We are always getting reminders of how much our screen time has gone up or down. I don't over-worry as I'm making up for all those years when the only screen was a box in the corner whose vertical hold was on the blink, or when I occasionally went to smoke-filled cinemas.
Anyway, we've got a new screen to add to our hours. It's a smart metre. We've resisted up to now on two grounds: they were never all that smart; and our electricity supplier wouldn't let us have one. But they've relented and it arrived last week. It's obviously good for the company as it gets regular updates on my consumption (every half-hour or so – or was than every half minute?), and it will mean that we never get an estimated bill again.
The internal gizmo that goes with the external meter sits there telling us in more or less real time how much electricity we're using or how much money we're pushing the company's way, and you can play around switching things on or off to see what difference it makes – a game you can grow weary of. Obviously, it's any form of heating that makes the real difference.
Given that we're the proud operators of the Semington A solar power station, we can use the meter to check whether appliances are working off the internal or external supply. Yesterday's bread, for example, was cooked entirely off-grid. I swear it tasted even better than it always does. Space heating, however, is never off-grid. Even if I covered my garden in PV panels that wouldn't happen. A mega-turbine, however – if planning permission weren't an impossibility – might do the trick, assuming the wind was blowing reliably. Just so ... .
As to that smart meter screen, it tell me that it's just lost contact with the control unit, so we're all in the dark again.