Monday, September 16, 2013

Turn the Damn Lights Off

When I was a kid my father would yell at me and my siblings for leaving lights on everywhere.  We never appreciated why he got so annoyed. "When you pay the electric bill, then you'll understand," he'd bark in frustration. As with most things, dad was right. Now I'm the ranting father, chasing my kids and complaining about finding lights on in empty rooms. I know the situation is hopeless because teenagers have a congenital defect that  renders them incapable of turning off lights.

My daughters spend an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom cleansing and face painting. The light fixture over mirror where the maintenance takes place has ten incandescent bulbs. I imagine my electric meter doing pirouettes every time they're getting ready to go out. Of course, my meter is digital now and it doesn't spin, but I remember the old ones and that's what I see in my mind's eye. Tired of being ignored, I replaced their switch with a motion sensor that kills the lights 12 seconds after all activity ceases. Unfortunately, the device is not sensitive enough to detect the slow motion process of applying eyeliner and the girls frequently find themselves stranded in dark before their work is complete. To prevent the recurring blackouts, they overrode the motion sensor. I countered by covering the override button with tape. That proved to be about as effective as the Maginot Line.

I eventually decided that it wasn't worth destroying my relationship with my daughters over a physical disability they couldn't control. Instead, every time I found the bathroom light on I removed one of the ten bulbs and replaced it with one that burned out. They were down to four working bulbs before they realized they weren't going blind.

Nearly every other light fixture in the house has been replaced with compact fluorescent or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Only our bathrooms still need to be retrofitted with energy efficient lighting. Those three rooms, the smallest spaces in the house, have a total of 36 incandescent light bulbs, producing 2,160 watts of flying photons that make my blood pressure spike every time somebody takes a piss with the lights on.

This madness is going to end. Our new solar power system should be converting sunlight to electrons by January, and I have no intention of wasting clean energy to illuminate what routinely happens in a bathroom. I'm replacing those Hollywood lights with smaller fixtures equipped with LED bulbs. Now my daughters will have to do something else to aggravate me, which they undoubtedly will.
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15 comments:

  1. I'm with you on this one. With my daughter, it's not only lights she leaves on but her hair-straighteners as well, which I suspect guzzles electricity (and is also a fire risk).

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    1. I especially like when they leave the plugged-in hair-straighteners in the skink.

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  2. Don't worry, I'm sure they'll come up with something else to crank the electricity bill up.

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    1. Like drying clothes with a hairdryer?

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  3. ROFLOL...same fight at my house...however I will remove Ronald's right hand if he changes the fixture in the bathroom to one of those that I can barely see by! I realize they energy gooroos are getting better at making the 'energy efficient' lights brighter but they are not there yet! LOL..

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    1. I'll have to cough up the money for LED bulbs for our bathroom or Kellie will kill me.

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  4. Hahahaha. Speaking as a former teenage girl, I can guarantee they'll find something else to irritate you with...

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    1. They have many backup methods available, some are already in use.

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  5. I just love your reference to the ineffectiveness of the Maginot Line. It brought me right back to The Bluest Eye - and it's a reference few people would get because 1) they don't know what The Maginot Line is and 2) that means they didn't see the character as a hopeless helper in the novel.

    More to the point of your post: I'm in full support of changing up the bulbs! But I don't wear eyeliner.

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    1. My nickname should be Mr. Maginot - I'm defenseless against my daughters.

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    2. Hilarious. I love your crotchety side.

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  6. haha! you're a funny dad. but with teenage girls you never win. ;)

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    1. My youngest daughter, now 16, likes to remind me that to start an argument with a woman is to lose an argument.

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  7. I feel your pain. My boys (especially the 13yo) are guilty of this as well. He just gets up and leaves the room with the tv still blaring. Leaves his room with all the lights on. How hard is it to just flip a switch or press a button, I ask you?
    omg - I've become my mother. ;)

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  8. I love it when you go all techie since I'm a geek that way too. I have two boys (well, three if you count my husband, who is not worried a bit about electricity, maybe because he never sees the bills bc I pay them) and I have to run around turning out the lights ALL the time. Drives me nuts! Dogs are better because they can't turn the lights on in the first place.

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