/ 16 March 2007

I have a paper to finish, and I can’t quite find the center of what I want to say, or a good voice in which to write. So I’m procrastinating! Reading the web, signing petitions, and so on. I also don’t want to forget a few things I’ve been thinking lately about our time in Austria.

First off, I think one reason why Austria is so much better at conservation than the US, is that many basic, daily activities that consume energy provide a higher sensory clue about how much you're consuming. Like using hot water in hand washing dishes. Oma has a little, "just in time," hot water heater that's run on gas next to her kitchen sink. When you turn on the hot water, the gas jets jump into flame with a whooshing sound, and the whole time you're using hot water, the sound continues. Unlike hot water heaters in the US, there's no reservoir of water kept hot all the time, water is made hot as you need it. This has the advantage that there's perpetual hot water, you never run out. But it also means that you're conscious the whole time of the gas that goes into heating it up.

Secondly, refrigerators are a lot smaller here. At least Oma's is, and Mariella's (another friend we visit). So it's much less likely that leftovers are going to hide in the back and rot away, and also you only buy what you're really likely to use, since you don't have lots of room to store stuff. (Although Oma just bought a kazillion cheese sausages -- she noticed that Nathaniel liked them, and now she's feeding his gluttony.)

Third, there's good public transit everywhere, and driving (including parking) is a pain, at least in the city.

And now I'd better get back to work...