Explaining the auto kitchen light plan

Since a few people seem interested/skeptical on Twitter, here’s a very quick explanation of a small update to the kitchen lights. Since getting a Current Cost meter it’s been obvious that the biggest waste of electricity are the halogen spotlights in the kitchen. (It amazes me that ordinary incandescent light bulbs are being phased out while at the same time many new houses are full of halogen bulbs, but that’s for a future post!)

Most of the time the two lights under the cupboards would be good enough, but the switch for those is a bit hidden away, so we usually use the five ceiling lights instead. The first part of the cunning kitchen light plan is to connect the two worktop lights to a Home Easy remote control ceiling switch. Now we could put an ordinary remote switch in easy reach next to the main light switch but where’s the fun in that? I got tentative spousal approval to use an indoor PIR remote control instead…

Results so far seem promising: the lights aren’t triggered walking past the kitchen because the sensor is looking inwards from above the existing light switch, and there’s often no need to resort to the manual switch to turn on the electricity burning main lights… which is actually quite lucky because they aren’t there at the moment!

Only temporarily removed due to some planned ceiling painting* but it was a good excuse to automate the backup lights.

* Well, it seemed pointless painting the tiny ceiling in the porch on it’s own, so the kitchen is getting a fresh coat as well.


You weren’t supposed to take the cupboard door off!

Not quite such a memorable line as the classic from The Italian Job but in the slightly more mundane comedy caper that is my project to decorate the porch, I got a bit carried away with the cupboard door…

I was only supposed to be painting it! It was nice to have a break from the decorating this evening (nice meal in Zizzi) especially as I’m really not looking forward to attempting to hang the door back on straight. Maybe the porch would look better without a cupboard door at all!!

The perfect door

The Psychology of Everyday Things had a great description of being trapped by poorly designed doors (pretty sure that’s where I read it anyway). While getting trapped by doors is probably fairly unusual*, most doors are less than helpful:

  • Doors that open in one direction with a push plate on one side and a pull handle on the other – it’s hard to pull the door open when carrying something and, no matter how many signs there are, I will occasionally try and push from the wrong side! Doh!
  • Doors that open in both directions with push plates on both sides – better, but difficult to open the door to let someone through (yes it does happen. In fact I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who opened doors for others in New York last year).
  • Automatic doors – difficult to open without a soul, yet they will open for anyone walking past outside to let an icy blast of wind through.
  • Revolving doors – fun, but not exactly practical!

So, here is the perfect solution (can we have more like this please):

  • Doors that open in both directions with pull handles on both sides – you can’t go wrong! Obvious which side of the door opens and you can push through from either side, or pull, with no chance of looking like you just escaped from the school for the gifted! Easy to hold open from either direction, or get through while carrying things.

Okay, so nothing is perfect, but I think that’s the best option until someone invents a replacement for the door!

* except for my house, where someone did once get trapped in my porch for an hour! Sorry Ian!!

Update: I’m pleased to discover that I’m not the only one seeking a better door. Nick has two fine examples of door disasters on his enjoyably ranty Usability Hell blog. (13 May 2010)