Should you see gloomy instead of sunny faces, when walking into any one
of Cortona’s bars and restaurants, don’t be surprised, the energy crisis is
hitting the sector hard.
A bar spending around E.2,300 for 10,031 kWh in July 2021 is now
spending E.6,950 for the same consumption. An unsustainable figure, especially
when one considers that domestic energy costs have also soared. (A genuine
With winter looming, the ‘energy crisis’ is taking precedence in Europe.
According to a RAI news article in its economic sector (25.08.2022) “it’s not just
the high-intensive energy companies that are having to deal with the increase
in prices (electricity has risen by an average of 138% and gas by 228%), but
also those companies affected by the general rise in raw materials. From bars
to food distribution, from transport to methane distributors to steel, paper
and ceramic industries. All very different sectors but with one common
denominator: the risk of closure.”
People are, naturally, calling for urgent measures from the government, but
given that the crisis follows fast on the heels of Covid, whatever the
government does, it’s unlikely to provide a safety net for everyone.
The knock-on effect will resound with us all. Inflation is already at
8.9% in the euro zone and likely to go higher; so, the question that begs
itself, is what can one DO to weather the storm? Unfortunately, there seems to
be a complete dearth of information as to how to really save on your energy
Presumably, this means there is actually no real way, other than to
consume less or, if you’re in a position to do so, use alternative forms of
energy. Do-able for some, but not for the millions of town and city dwellers
living in high-rise buildings or similar.
In an article entitled Gas Crisis – how to save money on your gas bill,
(RAI news online 24.08.2022) Italy’s national agency for new technology (ENEA)
gives the following suggestions:
thermostat from 20° to 19°.
central heating for one hour less each day.
turning it on at all by 15 days.
save E.178 over the course of the year.
Every penny counts as they say, but as advice goes, it’s pretty lame.
It’s also an insult to all those people who have always been frugal with their
consumption because they couldn’t afford hiked energy bills, even before the
The article also looks at alternative heating: According to the AIE (the
Italian Association of Agroforestry Energy), a wood stove - heating an area of
100 sqm - will save you up to E.900 per annum compared to the cost of using methane
gas (E. 1.650). A pellet stove – for the
same area – will save you up to E.700 per annum (although with the price of
pellets having almost doubled in the last year this figure is likely to be
untenable for the coming winter). So, if you are in a position to install a
wood stove (and even a wood-fired hot water heater), now is definitely the
One can be a little bit more pro-active when it comes to savings on the
A useful starting point, is this breakdown of the biggest energy use
categories in the typical (US) home.
Air conditioning and heating: 46 percent.
Water heating: 14 percent.
Appliances: 13 percent.
Lighting: 9 percent.
TV and Media Equipment: 4 percent.
More useful still is to sound out those devices that use the same power
in standby as they do when powered up. Older appliances like fax machines and
answering machines are a case in point. Microwave ovens don’t draw a lot of
power per se, but the clock display will significantly add to your annual bill,
as presumably do the clocks on various other appliances.
It all adds up! Especially if one considers how many appliances are
plugged into the mains 24/7 - coffee maker, toothbrush charger, PCs, charging
phones, always-on routers, DVRs, security systems, outside lighting, baby
monitors, smart speakers etc…. they all consume electricity.
The good news is that one can measure and monitor energy usage with a
simple and easily available gadget called an Electricity Usage Monitor
anything from E.6 to E.600+). It will tell you exactly how many kWh a device or
appliance is drawing…even when it’s in sleep mode or on standby. A top 10 list
of monitors can be found at this link: https://wiki.ezvid.com/best-electricity-usage-monitors
Timers can also be intalled – for as little as E.9 - on a number of
appliances, including broadband and Wifi.
If you’re looking for some tips as to how to make your home more energy
efficient here is a list - sourced from the Direct Energy website – which has
some useful insights. It is designed for US energy consumption, but quite a lot
of it is applicable anywhere.
Some of it is just good common sense - especially the last tip which is
General – home maintenance
your home by sealing cracks, gaps and leaks.
Ø Add insulation – it can save you up to 10% on
home heating and cooling costs.
Ø If your home has single-pane windows, consider
replacing them with more energy efficient windows, or adding solar shades or
replace all filters in your home regularly.
warmer months, close blinds, shades and drapes on the sunny side of your home.
Ø If you have AC this reduces its work – if you
don’t, it will anyway keep your house cooler.
shades during cooler months to let the sun warm your home.
leave your electronics on all day long.
on your computer, monitor, printer and fax machine when you need them.
leave your mobile phone plugged in overnight.
Ø It only takes a couple of hours to charge.
Heating – A/C
programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the temperature
according to your schedule.
thermostat to 78F in the summer and 68F in the winter.
Ø Every degree of extra heating or cooling will
increase energy usage by 6% to 8%.
Ø If you have A/C the fan will allow you to raise
the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.
Ø Avoid placing appliances that give off heat,
such as lamps or TVs, near a thermostat.
natural light when possible.
your light bulbs to LEDs.
your fixtures with a photocell or timer.
Ø This assures a dusk-to-dawn operation of your
the lights when they're not in use.
Ø Lighting accounts for about 12% of a typical
residential utility bill.
Stoves – microwaves
microwave instead of your stove when cooking.
in the oven while baking!
Ø Every time you peek, the temperature can drop
the oven a few minutes before cooking time runs out.
Ø Your food will continue to cook without using
the extra electricity.
Refrigerators – freezers
and freezers operate most efficiently when full, so keep your refrigerator and
freezer as full as possible (using water bottles if nothing else).
Ø Be careful about overfilling them as this will
reduce airflow and cause the appliance to work harder.
refrigerator temperature to the manufacturer's recommendation to avoid
excessive cooling and wasting energy.
your refrigerator and freezer before ice build-up becomes 1/4-inch thick.
Dishwashers – clothes washers/dryers
dishwashers and clothes washers/dryers at night will keep the house cooler
Ø (* in Italy, electricity is cheaper between 8pm
and 8am and on Sundays).
Turn off ‘heated
dry’ on your dishwasher and ‘air dry’ instead.
clothes in cold water if possible.
leave bathroom or kitchen ventilation fans running longer than necessary.
Dress for the weather.
Ø When you're at home, dress in warm clothing in
the winter and cooler clothing in the summer to stay comfortable without making
your heater and AC work harder.