General Question

YARNLADY's avatar

Is it really worth trying to get family members to turn off the lights when they leave a room?

Asked by YARNLADY (45784points) July 23rd, 2012

This is a constant issue with me, and I don’t think it’s my job to follow them around and turn off the lights. How much does it cost for me to just leave the lights on?

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21 Answers

Sunny2's avatar

I have no idea if it saves any money, but my dad sure drilled it into me. I can’t leave lights on behind me unless I’m coming right back to that room. I don’t think I’d be able to test it to find out if it saved me money, because I would not feel comfortable leaving lights on on purpose. I still hear my dad’s indignant voice.

gailcalled's avatar

Do they pay their share of the electric bill? I certainly hope so if they are cavalier about turning off the lights. It’s not rocket science. And it’s not just the cost. The grid has its limitations and should be treated tenderly.

wundayatta's avatar

I was just thinking about this today at work. Recently, they went around my building and put signs on all the light switches urging people to turn off the lights when not in the room. Today, I found someone was actually turning off the lights in the men’s room. It was very annoying, and I wondered how much it saves.

I think that if millions of people turn off lights, it can make a difference, but it’s not something that is noticeable on a small scale, such as in your house. No one will notice a penny or two per month.

It’s not a battle I fight at home with my kids. I don’t even bother to mention it. If you can fight this battle, then the more power to you. I don’t have the energy for it, pun not intended.

Buttonstc's avatar

I guess it depends upon which family members :) for a husband, I’d say no. Ann Landers had a pretty realistic take on this. Even tho the original Q was about hubby dropping clothes on the floor.

She said that some people are droppers and others are picker-up types. If his parents weren’t able to make a picker upper put of him, it’s highly unlikely you’ll succeed. Same principle with the lights.

However, if it’s kids or mooching relatives, that’s a different story.

But the most likely answer is “no” if it means constant nagging. That gets draining for you and unpleasant all around.

But as a last ditch attempt you could try having a sit down with them and ask them point blank what they would do if they were in your shoes. See what their attitudes are about it. Try to get them to tell you what might motivate them to change.

Or buy compact flourescents which may have a higher initial cost, but use FAR LESS electricity.

Buttonstc's avatar


Why was it so annoying that someone else was turning off the mens room lights? Surely the light switch is right next to the door when you enter, so how much exertion could it possibly take to flip a switch?

If he wasn’t coming around nagging you to do the same, what’s so annoying? If it’s important enough to him to make the effort, so what? You’re still free to do as you please. I honestly don’t get what you find so annoying ?

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t like the room being dark when I go in it. It’s creepy. Feels unsafe.

It doesn’t help that there have been a number of assaults in the bathrooms over the years and more than one woman was raped. Most likely, rapists won’t be in the guy’s bathroom, but someone who wants to rob you could be.

DrBill's avatar

I can tell you I had two daughters who were notorious for leaving lights on, when they both moved out my electric bill dropped 90–100 dollars a month.

they now live in a house ⅓ the size of mine and their electric bill is higher than mine.

So I believe it is worth it.

Buttonstc's avatar

Well, I wouldn’t enter a dark room until I had flipped the light switch anyway.

But, just as well I don’t work at your company. It’s just a firmly engrained habit with me. And if anyone is bothered by it, they’re free to turn it back on after I’ve left :) I won’t mind.

ETpro's avatar

I’ve given up. It’s my appointed lot in like—and since my other appointed lot is paying the utility bills, I willingly do it.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Several companies make light fixtures with occupancy sensors. They may be something worth looking into if you have lots of wasted energy. They can pay for themselves in a few months time.

