Saturday, January 24, 2015

Simple Living Checklist For A Working Pinay: On Water and Electric Power Consumption

Blame it to Michael Faraday who invented the first electric motor, almost 200 years ago, that electricity now became the most important commodity worldwide. It has remained ubiquitous in household, offices, and industries. People who got used to consuming it could not imagine how life would be without it; and then with services arising through the use of electricity, such as the provision of water flowing though pipes, it made our lives even more comfortable.

Timba and Tabo
Photo: Timba [thanks]
The everywhere presence of water and electricity almost made everyone thoughtless of its possible scarcity, or that people never realize that some constitutions of world humanity did not ever have facilities on both water and electricity. The Pinay Water Sprite was conscious about taking too much of convenience while others never had the experience of these "unlimited" goods. Today's simple living checklist is about how this Water Sprite consumed less of these two important utilities while thriving in modern-day economy.

Below is a checklist, but it starts with #25 because the first 24 checklist items were already taken in the previous three series:

Thus, the checklist continues as follows:

Simple Living Checklist #25: Watering plants early in the morning or after sun sets

Sometimes, the Philippines is blessed with rainfall and watering the plants was not a major concern. On dry months though, this became daily task to Water Sprite. Due to busy schedule at work, added with online tasks when off duty, the Water Sprite opted to water the plants every other day. Good thing, her beautiful bougainvillea never left her when she missed hitting that sprinkler. She was lucky, other plants like orchids and aloe vera needed no lots of water daily. The key to consuming minimal water on plants was to water it when the sun is low. The wet ground for the plants could stay longer, minimizing the requirement to pour too much water on it. 

Simple Living Checklist #26: Wearing only one color group of clothes for several successive days

It has always been a popular practice to separate whites from colored ones during laundry. This avoids color transfers on white clothes but picking just one color group of clothes and washing them all together consumed only right amount of detergent and water, while reducing to a single washer spins compared to separate spins on whites and colored. This idea may not always be followed because it is close to impossible to wear all whites for several days in a row but, this worked better on dark colored group of clothing when worn the whole week through.

Simple Living Checklist #27: Reusing Water

The Water Sprite used "used water" as much as possible. When rinsing clothes, for example, she gathered water out of the washer for use in washing some rugs or watering the plants. Reused water was also good for cleaning the floor.

Guilt: This guilt is on washing the dishes. It has been Water Sprite's practice to wash dishes through running water, out of wanting to finish the task immediately. Used water simply flow into the sink and she missed the opportunity to save more of this important utility.

Solution: Use a relatively large basin to catch the water so that it can be either thrown into the pots of the bougainvillea, or be used to wash dirty hand-towels.

Simple Living Checklist #28: Carefully hang clothes to dry

The Water Sprite always made sure she hanged all her clothes properly when drying out in the air. This reduces wrinkles and therefore eliminates pressing of clothes. No pressing means less power consumption.

Simple Living Checklist #29: Choose no-ironing-needed clothes

Those cotton shirts were nice to wear especially on hot humid days but it was always left inside the Water Sprite's closet because she always missed ironing (or put ironing to least priority). Only no-ironing-needed clothes were picked as no ironing means lower electricity bill.

Simple Living Checklist #30: Choosing an appliance with higher power factor rating

The Water Sprite used to own a refrigerator which she bought second hand in the year 1999. That ref probably was an early 1990's model or late 1980's. She had it working for many many years until she decided to buy a new one in circa 2009. In choosing a brand new ref, she looked for PF (power factor) close to 1 (or 100%); the pf is a such a technical term but if you are a layman, simply locate for the appliance's specification which include voltage rating, wattage, and of course PF. In using the new ref, the Water Sprite's month-term electricity consumption came to an average of 55 kilowatts only, so much lesser as compared to that prior to buying the later model of ref. It was up to as high as 180 kilowatts in a month-term bill back then. Thus the PF advantage for the appliance was indeed experienced on Water Sprite's utility.

Since then, an appliance of higher PF (close to 1) was preferred by the Water Sprite. The lowest PF given by the average appliances these days is about 0.6 (60%). A PF of 0.8 (80%) or higher is very common now.

Simple Living Checklist #31: Using induction cooker more often

The latest gadget bought in the market by the Water Sprite was an induction cooker. She decided to have one because she was convinced she could most likely eliminate wasted energy (and heat) brought upon by cooking in gas stove. This time again, the mechanics behind an induction cooker is a technical concept. For simplicity in describing what it is, the induction cooker runs with electricity. Unlike gas stove, it does not generate flame. It also does not come with a heating element like the usual (old-fashioned) electric stove. The induction cooker works only when a pot above it was detected. Such behavior is known as electrical induction. That means no heat (energy) was generated unless a cooker containing food or food ingredients was placed on top of it. Moreover, the induction cooker automatically stops when the cooker was taken away from it. These properties convinced the Water Sprite that she was not using up too much of electricity.

