Cut Energy Use

Entry by: Guesswho

17th October 2022
Every little helps.

Looking at the ‘Ephemera’ section of Hour of Writes with just twelve hours to go until the deadline for submissions, the lack of entries would seem to indicate that the subject of Energy Use is regarded as rather dry. After all, we are up to our eyes in the subject as if forms just another part of the general malaise that grips us as we are confronted by crisis after crisis, domestic and international.

I am sure that we are all well aware of what we as individuals can do to cut our energy costs and I have no need to list them here. Indeed most of us are trying hard, either out of need or desire to do the right thing. But we are still left with the feeling that whatever we do will make no difference to the overall situation. We feel helpless in the face of events we cannot control.

There is a theory called ‘learned helplessness’ that describes this and it is something we need to be aware of. Because we are bombarded with news of external problems that we as mere individuals have no power to influence, we simply ignore them saying that there is obviously nothing we can do and so we must just try to look after ourselves. We will hunker down and try to ride out the storm. This produces inertia, a reduction of self-worth and can even open the door to mental health issues.

All this is reinforced by the ‘Nanny State’, health and safety regulations, threats of litigation for negligence, unnecessary rules and advisory information, etc, which abound to dull our senses. I have only got to visit my local Sainsbury supermarket that has a moving walkway from the ground floor entrance to the first floor shop area to witness an example of this. As soon as you step on the walkway a recorded voice commands you to ‘stand still and hold the handrail’ and this is constantly repeated as you ascend. Not wishing to be controlled by a mindless recording, I always walk at that point and there is no way on earth that I am going to grip that bloody handrail! I am happy to make my own judgement and take the risk of tripping over my own feet. Then, going down I am berated with the same banal voice again stating the obvious, ‘be prepared to push your trolley off the walkway’. I am tempted to wonder what the alternative would be.

And what about the sign that tells us not to stand too close to the cliff edge. Are we not aware of the possible consequences?

Then again, about roadwork traffic lights on empty county roads where you can see that there’s nothing coming the other way. I make no comment on the legality or otherwise of such portable and temporary lights but, do you stop out of obedience to a mindless machine or do you assess the situation using the most brilliant computer that has ever existed and just happens to reside within your skull and proceed if it is safe to do so? In this case there is a fairly compelling argument that rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of the wise.

However, I cannot blame anyone for obeying such commands as we have been conditioned for years to do just that, regardless of their efficacy.

An interesting experiment took place in a small town near me where all traffic signs, markings and proper pavements were removed and a single sign declares the area (including a very busy large roundabout) as ‘shared space’. Suddenly, motorists and pedestrians alike are forced to wake up and look around and make decisions for themselves. This was instigated a few years ago and is still in place so, presumably, it is working.

Is this a glimmer of hope I wonder?

So, let’s all pull together, be alert, don’t overfill that kettle, switch off that light and believe that every little helps.