Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Day 17 Photo Challenge

A picture of something that has made a huge impact on your life lately.

A huge part of my job as a case manager is to qualify people for utilities assistance and counsel them on energy usage and conservation.

This part of my job can be really frustrating because there seems to be a misunderstanding of priorities with regards to paying utility bills.  Nearly all of my clients have cable, smart phones and car payments.  Some of them even have more extraneous expenses.

As a person who has really made an effort to live simply over the years, this frustrates me.  I have a hard time understanding why eliminating extra expenses that you cannot really afford is so difficult if you are at risk of losing your power or even your home. Today I had to explain to someone that it did not really matter if you are going to continue paying your cable bill if the electric company is cutting off your power and you have an eviction notice.  Common sense.  Seriously.

What this means for me is that I have been really conscious about my own energy consumption.  I try to follow all the advice I give my clients because there is nothing I dislike more than a hypocrite.

Here are some of the things I usually tell my clients:
1. Be aware of the concept of phantom energy usage.  Anything that is plugged into the wall draws energy.  If it is not your refrigerator, stove or a medically necessary device, there is no reason for it to be plugged in if you are not expressly using it.

2. The biggest energy hog in the house is a space heater.  Never, ever use them.  Shortly followed by the electric clothes dryer.  Use a drying rack or clothes line.  Plus, if you are paying for laundry, you save money by air drying.

3. Heat should never be above 68 degrees (down to 62 at night), and think hard about if you really need to use AC.  See if opening windows at night with fans and closing everything up during the day would be sufficient.

4. Keep the shades closed when it is hot and winterize when it is cold.  It makes  a difference.

5. Instead of adjusting the environmental temperature, adjust your layering accordingly.

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