Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I turn off lights and appliances when they aren’t in use. I often don’t turn lights on unless it is absolutely too dark to function. Some people have this habit and some don’t. Though I can be smug about this (what I see as an) attribute, I can also be smug about turning off the lights when people leave them on.

I’ve spoken with people about this before and I asked how this energy saving mind set came to them. Some credit their Hippy parents. Some credit the energy crisis of the 70s. There are all sorts of reasons out there but mine is a little different.

I once had a bicycle with a headlight on it. I could have gotten a battery powered light however batteries were different in those days. They didn’t last as long as the Alkaline batteries we use these days. Sometimes twenty minutes was all you could get out of a battery powered lamp.

My bicycle light was powered by a generator which was a device that you clamped to the frame of your bicycle and when you needed to use the light you would slide and lock the turning wheel of the generator into place. The wheel would rest upon your tire and as the bicycle wheel turned the generator wheel would be spun by the bicycle tire. The problem was that these generators took so much energy to power one light bulb that it was tiring. You would even have to peddle while going down hill.

Yes, products now consume much less energy to get the same results, but still, can you imagine what sort of effort one would need to put out to power a toaster?

I’ve been to some museums that have devices that let the participant see exactly how much effort it takes to power a single light bulb. Everyone who tries this will think differently about leaving lights on.


Blogger Trop said...

For me it's entirely a selfish cost thing. I grew up in a blue collar family, where the household budget had to do a lot on very little. In winter we piled on layers of clothes and kept the thermostat low. It wasn't about conservation per se, it was about doing what we could with what we had, which wasn't much. Nowadays I have more income, but it just bugs the heck out of me to spend more on something, like heat, when wearing a sweater or wrapping up in a fleece blanket can save me money. It's become a contest of living on as little as possible instead of consuming all that I earn.

6:22 AM  
Blogger Hahn at Home said...

Maybe that's what I should do to teach the children the value of turning off lights - make them pedal their way to morning toast.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Syd said...

Well, I leave a trail of lights and televisions or radios on behind me, but it's just because I'm...well, me.

So, I could use a lesson or two on a toaster treadmill.

7:00 AM  
Anonymous walter richards said...

I've got my thermostat and porch lights on timers ... just 'cause I'm too lazy to bother with 'em. I normally leave one light on all night so I don't trip over the dog.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I'm pretty good about turning lights and appliances off and the thermostat is set to very chilly at night but I doubt I'm as good as you.

Just how smug are you? Do you turn lights off in other people's homes???

9:06 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

For me, I like it cool, but my wife likes it warm, so there is a struggle, but she uses an electric blanket at night so I turn the temp down at night.

Funny thing about toasters, Gearhead has a generator for power outtages and he tells me there is lots of power there, but turn on the toaster and you can hear the generator strain.

Syd, Somehow I knew that about you. Do you leave the car running while you are at work as well?

Walt, try a night light. It will pay for itself in a month.

Beth, I would say yes, but I don't socialize very often. Either my quirkiness prevents me from visiting people often or it prevents me from being invited anywhere.

10:17 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

My motto is, "Don't use power unless you need to. When you choose to use power, use all that you need to get the job done."

Kind of a nice policy in life also.
Having come from several very powerful positions in life, this motto serves me well.

I live a fairly peaceful life these days. But every once in a long while someone or something comes along and lights my pilot-light. Then the heat is on...

As for today; all is well.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you really want to save money on your household energy bill; get a natural gas water heater. They heat twice as fast at about half the cost. "Cooking with gas" is not just a cliche either it's fun. Change those appliances out, maybe throw in a gas dryer and toaster- you will see your energy bill shrink like a wet witch from Oz. Propane is good too. Hardly any emissions.

11:00 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Gearhead, speaking of power, did you get some powerpoint presentations last week?

Anon, I have to disagree with you on this one. Yes, it seems to be better for heat and cooking, but I have seen far too many houses explode because of gas. The gas companies produce cute ads that show that they could make their gas smell like chocolate chip cookies, or that a gas leak looks like a fat guy drinking milk out of a carton, and then the utility worker comes and takes him away in his truck. They tell you if you have a gas leak to get out of your house. In reality you need to evacuate the neighborhood. When a house blows up from a gas leak there is usually little left. It's comparable with a tornado. I can't imagine why anyone would allow this stuff into their homes.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Mike S said...

We use a combination of propane and electric. Even though it's mostly hydro-electric and not too costly, I'm still energy conscious. We stress this to all our tenants as well. It's so effortless to save some energy:)

12:47 PM  

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