Villa Clemons—We Won’t Leave the Light On For You

The worst trouble I’ve ever been in while living at home was the time I turned down the air conditioning. One hot, humid, unbearable July afternoon, I wanted to blow-dry my hair without needing to shower again after from the sweat that was sure to take over my life. Ladies, you know the struggle. The problem was that I forgot to put the a/c back to its original 82 degrees before leaving the house, and received a phone call hours later from my very angry father. If I remember correctly, he told me that it was the most disrespectful thing I’d ever done (in hindsight, the was before I was in college, so I’m sure I’ve done more disrespectful things since then). Perhaps to some of you, this will sound ridiculous, fabricated or extreme. However, if any of you grew up with frugal parents, you’re nodding along like “Mmmmmhmm. Been there. Got that lecture.” Now, as a pretend adult adulting pretty hard, I get it. I’m a utilities miser.

Electricity in Italy is expensive af, which is why it’s very rare to see an Italian home or business with air conditioning or a dishwasher. It is completely normal to receive a €500 electricity bill in the summer, unless you’re me. Let me tell you the lengths I go to in order to never go over a measly €100 bill. I will sit in the dark until I stub my toe on the way to the wine rack. I will cover myself in ziplock bags of ice to beat the heat rather turn on the a/c. I don’t eat enough to require my deep freeze to have anything in it, so it sits in the storage room unplugged. The only “luxury” I ever allow myself is not unplugging the living room transformer all the time, since it takes forever for AppleTV to get up and running (first world problems, I know).

And while we’re at it, let’s talk about the gas bill. Clearly if I don’t allow the a/c to run all the time, I don’t allow the electric heater to run either. In fact, I don’t think I ever used the electric heating unit last winter. It may get hotter than hell during the Italian summers, but compared to Missouri winters, Italy is very mild November through March. Just like electricity, gas is no joke; we had a gas leak last year without knowing, and thought it was normal to have our tank filled every other week. That was €800 out of pocket every month for two months. As a result, those gas heaters got turned on for an hour or two at most every day. I wore lots of layers and sat under a pile of fluffy blankets all day while I Netflixed and chilled and I dreaded showers because stepping out meant my hair practically freezing on the spot. I suppose you could say I’m crazy, but I say my parents taught me well. Going to extreme lengths to save $20 may seem insane to some people, but I say $20 is half of a gel manicure or a bottle of kick ass wine. Also, I’m saving the environment. I’m not sure how, but I know it’s a thing, so get on my level.

Rachael Clemons
Rachael Clemons