Tuesday, May 09, 2006

busy days... arranging interviews and preparing for a visit from my parents.

I was thinking this morning about energy conservation -- prompted by the hot water shortage as I was washing up and simultaneously running the washing machine. It seems to me that the differences between Italian and American housekeeping have everything to do with energy and water conservation.

Some examples of ordinary Italian energy-savers:

There are no clothes driers here. None. Brilliant! Clothes dry on their own if you just hang them out. My apartment is equipped with an ingenious indoor, invisible, space-saving clothesline. My laundry disappears into the rafters for a day until I take it down crisp and warm from the hot air that wafts there.

Likewise with dishes: why dry the dishes or waste energy having a dishwasher superheat them when you can put them in a rack? Better yet, build the rack into the kitchen cupboard over the sink where the water can drain safely. Attractive, easy, no-brainer.

Hot water heaters don't need enormous reservoirs kept continuously heated. My Italian water heater only heats water as I consume it -- the trick here is to limit the volume used to give the heater time to keep heating. So running the appliances and showering at the same time is impossible, but that seems a small price to pay. Also, the water heater gets turned off when I'm not around. No consumption, no energy used, no money lost.

My favorite: the big flush / little flush. There are two options for the toilet, depending on how big a flush is needed. I don't think I need to explain. little flush saves water.

Sparing use of air conditioners -- I don't know anyone who has an air conditioner in their home. Shutters keep out the sun during the day, open windows let in cool air at night. Ok, sometimes it is uncomfortable. But there are none of those unpleasant moments when you enter a building in sweltering August to find yourself flash-frozen. I think the building materials -- stone and concrete rather than wooden houses -- make this more realistic.

BICYCLES! goddamn the organization of the US around private automobiles. I hate cars. The advantage to living in a city that predates the automobile by millenia is that it is maladapted to car traffic. I am often the fastest vehicile on the road on my bicycle. Here we live closer together, travel shorter distances, and get more exercise biking and walking. Tangentally, about exercise -- the popularity of 'spinning' is mind boggling to me. Get on a real bike and go somewhere, d@*#(&!

And on that note, I'm off to buy groceries, on my bike. self-righteously.


Blogger James said...

Here are some interesting energy conservation tips for rental housing.

September 11, 2006  

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