Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step


October 28, 2007

Things you can do when the lights are off

Category: Little Things,Save Electricity,Save Water,Take Actions,Tips – Tom Harrison – 7:44 pm

Sorry for the suggestive title — yes, you can conserve energy by turning off the lights. But don’t turn off the light for romance (candles, which are apparently a horrible source of global warming, alas, are the lighting of choice :-). But in the other 99.999999% of your life (your number of 9’s may vary), there are some real, regular activities you can do without turning on the lights.

My List of Daily Activities without Light

  • Shower. Oh, and in the winter, don’t bother with the bathroom fan.
  • Run down to the basement to get something.
  • Go outside. Turning on lights actually reduces your ability to see.
  • Work. A little light for the computer screen is way more than enough. We use maybe 10% of the lights in our office
  • Kitchen, bathroom, dining room, bedroom and so on, when you’re not there.
  • And many more…

Which is more depressing…

Now that it is autumn here in Boston, it’s getting dark early. Darkness can be gloomy, and even depressing. But as I walk around, I see so many houses lit up in room after room, outdoor floodlights on, lights, lights, lights. Having no light in the room you’re in might be a little depressing, but it’s certainly more depressing that 75% of that light is just turning into heat, CO2 and even lighting up our skies so we can’t even see stars anymore.

This weekend, my friend Mike stopped by in the late afternoon and asked if our dark house was one of the things we did to be environmentally conscious. I guess the answer is “yes”, and this was to a guy who does his best to avoid turning on the heat until November 1st. But turning off unused lights has become such a habit that I hadn’t really thought about it. It’s just what we do.

Nothing is more efficient than nothing

So, if you’re not going to replace one bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), then turn off your lights. There’s nothing more efficient than a light that is turned off.

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