Confessions of an energy-abuser

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Mark Lazane
  • First Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Ladies and gentlemen, I have a confession to make. 

I was an energy consum-aholic. 

I left lights on wherever I went, like some type of strange electrically-charged crumb trail to mark my path out of a building in case of an emergency. 

I would routinely leave the television on for the entire day, regardless of whether or not I was actually at home. I figured that if the walls could talk in my absence, they better be speaking of ESPN. 

I don't feel that it was my fault entirely. Energy consum-aholism was a hereditary condition in my family, passed down from both my parents. 

My mom is very healthy. However, when the sun goes down she succumbs to a strange condition that was, until now, undiagnosed and untreatable. Her unique condition routinely impairs her vision to the extent that she begins to think no one in can see. The condition often forces her to scramble through the house, turning on lights and ensuring all family members had adequate light to perform whatever duties they were doing. My father often tells my mom she will be buried with a lamp in her casket, switched on, should she ever need to find her way. 

Speaking of my father, he also suffers from the paycheck-debilitating condition of energy consum-aholism. Growing up, I could always figure out which parent was the last one to leave the house. If the television was turned on (and all the way up), but no lights were on, I knew my father left the house last. If there were multiple lights on, but no television on, then my mother left last. 

Oftentimes, I could drive down my street and hear the television playing and look up into the immense whitespace that was our glowing house and know with a surety that my parents left together. 

Sadly, this tragic condition did not stagnate itself in my parent's generation. My parents unknowingly and unwillingly passed it down to their descendants. 

My parents had six wonderful children. More specifically, they had five beautiful daughters and me. All the females in the family are affected by this unique disease as well. Their condition would often flare up on Sunday mornings before church, when as the only son, I would routinely have to traverse my way into the bright California sunshine to flip the breaker and restore power to one of the bathrooms. And not just once, mind you. Sometimes repeated trips were needed to ensure every sister looked prim and proper for the day. 

Trust me when I tell you there was no breaker box in my town that could support the full strain of five hair dryers and five curling irons, every light switch stuck in the "on" position and the TV blaring throughout the neighborhood. Add the world's largest refrigerator, which held the weekly ration of 12 gallons of milk, and my home was a nightmare for the electrical grid in the area. We were a living, breathing brownout. 

Now that I've explained a little about my past, you can probably deduce that my energy-saving skills were somewhat underdeveloped upon entering into adulthood. As sick as it makes me feel now, I was afflicted. 

Fast forward a few years. I married an intelligent and beautiful woman who was raised quite contrary to my upbringing. She has preached incessantly that lights will be turned off, the television needs to be watched to be on and all nonessential electrical devices should be turned off. If she could unplug the fridge for long periods of time, I would have warm eggs straight from the ice box every morning. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I battled against "the man" or "woman" for quite a while. I tried to be tough. I tried to be defiant towards my wife's energy-saving actions. And, as you can guess, I fell flat on my face. 

However (insert your drum roll here), in true Hollywood success story fashion, I have changed (sound the turtle doves releasing into the atmosphere and angels singing Hallelujuah!). In the words of Ace Ventura, "I have exorcised the demons." 

What caused this change, you might ask? A few things, but the main cause for the change was actually seeing my electric bill. For all the lights I enjoyed leaving on, I enjoy even more being able to purchase nice things, such as a new pair of underwear, or food for my son. 

Did you know they actually charge you for the amount of electricity you use in your own home? My parents never told me that. 

I now do a great job with turning off lights when I am not using them. I don't prepare my lunch in the morning by the light of an opened fridge. I don't even watch television, so it isn't on when I leave the house. The thermostat in my home is set to a constant temperature instead of fluctuating wildly and causing nearly a 24/7 hum to settle over my house. 

And the best part? 

I don't have to pay an astronomical electric bill. Instead of getting a bill each month that resembles the Yankees payroll, I now receive one that looks more like the Marlins. I am able to dig down and actually take my wife out to eat once in a while, and brothers and sisters, Taco Bell has never tasted so good. 

My recovery is progressing well, and from attending a staff meeting recently, I see it could not have come at a better time. 

Tracy Dewar, revealed that AFSOC has also seen an increased need to cut down its energy consumption. To promote this effort, they are offering a reward of at least $100,000 in quality of life funds to the AFSOC base that best cuts its energy consumption. 

This combines two things I now hold dear: energy conservation and cold, hard cash.
If I can do it, anyone can. My long and intimate history with energy waste made it very difficult to overcome. However, if I found a way, we can all find a way.
I am here for you. Ms. Dewar is here for you. Those in senior leadership who pay and review the bills are definitely here for you. 

We can do this together, one LED light bulb or unused piece of equipment at a time. Let's make an honest and concerted effort to cut our energy use, and we can get some coin back at the same time. You never know, the money you save on energy just might get your office something it needs. It may not. Regardless, how will we know unless we try? 

Let's give it a concerted effort to cut our energy use down as much as we can. It starts with your office. Turn your monitor off when not in use. Turn off the light in the hallway when no one is walking in it. The storage closet doesn't need to have a light on at all times. Neither does the break room or snack bar. It isn't a huge back-breaking project that we have to orchestrate in order to be successful. It is a series of little steps that will yield great results. 

Let's go out and attempt to get the money while it is offered. We all have to work here. We might as well get some quality of life funds to improve our stay. Are you all with me? 

Wow. I feel a lot better now that I have verbalized my thoughts. 

Ladies and gentlemen, my confession is complete. I am proud to say I'm a recovering energy wasting-aholic.