Have you noticed the ads that are running for smart meters that measure our domestic electricity and gas usage?
The blurb says the objective is that they will help us make better decisions about our energy consumption and make it easier for us to change supplier.
But, being an avid conspiracy theorist, I can see a more sinister use taking effect…
…energy caps and fines for overuse.
If you think I’m over-reacting, there is a precedent. I live in an apartment block and I quite often get letters from the council because someone has put the wrong type of rubbish in one of the communal bins.
I always know when such a letter is going to arrive because the bins have not been emptied by the binmen; and, of course, the letter always includes the threat of a fine.
And I am not sure what the personal benefit of a smart meter would really be. Maybe it’s because the kids have grown up and I don’t have to keep on at anyone to turn off lights when they’re not in the room.
But there is a smart energy meter I would like to see invented. And that’s a true personal energy meter.
The thought struck me yesterday, as I was driving to my Spanish lesson. The usual Sunday cyclists were on the road, weaving from side to side and making it difficult to overtake on the winding road. The Sunday drivers were out; not bothered about anyone else on the road, as they dawdled their way along.
Suddenly what should have been an easy, relaxed 15 minute drive started to become stressful as I watched the minutes ticking away and the possibility of being late began to emerge.
Now you might say I should have left enough time, and quite possibly you’d be right; and I thought I had. But I could feel my energy usage rising as the stress built inside me (I hate being late).
Then, through my lesson, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I could feel my energy usage going through the roof; as my teacher put me through my mental paces.
When I got home 90 minutes later I was shattered. It would have been really interesting to know just what my energy usage had been.
As I thought more about it I realised that I waste lots of energy in really small ways. In no particular order, here’s a short list of things that I’ve wasted energy on in the last week or so.
- Getting irritated when we had to wait for 10 minutes on the plane because there was no one at Gatwick to open the terminal door when we landed.
- Worrying because my daughter didn’t reply to the text I sent her on Monday.
- Feeling anxious because my colleague was taking notes while watching me present at the management training – what was I doing wrong?
- Becoming frustrated when I visited the supermarket and they had run out of the very thing I went for.
- Getting angry because a bill I was expecting hadn’t arrived and when it finally did it was way more than I thought it would be.
All of these examples were very energy intensive. Not the way we usually think of energy; that is, lots of physical activity. Each example drained a little of my mental energy and the cumulative effect was; on Saturday I was shattered and had a couch potato day to recover.
I’m sure you have had similar experiences.
The thing is; the type of energy I’m talking about can’t be measured in Watts and Joules. The more I think about this whole issue of energy usage the more I wonder about how much more productive and good humoured I could be, if I had more information about and control over the way I use my mental energy.
Starting today I intend to become much more mindful of this, and I will report back when I have sufficient data.
If only I had a smart meter to help me.
Have a great week and see if you can spot when you’re wasting mental energy.