2007/04/01

What could you do without?

Vacation almost over...back in Sodom by the Sea tonight, but in the meantime:

The Atlantic Monthly has an interesting article in their March edition comparing people's attitudes 1996 and 2006 about what are 'necessary' items. I find this intriguing, as I already lack 3 items on this list due to my living circumstances, and could easily live without 4 others.

Here's the list. What do you think?

Home Air-conditioning -
For me, this is a no brainer. It's frankly unnecessary here. But that said, I think that most of us could do with a lot less air-conditioning. My parents keep their West Texas home at a frigid 68 degrees, and I've found that I can remain comfortable at a temperature at least 10 degrees higher. In 100+ degree heat, that's a lot of energy.

Microwave -
Easily. In fact, though I have one, I use it maybe twice a week.

Car Air-conditioning
Again a no brainer as I don't own a car. But I do wonder... Is it even possible to buy a car these days without air-conditioning?

Home Computer -
Absolutely not! This is a essential tool of both my work life and my private life.

Cell Phone -
You know this one is interesting. Compared to land lines, cell phones are a bad deal for most of us, and I don't do the kind of work that requires that I be reachable at all hours. Do you?

Dishwasher -
Could I live without this? Definitely! Would I want to? No! The plain fact is that a full dishwasher is more energy efficient and uses less water than washing dishes by hand.

Cable or Satellite-TV -
Easy...I gave up cable a year ago and don't miss it.

Hi-speed Internet -
Not on your life. As with my computer, it is now the indispensable tool.

Flat-screen TV -
To the extent that you need TV, you should immediately go out and replace your plasma or CRT with an LCD. The energy savings is tremendous.

iPod -
Love it, but I could live without it.

20 Comments:

I replaced my expensive landline phone w/ just a cell.

Need the computer, need broadband, can't believe I once used dial-up!

Don't have an IPOD yet. I don't know why. I own over 3000 cds and listen to music constantly. I guess I have to enter the portable digital age.

Don't own a car.

Love my air conditioner. Can't live w/out it actually. That's my one very guilty pleasure. But most of the year, my electricity and carbon use is quite minimal (I live in studio apartment, don't own car, don't take taxis, don't fly, buy locally, etc.)

We use our dishwasher like a dishrack - the just washed dishes go in there to dry! Every once in a while, I have to run it just to clean it!

Of course, in the larger scheme of things, I could live without all of these things. When I was a kid in the 70's, I had no air conditioner, no computer (obviously), no microwave, no dishwasher, no cable and no portable musical device and I lived just fine (except for the afro and big collars...)
Gotta have the puter and fios. Gotta have the AC here (or hibernate in the basement all summer). The car is probably my biggest indulgence. . .I have to have one, and I want POWER. =)
Not much life sustaining, but many on the list require subsciptions and monthly payments.

I'm Trying to eliminate those.
we have simplified our lifestyle here to a degree most americans could not tolerate. all it took was not being 6-figure wage earners.
Speaking as a middle-aged, menopausal woman prone to multiple, daily hot flashes, I couldn't live without air conditioning in my home or car.

I know that's bad, but I do manage to save energy in the winter when I dial down the thermostat to 64 degrees. :-)
Looks like everyone will live lives of substantial energy use.

It's inevitable and irreversible.
Could live without:

Cable
Hi-speed Internet
Flat-screen TV (TV in general, really)
iPod

The rest I would really, really, really miss. We go through so many dishes, and I need my cell phone so the school can call me to tell me my 5 y.o. got a scratch on his back, and they're hoping we won't sue....
I could live without all; but, I wouldn't want to live without most. Though, dammit, I don't have a flat screen.

Dishwasher, other than your point that it is more energy efficient, isn't necessary. I mess up on the efficiency by heating up water at the sink and rinsing and scrubbing before I put the dishes in.

Don't have an iPod or MP3 either. Don't need them given XM on DirectTv, CD's and not bad FM here.

The Microwave isn't necessary but is convenient for warming and defrosting.

I want an HD flat screen.
I may be able to live without air conditioning, but my dogs can't. They have shmushy faces and can't cool themselves like other dogs.

I could live without my microwave, iPod, dishwasher, and cell phone.

Computers, broadband, cable TV, and television? Forget it. You'd have to pry them from my cold dead hands first.
Happy 1001st, Kvatch!

