Re: smart new equipment
What Red Bren said.
I live in a small apartment in an Italian village; the gas option is actually more expensive as it's priced on the assumption that most demand will be for families and businesses. Small apartments in cheaply-converted 400-year-old structures aren't really worth the faff of digging up the cobbled streets for.
So I have a 40 litre electric heater—essentially a kettle nailed to my bathroom wall. This is plugged into a €7 timer bought from a local supermarket, which, in turn, plugs into a standard 16A socket. It's set to switch on in the morning and evenings for 30 min. each, with a 15 min. 'top-up' around 1300 hrs. as otherwise I tend to run out of hot water for the washing-up.
This is in a country that imports almost all its energy supplies—fossil fuels included—as it lacks natural reserves for production of same. Italy gets about 70% or so of its electricity from the French and the Swiss. (Ironically, almost every village around here proudly announces its "nuclear-free" status on their boundary signs.)
And, yes, that "cellphone masts = CANCER!" bullshit appears to be here too, albeit only in the smaller, more isolated, areas. There are quite a few dead spots as a result. None of the morons responsible for that appear to understand how cellphone technology works: the further apart your masts are, the more power your phone needs to use to reach them, thus negating their entire argument: by refusing permission to build more masts, they're exposing themselves to more RF energy, not less.
Ignorance seems to be easy to find in the countryside, where techniques for working the land haven't really changed all that much in generations. The horses have been replaced by large, noisy machines, but these machines are performing functions any farmer can recognise; the only thing that's changed is power source, which used to be organic, but now has the name Ferrari* stamped on its sides. It's that newfangled "electricity" stuff they're still struggling with.
* (A pretty common name in Italy, so yes, there is such a thing as a cheap Ferrari, as long as you don't mind it having a large, noisy, diesel engine, no doors or roof, and a top speed of roughly 30 mph. In green.)