How Much Does a Colon Cost?

My biggest issues in this 1 dollar a day challenge will be gas and utilities.The most immediate and noticeable change I am making to my routine is cutting back my use of electricity. First, I went all Buffy and slew the vampires in my house. One of the big things the “go green” articles tell you to do is unplug everything that’s not in use. Many electronics use a bit of energy even when turned off. It was easy to see the green glow of my DVD player and kill that.

The hardest vampire to spot was the microwave. It has black digits. All that appeared on the panel was a lonely colon, which would have divided the hour and minutes had I ever bothered to set the time.How much does a colon cost? Two dots the size of fleas can’t be too pricey. But I don’t need a personal colon on standby 24/7. I use my microwave maybe 3 minutes a day. So I ripped the plug out of the wall. Begone, power-sucking punctuation!

I also killed my radio alarm clock with the red digits. I will use my battery-powered alarm, which I think will use less power.

All the lights are off. The pioneers had it figured: it’s such logical economy to live by the sun. Fewer candles needed. I find myself putting up the blinds way more often to let in the light. When I am up outside the sunlit hours, I try to leave the lights off. I woke up at 4:30am yesterday and exercised in the dark. Usually I watch a movie while I exercise, or I wouldn’t ever do it. But do you really need a movie or even light to exercise, as long as you can find the weights and you don’t trip over the cat? I have all my exercise vids memorized anyway. I found myself orienting myself toward the TV even though it wasn’t on.

I am washing at least some of my clothes by hand and hanging them to dry. I may start using the miracle of Febreeze instead of doing laundry so often. The AC and heater are outlawed this month.

Right now the only power sounds in the apartment are the fridge and the laptop. The wind and the birds outside seem abnormally loud.

I am cutting my hot water usage, too. No dishwasher. I can fill the sink only a couple inches deep with hot water and still get the job done. No post-work hot bubble baths this month. And during my morning shower, I turn the water off while I scrub in the shampoo, then turn it on again to rinse. If I get up early enough, my hair can air dry. No blow dryer needed.

I wonder if I should start eating more of my food unheated? Or at least defrost the frozen soups for a day in the fridge before heating. That could save a few minutes of microwave power.

Every single time I flip a switch or turn on a faucet, I am thinking about how much it is costing me. I am rich in even having that choice. How many people in the world don’t? It is virtually unthinkable in this country to live without electricity. Yet humans did, for centuries. Even my padre remembers living in a house without electricity for the first few years of his childhood. I use this as an excuse to tell him he was born in the Dark Ages.

I am all for science and invention. How many diseases have been cured this way, how many lives saved? Most importantly, without electricity I wouldn’t be able to watch BBC. But I am struck anew—how quickly new technologies become necessities.

How much power am I wasting simply because I’m not paying attention? What other colons are lurking in the shadows of my apartment?

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