Simple Living Checklist #32: Roll up window blinds in the daytime

Sunlight is free! The Water Sprite sends gratitude to the Ultimate Source for providing us sunshine. During daytime, she tried to maximize the use of it by allowing the rooms to acquire light from outside. No need to switch electric lights on, while Feng Sui would probably say,
"Let positive energy get in the way."

Simple Living Checklist #33: Use mosquito net when sleeping

The Water Sprite lives in the tropics, so bugs including mosquitoes are too many. Mosquitoes can be avoided by installing tiny mesh holes on windows and doors, but these did not give perfect guarantee. A bug spray was never an option as it harms us, health-wise. Like junk foods, why pay for something that slowly kills us? One way to drive mosquitoes away was to leave electric fan running. On cold weather days however, those bugs were minimal but when mosquitoes persists, the Water Sprite took her cologne spray and filled the room with the scent. An aromatic candle, especially citronella scents, helped as well.

When retiring to sleep, it was just wise to install mosquito net. This way, electric fan was off.

Simple Living Checklist #34: Cleansing the body with tap water

The Philippines is along the Pacific Ring of Fire. It is also along the equator line. The many active volcanoes in the region, coupled with being closer to the sun made the climate generally hot. It was always okay to rinse the body with tap water. On colder months of January and February, water from the deep well contrasts the air temperature. It was like naturally heated. The Water Sprite's water heater then was rarely used. This does not mean that heating water for bathing was completely out of her world. Hot bath was occasionally the best type of relaxation.

In Filipino bathrooms, few ever have a shower or a bath tub. If a house has any of these, they will admit they rarely use such fixtures. Most probably it has been damaged and did not care to fix it back right away. The way they cleanse their body is to collect water into a container (timba), get the dipper (tabo) and pour a dipper-full of water into the body. If one wants lukewarm water for cleansing, he or she will take a kettle full of water, place it in stove, and then bring it to boiling level. The hot water will be poured into the timba and voila! Warm bath for one.

The Water Sprite's shower system was okay and she always fixed it immediately when dysfunctioning but, because she did not grow up in a household with such shower system in the bathroom and least likely to have a bath tub, she too preferred to use the timba and tabo on her daily body washing. The "telephone" type of shower was placed in the pail until the water was full. She bathed with "naturally heated" water coming from the shower. Water was distributed by the neighborhood's motorized deep well. The timba and tabo duo in Filipino bathrooms is a two thumbs up with regards to conserving water.

The Cost of Electricity in the Philippines is High

Majority of Philippine households (and even industries) rely on electric power supply from the grid. Most of the grid are fueled by non-renewable products like coal, diesel, and natural gas but, such fuels became import commodities. It hurts the country's economy to maintain power grids and therefore electric consumers, like the Water Sprite, suffer from paying high electricity bills. Despite the fact that there is a great potential in generating power out of renewable supplies (i.e., hydroelectric, geothermal, solar and wind), a great portion of such utility was produced by using non-renewable resources. This could be of political color, but the Water Sprite still wished for renewable energy resources being utilized countrywide. Are you one with her in this one?

A Good Investor Seeks a Socially-Responsible Business

This calls for everyone to raise awareness, not only on managing personal finances better, but on selecting or buying shares of stocks from corporations that are engaged in distributing power via renewable resources. A few of those kinds of power plants were listed in the PSE (Philippine Stock Exchange) which offer shares to the public. The Water Sprite thinks that a good investor needs to identify which PSE ticker are utilizing alternative energy, subscribing to hydroelectric or geothermal types of power grid, or installing solar panels (and/or wind turbines).

Related story: Christmas Greetings and the 7 Investments for Another Merry Christmas Next Year

To conclude, this article presented another Water Sprite's best practices towards simple living. She wanted to cut the cost of utility in the household so she could achieve her goal to save 30% of her income, build her emergency fund, regularly reinvest in her mutual fund account, and soon buy shares offered by the PSE. The checklist above may bring greater effects countrywide, and even worldwide. When done collectively, the quality of air and water (or the abundance of it) can be restored while bringing the country's economy to a higher degree. Taking non-renewable resources to lesser demand would free the country from importing it, and so the fund could be used in-house. Furthermore, the Water Sprite knows her environment, feels grateful about it, but thinks there's a need to be vigilant and to take actions. She sees her home (and possibly business) in the future being off the national grid by installing solar panels or wind turbine.

Related story: What Drives this Working Pinay into Investing?

The Water Sprite is a dreamer. She has the familiar fairy wand but she only strikes it into the air on rare occasions because she thinks that....
"You have a magical power too!!! And you can be a better influence to many people. You only have to own it."


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