Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Public service announcement.

I am possibly becoming an agent of what the British contemptuously call the Nanny State.  I don't know what the French equivalent of that might be 'l'étât nounou' perhaps? I've really no idea how many people read here who live in this region, and of them most are probably better informed than I am, but it can't hurt to forward the information.

The cold snap here continuing, electricity supplies are becoming precarious.  This is not, apparently, as I have heard posited, because Brittany is being punished for rejecting nuclear power installations by being the first to lose supplies when they become scarce, but because the lines of supply are organised in such a way that when there is heavy demand it simply becomes difficult to shunt enough out here.

People are being encouraged to help with this situation by being warned when there is imminent danger of power failure and to take measures to reduce unnecessary consumption of electricity.  If you regularly read, look at or listen to French media for the region, no problem, you hear about the alerts there, but if like us you are a bit lackadaisical and ignorant like that, there is this thing called Ecowatt, to which you can subscribe, who will e-mail or text you the alerts.  The link above is to their homepage and registering is very simple.

There's a red alert - a high risk of power cuts - tomorrow, as there was today, particularly in the morning and between 5 and 8 in the evening.

They'll give you advice how you can cut down if you're interested, or if that's a step of nounou too far, you could just use your commonsense. We rely on the electricity for much of our heating now, but we've cut out one room we don't need to use today except to keep the appliance on ice point, I've avoided using the oven, got out the stovetop kettle instead of the electric one (but forgot to use it, oops!) and we got the wood fire in earlier than usual to save the electric heating having to work so hard.  I know it all seems a bit priggish, but I actually quite like the idea of a bit of information and co-operation on things like this.


tristan said...

may i respectfully suggest that your french readers wear their winseyette pyjamas underneath their culottes for the duration of the current inclemency

Lucy said...

Bonne idee, our Tristan!

The Crow said...

I hope you are able to keep warm and cozy, Lucy, through this bad spell.

I've wearing undershirts and flannel pajama bottoms here at home. They help, too.

Good luck!

herhimnbryn said...

Over here during the height of summer (38-40 deg) we are asked to turn our air con off, to decrease the strain at the P stations. As a rule, we don't use the air con until late afternoon anyway, but people are not happy and letters about the erratic power supply start to appear in the papers.

There are only so many items of clothing one can remove to keep cool ;^)

However, in cold weather I reco. a woolly hat......keep warm Lucy and Tom.

Roderick Robinson said...

In fact Brittany's heart is in the right place. Apart from rejecting nuclear power the region was way ahead of most of us when it created the La Rance power generation system near St Malo based entirely on tidal difference. Very green, indeed.

I don't want to be too technie among your rural idylls (whatever they are) and I'm sure Tom will know the answer anyway, but I wonder if your electric heat sources (I assume they are some form of radiator) are amenable to individual thermostat controls. We have a conventional gas-powered, hot water CH system and I had thermostats fitted last year. This was far cheaper than I expected and installation took a mere two hours. I won't risk boring you with the principles behind such controls but the result is much more adaptable, more appropriate system.

No need to half-apologise for taking a lackadaisical attitude towards French TV. Given the country's claims about nurturing intellectualism I was always struck by their shoddy, formulaic approach to the box. Perhaps it was always thought to be beneath the great thinkers who favoured instead the publication of discouraging paperbacks made out of recycled bog-rolls with a tedency to self-destruct while being read.

Rosie said...

as you can imagine, Jimmy is quite unbearably smug about his two woodstoves and millions of half empty recovered gas bottles in the garden.
He has no need of electricity and was last seen kneading dough in the kitchen to put into the wood stove oven cos we're out of bread.
dont know what he will do about the milk though, cos we are snowed in good and proper...anyone got a cow?

Reluctant Blogger said...

And think it is good to get people to think about what they use and if they really do need to do so.

I rely on my multifuel stove (which I burn old bits of Preston Prison in - don't ask!) to heat the lounge and then just use the gas heating briefly in the morning and late afternoon and that seems to keep the house warm. We have a lot of south-facing windows so as long as there is some sun the place soon warms up.

We have those thermostats on all the radiators and they save a lot of gas.

Anyway, I came to say HAPPY NEW YEAR really. I'm sure you are not much interested in my heating habits!!

Lucy said...

Well actually, I'm quite surprised how much interest this has generated! In fact I always household and and practical stuff like this very interesting, and heating, along with septic tanks, is one of thsoe perennial social topics of conversation in these parts.

Our electric heaters are what's called inertia heaters, with ceramic blocks in, not the old enormous heavy high wattage storage heaters of old, but they use less electricity than other ordinary electric heaters, supposedly using 7 minutes power for an hour's heat released, though I think that might be a bit optimistic. They have thermostats, and can be set on comfort and economy, which are adjustable, and also have an ice point setting of 7 degrees. They can be programmed to come on and off and switch between with a remote control, but it's fiendishly complicated to set up, so we just turn them on and off as and when.

Being more responsible and thoughtful about what we're using is what we should be doing all the time of course, though in fact burning things on open fires or even stoves isn't really a solution from the point of view of one's carbon footprint, exccept I suppose if the wood is carefully managed you're offsetting that a bit by growing the trees. Though I don't know about the carbon emissions involved in burning Preston prison as a form of heating!

At a push I suppose one could always burn French livres de poche to keep warm...

Roderick Robinson said...

Heating isn't what I'd call one of my specialist interests and I had the feeling that any electrical system newer than Neanderthal would probably incorporate some kind of thermostat. Being generally ignorant about the field allows me to to delight in the concept of inertia heaters, wondering whether they describe the way heat is released or the general tendencies of the owners. I am disinclined to Google the term, preferring to imagine that it was dreamed up by an énarque and arrived streaming commercio-philosophical banners. Thanks for that; anything to get away from my central character who is stuck with a woman he doesn't like drinking coffee in a department-store restaurant, an environment full of excavatory potential.

Unknown said...

Heidi and I have acquired two colourful blankets under which we huddle when it is cold. They are remarkably comforting and would be more so if and when the central heating gives up.

Setu said...

Let's try a silly bilingual Breton-English joke on that issue. Do you remember the name of the coastal site where a nuclear plant was planned and massively rejected by the population of W Brittany around 1980? PLOGOFF... pronounced more or less like "PLUG OFF". ;-)
Lucy, I do like your translation "Etat nounou"... Nice!

Dick said...

We're on oil here and pretty close to the bottom of the tank with little immediate prospect of the tanker getting up the frozen hill in the near future. Our thermostat's broken so, pro tem, we've simply been turning on and off when the cold becomes intolerable.

In the new house (into which we'll move before the end of the month) we're on bottle gas for heat and cooking. But we've had a multifuel stove installed in the huge living room so we'll probably convene around that like cottage-dwellers of old until the spring creeps in!