most cooking is in the crockpot. This appears to be more energy efficient that a large electric oven, and it certainly saves energy for me because I don’t have to hover and stir.
    I don’t turn things off at the wall. Too much up-and-down to turn them on again when they’re wanted.
    The kids play outside when I tell them to go play outside. Never really had a problem there! We have plenty of balls, bats, totem tennis, a treehouse etc that they can amuse themselves with.
    Clotheswashing is in tepid water nowadays (with Omo Sensitive); we used hot when soiled cloth nappies were in the load.
    Our power bills are on the low side, and our water bills have long been way lower than average.

  20. Don’t have much to add, except winter is not the time to become a vegan, green energy is groovy and not much pricier than the other stuff, so are rechargeable batteries, the Oxfam shop is a really cool place to buy gifts, and here’s a sustainable seafood guide.
    I live in an apartment, but I keep a little garden of salad vegetables. Of all things, I’ve found the humble beetroot is the easiest to grow and the most useful. The leaves taste like sweet lettuce, and the actual purple bit can be used exactly like carrot. Tastes good in cake, too.
    And if you have pets, kangaroo and rabbit are probably the most sustainable dinnertime options. I’m lucky enough that my butcher stocks both, but I think some supermarkets have kangaroo now, for both two- and four-legs.

  21. Oh! And there’s a booklet called “The guide to ethical supermarket shopping” which I have found incredibly useful. It’s good for people who want to buy Australian-made, or fair-trade, or vegan, or just want to avoid certain companies.
    Also, anaemia is a really efficient method for keeping cool in summer, but I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone…

  22. Ethical shopping… my girls have just become palm oil fiends, checking every product in the house, and telling me which ones I am no longer allowed to buy.
    We use Omo Sensitive too (it was called Persil back in New Zealand), and I mostly do cold water washes, unless the clothes are particularly filthy. Every thing seems to get clean enough.
    I’ve encouraged the girls to wear layers of clothes – three light layers rather than one heavy one. Plus they all have woolen jumpers (sweaters / jerseys), which they love. When they were smaller they used to wear fleecy vests – great for adding an extra layer while still leaving their arms relatively free.

  23. Also, anaemia is a really efficient method for keeping cool in summer, but I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone…

    QFT. I slide off into anaemia unless I’m really strict about supplements, and it’s not all that much fun. It’s especially not much fun in winter.

  24. I wonder if Linda Radfem is trolling? The radfems I know, at least, are pretty pro-cat and quite often, pro-dog, except for the wildlife-killing aspect, and one dear friend sends me lots of low-income tips for keeping kittehs. Besides, one trip to a majority-world country would instantly disprove the idea that cats and dogs are only feasible for the wealthy of the world.
    Kittehs are NOT good for lap sitting in Darwin. They outright refuse to be lap cats because we hoomins are too hot, and that’s pretty common in Darwin. We blamed it on their slightly feral upbringing, but I reckon if we ever move somewhere cold, they’ll start becoming very friendly! They certainly get friendlier with the air con on, and one day we plan to turn it down to a freezing amount just to see what happens with them.
    It’s pretty ridiculous in Darwin to see all these new developments springing up that are DESIGNED for air con. Low-lying, open gardens (with lawns – ugh), DARK coloured roofs, open plan, and CONCRETE walls – duh! You should see their electricity bills. The old now-considered-outdated Queenslander-style houses are the ones that are MUCH more comfortable for non-air-con living, and indeed many clients I visited who lived in these houses never bothered with air-con. They are angled on the block to catch the prevailing breezes, are raised up, are made of materials that don’t hold heat, have light coloured roofs, and are surrounded by plenty of vegetation that shades and keeps a moist cool microclimate. *sigh* One single mother who was landed with a rare affordable apartment with a CONCRETE roof replaced by the landlord after Tracey blew the top off the place, was so hot, and so couldn’t afford enough air-con to keep her and bubba cool, that I actually suggested (aided and abetted by her disparaging comments about Darwin) that she consider moving down south where it’s much more affordable to live.

  25. There is a long and complicated history between HAT and Linda which I’m not going to go into, but I wouldn’t say she was trolling. Linda has her views and while we don’t always agree comments that abide by the comment guidelines, as hers does, are welcome. I don’t know enough about Marx or Trotsky to know where she is coming from and I may be completely off in my guesses too.

