Three weeks ago, basking in the unseasonable March sunshine, I virtuously turned off our central heating, vowing to keep it off till at least the end of September.
Conscious of environmental concerns around energy usage, and the skyrocketing costs, I was also thinking: “That’s one in the eye for Putin”.
Even if only a small percentage of the UK’s gas and oil comes from Russia, I don’t wish to use more than strictly necessary. Exercising support for democracy by limiting energy consumption seems like the least we could do, given the news.
Principles are all very well, but I have to confess – somewhat sheepishly – to turning it back on again a few days later as the mercury dipped below freezing and my fingers became too chilly to type.
Living and working at home, as so many more of us now do, can be a miserable experience if you are perpetually cold. And it can be dangerous to health if you or the people you live with are elderly, very young or vulnerable.
Research from Purplebricks, amongst others, suggests this week that energy prices are now very much on our minds when we are looking for property.
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In its figures, more than half of the house hunters surveyed agreed that they would be prepared to downsize if it was energy efficient to do so.
The trend is even taking hold among those aged 16-24, some 10 per cent of whom are reported to be downsizing, surprisingly.
In a strong sign that home buyers’ priorities are changing, the majority of respondents now say that having an energy efficient home is more important than having a large garden, utility room or office space.
If so, this is a sudden shift.
The 2021 Greener Homes Attitudes Tracker revealed that only 15 per cent of households believed to have an EPC rating of C or above was essential in choosing a property.
Certainly during the pandemic, buyers were reported to be looking for more space, not less. And whatever the motivation for a move to smaller eco-homes, it is definitely a step in the right direction.
But those of us not moving house can do our bit too. Gone are the days in our house when we absent-mindedly turned up the heating.
I’m embarrassed that it took a financial hit, as well as the threat to the environment and an actual war, to finally change my family’s behavior around the thermostat.
But my new plan is to heat mindfully, if you’ll forgive the use of one of this decade’s most overused buzzwords.
If using mindfulness can improve our mental health, the way we exercise and how we eat food, it is perhaps time to apply this same focus, enjoyment and awareness to the most basic of human comforts.
I may not be hardy enough to go without warmth at all, but I’ve turned the automatic timer for the central heating to the off position.
From now on, we will aim to only indulge on an hour-by-hour basis, and for every minute of warmth that results, I shall savor and be truly grateful.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.