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How to get people to leave the lights on

My power company is running ads again using “Wattssmart” as a “town” where all the kids turn the lights off when they leave a room, power down/use power strips with electronic devices (thus missing recording any programs on their DVR), and eat their veggies, do their homework, use CFL and LED lights, win awards for their energy conservation.  It’s all very heartwarming.  Except…..

If the kids in real world live this way, the revenue stream to the power company decreases.  The power company cannot afford to keep the lines maintained and read the meters.  So the power company goes to the regulating body and demands an increase in rates.  People protest so the power company asks for an increase in the monthly fees on the bill and not on the electricity.  The regulatory committee says okay and all the people who conserved now see an increase in their bills.   “All that money they would save” is not really ever going to happen.

One supposes that if you really want people to conserve, you should be honest and tell them conservation will not save them money.  Maybe you can convince them to set the thermostat at 68 degrees to save the planet from global warming while there’s six feet of snow outside.  Maybe. Probably not.  So please do not complain that people don’t conserve and don’t care and don’t believe or support energy conservation.  Energy conservation and climate change are not designed to reward people for the right behaviour.  If you believe they are, perhaps you don’t understand what “reward” means.


One comment on “How to get people to leave the lights on

  1. […] – Why not wind power – How to get people to leave the lights on – If people are persuaded to reduce energy consumption through turning off the lights, buying […]

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Wandering Words


“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert”. - J Robert Oppenheimer.

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