I COULD live without most of the things on that list ... EXCEPT A/C! Summers in my UT desert reach 115+. But, the newer more energy-efficient high SEER-rated A/C units have resulted in a lower monthly elec bill than 30-yrs ago in Palm Springs when I lived in a house half this size. We plan on custom-building our next home & are looking into geo-thermal to take advantage of the constant 72-degree below-ground temps here.

Kathy (above), I am singing your song. I have fans going all year round & have been known to go walking outside at 4-AM in 20-degree winter weather wearing only my cotton pj's! ~~ D.K.
Could live without all of it, except my computer. Even the internet I could live without, but I write my scripts and my music on the old 'puter.
I don't have half those items. The computer and the broadband, I agree, you gotta have it. I especially need it to keep in touch with loved ones half a world away without breaking the bank. The cell phone is essential for those of us who travel long distances to work.

I could do without the dishwasher, the cable TV and the iPod, and the rest I don't own.
Interesting list, Frog.

Home Air-conditioning -
Don't have it, don't need it. On the few days that the coastal heat is unbearable, I do have ceiling fans. On the other hand, our condo building has ceiling radiant heat. In five years, I've turned it on twice.

Microwave - I have one, I use it for convenience items, and could live without it.

Car Air-conditioning-they don't make cars without, but I don't use mine. Windows are quite nice.

Home Computer - I could give up the CPU, and just use my laptop. I dunno.

Cell Phone - Well, I'm not a rocket scientist or neurosurgeon, so I don't need it really. But when I travel to Chicago to visit Granddaughter, it is my work phone.

Dishwasher - NEVER give one up. It is cleaner, and more efficient than hand-washing dishes.

Cable or Satellite-TV - I could give it up. I did, in Chicago, for several years. Now I'm just lazy and haven't.

Hi-speed Internet - Could not go back to dial up.

Flat-screen TV - I have LCD

iPod - Oh, I love mine. It's perfect for my gym workouts. I like my music better than what they play at the gym.
Home Air-conditioning -
Bought my first home with AC in 1998, after living in an oven of a house. Will never buy another house without it. I am a creature of coolness.

Microwave -
I use mine quite a bit, actually.

Car Air-conditioning-... Is it even possible to buy a car these days without air-conditioning?
See above ^ I'm not sure, probably not. I have a certain cheap-assed relative who special ordered his car without it. "Why should I pay for the gas to run it when I can just open the window??" he said. He found out the hard way what the lack of an air conditioner does for the resale value of the car. One of the first questions the potential buyer would ask was "Does the air work?" When told it had none, "Sorry, not interested!" *click* He ended up cutting the price quite a bit to dump it. He learned his lesson, and hasn't done that since.

Home Computer -
I wouldn't be without mine.

Cell Phone -
I'm convinced I was one of the last people in America to get his first cell phone two years ago. I find I use it quite a bit more than I thought I would. But I don't answer if if I don't feel like it. It serves me, I don't serve it. If I don't feel like answering it, I turn it off.

Dishwasher -
Not only is it more energy efficient than hand washing, it does a MUCH better job sanitation-wise IF it's kept clean.

Cable or Satellite-TV -
I watch almost NO big four network TV. In fact, the only network show I watch is 24. That's it. Everything else I watch is on cable channels.

Hi-speed Internet -
I have a freind who had high speed until they moved to an extremely rural home. He loves the location, but really, really, really misses the hi-speed.

Flat-screen TV -
The TV I bought about 7 years ago is working fine, and I've no plans on replacing it anytime soon.

iPod -
I don't own one, probably never will. My sons have theirs. I've tried it, and I can't make those stupid "buds" stay in my ears. Besides, I have no compulsion to have music bombarding my brain every waking moment. In fact, when driving alone, many times I'll turn the radio off and enjoy the peace and quiet. I've a sense people are wedded to these things, listening to music constantly as a way of disconnecting with their own brain. Almost a drug of sorts.
I live in a small cave.

Although I am quite the friendly cave-dweller, my raggedy-ass Neanderthal appearance strikes terror into the inbred hearts of the variety of redneck native locally, causing young mothers to stuff their children hurriedly into the pick-up, turn the air on, and drive away as quickly as possible while making a call on their cell phone, that they might return to their ranch house and run the dishwasher, iPod blaring, while their cubs are seated before a satellite broadcast on an LCD TV, awaiting pre-packaged microwaveable meals while downloading crap via broadband.