  26. A wool blanket (many op shops have them and they clean up nicely in a bit of wool wash) is great for warmth and drapes very nicely over two people on a couch of an evening, then comes to bed pre-warmed. Spotlight usually has sales in Spring where you can get a new one at a considerable discount, but it’s still not cheap. They’re also good for hanging in a doorway for insulation if your door won’t close, or if you want to mostly close it but still let pets in and out.
    Keep your fridge as full as possible – it works more efficiently when full of solid objects than when full of air, and there is less change of temperature when the door opens. I am yet to think of a way to manage my freezer effectively – the best energy rating I could find was only 2 stars.
    I’m sensitive to the flickering of regular fluorescent lights and cautiously installed my first CFL last year but have had no problems with it at all, so now I’m slowly replacing them through the house.
    A question for the people with halogen lights – I have only one room in the house with halogens and I’ve never needed to replace one. Are they simple to replace? I was given an LED light but I don’t know if I can replace it myself.

  27. Empirical observation aka reality is a good adjunct to theory, I find. Also, some people love finding the opportunity to be oppositional, it makes them feel special and righteous.
    Halogen downlights differ in their removal method. Some fittings have two little wires that you squeeze together to remove the bulb. With others you have to unscrew/rotate the ring around the bulb, and the whole thing comes out. Doesn’t matter which of the two prongs on the bulb are fitted to the prong sockets. I’m not explaining it very well, sorry, can anyone else help?
    I didn’t know anaemia caused feeling extra-cold. I’ll let my partner know – she has both.
    I definitely think expectations have a lot to do with whether people are prepared to put up with temperature fluctuations. People tend to prefer to continue in the manner to which they are accustomed, or find ways to become even more comfortable. It’s really hard to persuade people to become less “comfortable” (which hurts until you then become accustomed to it). It’s the curse that drives our consumerist society, because comfortable usually means resource-heavy.

  28. It’s really hard to persuade people to become less “comfortable” (which hurts until you then become accustomed to it).

    Or it hurts, and keeps hurting, and gets worse and worse, and has wide-reaching repercussions for health. It would be nice for PWD to be included in “people” and “you”, y’know? As Mindy did in the original post.

  29. @calyx, re: cats in Darwin, what you want is a Siamese, they are such heat hogs our old one on the 40+ days summer before last was curled around the heat vent on my laptop for extra warms.
    @Mindy, considering Linda had previously accused me of being “classist” for (bizarrely) not supporting dog ownership because in her opinion it’s “bogan” to own a dog, I’m pretty sure she’s trolling. Needless to say, I totally support responsible dog ownership – I have a dog!

  30. Looking for a response yes. Lets leave discussions of trolling there, much more interesting things to talk about.
    @ Rebekka – a very cute one too.
    Back to pets as warmers – we made a mistake when the eldest cat was a kitten and let her sleep under the covers. Now she still wants to do it, but the biggest problem is that once under she decides to stake out her territory so anyone getting too close she claws. Not a fun way to wake from a deep sleep.

  31. Sorry, lauredhel, I was generalising about people *willingly* relinquishing creature comforts. Those people who don’t *need* air-con but would feel very itchy and grumpy til they got used to it like the millions in the tropics who don’t have it. In my head, PWD don’t tend to be so willing about it, but I realise it came off badly, because I didn’t include a disclaimer/exclusion. Certainly myself, I have had to make a LOT of compromises in terms of being environmentally responsible, since I got CFS, and it took me several years to stop feeling bad about it. Certainly also I’ve visited a lot of householders with disabilities who I’ve encouraged to keep using air-con (rather than dissuaded them with a para about global warming) and try to get some help with the bills. I used to be of the completely feral persuasion comfort-level wise, and was all set to live in a self-built hut by a river in NSW, when I got sick. *sigh* I am very suburban these days, my footprint is large, I even fly to Melbourne for health care. But that’s okay. I deserve it. If I get healthy again, I feel bound to reconsider these ‘luxuries’.

