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Energy Efficiency Lessons from the Past; What’s Old is New Again

Posted on Wed, Nov 16, 2011

There are some things in life that you just don’t forget.  The energy crisis of the 1970‘s is one such event for this Generation X’er.  Although I’m hazy on the images of long lines at the gas station on the nightly news, I have much clearer memories of Lester Lightbulb

Lester LightbulbYes, for those of you born with an umbilical cord attached to a modem, the 70’s and early 80’s had the best Public Service Announcements including Lester Lightbulb, Smokey the Bear and McGruff the Crime Dog.  (Smokey and McGruff are nostalgic fodder for a future blog....)

Lester Lightbulb was part of a national campaign to encourage us school kids, and many parents I suspect too, to turn out the lights when not in use.  How simple a concept is that?  Talk about the early days of reduce, reuse, and recycle!  And in the grand scheme of things, the campaign was pretty successful.  It struck a chord, at least in my home. 

My father took energy conservation very seriously.  As a former Massachusetts National Guardsman, he was very disciplined and in no time had the entire family trained to shut off all unused lights.  He was also a stickler for keeping the heat turned down below 68 degrees.  Welcome to winter in New England!  Dad’s answer to the arctic chill in the house was to put on a sweater or to get under a blanket.  It’s a habit that I enjoy, and continue, to this day.  Thank you, dad!

It’s a funny thing.  Simple habits like turning off lights (even CFLs or LEDs) and keeping the thermostat below 68 degrees (maybe with the help of a programmable thermostat) can have a really large impact on energy conservation.  Not only are there the obvious economic benefits of keeping energy use down, your pocket book for one, but there are also significant environmental benefits as well.  According to powerscorecard.org, by lowering the thermostat by 2 degrees in the winter, 420 lbs of CO2 per year per home are saved.  That’s a really big deal!! 

As we find ourselves in another economic downturn, we can look to the past for simple and smart, FREE cost-saving, energy efficiency strategies.  These are just a couple that this Gen X’er and her mom continue to practice.  What are some of yours?

Lauren Small

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