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Opinion

Energy bills raise cost of comfort

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February 26, 2009

I used to argue that living off-campus was cheaper than getting a dorm. For all intents and purposes, it should be cheaper. But what I didn’t take into account was something called the energy bill-have any of you ever heard of this before? I hadn’t.

Apparently an “energy bill” is this piece of paper-quite like the check at a restaurant-that they mail out to you if you use electricity and you’re living off-campus. And I guess it makes sense-you use energy and then you have to pay for how much you use. New concept to me.

Last year, in South Fork Suites, I never got energy bills like this. And I used electricity like mad. I guess it was all included in the cost somehow, or something. I’d leave my window jacked open in the heart of January, but I’d stay nice and warm in my bed thanks to the industrial space heater I bought and mounted above my bunk. Eventually I even bought my space heater a space heater, so it wouldn’t get cold at night either. A month later, my space heater complained that it was TOO hot, so I bought it its own air conditioning unit. It’s all about balance, people. Everything in moderation.

Halfway through last year I stopped using towels in my apartment. I bought a cheap leather holster and began carrying a salon-grade hairdryer (1000-watt, as I recall) around. I used my holstered hairdryer to dry everything-my body after a shower, the dishes after a load in the wash and other people’s eyeballs if I felt like watching them cry.

The hairdryer had the unfortunate effect of sparking in me, for a short while at least, an interest in fashion and salons in general. I also was spending my time secreted away in the dark, away from The Sun. So I got a tanning bed and one of those special sunlights that beams endorphins into your retinas to make you feel better. Now this year I’m looking back mercifully-with no energy bills I had no idea how much it actually costs to run a tanning bed and a sunlight 24/7.

I felt guilty turning off my Xbox 360 at night-I mean, what did it do to deserve being shut down and unplugged every day? No, I left it busy crunching hotly through kilowatts all night, every night. It used to get so hot that I could cook chicken quesadillas on the side while simulating some murder in Grand Theft Auto IV. Oh, the memories.

This year is a vast change. Now that these slips of paper-these energy bills-are being sent to me, I can no longer blindly hoard energy to myself. I can no longer allow myself to disregard the financial costs of energy use. It was tricky at first-in my apartment the knobs that control heat are labeled “Comfort Zone.”

So of course-a knob that says that will spend most of its time in the ON position. But apparently, comfort costs. I’ve since had to part ways with my space heater, my space heater’s space heater and my space heater’s air-conditioning unit. Simply too much comfort for my wallet.

Now that I know that energy costs money (crappy, huh?), I am determined to struggle forward, one step at a time, without my hairdryer and my four space heaters and my endorphin lamp. I suggest you all attempt the same.

Joe Hager is a student at UW-River Falls.