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What did “Eco” written on a electric switch ten years ago mean?

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On the first day of the project I am diverted when Lesley calls out that there is no hot water for her shower. After digging out a multimeter which has not been used for years, it seemed the thermostat for the off-peak immersion heater had failed.

So plans to investigate the construction of the bungalow’s solid floor are put on hold. We have a good idea already as we have the original building specifications. But we need to check. Many people have told us insulating the floor will be the most difficult task.

At least replacing the thermostat is an easier job that putting in a new heater, but it does mean a trip to B&Q after the village hardware store told me they could not get them from their plumbing supplier. It seems I was the third person in the past few weeks to want one. They are going to have another go at getting a supply.

I hope they succeed: it would make a contribution to reducing hardware miles.

The switches for the water heating are seldom seen. Generally it is only when we come back from holiday and need to use the boost heater that we glance at them.

They hint at the changes in energy consciousness this century. One is labelled “Eco” and the other “Normal”. I must have written those labels 12 years ago.

Back then I used “eco” as an abbreviation for “economy”. That was when electricity was a lost less expensive. On August 24, 2004, The Times (£) ran a story headed, “Soaring fuel bills spell end to era of cheap energy“. It started:

FUEL bills for millions of householders will rise by more than four times the rate of inflation as a decade of cheap energy prices came to an abrupt end yesterday.

British Gas, Britain’s largest gas and electricity supplier, announced its highest increase since customers were allowed to switch suppliers in 1996.

Since then “eco” has become a prefix for everything from houses to washing powder which claim to be ecological. But not cheap burgers with bits of horse. They come from the economy ranges.

Many words change meaning with time but I was a little surprised to realise that only a dozen years ago I was using “eco” as an abbreviation for “economy”.

A good thing that came from my trip to B&Q was the purchase of a pair of safety goggle, so that the floor of the bungalow can be investigated with less danger.


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