  32. I’ve been using about half the amount of washing powder recommended for years now. It’s worth noting that firstly, the recommended amounts are for a large load of very dirty clothes, and secondly, the nice people at the detergent company have a vested interest in everyone using more washing powder, since it pushes their profits up. If you’re a family with a couple of office workers (or any other job which doesn’t involve heavy physical labour all day every day) and older kids, you can probably get away with less washing powder unless the water in your area is really, really hard.
    My big bugbear is heating, mostly because I have a thyroid condition (hypothyroidism – broken internal heating) and lousy peripheral circulation, which means when my hands get cold, they *stay* cold, and therefore nigh on unusable. At present, we’re in a rental house which is basically one large area, and it’s all heated off a single fan heater (max output 2000W) which I tend to only use at night. Most of the time, though, I’m using non-electrical means of staying warm – lots of layers (I’m currently wearing knee-high socks, leggings and jeans on the bottom, and a t-shirt with a windcheater on the top) and lots of rugs to huddle in. Add to this that I’ll open up the blinds first thing in the morning to get the morning sunlight on the floor of the main room (concrete slab, so plenty of thermal mass) and that my bed is currently decked out in flannelette sheets with a doona then a crocheted blanket then another doona on top.
    Drying space is another of my ongoing concerns, particularly since we’ve just come out the other side of the traditional week of wet weather, and as a consequence the laundry is a bit backed up. Most of the time I’ll hang things out on the clothesline, but in the middle of the winter rains, we go for an airing rack under cover on the verandah out the back.
    Summer cooling is done by the simple means of opening the doors and windows when the breeze is blowing. Given I’m living in Perth, this means I keep an eye on the time of day, and when I see the sea breeze kick in, I start opening the house up. No air-conditioning – we have a water cooler and a couple of fans. But summer is when my thyroid problem works for me, because I don’t get as hot as fast (I can manage to have freezing cold hands in the middle of a 40C day in midsummer and get uncomfortably cold in the freezer section at the local Woolies) so I have to admit I don’t really notice the heat until it gets up past the old century mark (38C).

  33. I just need to correct The Amazing Kim on her comment about rabbit being sustainable – most Aussies assume that the rabbit you find in butchers is wild caught, and b eating it you are decreasing our feral rabbit population.
    Sadly, the reverse is true. By buying rabbit (which is commercially and intensively farmed) you are creating a market for rabbit meat, and actually increasing the rabbit population.
    Also, rabbits eat their own poo. Some people think it’s a bit gross to eat an animal that practices coprophagy.

  34. @Mindy: “we made a mistake when the eldest cat was a kitten and let her sleep under the covers. Now she still wants to do it, but the biggest problem is that once under she decides to stake out her territory so anyone getting too close she claws. Not a fun way to wake from a deep sleep”.
    Sorry, I’m sure it’s not fun, but I’m LOLing none the less 😛
    Our cat also sleeps under the covers, he loooves it. He gets between us and stretches out to full length sideways until we’re both right on our respective edges. But he has never clawed – he actually likes being squished, far as I can make out, and will let you cuddle him with both arms actually wrapped around him.
    @Lara, depends on where you get the rabbit. I feed my animals kangaroo, but when I can get them I get rabbits from friends who shoot. And I can’t see how raising your own rabbits for meat would be unsustainable; you can raise rabbits entirely on grass and fruit and veg scraps, their poo makes excellent compost, and there would be no carbon kms… I personally couldn’t bring myself to do it, having kept rabbits as pets, but I can’t see an argument against it from a sustainability perspective.

  35. Ja, I should have mentioned that you should ask your butcher whether the bunny was farmed or feral. Fortunately feral rabbits are required to have a big red stamp on them, so there’s a clue.
    I was recommending it for pet food, seeming as cats have to eat some sort of meat, but it’s probably not bad as a people-food either. Pies and that. And as far as I can tell, all biological beings have a variety of disgusting attributes that’ll put you off your breakfast, so the sooner we all become cyborgs that run on sunshine and hugs the better.
    /end derail

  36. We have a really inefficient open fireplace but I’m fortunate that I acclimatize reasonably quickly in winter as do the kids and so the 12 degree night we had two days ago felt comfortable without us needing to light a fire. In terms of overall energy consumption though, we are probably always going to be on the high side as I have to wash lots of bedding, including mattresses on a daily basis. I was lucky enough to get funding for an industrial washer which is reasonably efficient but still, I do about 3 or 4 loads per day in winter. So far I’ve managed without a dryer but we had 2 1/2 metres of rain last year and getting stuff dry was a bit of a nightmare. If bedding is wet but not soiled I wash in water without any detergent at all and actually, if I think clothes are not actually dirty but in need of a refresh, I will wash those without detergent as well. Otherwise we use Eukenaba which is around $40 for a 10 kg tub that lasts easily 6 months. We got ours from Mitre 10, I think it is fairly widely available.

  37. Whoops, that’s Euca not Eukenaba. It is safe for greywater and septics.

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