Remember those commercials from the 1980s for Motel 6, with Tom Bodett saying "We'll leave the light on for you"? While a catchy advertising tool for Motel 6, it is not a sound policy for frugal homes. Something I came to realize this past winter.
Around the holidays I noticed that only one of the six light bulbs in our front light was working. At the hardware store I picked up two packs, brought them home, and asked my husband to install them. An electrical engineer and die-hard efficiency king, he quickly noted that six lights at 40 watts each totaled 240 watts, or, the equivalent of every light being on in our house, both floors.
Inside we use all compact florescent or LED bulbs, and it cuts down on the energy use. This point was underscored when my math brain of husband ran that simple calculation. And ever since I have made a point to keep the light off as much as possible. When the sitter leaves and it is dark, I turn it on until she drives away. If my husband or I go for an evening run or walk, it stays off because we have a motion sensor light at the garage that will come on for about five minutes when we leave and return. Once that porch light is on, there is the risk we'll forget about it and it will be on for a day or more (this has happened too often). So I do my best to keep it off.
Saving energy, saving money, saving resources....that's life in our frugal home. And the next time we need new outdoor lights, I'll be looking for an energy efficient brand.