Remember the article about the immersion water heater? In it, we discover how to heat water as needed instead of keeping hot water available at every instant. The comedian Des Bishop points out the stingy Irish relatives in a panic when the heater was left on too long. Jokes aside, saving power is taken seriously here.
We discovered that drawing power as needed isn't limited to the water heater. Our power outlets are all armed with a rocker switch to awaken or kill an outlet.
The switches in the kitchen are fit with an orange light, presumably for even more careful safety control. The photo above is the outlet we use for our hot water kettle. We switch the outlet on when we need it, off when we're finished. The orange light serves as a constant reminder, so it rarely gets missed.
We know that appliances draw power from sockets constantly, on or off. In Iowa, we wouldn't have thought twice about keeping lamps, televisions, stereos, and the full range of kitchen appliances plugged in all day, every day. Out microwave and range oven both had electronic displays with digital clocks that ran all the time. Here, we don't have that option, even with the big built-ins.
The oven and the flat cooktop both have built-in rocker switches dedicated specifically for them. To operate, follow the same procedure- flip the switch, use the appliance, flip the switch.
The outlets in the rest of the apartment don't use lights, but the good habits are developing to flip switches off when we aren't using them. Hopefully, with some practice, we can keep driving down that power bill. I would love to see tricks like this catch on in other parts of the world, at least to show how much difference some small steps like this can make.