OK, I suppose today is sort of an electricity fast, within limits: my goal is to avoid turning on a light unless I find it absolutely necessary, and when I find a light that it is on, turn it off.
I was sitting in my bedroom the other day reading in the early evening. I had my door closed, and by the time I had left the bedroom, it had started to get dark. No one else had been upstairs, and all of the lights were off. I could find my way down the hall and down the stairs without any problem (there are large, west-facing windows upstairs), but I noted to myself how unusual it was do so something so ordinary–namely walk down a hall lit only by the evening light coming in the window. Usually there are lights blazing everywhere in our house, often quite literally in every room. In contrast, I found it quite pleasant–peaceful, really–to have just the ambient light from outside illuminating the hallway as I made my way back downstairs.
So today, I am trying to keep the lights off whenever I can. More accurately, as with the fasting experiment, I am trying to become more aware of when I am turning on a light, and why.
And just like with fasting, as the day wore on I caught myself more than once in the process of flicking on a light switch without even noticing it….
It’s not really conservation I’m after today–after all, I’m burning plenty of kilowatts right this minute as I tap at my keyboard and stare at my computer screen. Rather: I’m trying to nurture a growing awareness of how and when I’m consuming electricity (or more simply, electric light)–and to consume energy in a way driven more by necessity or intention, rather than unconscious habit.
And I discovered an additional benefit to this experiment as well–I became aware of just how much natural light comes into my house every day, pretty much in every room (even our basement). I found my eyes turning toward windows as I moved through the house, and I discovered myself consciously seeking out those places where I could read or type, or just simply sit in the light of the day.
A simple act, no doubt, and one that obviously became more challenging as the day wore on. So no, I’m not writing this blog by candlelight, and I don’t intend to stumble through the house in pitch dark. But as I use the lights that are burning right now at 10 o’oclock at night, I’m a little more aware of where and when I really need the benefits of electric lights…and where I can see and do all that I need to with the natural light that is all around me.