Wednesday, July 05, 2006


I have already mentioned that, in all regions of Italy, there are regulations regarding when you can have the heating on and to what temperature. If you haven't lived here, you may be surprised to learn that there are also limitations as to how much electricity you can use:

The standard allowance per dwelling is 3 kilowatts of electricity, a figure which in itself means nothing to me; but in practical terms, it means that there is a limit to how many electrical appliances you can have switched on at any one time. When you buy an appliance, you are supposed to look underneath to see how much electricity it uses when in operation. It's OK once you get used to the idea and I did know about this before I came; it was just strange having to think about it when you've not been used to it [part of the initial culture shock].

I now know that the kettle and the iron consume a lot and that it would be pushing it to use either of these when the washing machine is on and that I can't have the washing machine and the electric oven on at the same time. I had always previously had an electric hob as well, but here you can't, because of the amount of electricity it would use, so I've had to get used to cooking with gas [metano or town gas, I am glad to say, not those bombola things of gas which many people do still use and which terrify me. I gave up trying to use the one down in the little house last year. Yet you see lorry-loads of the canisters every day, and I do not read of any accidents involving them.] Incidentally, if you come here and you use British appliances on continental adaptors, that will apparently use more electricity, too, so I had nearly all my plugs changed on small appliances when I arrived. [And it's surprising how many of these you may turn out to have!]

You can, of course, pay to have more kilowatts of electricity supplied to your dwelling, but I was advised by friends not to do so, as you are then automatically charged a higher tariff.

According to the Italian government the laudable reason for imposing these limitations is to conserve energy. Only on very grumpy days do I decide that they are in place just to make life more awkward and some days they give me a great excuse not to iron!

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