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Things that used to be common place in people’s homes

ChiefPlanner

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We used to have an 1890's or so stone built semi-detached , probably wired in the 1920's or so (pre National Grid , a fair bit of electricity was available from colliery generating plants)

Ergo , there was lead cabling , round Bakelite light switches ("en rhai rownd" to use the local slang) , and of course a deficit of power points. All ruthlessly ripped out in the 1970's and rightly so. Fire traps.
 
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Ediswan

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Another thing that I don't think has been mentioned is dimmer switches - not sure how common they are today.
LED dimmer switches are very much a thing. Use with dimmable LED lamps and you should be OK. It is a bit more complicated than that, so best take advice on exactly what to buy from somebody you trust.

As you suggest, dimmer switches with CFLs was always a bit of a black art.
 

jfollows

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Fluorescent tubes were introduced to kitchens mainly because they provided far better illumination of work surfaces. The extra life was more of a bonus. Later, when kitchens changed from being a place to prepare food to a 'feature', they lost popularity for aesthetic reasons.

In the conventional design, there is a single starter. If it fails (lack of 'ping' noise), just buy and fit another. Still readily available. In the meantime, you can often start the lamp by twisting the starter to break the circuit. I don't recall anybody removing a fluorescent fitting due to the very occasional need to replace the starter. The items at the end of the tube are often referred to as cathodes. They do eventually fail. If so, time for a new tube. At which point you realise just how dim a fluorescent tube gets if you use it until it fails.

Later models had an 'electronic ballast'. That has no separate starter. They should last for a long time, but if they do fail, you are looking at a new fitting. These did not exist in the 1970s, so unlikely to be what you recall.
I replaced the glow plug starters with electronic starters in the three fittings in my house - bathroom, kitchen and garage - a number of years ago. Since then I've not had to replace any of the three tubes or starters. This used to be at least an annual event.

The electronic starters break the circuit, which generates a high voltage from the collapse of the magnetic field in the ballast transformer, at the optimum moment rather that at a random time which is what the glow plug starters do. So there's a single "strike" of high voltage across the fluorescent lamp which does not burn out the "cathodes" in the way the glow plug starters do. No more blinking and burning out. Highly recommended.

EDIT PS I think they're great, for the relatively efficient light and no shadows. I've now replaced the switch in the garage with a motion sensor - I used to leave the light on all day because of the starter problems but the replacement starters have fixed that. I don't have any plans to change them. The original lights were installed when the house was built in about 1982.
 
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AY1975

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Black and White televisions.
Full sized black & white TVs were still common in the 1970s but had largely disappeared by the '80s and '90s. By that time if you still had a black & white TV it was usually a portable one (14 inch or smaller).

We had a full sized black & white one when I was a tiny tot in the late '70s, and my gran kept hers until she died in 1985. As I recall both ours and hers could only get BBC1 (which was the only channel that my gran watched anyway).

After our large black & white set gave up the ghost in the early '80s we got a 14 inch black & white one with a dial that you turned to adjust the channel. We didn't get our first colour TV until about 1990 (which was also a 14 inch set, but it turned out to be less reliable than our black & white one).

I seem to remember hearing a few years ago that black & white TV licences accounted for less than 1% of all TV licences in the UK, which I can well believe. Some black & white TVs can actually be adjusted to receive a digital signal, though.
 

Mcr Warrior

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I seem to remember hearing a few years ago that black & white TV licences accounted for less than 1% of all TV licences in the UK, which I can well believe.
Supposedly 4, 450 black and white TV licences were in force in the UK as at 31st March 2021, this out of approximately 25,000,000 overall. So now a little less than 0.02% but the percentage still seems rather high!
 

Purple Orange

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Knitted draft excluders. I remember my nanna has ones that looked like sausage dogs back in the 80s, but I don’t remember seeing any anywhere else.
 

Trackman

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Supposedly 4, 450 black and white TV licences were in force in the UK as at 31st March 2021, this out of approximately 25,000,000 overall. So now a little less than 0.02% but the percentage still seems rather high!
I bet some of them are on the fiddle, I wonder if they check up?
Knitted draft excluders. I remember my nanna has ones that looked like sausage dogs back in the 80s, but I don’t remember seeing any anywhere else.
All the rage in the 70's we had a 'Sausage Dog' complete with little legs. I think they did Snakes as well.
 

