There is a painless way to get your kids (or anyone else in your house) to douse the lights when they leave a room.
WASTE NOT | Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the times were desperate around my house. After what seemed like eons of continual nagging by me and my husband, our children, lovely individuals all, continued to leave the lights on when they exited their rooms, or any of the other spaces in our home they frequented with regularity.
“Turn off the light when you leave a room” is one of our basic house rules, along with “Do not take hour-long showers” and “Avoid drinks in disposable containers” if at all possible. But where wasting water and steering clear of junk plastic seemed to click with my tribe, remembering to douse the lights remained an issue.
The Genesis Of A Bright Idea
The moment a light is turned off, it stops using energy. BC Hydro suggests turning off lights whenever a room is unoccupied, even if it’s only for a few minutes. The powers at Hydro understand that breaking bad habits can be hard, so they offer suggestions on their website like putting little reminders such as Post-it notes next to light switches to trigger the appropriate action. Riiiight. Been there; done that; didn’t find it effective.
What I did find effective is something that might turn off a few readers because it takes the responsibility for the crime out of the hands of the perpetrators. The solution came to me one morning when I was turning off the lights in their bedrooms for the zillionth time and thought what if they didn’t need to remember to do it; what if the lights turned off automatically?
So here’s what I did. I purchased 30- and 60-minute countdown timers (Decora Plus electronic timer switches by Leviton are $36 to $39 each at the Home Depot) and had an electrician remove the old on-off models and replace them with timer versions in my children’s bedrooms and in the bathroom they share.
There were a few complaints at first, and some of their friends thought it was pretty funny, but once everyone got with the program, there was no more wasting energy—and I didn’t have to nag ever again, about that anyway. (Oh yes, and my worry that if I adopted this system my kids would never break their bad habit has not proved to be true.) —Ruth Rainey
You can see Leviton electronic timer switches at www.leviton.com