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What are the costs of your emotions, in energy and money ?

(or how we reduced our electricity consumption by 30 % while increasing the family's well-being).

You have all experienced it: in any change situation, habits resist, so do the emotions associated with the narrative that we allow them to tell us. By exploring the emotions, why they exist, and the costs of not changing versus the benefits of changing, we can make sense of the forward movement. On November 15, 2022, I told my family: “We are going to permanently shut down our freezer, our wine cellar and our extra fridge”.

As I write this now, I'm downright ashamed that we've lived with these devices constantly on for the past 6 years. Nevertheless, during all this time, with our three children growing, the time available being reduced, and over other unconscious self-justifications, it seemed obvious to seek assistance in the these "essential" tools for our well-being.

You can imagine the reaction of my family: No more ice cream! Where are we going to store pre-bought ready meals, what are we going to do with leftovers that we freeze for later? We risk having nothing in reserve if the fridge is empty? How to respond to emergencies in the event of an impromptu visit? According to us, we were going to starve while we have 3 bakeries accessible on foot open 7for7. Wow ! So if it wasn't hunger, what needs did we have to satisfy that would justify having a freezer and 2 fridges on 365 days a year?

In our case, we realized that the freezer was on 365 days/years, to satisfy our need for immediacy (eg an ice cream immediately!) and the fear of others' gazes (having a cooked dish ready in case a guest arrives and "looking good"). Two emotions - impatience and shame - which are quenched in seconds by simply opening the door of the freezer (as long as it is filled).

Yes, "a few seconds of emotional comfort" against "365 days a year of electricity consumption".

What are the costs of these few seconds of comfort?

The costs of no-change:

  1. 1169 KWh over 3 months = €964/year, a lot of chocolate ice cream! (based on the average French tariff €0.2062/KWh).

  2. Packaging and trucks on the road to pack and deliver frozen products (ecological cost)

  3. Children who complain when the freezer is empty and become increasingly frustrated and impatient (emotional cost to the whole family)

To conclude, quick gains lead to long term losses. It's not new. Finally, we live very well without a freezer. The children go to the small corner store with their friends to buy an ice cream and reconnect with the outside environment. Besides, the ice cream that provided them with the dopamine rush to compensate for their boredom has become secondary. They take pleasure in going out, with the dog, and forget to come back for snack time. This provides healthy breaks to our brain which really needs it. Especially if we want to shoot to a more eco-centric rhythm of life (closer to the cycles of our planet) rather than an egocentric one (motivated by our fictitious needs).

Consequently, we have gained in the short term in well-being and economy, in the long term in less pollution and connection. I take this opportunity to recommend Roman Krznaric's book - The Good Ancestor - How to Think Long Term in a Short Term World. I hope it will soon be translated into French. For that, I am impatient.

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