Glad the Days are Getting Longer!

Challenge #4: In the Dark?

Looking up at the 'swirly lightbulb' in the front porch light.

Joining a co-op, cooking, and monitoring the house for leaks aren’t usually tasks for a 9-year-old, although Henry did enjoy visiting the co-op and picking out apples. He also liked eating the apples and drinking the cider. BUT, turning lights off, shutting down the computer, and conserving electricity aren’t hard to do, and as I say, “If you can reach the switch to turn it on, you can reach the switch to turn it off!” Sometimes, though, we just forget.

So, at the beginning of this challenge I took stock of our electric use in the mornings. Two radio alarm clocks (set 15 minutes apart), lights in bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen. Radio turned off in bedrooms as radio in the kitchen goes on. COFFEE POT. Oven to warm up some breakfast most days, but not all, ditto with the stove. Two cell phones plugged in overnight to charge. And yes, crank callers, the refrigerator is running. (Well, you better go catch it…groan.)

The charge to each of us is…turn it off when you leave it behind. Whatever IT is— whether light, radio, computer, television—IT needs to go off.

Each day I am usually the last person out in the morning. So, as I was leaving the house, I noticed that most days, eight lights were on. Four of them were in our kitchen, two in the hall, and two in the living room. This was the path out of the house, so I turned them off as I walked by to leave. But, I vowed we would try to turn on, say, half of those lights from now on. Sad to say, it’s easier said than done, but we are workin’ on it!

Anyway, we are getting pretty good at turning lights out as I move from room to room, but sometimes we forget. So, we have been working extra hard NOT to forget. Turning off the lights in his room is on Henry’s list every morning. He has done a very good job at this and is carrying it out through the house, too, often reminding Tom and me to turn off radios and the like.

Here’s Henry’s perspective in his own words:

“Electricity is a good thing to save. We should try our best to use as little as possible; it’s good for the environment. We use the swirly light bulbs in most of our lights. There are a few where they don’t fit, but most are the swirly ones that save electricity. Right now, we have three lights on in this room, and the computer is working. It’s pretty dark here this time of night (6 p.m.), and usually we might have five lights on, but we are trying to conserve.

I do like to play the Wii, and that uses electricity, but I also love to read and play with Legos. I can’t do these in the dark, but I can cut back to one light in my room when I do.”

Well, if Henry can cut back, then so can we all.

Jane Ballentine

Addendum: We have also started to research alternative electricity suppliers, many of which are greener and less expensive, too. According to a February 21 article in The Baltimore Sun, Marylanders have legally been able to change suppliers for years, but “It’s still one of the best-kept secrets in Maryland, and that’s unfortunate.” Well, it’s not a secret to us any more. It will take some time to make the right match, but without this Green Challenge, maybe we wouldn’t have read that article with the same interest.

Read Jane’s previous post, Snowy Valentine Dinner.

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