Meet the Guinea Pigs, Part One

Meet the Guinea Pigs, Part One

Raising children often seems like a 24/7 press conference, with any topic possible yet no one topic predictable.  So of course when I informed the family over dinner that we had won the “NEMA Light Bulb Sweepstakes”, the first question was naturally “What’s a sweepstake?”


Patiently, I recounted how Evan Gaddis had invited me into his office for something other than bad news, pointing to some boxes of CFL light bulbs on the floor.  From the many volunteers on staff, I am one of two chosen to equip our home with the bulbs, provided gratis by member companies, in return for making my before and (presumably lower) after electric bills public.


Now, in the interest of full disclosure, ours is not going to be a complete Out-of-the-Dark-Ages story.  We have already begun down the path to Enlightenment somewhat, in recent months starting to replace expired old-style light bulbs — the general public term I’ll use here, rather than the industry-insiders’ preferred word “lamps” — with CFLs.  We probably are not large consumers relative to other households, not keeping all lights on all the time, watching little television (aside from some videos and DVDs), etc.  (I’m somewhat stingy by dint, hardly having forgotten my experience as a Foreign Service Officer in Honduras in the 1990s, when I had to get by for a while on very little juice during pronounced energy rationing.)  And to date we haven’t seen any marked reductions in our electric bills – plus, one of our installed CFLs already did go out a few weeks ago.  Besides, the biggest month-to-month variable in determining our electric bill may in fact be air-conditioning usage, as any summer visitor to our nation’s capital might confirm.) 


In other words, while I know enough about the new bulbs to already be a believer, in a sense we as a household still need to be convinced.  If we are already somewhat energy conscious can nevertheless score some significant savings, then these new bulbs must truly be for real.


Finally, we actually do have a guinea pig.  She (in her kitchen cage) and I (usually as the first human up) have what amounts to a “sunrise simulation” routine, with me flipping the switches for breakfast, heading out to load the car as well get the paper, and returning to a brightening scene and pleasantly squealing swine.  Are things about to become even better?


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