Yesterday, after I finished posting here, I read an interesting post on Grist that linked to a Wall Street Journal article. To find their link you have to go into their 'more news' listing. Here is the link to the article directly. Power companies, it seems, are concerned over a sharp drop in electric usage especially by residential users. They have all based their business models and projections on a sustained rise of 1-2% per year. However, this year has seen a drop in most markets across the country. I am not surprised and I hope the drop is due to a new sense of frugality that will be sustained beyond the current economic travail. Again, I feel somewhat like the canary in another coal mine. We have never been profligate with our energy usage. We aren't comfortable when the air conditioning is set so low that our house feels like refrigerator or the furnace is set so high it feels like an oven. Last year we set our temperatures to 70 in the winter and 85 in the summer. This winter we reduced the temperature to 68. And we are still quite comfortable. Over the last couple of years we have also become more conscientious about turning off lights when we leave rooms and have installed power strips that we can turn off to reduce the electricity our appliances use when we aren't using them. We unplug other appliances. In spite of the ups and downs in the prices our power companies charge for gas and electricity, our bills have remained the same or declined. Our landlord has also helped. Over the time we have lived here, some nine years, they have put new siding and insulation on our building, new tighter-fitting doors, new efficient air conditioners and furnaces into all the apartments. When we needed replacement appliances the new ones have been much more efficient and they recently installed new low flow, energy saving faucets the electric company provided. Perhaps, large parts of the population are catching up with us. (What we find truly amazing in all of this is our landlords have not raised our rents in all the time we have been here. Knock on wood.)
A few days ago Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By noted a study showing deep dissatisfaction among the nation's primary care physicians. Today CNN picked up on that story and interviewed on official with one of the industry associations. He made an interesting point. We already have a shortage of primary care doctors in this country and the problem will only get worse. Doctors are leaving the field in larger numbers than their replacements are coming into it. And the problem will become more critical if any of the plans for expanding health care programs go into effect. That will simply increase demand with no increase in supply.
I recently noted how much I hate our twice-yearly time changes. I have seen several bloggers echo my own complaints. For many years, Mom and I shook our heads and wondered if the time changes really did save the energy that the proponents claimed. It simply did not make sense to us. It has made even less as we have moved into a 24/7/365 world. I did see one blogger last year who like the change because her children did not have to wait in pitch darkness for the school bus. I think that could be remedied if the schools simply started one hour later rather than make everyone shift their clocks back. Thanks to Ronni (again) for a link to a New York Times op-ed piece that details a study done in my state of Indiana. It supports the conclusion my body and mind came to years ago: the time shift costs more than it saves. Once upon a time, when people consumed most of their residential energy through lighting and before central air and heating became ubiquitous, the practice did save energy. But the times have changed.