Berserker's avatar

It’s always been a habit of mine to turn off the lights when I’m done in a room, or whenever I need to murder someone. But honestly, I don’t have any idea at all how much one saves on the bills this way. I mean my air conditioner and my PC are on constantly, and I can’t say I’ve noticed any significant jump in the bills. Same for heating during the Winter. Seriously.
But then, I don’t see the point of leaving the lights on if they’re not needed. I mean, most people turn off the TV after they’re done watching, right?
Probably doesn’t save all that much money though. (living in a house may have a big difference though, I live in an apartment, so…)

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Yes sweet @YARNLADY, keep hammering it into them and soon they will get into the habit.
It’s worth it.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Do you want an engineering answer or an emotional one? Since I am an engineer I’ll give you the former.

the answer It depends on the price of electricity where you live, if you have A/C, the temperature outside, and your heating system.
For example, if you live in the NE, heat with oil or LPG, and it is the winter, it is actually less expensive to leave the lights on than turn them off! On a per BTU level, electricity is cheaper than oil or LPG. Every watt second you spend on electric lights offsets the cost of heating your home. You want to yell at the kids to leave the lights on! If you heat with natural gas or wood, turn the lights off. NG and wood are much cheaper than electricity .

If on the other hand you live in a warm climate, it is the summer and the A/C is running, you should turn the lights off. Let’s say electricity costs $0.12 cents per kWhr where you live. (Check your bill.) For every kWhr you spend on lighting you spend a minimum of 1.5 that additionally for air conditioning to cool it off. Let’s call it $0.30 cents per kWhr. If a 100 watt bulb is left on for 24 hours, that will be 100×24 /1000 = 2.4 kWhr. at $0.30 per kWhr = $0.72 If you are not running the a/c it will cost you $0.29 for 24 hours of a 100 watt bulb. Multiply that by 30 and you get $8.64 per month if the a/c is not running or $21.60 if the a/c is working.
How much is the arguing worth?

Kardamom's avatar

If you do come up with a solution, please tell me so I can try it to get people to wipe up jelly and peanut butter and toast crumbs from the kitchen counter.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Buttonstc The worst offender is the bill payer himself. He leaves light on through the house. The moochers (adult grandsons) are very good about turning them off. Their mother taught them by being very strict.
@Kardamom Don’t you have a cat?

My doctor has ordered me to walk a mile (3,000 steps) every day. Hubby has informed me that walking around turning off lights is for my own health.

rojo's avatar

You can buy motion activated switches now for a fairly reasonable price. They will automatically activate when someone walks into a room and will turn the lights back off after a certain amount of time with no motion detected. They have (at least the better ones) adjustable settings that will allow for personal preference. A cheap option that will promote peace and harmony in the family.

Kardamom's avatar

@YARNLADY Yes, I do have a cat, but he’s older and can’t get up on the jelly-coated counters LOL

Buttonstc's avatar


If his parents didn’t train the habit into him of turning out lights, it’s pretty unlikely he is going to change at this stage. And he does sort of hold the trump card since he’s the bill payer.

You’re probably much better off opting for the motion sensor switches previously mentioned.

(and at least he has a sense of humor about it all with his little crack about helping you with your exercise. Cute :)

I’m also a confirmed light turner offer so I get what you’re saying. But if you and he are of similar age, I just don’t see it being realistic to change such a well ingrained habit (or rather lack of it)

YARNLADY's avatar

@Buttonstc Yes, I love the idea of the light sensors. We did replace all the lights in our house with the more efficient bulbs.

mattbrowne's avatar

For the new LED-based bulbs, absolutely. For the old compact fluorescent lamps it doesn’t make sense for periods shorter than half an hour.

It’s not just about saving money. It’s about saving our atmosphere.

Pandora's avatar

Yes and no. Yes because everyone should be mindful of waste and what it mean to our planet in the long run and also what it means financially. Unless you have really deep pockets with endless flow of money, they shouldn’t treat electricity like it is endlessly going to be supplied for free. As for the no. If you can afford it, is it worth the nagging to people who are indifferent. Only you can decide what is worth the trouble.
I kept reminding my daughter that she was killing a small forest and all the little animals in it because she liked to waste energy and take long showers. I did it during her save the world campaign and now she has become frugal with energy. It seemed to help. It doesn’t bother me so much during the night as much as when people leave lights on during the day, when they can just open the shades or pull the curtains aside. Also really long showers. My husband use to enjoy really long showers as well till I started telling him that somewhere out in the world, a river is drying up and fish are just dying. He didn’t believe it but he got the point that he was wasting water and increasing our water bill. Another favorite is why, don’t we just grill our steaks with cash while we are at it since we came into so much money we can afford to burn it or flush it.

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