My house was torn down more than 180 years ago. So, I can't show you a picture of
it. But a friend's house is still standing today in Philadelphia,
Photo courtesy of
Independence Hall Association.
|Legend has it that Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag during our War for Independence.
Mrs. Ross's house (shown to
the left) was built in 1740. A flag like the one she is said to have made is hanging in
Our homes did not have the luxuries you have today. The next time you complain
about having to do laundry in your home washing machine or at a laundromat,
imagine what we had to do in 1740.
We had to heat water in a fireplace and dump it into a big tub, scrub the clothes on a
wooden washboard with handmade soap, and hang them outside on a rope line to
dry using whittled, wood clothespins!
Talk to your Dad or Mom about ways that your family can use energy sensibly. You
can find some ideas that seem new but are really more than 260 years
Homes in 1740
The fireplace was the center of all
activity in most homes in the 1740s. That's because the fireplace provided warmth
for the people in the house, hot water for cooking and cleaning, and ovens for
baking bread. One important use of the fireplace was to make ashes to be made into
Instead of clicking on an electric light, people in 1740 would light a candle. Many
people made their own candles out of tallow or animal fat.
A tool called a "brazier" was sort of a portable fireplace. It looked like a long-handled
covered pan. People would fill it with burning coals and use it to cook food or heat
Irons in 1740 were made out of
plain, heavy iron. The irons were kept hot in a fireplace. When it cooled, another
one was used.
Foods that had to be kept cool, such as milk and cheese, were often kept in a special
stone house. The heavy stones helped insulate the house to keep it cool so the
foods wouldn't spoil.
People scrubbed their clothes
on wooden scrub boards. We had no washing machines.
With no television or video games, what did children do for fun in 1740? Of course,
household chores took up many hours of the day. But in their spare time, children
250 years ago did many of the same thing you do today -- they played with balls and
dolls, read books and played games outside.
Your Home Today
Photo courtesy Greg Holman
Homes built today are much more energy efficient than my house or Betsy's house. Your homes have insulation in their walls to keep out the heat in summer and cold in winter. |
The windows today are thicker and have more than one pane of glass. Many of your
new appliances use very little energy.
But some ideas we used to save energy 250 years ago can be used today.
Energy-aware people use an idea
similar to 1740's candles. Instead of lighting up a whole room, use a single light on
the job you're doing. So, use a single lamp right where you're reading. Don't turn
on all the lights in the room.
Households in 1740 owned lots of sheets and towels because winters were too cold to
hang the linens outside to dry. The sheets would freeze solid. Your family can use
the same idea by waiting until you have a full load of clothes before you run the
Instead of a stove or oven, consider using small appliances for your family's cooking
(just like using an old time brazier). A microwave oven, toaster oven or electric
frying pan does the job just as well, while saving energy.
Any appliance that gets hot -- like
an electric iron -- wastes a lot of energy heating up. Reduce heat-up waste by ironing
many clothes at the same time.
TVs, VCRs and video games are a great way to stay entertained. But be sure to turn
them off when you're not using them. Better yet, think of other ways to have fun
while saving energy -- play a board game, read a book, play outside, ride your bike in
the fresh air.
In the 1740s, they kept a hot fire during the daytime and let it die down to coals at
night. You can do the same thing this winter -- ask your folks to keep the thermostat
set at 68 degrees during the day and 58 degrees at night. The blankets on your bed
will keep you warm.
Keep foods cool is a lot easier
with an electric refrigerator, isn't it? You can save energy by deciding what you want
before you open the refrigerator door, then taking it out and closing the
Things are much different today than back in 1740. But some ideas to
save energy are more than 250 years old!
Let's go back to Poor Richard's Energy Almanac to learn more about energy.
Click on my picture to take you back.
Return to Poor Richard's Energy Almanac.
Or if you want to go back to the Energy Quest HomePage, click
on the EQ.