GusB

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Later models had an 'electronic ballast'. That has no separate starter. They should last for a long time, but if they do fail, you are looking at a new fitting. These did not exist in the 1970s, so unlikely to be what you recall.
I wonder if that's what I have in the kitchen at the moment. I recall my dad having to change the starter in our old house when I was a kid, but I've never had any issues with the fluorescent light in my kitchen. I don't recall the tube ever being changed in the 20 years I've been here, but it's not very bright these days. Mind you, that's maybe got more to do with the fact that the diffuser is sorely in need of a good wash! I'm not sure if there are LED equivalents that can go into a standard fitting - I haven't done any research so far because I haven't felt the need to replace it.

Knitted draft excluders. I remember my nanna has ones that looked like sausage dogs back in the 80s, but I don’t remember seeing any anywhere else.

I could certainly do with a few of those now!
 

eMeS

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I wonder if that's what I have in the kitchen at the moment. ... I'm not sure if there are LED equivalents that can go into a standard fitting - ...
I had a go at replacing the 5' fluorescent tube in my kitchen with an LED replacement - sadly no light, nothing better than blown fuses. My brother advised going for a completely new LED fitting - Magic! Worked first time, and it's an excellent light.
 

ABB125

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I had a go at replacing the 5' fluorescent tube in my kitchen with an LED replacement - sadly no light, nothing better than blown fuses. My brother advised going for a completely new LED fitting - Magic! Worked first time, and it's an excellent light.
The problem with LED replacement tubes is that generally they're designed to work in fittings with a magnetic ballast (ie: ones with a starter, generally older fittings), hence why they come with a "dummy" replacement starter in the box (which I believe is literally just a short circuit which plugs the gap left by the original starter). They don't normally work in (modern) fittings with an electronic ballast; I suspect this may be the problem you had.

A good rule of thumb for determining if you have electronic or magnetic ballast (apart form the presence (or lack) of a starter) is how it turns on: with an electronic ballast, the tube should come on immediately; with a magnetic ballast, the bulb will tend to flicker on and off a couple of times, and might audibly hum.
 

trebor79

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And what about electric blankets? Does anyone still use them?
My Mrs! I hate the things - make the bed uncomfortable and in any case I like getting into a stone cold bed and feeling it warm up (I know, I'm weird!) Eventually persuaded her to get one with separate controls on each side and mine is permanently off. Went wrong the other week and started sparking, I suggested I dispose of it "No, leave it for now", so now we have a broken electric blanket on the bed.
 

Trackman

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My Mrs! I hate the things - make the bed uncomfortable and in any case I like getting into a stone cold bed and feeling it warm up (I know, I'm weird!) Eventually persuaded her to get one with separate controls on each side and mine is permanently off. Went wrong the other week and started sparking, I suggested I dispose of it "No, leave it for now", so now we have a broken electric blanket on the bed.
A couple of strategically placed hot water bottles* in the bed is a hundred times better than an electric blanket.
I don't think we have used them for a couple of years, but I know where they are just in case.

*They did used to be in bottles, the name has stuck like 'Steam Rollers'.
 

najaB

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A couple of strategically placed hot water bottles* in the bed is a hundred times better than an electric blanket.
Better than an over-blanket, but nothing beats an under-blanket. I've not had to use one lately but in my old flat I never turned the heating on in the bedroom, just put the electric under-blanket on low 30 minutes or so before going to bed so that it wasn't ice cold and slept like a bug in a rug.

I'll admit it was a challenge to get out of bed in the morning!
 

takno

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A couple of strategically placed hot water bottles* in the bed is a hundred times better than an electric blanket.
I don't think we have used them for a couple of years, but I know where they are just in case.
If you don't know where they are they aren't hot enough
 

dk1

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I remember going into a mates parents farm house in the 90s & being very confused as to why they had curtains on the back of the lounge doors. Turned out they where to keep the heat in. I’d never seen anything like that. On cold days all rooms but the lounge in his house where absolutely freezing.
 

swt_passenger

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The problem with LED replacement tubes is that generally they're designed to work in fittings with a magnetic ballast (ie: ones with a starter, generally older fittings), hence why they come with a "dummy" replacement starter in the box (which I believe is literally just a short circuit which plugs the gap left by the original starter). They don't normally work in (modern) fittings with an electronic ballast; I suspect this may be the problem you had.

