See that bin on the left?
That's our rubbish bin.
No, not the big one.
But that little one.
The teeny-tiny one on the left-hand-side.
Yes, I know it looks like an ordinary bathroom bin, but it actually is the main one for our household waste, and resides in the kitchen.
The bin on the right-hand-side used to be our rubbish bin, but during my very first zero waste challenge, it was promoted to handle our recycling. As our rubbish gradually got lighter and the bin bag became slimmer, we didn't need such a huge bin, so downsized a little...or rather a lot.
During the last few years we've also been doing the same with our energy usage. However, unlike rubbish, it's much harder to visualise the impact if your energy source gets delivered through pipes and wires.
Wouldn't it be great if you could look at that small bin and pat yourself on your back with great satisfaction knowing that was all the energy your household used in a week instead of needing that huge bin.
Before I even begin to blow my mind with musings on the actual size of bin we would need to demonstrate that, there are simple tools that can deliver the kind of information needed for analysis, and that's in the form of an energy monitor. An energy monitor tracks how much electricity you’re using translates that into amount of money you’re spending by the hour.
We bought one several years ago and had so much fun. The children were even distracted from the TV and instead spent several evenings running around the house turning lights on-and-off and helping me to start the washing machine, dishwasher and oven. I was just relieved they couldn't find the switch for the fridge\freezer or I really would have been in trouble.
But energy monitors aren't just fun for entertaining the kids, they're great for adults too, not that Mr A and I indulged in similar games of running around flicking the switches mind you! STOP IT! No, we'd look at the digital display and rub our hands together in a scrooge-like manner thinking 'Kerching' when pondering the savings made, while my mind distracted itself towards gorgeous vintage jewellery or shoes. Wrong I know, and I've worked hard at improving my attitude since.
Soon everyone will be using them. The government has set a deadline of 2019 for all British households to have smart meters, gas and electricity meters that also monitor energy use. British Gas has already started upgrading its customers.
Since we've used our monitor, it's made me think twice about regulating the temperature of our radiators, making more efficient use of our hob & oven and even the amount of washing we do. Where I used to bung everything in the washing machine after each wear, stuff now only goes in if it doesn't pass my quality control tests, i.e. having a whiff of it first. And we hardly use our tumble dryer these days, preferring to air-dry the washing instead.
But I know we've got to work harder. Leaving on the various computers remains a problem for us (sometimes three can be running, talking amongst themselves, while we all sit down for dinner or are distracted by something on TV), which is why I've agreed to follow the Smart Mums Watt Loss Challenge.
Maybe I should get another bin, for recycling our Waste Electricals and if I see no progress, I can threaten to bung the computers in there. Ah, there's nothing like a spot of visualisation to inspire results.
And don't think I'm immune from my threat. If you don't see me again, you'll know my husband has read this post and has recycled my laptop for leaving it on when I should have turned it off!