Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Energy Use and My Friend Who Kept the Cats Warm

“I was scratching their heads and ears and noticed that they were nice and warm! I wondered how they were managing to keep so warm in the awful cold, but I was glad they found a nice warm place,” my friend said, when I asked her how her outdoor cats had fared in the bone-chilling cold we experienced in Pensacola last week.

“Then I got my Gulf Power bill, and Intlxpatr, it was over a thousand dollars!” she exclaimed, her eyes huge.

Her normal bill is probably around what I pay. Not nearly a thousand dollars, not even on the hottest month of summer when I have to keep the air on full blast 24/7 on just to survive.

“So I called the heating people,’ she continued, and they had to crawl under the house, imagine, in this weather. . . ”

I imagined.

“. . . And they discovered the cats had clawed a hole in one of my air ducts and had luxuriated, down there under the house, while my heater tried to heat up half of Pensacola!”

We laughed, but a thousand dollars . . . that knocks a hole in anyone’s budget. It was one of those laughing-because-if-you-don’t-laugh-you-will-cry kinds of laughs.

I am an energy nerd. It comes from growing up in Alaska, I am convinced, where I had neighbors who fished in the summers and had to get by all year on that income, plus what they might come by with odd jobs the rest of the year. My friends had a huge garden in their back yard, and a root cellar where things were stored. In the root cellar, they had a chalkboard, where every potato, every carrot, everything they had stored was listed, and numbers subtracted as they were used. They had to keep track, to be sure they would make it through the winter.

In Pensacola, Gulf Power has a really cool feature on their website. You set up an online account, and you can check on your daily energy usage. LOL, this is mine for January. It has huge ups and downs – mostly we don’t need to have the heat on, but when the temperatures go down and stay down – it shows. There are also a couple days when we used our oven, and that shows up, too, but not badly.

I remember living in Germany, where I didn’t have a dryer (or any space for one) and my landlady brought me my energy bill. We lived in a very small farming village, where they were also all very frugal, but she couldn’t believe my bill was so small. I just smiled; I could hear her dryer going every day, and dryers are also a huge source of energy usage. Anything that heats up – or cools down – is an energy eater.

Screen shot 2014-02-02 at 10.05.27 AM

On the website, you can also compare this year against previous years – and my bill this year is nearly a third higher than last year, but last year we did not have a three-day arctic freeze!

February 2, 2014 - Posted by | Cultural, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Florida, Germany, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Weather


  1. There is a joke about stray cats and the temperature in KUWAIT ,
    it says:
    Dear Cat , in the summer you are on top of the car cooling off , in winter you are inside the engine compartment warming up , How about i transfer title of the car in your name and we get it over with ???

    Comment by dagger | February 3, 2014 | Reply

    • LLOOLL! The cats would love that joke.

      Poor kitties, just wanting to keep warm, so many of them die when those engines start up.

      Comment by intlxpatr | February 3, 2014 | Reply

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