Thursday, 16 December 2010

Actually It's Easy Being Green.

When we got an electrician to remove a socket and a light switch from a shower cubicle a few months ago it was clear the original installer wasn't exactly thinking clearly. The electrician joked that one could dry one's hair whilst taking a shower! Now the evidence accumulates that earth wiring is anathema to Italian electricians. We've been putting up new light fittings and discovered earth wires tucked back into the cable ducts in every case. Our forensic forays beneath the plaster also reveal a fondness for electrical tape over connecting blocks. Anyhow, we've corrected the most egregious misdeeds and the modern wall lights and chandeliers look great in a rustic context.
Winter of course means maintenance and we've been clearing the land of dead leaves and gathering up branches and twigs to use as kindling for the wood burner. And what a boon the wood burner has turned out to be. Not only does it keep the place at a comfortable 21 degrees or thereabouts, but it's carbon neutral. All the CO2 it produces is happily guzzled by the forests around here and turned into more wood. Furthermore, you can cook on it! We've done hotpots, soups and stewed fruit. This lunchtime we re-heated pizza made last night and it was bubbling hot!

I've been reading a lot lately about eco-gadgetry to aid low-impact living. Ground source heat pumps, combined heat and power systems, wind turbines, triple glazing, photo-voltaics and passive solar panels. You could spend a fortune to save the planet and a few bob. But installing low energy bulbs, using the wood-burner, one-pot cooking and refining the art of the two minute shower made me think about how easy being greener is. It doesn't have to involve buying yet more stuff or developing complex skills. Don't let any TV entertainment or sales people make you think otherwise.


  1. We are thinking of putting a wood stove in our apartment in Bagni di Lucca. Is it possible to have a combination wood/gas or wood/electric? We rent our place when we are not there and it is a bit much to expect those not familiar with a wood stove to try to operate it.

  2. You can't get them in the combinations you describe, but you can get mixed fuel stoves that can run on smokeless fuel (like coke) or wood. Perhaps less intimidating would be a wood-pellet burner which you just load the pellets into and ignite by pressing a button. These have timers and temperature settings etc.. So they are a little more expensive. Wood pellets are available at hardware stores/DIY shops etc. in massive bags. Hope this helps.