Turning off the lights for fun and profit

January 31, 2014

When I was a kid, I was never particularly good at turning off the lights. My parents reminded me often, but I somehow always managed to forget. There was no malintent, I wasn’t trying to kill the planet or waste money, it kind of just…happened.

Since moving into my own home, I’ve been dealing with the opposite problem: an obsession with turning the lights off.

turning off the lights

Bathroom break? Better flick off the lights in the kitchen. Going to bed? Better leave the ground floor dark. Leaving the house? Better do a full-fucking-fledged sweep of the house to ensure nothing is on.

In the mornings, as I‘m heading from my bed to the front door, I have a rhythmic light-disabling routine: bedside lamp off, hall light on, room light off, stairwell light on, hall light off, living room light on, stairwell light off, open door, living room light off, out. It’s finely tuned to be efficient and effective and it consistently makes me feel like I’m putting way too much thought and energy into my light-killing strategy.

So what changed?

The obvious answer is that the financial burden is now on me, rather than my parents. I pay the electric bills, so there’s much more transparency into how turning off the lights effects my bottom line. Ultimately though, the savings from turning off the lights are minimal (tens of dollars, split three ways) and the transparency isn’t that increased: I’ve never consciously examined our electricity usage with an eye toward light savings and I don’t compare past bills to see how we’re doing.

I also doubt that it’s because I’ve matured into a more environmentally conscious human being. Though the science telling us that climate change is fuck-worthy-terrifying has only increased, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that over the last few years my involvement in the movement has waned. I can’t say I’m proud of this, but it’s the reality.

So, what turned me into an avid light manager? I think it may be about control and order.

The largest part of my life right now, Clef, more often that not feels out of my control. I can tirelessly improve, and distribute, our product, but at the end of the day, we’ll need more than our share of luck to ‘succeed.’

With the success of something I care so much about seemingly out of my hands, I think I’ve worked to find other areas of my life where I can be in control: I keep my room cleaner than ever before, I structure my days pretty strictly, I cook almost all my own meals, and I do a damn good job of turning off the lights.

Jesse Pollak is a light-turning-off aficionado who occasionally writes about things that won’t bore you to death. Follow him on Twitter here.

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