Things to do without electricity #21: writing letters to forgotten family. Photo by skippyjon via Flickr.
When a few dozen households on the Orkney Islands in northern Scotland turn off their lights tonight, they won't be switching them on again until Monday morning. They won't be watching TV or turning on their heaters, either -- or even using their refrigerators. Instead, they'll be camping out in their living rooms, telling ghost stories, and dusting off their old board games.Living in Turkey, I don't really need to create ways to remind myself of how dependent I am on modern conveniences -- periodic power cuts (and water cuts, and Internet outages) do it for me already. But not everyone has that, uh, advantage. Rachel DuBois and Malcolm Handoll, an Orkney couple interested in environmental issues, self-sufficiency, and transition towns, organized the Power Off Weekend to experiment with what they could do without and how they would respond in a crisis. Forty-six families are gearing up to power down with them. When asked what they hope to get from the experience, one participant replied:
An understanding of how we use electricity in this house and where we can easily cut our usage to offer economies both financially and ecologically. I hope that it will be an exciting adventure and may bring back some fond childhood memories. I am sure it will be a fun experience for all the family.
Another wrote: "We've got at least three different families coming by to check out life without electricity, and from what I'm hearing from other participants, it's become quite a social hub for many."
İş Bankası Goes Dark for Copenhagen
The Orkney families aren't the only ones experimenting with their electricity use. A major bank in Turkey is reportedly keeping its lights off -- baring those needed for security reasons -- during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen to draw attention to carbon-dioxide emissions. İş Bankası (link in Turkish) "went dark" Monday, the first day of the global summit, and will remain so until the conference ends.
The bank's move is a ploy for PR, of course, and, really, how many lights does an office need on during working hours? But such experiments have the potential to show just how much of electricity use is non-essential, and if enough people -- and, especially, big businesses -- can start to break the habit of flipping switches just because they're there, there might actually be light at the end of the the tunnel.
More about reducing electricity use:
Green Your Electricity: Take Steps to Reduce Your Energy Use
Can't Afford to Live Off-Grid? Reduce Your Energy Consumption: 6 Ways
Electricity Monitoring at Home Saves Energy on Gadget Use
These Smart Clothes Dryers Could Reduce Electricity Demand by the Equivalent of 6 Power Plants
Understand Electricity Consumption Better So You Can Use Less
Trend Watch: US Electricity Use Falls Significantly - What Will It Mean?
The Power Monitor: Top Tools for Watching Your Home Energy Use