Chimney sweeps probably perform one of the oldest occupations in the world. The profession can be dated back to the 12th century when the first chimneys were built to draw the smoke from roaring fires out of ancient castle fireplaces. The growing number of towering chimney stacks and clay chimney pots which popped up across the country in the 18th and 19th centuries during the time of the Industrial Revolution turned chimney sweeping into a very popular profession. But only when the chimneys were built to be big enough for a man to pass through did the profession lose the disreputable image which it had acquired during Victorian times due to the abhorrent practice chimney sweeps had of sending small boys up dangerously narrow chimneys in which they frequently got hopelessly stuck and sometimes even suffocated.
Nowadays a chimney sweep is often considered a symbol of luck: in parts of Great Britain they are extremely popular at weddings where they are thought to bring the bride luck. And in Germany small pipe cleaner chimney sweeps in pretty little plant pots are often given as a gift on New Year’s Day.
But not everybody can count themselves quite so lucky: the “Gebührenverordnung für Schornsteinfeger”, the new act regulating the fees which chimney sweeps can charge for their services, has resulted in a price increase of up to 60% for a third of all households in Germany. And although according to the media portal “Der Westen”, the changes, which have been in place since January 2010, will not affect the other two thirds of all families, this will come as small consolation to those who will have to dig considerably deeper into their pockets when the chimney sweep comes knocking at their door.
For those affected the new legislation will prove to be a bitter pill to swallow. These additional costs come on top of the costs which members of health funds are already having to pay for an ailing health care system, and with an imminent rise in VAT looming on the horizon some families will be looking for other ways to cut their household budgets and save money on other essentials.
For example electricity. But here’s where we can help. You can literally knock £100s off your electricity bill by switching off certain appliances like set-top boxes, hi-fi systems and DVD recorders at night instead of just switching them to stand-by, and also by identifying – and eliminating – the true electricity gobblers in your home.
An energy meter from Trotec will provide you with just the information you need to unearth these nasty little culprits. Information including the exact amount of energy each of your appliances is consuming and just how much that relates to in hard currency.
And with a bit of luck you will end up saving more than you had hoped for.