A good rule of thumb for determining if you have electronic or magnetic ballast (apart form the presence (or lack) of a starter) is how it turns on: with an electronic ballast, the tube should come on immediately; with a magnetic ballast, the bulb will tend to flicker on and off a couple of times, and might audibly hum.
I have a couple of overhead tube fittings in the garage now fitted with daylight LEDs. The instructions with the LED tubes explained how to either replace the starter with their dummy, or bypass the electronic ballast by re-wiring. It wasn’t that difficult a job, but as it was the garage I decided to add Dymo labels to the holders to remind any future owner not to fit fluorescent replacements…
 

ABB125

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I have a couple of overhead tube fittings in the garage now fitted with daylight LEDs. The instructions with the LED tubes explained how to either replace the starter with their dummy, or bypass the electronic ballast by re-wiring. It wasn’t that difficult a job, but as it was the garage I decided to add Dymo labels to the holders to remind any future owner not to fit fluorescent replacements…
A very sensible idea!
 

birchesgreen

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I remember going into a mates parents farm house in the 90s & being very confused as to why they had curtains on the back of the lounge doors. Turned out they where to keep the heat in. I’d never seen anything like that. On cold days all rooms but the lounge in his house where absolutely freezing.
My parents did that (not anymore) though they still have a curtain behind the front door. Never really seemed to make much difference to be honest.
 

dk1

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My parents did that (not anymore) though they still have a curtain behind the front door. Never really seemed to make much difference to be honest.
Some people where really late in getting central heating and even then turned of radiators in case they cost them more lol.
 

takno

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Some people where really late in getting central heating and even then turned of radiators in case they cost them more lol.
I've given up on it. It's certainly never saved me any money, and being cozy in the rooms I'm actually in is a far higher priority than heating the spare bedroom
 

gg1

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I remember going into a mates parents farm house in the 90s & being very confused as to why they had curtains on the back of the lounge doors. Turned out they where to keep the heat in. I’d never seen anything like that. On cold days all rooms but the lounge in his house where absolutely freezing.

Totally forgot about it until reading this post but my nan used to do that too. This was back in the 80s in a bungalow which I'd guess from the architecture was built in the 60s. Never seen it any othe home.
 

dk1

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Totally forgot about it until reading this post but my nan used to do that too. This was back in the 80s in a bungalow which I'd guess from the architecture was built in the 60s. Never seen it any othe home.
Door curtains & draught excluders where commonplace according to my Mum. Double glazing was very rare to and it wasn’t unusual to have ice on the inside of windows during a severe winter. Makes you think today.
 

nlogax

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Door curtains & draught excluders where commonplace according to my Mum. Double glazing was very rare to and it wasn’t unusual to have ice on the inside of windows during a severe winter. Makes you think today.
When I first moved into my late 1980s-build flat over decade ago it was single glazed and ice formed on the inside during the single winter I kept it around before having it reglazed. A proper reminder of the bad old days.
 

najaB

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When I first moved into my late 1980s-build flat over decade ago it was single glazed and ice formed on the inside during the single winter I kept it around before having it reglazed. A proper reminder of the bad old days.
I had a flat with old, badly-made double glazing and ice formed between the panes! Those windows were replaced as soon as it was possible.
 

Bald Rick

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Door curtains & draught excluders where commonplace according to my Mum. Double glazing was very rare to and it wasn’t unusual to have ice on the inside of windows during a severe winter. Makes you think today.

Ice on the inside of windows was commonplace in the house I grew up in, as recently as the 1990s. Even with central heating.
 

swt_passenger

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Ice on the inside of windows was commonplace in the house I grew up in, as recently as the 1990s. Even with central heating.
I remember in the 1962/63 big freeze we lived in Brunton Park, northern outskirts of Gosforth, (Newcastle). No central heating, only the one downstairs room had a fireplace. One morning the only toilet couldn’t be flushed because the cistern contents had frozen solid...
 

Bald Rick

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I remember in the 1962/63 big freeze we lived in Brunton Park, northern outskirts of Gosforth, (Newcastle). No central heating, only the one downstairs room had a fireplace. One morning the only toilet couldn’t be flushed because the cistern contents had frozen solid...

That’s proper up north. I grew up in the leaf Home Counties!
 

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