2006-07-13 / View From the Middle

View From The Middle

Save Your Energy - For That Final Gasp
By Charles Rogers


We've been lucky, so far. Notwithstanding the temperature and humidity this week, we haven't suffered a great deal from the heat this summer.

Still, we keep getting notices from the utility companies telling us to slow down, we're goin' too fast; be sensible when consuming energy. They haven't stated it quite this way, but the gist is that, if we don't conserve, tomorrow could be the day the power blows (as it has at least once every summer for as long as I can remember); all that cool stuff in the fridge will melt and sour and be no good and unsalvagable and start to stink and well, it will cost more money in the long run - unless we turn down our air conditioners and slow down the fans and stand in the shade outside and BURST from the heat.

Now, I know that doing all those "just right" things are supposedly wise moves - because the State of New York Department of Public Service and the State Energy Research and Development Authority are harping on it, all the while forecasting that we should have enough electricity to meet the demand this year. Their words in a press release this week were: "New York's 2006 peak demand will be 33,295 megawatts (MW), 1,220 MW higher than last summer. Add another 5,993 MW for the required cushion and the total need is 39,288 MW." As if the "normal" citizen will understand all that "MW" business. Why don't they get UNtechnical and just say, "We're giving you more electricity than last year - but ya gotta help us too!" They're right, of course, but - puhleeze - don't explain it to me as if YOU, Mr. or Mrs. Electric Co., are doing it yourself; condescending stuff I don't need!

All this is well and good, but I have to take umbrage with some of the suggestions, such as: Use Air Conditioners Less or Turn the Temperature Setting Up. They say that, by adjusting the setting on your air conditioner from 72 to 78 degrees, you can save more than 30 percent on your cooling costs. I'm sure this is true, but how much will you have to spend on doctor bills by keeping your home like a hothouse in July? Seventy-eight degrees indeed! If I wanted to sweat that much I wouldn't have an air conditioner at all! And who keeps the thermostat at 72 degrees nowadays anyway? (Oh, pardon me while I get you a shawl!).

Meanwhile, we've got the wise guy weatherman telling us that the temperature is "finally going to be in the 70s tonight, so turn off the air conditioners, open the windows and get yourself a light blanket."

Say What? I'll "light blanket" him!..I'll go to his house and close all his windows! I mean, where does this guy sleep?

And, of course, these "energy czars" who tell us how to live (but probably have their own generator in the backyard of their home in the Hamptons) suggest we buy Energy Star appliances because they're so energy efficient we'll wind up saving bucks on our electric bill. Obviously, they want us to pay more for everything (and get less). It must be nice to be able to run out and get a brand new GE refrigerator - especially if you're a high muckety-muck in the Energy Department. I'm sorry, but I'll just have to do with my old ice box, thank you!

And back to those accursed weather people - male, female or take your pick - They look so sad when reporting there is a little rain coming. I happen to like rain. No, I don't want a deluge like they had Upstate recently, but I don't want to feel like I'm in Death Valley either. How about: "Well, folks, it looks like a front is coming that will bring some rain with it. Isn't that NICE?" Someone should tell them that rain is good. It's wet and will make flowers grow, so please don't try to force the propaganda down our throats that to have a stormy day is a good reason for suicide.

Back to the energy czars (I just can't get away from these nincompoops): They're telling us to make sure we pull the shades down in the daytime and BE SURE TO KEEP YOUR WINDOWS SHUT DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS! That leaves us with no air conditioning, a dark house, the ice is melting in the ice box and the windows are tightly shut, so that when we come home, if you want to call it that, suicide indeed seems to be the easy - and coolest - way out.

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