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A Cure for Sleepless Nights

Sometimes it's easy to lie awake during the wee hours and wonder how we will cope when the seas rise and the electric grid fails. In general, I find I can push things to the background during the day, but they return at 3 a.m. During sleepless nights, the dire warnings of doomsday prophets and panicked climate scientists mingle with worries over government gridlock.


A friend said to me recently, "You do realize that nothing you do as an individual is going to change a damn thing." Well to me, that's just an excuse to throw one's hands in the air and give up. I may not change the world, but I do know I feel a whole lot better if I'm at least trying to make things right. So maybe the reason I'm losing sleep has more to do with my personal inaction than the state of the planet.



A message from the universe arrived one day in the form of a PECO energy letter. You know, the ones that say we are bad people because we're using more electricity than our neighbors. How can that be? I'm constantly running around turning out lights like a mad woman. I turn the heat down to the point that we're wearing jackets inside the house. When the kids come over, they wear coats and moan: Why is it always so cold in here?


It's cold in the house because I'm saving electricity AND preparing for a possible future failure of the power grid. We had a taste of this during a cold snap over Christmas last winter. It lasted for three days. But I don't say any of this out loud because I don't believe it would be well received. I don't say: Look what happened to Texas just last year. Okay, sometimes I do say it.


If I allow myself to spend too much time down this particular rabbit hole, sleepless nights pile on, and I end up being not much good to anybody. And when I'm really, really exhausted, the only remedies I can think of involve either eating cookies or buying shoes—so not good.


I've noticed that people in my life have several methods for dealing with the climate crisis.

They choose to either:


1. not deal with it, inserting their heads in the sand and living as if it's not a thing,

2. believe climate change is coming, but we have 100 years to make a course correction, or

3. rail at (read alienate) everyone around them who does not live by a particular code.


I would like to propose a fourth way. What if we acknowledged the reality of the science and the evidence on the ground? What if we discussed it with one another and set goals for ourselves to do better?


So, after receiving the you're-wasting-electricity letter from PECO, I went on a social media community group and investigated energy assessments. As it turns out, PECO has a very reasonably priced service starting from $24 for a virtual visit. I paid $49 for an in-person assessment.


Richard Kinback, friendly and efficient, came out and analyzed our most recent electric and gas bill as he toured the house. He identified the electric baseboard heaters as our primary electricity-guzzling culprits. He also found two old light bulbs we'd overlooked and replaced them with LEDs—at no cost. By the end of the day, he emailed me a report with recommendations and a list of contractors for larger projects.


So here's our list:

- evaluate whether we're using the most competitive green-energy provider for electricity,

- install a ductless heat pump in the house,

- get a smaller hot water heater,

- and my own addition to the list—buy an electric vehicle when I need to replace my hybrid.



All of this should be great, but the problem is that in two months since our assessment, I've only managed a few baby steps toward these goals. My usual contractor doesn't do heat pumps, and I'm not sure a second smaller hot water heater is going to be worth the expense. But shouldn't I at least get the estimates?


My mother used to say, "Do something even if it's wrong." (Usually this was in reference to homework) These words often come back to me when I get stuck because Mom was right, of course. Now Fridays are my climate-task days. During lunch I schedule a little time to get estimates on work or make political-action calls. These small actions offer a bit of a cure for sleepless nights.

And while I'm remembering my mother, another of her sayings comes back to me. "Rome wasn't built in a day." It's a good reminder that our adaptations are more like a marathon than a sprint.


Maybe during these times we also need to be kind to ourselves as we try create new ways of being. And maybe we're already doing some good things. So, do you carpool or take public transportation? Do you avoid single-use plastics (like those water bottles and grocery bags so many seem addicted to)? Are you keeping a mostly plant-based diet? Whatever it is, I hope it helps you sleep at night.


And one more thing, I'm planning future blog posts related to: big carbon ticket items such as food and air travel, resources for carbon budgeting, and the preservation of wild spaces. I am curious to know if there are other topics you would like to suggest. Please let me know. Thanks!

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RosalieAnn Beasley
RosalieAnn Beasley
05 de mar. de 2022

Your Uncle Bob took a diesel Escort and converted it to an electric car which he drove to work for 5 years. Took him several years (working on weekends) and cost him about $500.00 altogether but that's because at that time he was able to get a motor fairly cheaply and he got the car from a local junkyard. Unfortunately down here there's no reasonable way to use it and it would need a new battery pack which would be expensive.


We have installed a geothermal furnace to replace the original oil furnace which dated back to about 1940. The basic furnace is really a heat pump. The geothermal heat also heats the hot water in the hot water heate…


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dkane0819
dkane0819
07 de mar. de 2022
Respondendo a

Thanks for the tip! I'll do a little more digging... ;-)

Curtir

I don't mean to be stealing an idea that somebody much wiser than I once said, but a long journey often begins with a single step. I don't recall who said that, but that's how I try to live. I spend a lot of time in rabbit holes, and have discovered some weird paradoxes. We're concerned about plastic bags they give out in the supermarket, but we have no issues with buying things that are packaged in single-use plastics because we think they can be recycled. But the ones that can be reused are huge problem. When I was exploring this particular rabbit hole, I discovered that the companies that make these vessels (I don't know what else to c…

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dkane0819
dkane0819
08 de fev. de 2022
Respondendo a

Thank you, Carol. Yes, you're absolutely right about that. Companies that make plastics, like you said—a petroleum product, like to convince us that throwing a single-use plastic in the bin absolves us and them of responsibility. But most of it does not in fact get recycled! Grrr....


NPR did an illuminating, but discouraging exposé on this. If I were Queen, I'd ask everyone to listen to it. I will go try to dig it up—may be a worth more than one post.


I appreciate you chiming in, and in the interests of the planet AND better sleep, please feel free to do share again! Stay well


Dawn

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Great blog, Dawn. We, who worry about the environment probably all get hooked on different issues. Two of my pet peeves are people idling in their cars in parking lots while eating or looking at their devices. And also, the lawn crews that come through and stay for hours in our neighborhoods with their polluting fumes and noise. I’m a ‘dinosaur’ so I rake my leaves, and I’ve had battery powered mowers for years. I absolutely understand that many people may have less time or desire to maintain their yards themselves more quietly and with less machinery (blowers, edgers, etc); so maybe the solution is to get states to mandate better pollution controls on leaf blowers, mowers, etc. to reduce…

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dkane0819
dkane0819
28 de jan. de 2022
Respondendo a

Thank you, Judy. You know I’m with you on the lawn equipment. The leaf blowers drive me to distraction!

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dkane0819
dkane0819
27 de jan. de 2022

I am grateful for your kind words and the excellent suggestions. Yes, we're only human. ❤️

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Convidado:
27 de jan. de 2022

We all have things that we do that may contribute to global warming. Some of us....like you and your family.....are doing your part to help out. What and others like you should not do is beat yourself down for doing your part and mot feeling adequate.

Look around at the people when you get a chance. The houses they live in. The vehicles they drive. The life styles they live. They all live in abundance. To have it all.

They drive big SUV's solo. Yes, the maybe flex fuel or possible hybrids. But bigger is better. The constant traveling to other countries 'to see the world' when there are so much around here to see.

The house they live in…

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