THERE ARE A LOT
OF SIMPLE WAYS
TO ACHIEVE YOUR
it says, this leaflet in our mailbox today. It’s from my local electric utility, Hydro Ottawa, and the provincial government. The deal it’s offering us is that if we use 10 per cent less electricity between July 1 and Aug. 31 this year versus 2006, we’ll not only pay appropriately less on our bill, we’ll also get 10 per cent knocked off some future bill.
In Ontario, summer, is peak consumption time (it didn’t used to be, but then everyone got air conditioning; in Quebec, interestingly, winter is the peak consumption period, because of all the places with baseboard electric heating), and the province has had some close calls in the past few years. In 2005, we even had mild brownouts when electricity generation and importing couldn’t keep up with our … uh, thirst for power.
Things are better now, not as strained, but if it’s the long hot summer they’re predicting here, there might be some tense afternoons all the same. So the people responsible for supplying the power — publicly owned companies, generally — have an obvious interest in getting Ontarians to cut back.
We won’t be getting this credit, I’m very confident. Why? We’ve already cut back (or, to be precise, never scaled up). Hydro Ottawa offers some tips for cutting our power consumption, and none of them applies:
- Use fans instead of A/C, save 25% — No air conditioning here. A fan is blowing over my head as I type.
- Turn up your A/C thermostat by 3 degrees C, save 15% — No air conditioning.
- Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows, save 10% — Not really a summer solution, given we keep our windows wide open when we’re home. Presumably aimed at people with air conditioning.
- Set your pool heater thermostat back by 1 degree C, save 7% — Don’t actually have a pool heater thermostat. Nor a pool, come to that.
- Use a clothesline to dry your clothes, save 5% — Nor, in fact, a yard. Do you know you’re delivering these to apartment buildings?
- Run your dishwasher only when it’s full, save 5% — We do dishes by hand.
- Wash laundry in cold water, save 5% — Already do this. Makes each wash slightly more profitable for the Coinamatic people, probably.
- Turn off lights/computers/TVs when not in use, save 5% — Could always be better on this, I guess, though the figure probably doesn’t apply if your lights are compact fluorescents.
- Get rid of your second fridge, save 3% — We only have the one, and it belongs to the landlord.
The lesson? Don’t do the right thing because it’s the right thing. Wait for a bribe. Wait till they’re desperate. Also, if you possibly can, have a pool.
Seriously, what would be wrong with cranking the price of electricity up to the shocking levels it reaches on the spot market when brownout conditions are approaching, and letting the fools who blast their air conditioners and heat their pools and run their dishwashers just because they like the sound — letting them pay through the nose while I swelter cheaply?