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A Busy Week

Wow, that was a really busy week. I'm not used to being busy at all - back in the day I had all the free time I could possibly imagine. Maybe it's about time to revisit polyphasic sleep? Here are some things that made me busy :

Work, of course. I've been waiting for weeks for a company to send us a new computer for our data center that lets me do fancy things. Last week it seemed like every day was going to be the day that it would be ready, so I would just wait all day for it to be set up. Then there would be some problem, and the process would repeat itself the next day. Finally this week it got all set up, so now I have more to do than I have time for. Yes! I love having things to do. It just so happens that this particular task is really fun too.

My car broke AGAIN. I have a 1994 S600, which is known to be one of the hardest (read : most expensive) cars to maintain. The reason is that it's a V12. Since it's basically two V6 engines stuck together, it also has two of a lot of components. Twice as many things to be broken. It also has a hydraulic suspension, which is what broke on mine. Of course this time I didn't take the car to the dealership.

Saving Energy

On Happy Human

Energy costs are high and rising - an increase of around 9% expected in prices in the UK pushing the average annual bill to £1,450 ($2,350; €1,705). It's a political hot potato and both the British Prime Minister, David Cameron and Energy company Centrica boss have recently been criticised for being out of touch and crass for suggesting people wear a sweater or even two to keep bills down.

But they could have a point. It's easy to blame the energy companies and the government and expect them to fix it so we can continue as before. Energy is something we take for granted. Central heating, insulated walls, double-glazing - for many we've never had it so warm or comfortable. We sleep scantily clad if at all, get up in a pre-set, temperature-controlled house, have long hot showers, get into warm cars, or heated trains to go to warm offices. In the Netherlands, where I'm currently living, it's still possible to wear a shirt to the office and not feel cold. This seems wasteful and wrong, especially considering the impact on the environment and the ever increasing demand for energy leading to controversial new sources of energy such as shale gas.

Are we as consumers really doing enough to save energy and reduce our consumption and our bills? If we all did a bit more we could collectively reduce demand and our environmental impact and save some money too.

To be clear, I'm not talking about the poor elderly person on a state pension sitting in front of a one-bar gas fire, wrapped in blankets too cold to make a cup of tea to warm up. When you're that poor, out of sheer necessity or desperation you already do what you can to save money.

As a consumer, I know I can still do more both to save energy and money. Our monthly fuel bill in the Netherlands is an eye-watering €270 (£230; $375) per month. The average here is €150 per month. We, a family of four with two teenage boys living in a 130 sqm (1,400 sqft) house, set ourselves a challenge to reduce our monthly bill by €100. It's the latest stage of our conscious effort to live more simply and reduce our impact on the environment.

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