We switch off the lights, turn up the thermostat, make improvements to our house, recycle like crazy, but are our habits getting worse?
An article in the March 1,2010 article of Time, Less is Actually More, by Bryan Walsh contends that just like someone who binges on diet food (thinking it has fewer calories, they eat more of it, thus negating the benefit), those of us who try to reduce our energy use sometimes get complacent. The theory goes like this: you check your electric bill and see that you are using fewer kilowatts than this time last year. The next time you walk by the kitchen and notice the blazing lights, you think,' gosh we have been doing so, well, what would it hurt to leave them on for now? I will be back in 15 minutes.' And the energy reduction 'backlash' begins.
I can see evidence of this in my own household. We have made some big changes: turning down the thermostat, switching off lights, added insulation in the attic and garage, new windows, plenty of blankets and sweatshirts easily accessible. As a result, I have seen definite improvements in our energy use. Of course, now that I have shared that success with my family, I have noticed that they have been more casual about switching off the lights. Even I have 'bumped up' the thermostat on occasion (and I am the Energy-Enforcer).
This article was a great reminder that these changes and behavior modifications need to become lifestyle changes. Just like dieting, don't cut back so severely that the change is not sustainable over the long-term. Smart choices, small changes and an awareness of energy use is what we all need to continue our steady improvements in reducing our carbon footprint--and an awareness of how easy it is to back-slide!
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