In short, my misbegotten presence on this wretched earth inspires torturous amounts of energy usage.

I am so glad we have had this chance to talk.

I will now return to my cave....
Interesting how we rationalize our use of the technologies we find most useful/convenient. Cell phones, for instance. When not as many people had them a lot of people were freaked out about brain damage. Now you never hear about those worries.

Home AC-- I live in Seattle. When it's too hot we open the window.

Microwave-- They use a lot of power, but they're on a relatively brief amount of time. On balance I think it's more efficient for some purposes.

Car AC-- Unlike our homes, Seattle cars become solar ovens in the summer. Now that freon is banned the issue is the electricity to run the system, right? We have a Prius, so a good part of the electricity is recaptured.

Computer-- Why is this even on the list?

Cell phone-- Don't have one. Working Assets is making it hard to totally swear off the possibility of getting one, though. How do I quantify for this equation the loathing I have for the sound of the ringer on my landline?

Dishwasher-- You're spot-on, it's more energy and water-efficient.

Cable/Satellite-- Our TV broke recently, but I'm not cancelling the (basic) cable since I have cable internet, I think I wouldn't save that much by stopping the TV part.

Hi-speed internet-- indispensible for us plugged-in people. The only alternative would be if a coffee shop with free-wi-fi were to move in next door.

Flat screen TV-- See above. I'm going to try to find an old TV to use until they turn off the analog signals, the the LCDs should be cheap enough. Or maybe just a converter box, I'm not nearly the high-end videophile I used to be.

iPod-- We have one: we hardly ever use it. Frankly, I listen to news, baseball and NPR on the radio more than I do music.
Interesting sidenote on dishwashers: There was an article awhile back about how first-generation Americans tend not to use dishwashers because they just don't think they can do an adequate job. One major appliance retailer adjusts the Spanish language versions of its advertising to omit dishwasher sales. I guess this represents an area for environmental education.

Here's the article-- I love the Google.
OK...I'm back in the saddle so to speak.

All great comments, I'd like to respond them them all, but hey...I'm not no_slappz. So let me just make a couple of points.

I guess the issue with Air-conditioning is how we use it not that we use it. I frankly find many buildings to be too cold in summer. In a hot climate, what is so wrong with keeping the temp at 78 or even 80? If you're wearing light clothing I don't find those temperatures uncomfortable. Of course I was raised in a hot, Hot, HOT climate. So maybe I'm used to it.

The point with cars is well taken. If you don't have air-conditioning you can't resell it.

Regarding TVs: LCD's use a fraction of of the energy that a CRT or Plasma uses. So like any "energy saver" appliance, you should just get one as soon as it's practical.

Regarding Cable: I got rid of mine because simply put: It's a lousy value proposition, but there again, I have DSL and won't give it up, so cable Internet is not an issue for me.
Home AC - mine broke 4 years ago. Eventually I'll get it fixed, will HAVE to in order to sell the house, but for now - no rush. Never had AC as a kid, don't miss it now, except maybe 8 days out of the year.

Microwave - got one. Use it on average 2-3 times a week. Since I live alone, I make large meals, then freeze them in individual meal containers. It costs less to run the "nuker" for 2 min. to heat them than it would to use the gas stove for 10 min., or to heat the entire oven for a single-serving.

Car AC - also broken. No plans to repair.

Home computer - essential.

Cell phone - have one, but no plan - just "pay-as-you-go" minutes that don't expire for a full year. $50 has me set for an entire year, and sometimes I have to WORK to use them up come the end of July.

Dishwasher - essential. Have had one since 1959 when the folks built their house, and have no intention of ever living without one.

Cable or Satellite TV - what's that? What good is a monitor without a keyboard?

Hi-Speed internet - essential.

Flat screen TV - what good is this? You can't keep the candles and incense burner on top of one without fear of burning the wall. Again the whole "what good is a monitor without a keyboard" comes into play.

iPod - I have a cheap portable USB MP3 player that I never use. Won it in a company party raffle. *shrug* I don't see the point in purchasing an ipod just for the name.
I got wireless internet and tv. Can't live without them. Have 3 cellphones for kids and me. Hate em. I got kids-thats my dishwashers. No AC in house or car is turned on unless above 100 outside. Lcd is much better, just as the led lights for automotive is better. Welcome back.

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