I'm a bit of an armchair environmentalist. I do more than most but am not fervent about it other than I drive a Prius - a great car even without the 45 mpg - recycle and shop at Whole Foods. So sure, I raised my daughter to follow these steps but you know how kids are, they resist our fine teaching. Until they marry a man who takes this stuff seriously. The guy's German, pretty much of a stereotype I suppose, tall, light-skinned, good looking with nice sense of humor and very intelligent. Can fix things easily - I have a ceiling lamp switched out in ten minutes.
I mention all this as a way of introducing Wattson. I actually don't know Wattson. I was just reading my daughter's blog - some days the only way I can see what the grandkids are up to, hello call me - and found out my son-in-law, in the interests of energy conservation - he's way beyond carbon cap and exchange, so last year - because for now they live in Germany, a place that's really cold. Heating bills bite. (In the interest of disclosure I live in Hawaii and my condo does not have a heater but I do have central air but it's under building control and I can turn on or off, high or low fan and I think temp control but am suspicious that it's not a real choice. But I digress.)
I read my Sierra Club magazine and keep up with most environmental information so imagine my surprise when I learned that they had installed Wattson in their home. Wattson, for those who do not know - and since he bought like the 400th ever, that includes a lot of us - is a machine that regulates energy use. When you're in the acceptable zone it glows a serenity inducing blue (unless it's maybe four hundred below zero outside and you're toes are nearly the same color.) But when you crank up the TV, computer, washing machine, electric guitar, well, suffice to say Wattson emanates RED. Red inidcates that Wattson is in a snit.
You and I might be able to ignore a crochety machine but kids do not. Once they grasped that Wattson was displeased they are on alert. They will yell out at the first glimmer of orange, "Mommy, Wattson is RED, We HAVE TO TURN STUFF OFF!!" Having been warned about touching electrical stuff , they continue yelling while jumping up and down and pointing until an adult steps in to sacrifice virginal amps to ease Wattson glare.
I'm not sure this will solve the energy crisis. Talk about a long list of things to do. But like the most successful diets and financial plans, it starts with recognizing what you actually eat or spend. You can't stop what you don't realize you're doing. By seeing what days you're overusing or if you return from errands and Wattson is red, next time take a minute and turn switches to off. Or before you leave a room. (My father was so ahead of his time on this.)
My son-in-law wants to go completely off the grid with solar panels and a new energy efficient heater - that's another blog post that due to German engineering no one has yet figured out how to work it. I've read stories here about people who are off the grid but usually they live in the wilderness and it's by necessity, but in Europe where costs are higher and supplies lower, the government makes it a lot easier. Our American spirit seems to think that a government that regulates energy use in somehow a bad thing, except that it already does - it just supports the other side. That's really clever marketing - to stop energy conservation by complaining about government intervention while at the same time getting massive tax breaks.
Wattson would glow bright red at that thought.