Thursday, June 12, 2008

Justification Saves the Day

The other day my daughter who for the record is plenty old enough (but I'm not saying how old) to drink coffee asked me to take her to Starbucks. She needed a venti hazelnut frappacino with with whipped cream. I offered to make her my drip fair trade coffee with hazelnut syrup, but that didn't go over well.

"It's not the same," she said with a roll of her eyes. "I need a frappacino."

So then for the I don't know one-millionth time I explained to her that we were trying to save money and cut down on unnecessary expenses and her "need" for a frappacino was actually just a want and she wasn't going to die without it.

"So if we're cutting down on spending why did you and Dad buy a grill?" she grilled.

I proceeded to explain that Dad and I didn't just frivolously go out and purchase a grill. Our old grill became a safety hazard. Really, last summer I burnt my eyelashes and set my hair on fire--literally just like in the cartoons. It wasn't serious, but the grill was euthanized.

So anyway, we didn't go overboard with this purchase. We didn't get some miniaturized gourmet kitchen to put outside, but we also didn't get a tiny hibachi. We opted for a low-cost small basic grill with an additional side-burner (I like that feature).

"Well, dear (or something like that) Dad and I spent $87 on that grill, but the grill will last a least a few years and should pay for itself. Now here's where the justification comes in. The temperature outside is 90 degrees in the sun, which at 4:00 in the afternoon beats down on our kitchen raising the internal temperature to 79. The thermometer for the air conditioner is next to the kitchen. When we heat the oven it increases the temperature of the kitchen to above 80 which in turn causes the thermometer to rise which turns on the air conditioner. The oven might run as long as one hour, but it will take much longer for the kitchen temperature to go down. Because hot air rises and your bedroom is directly above the kitchen it heats your room. Then you can't sleep well. Now if we close the blinds to keep the sun out of the kitchen we will help keep the temperature down. But we'll probably turn on the lights, further adding to our energy consumption and our bill. And so if it cost $0.03467 per kilowatt hour and the oven uses..."

This is she said, "fine" (Do you know what "fine" really means in teen vernacular? Hint: it's another word that starts with the letter F.) and she left the room. Whew!

Had a been prepared I would have had the math all worked out ahead of time. If you're curious take a look at your energy bill or get it from Xcel Energy's website. Another source to learn how much energy stuff uses is Ask Mr. Electricity.

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