Old tools are familiar and comfortable, but perhaps aren’t the most efficient in a time when we are more productive with new technology. I learned that again recently as I hung a large, heavy, frameless bathroom mirror. Easily more than four feet wide, three feet high. Mounted flat against the wall, of course. I asked a friend, a younger man than me by a lot, to help wrestle it into place because trying alone and risking a 911 call seemed unnecessary.

My friend said that he liked watching me use the old tools from my dad to get the drywall anchors and screws aligned in the wall. I used a hand drill, level, square, tape measure, and of course, an old yellow pencil. The pencil alone is at least 35 years old, in the tin can on my pegboard for that long.

Using newer tools never occurred to me. My tools are in the garage waiting for me. I know them. I have a certain pride in knowing how to use them. Would the mirror job have been easier with a laser level? Battery powered drill? Probably. But this was a once in every five or so years job, so maybe using my old tools is forgivable and sort of enjoyable.

If there are tasks that need to be done every day, are old tools the best option? Not really. Proudly, I have updated tools for routine activities. The old phone stand in the house sits empty, long without a kinked-up corded phone. “Appointment TV” has given way to streaming. Our old thermostat, triggering the HVAC when a small mercury switch tripped the system, is gone. In its place a digital thermostat.

The public adapts swiftly to the changes in telecom and entertainment technologies. Look at the pace that Smartphones have advanced. That’s a lesson to apply to our energy systems, too. Joining digital thermostats will be “behind the meter” (in your home or business) consumer energy storage systems, home electric generation, sophisticated alerts about reducing electric usage, or e-messages when an appliance will need repair.

One-off activities in home and small business energy management will become easier – second nature – because of new technology. Consumers have the power, in many ways, to vote by getting out of old comfort zones, adopting new technologies, and asking for more of what is new.