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Hermine Saunders: Bright ideas for quality of life

Consumer Reports is a long-standing and reliable source for information about almost anything from products to money to health. When I received its “Simple Tips for Saving Money” and particularly the article “Bright ideas that save energy and money,” I thought it would be interesting to apply its suggestions to our lives as we age.

Its first “bright idea” is to “Get an energy audit,” which means having a home-performance contractor assess your home’s heating and cooling equipment, pinpoint air leaks and safety hazards, and review your utility bills. As we age, we need to do our own energy audit by taking stock of our lives, not simply financially and physically — though they surely are part of the audit — but also figuring out what we want to do with our lives to make them valuable to ourselves and others.

The second “bright idea” is to “Plug air leaks,” which means using sealants and insulation to stop losing heat and coolant. Mental stimulation to fill in the gaps in our learning would seem to be a good deterrent to boredom and depression and perhaps even dementia. I had an uncle who, after his careers in education and business, said to his wife, “There’s so much to learn,” and promptly took up learning the Russian language.

The third “bright idea” is to “Make technology work for you” to keep your energy costs down. At first I thought that we who are aging should come into the 21st century with our communication — and that is a good idea. Perhaps more importantly is for us to use all that experience and wisdom we have gained to serve others.

The fourth “bright idea” is to “Upgrade your appliances” for more energy efficiency. And no, I did not think we should get younger spouses! Applying this idea to us as we age means taking care of our physical bodies, perhaps with some “bionic” help, so that we can stay involved and active and keep up with the younger generations, mentally and physically.

The fifth “bright idea” is to “Get a hybrid water heater” that melds a standard electric water heater with a heat pump. What if we cannot do everything we used to do and in the same way? We can find alternatives. We need to plug into what keeps us passionate about life: our faith, our family, our friends.

The final “bright idea” is to “Give LEDs a look” because of their longer life and enhanced light quality. For us, a longer energy-driven, or LED, life will mean spending time on making the world around us a brighter and better place by what we think, say and do. Then we can enjoy life, for as we have heard, “It has an expiration date.”

Hermine Saunders writes from Westminster.

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