Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saving NRG

My husband is admittedly Obsessive-Compulsive. He has high standards, and is as stubborn as a goat. Yes, I love this about him, but it also drives me nuts. Once he decides something is better, that becomes the law, and we can never do it another way again.

I can't buy cheaper coffee, because he prefers the fancy-whole-bean-freshly-roasted-ground-seconds-before-brewing-stuff, which he must go through a very careful ritual of preparing. This means that I never make the coffee, because he has decided that his way is best, and even if I do it EXACTLY the SAME WAY it won't be good enough because I probably didn't put the precise amount of pressure on the grounds when I tamped them which is unnecessary for an automatic drip but he's decided it's better so it has to be done. (Why yes, he's insane! Welcome to my life.) We must have the freshest of the fresh and the strongest of the strong and everyone who doesn't share our taste is a WIMP!!! If he prefers it slightly, we must have it because there's NO GOING BACK!!! It took 2 years for him to accept the fact that I'm not going to go out every single day to buy $4 loaves of fresh bread that's not even as good as what we got in France, because he had it in France and it was better so that's how it has to be!!! (Why yes, the urge to beat him over the head with a baguette has a strong hold on me...)

Then, the recession hit, we chose for me to stay home with Rowan, we had new bills for student loans and a car and a mortgage and he found out that one salary doesn't go as far as he dreamed it would. We had to cut corners. This was not easy for him. He got angry because the cupboards weren't filled with his favorite foods all the time, and he couldn't just go to the store and buy fresh croissants and cheeses imported from Spain and French wine because it wasn't in the food budget anymore. I made him eat potatoes (oh the horror!) and didn't spend hours preparing his favorite dishes because I was busy raising our daughter. Sometimes, dinner included corn. CORN! And we're not talking organic sweet corn roasted in the husks over mesquite briquettes--it was frozen, out of a bag. This was torture to him. So I began to get crafty, knowing his OCD nature, and to give new justifications for things. And it was working.

"I'm only going to the grocery store once a week, because it doesn't make any sense to waste the gas for several trips when I can plan ahead and go once. So if we're out of something, you can just be patient until the next trip." (Which means "Suck it up. So we're out of chips. Big whoop. You don't need them anyway.")


"I didn't get any cheeses, because they were all from so far away and required so many fossil fuels to bring them to us. I just thought that was too wasteful and bad for the environment."

So, he eats Vermont cheddar. And he likes it! You see where I'm going with this? Yeah, you could call me a loca lova volca local-food eater, but if I claimed that he would start to demand that everything we ate be grown within 25 miles of our door, and it would just get obsessive and overly expensive and I don't even want to go there. (I'll buy local when I can, promise.)

So we're doing things, a little at a time, and it's making a difference in our budget, and hopefully the environment, too. But still, we found our electricity bill rather high. He started doing research (again obsessively) and declared we had to sell our upright freezer. I suggested we start by unplugging it. Then, we had to replace the fridge. Which is a year old. He did more research, and found there would be no reason for that. He checked every appliance in the house. Nope, all new, all efficient. We got an estimate on replacing the windows. Holy big chunk of change, Batman. Nope, not gonna happen, so we looked into thermal curtains. We already had switched to CFL's, and I suggested he lower the temperature on the water heater. But still, it was bothering him. He knew there was something else that could be done that would magically fix the high electricity bill.

Last night, I had a dream that I walked in the bathroom and he had removed the light fixture from the wall.

"It's so you don't have the temptation to turn on the light," he said. "We can pee in the dark!"

I woke up soon after and told him about it.

"Sounds like something I'd do," he said.

That's it. I'm hiding his tools.

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