Reflecting on Habits: Turning off the Light

According to the Wall Street Journal, there are roughly 2 billion lightbulbs in the world that are all burning together at any given time. As you read this point, it may seem that keeping one extra light on when you’re away from home is a ridiculously small contribution to the global effort to conserve energy. Yet if everyone makes an effort to live just a little more sustainably, it would be significantly easier to see the effects of many small contributions.

And, according to research completed by author C. M. Warner, it is evident that the economic benefits of turning off electronics in a home environment are substantial. It is also clearly articulated that turning off lights in college environments can be a successfully induced habit with just a bit of group discussion. Warner’s research finds that “Lights left on in empty classrooms can waste considerable electricity and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.” Yet as the research team conducted interviews prior to and after to discussing the benefits of turning off lights in college buildings, they found that students were more likely to turn off the lights after the discussion (Warner, 2012).

Taking the time to make myself fully conscious of what I do with my electronics when I am done using them at college has brought upon a new awareness of the actions I take and why I take them. It is clear that on some days, when I’m in a rush, it’s quite easy to run out the door without flipping off the light switch. Yet I have begun to remind myself that flipping that switch would only cost me a fraction of a second, and might save me a part of the environmental impact of my carbon footprint.

Since I have been tracking my habits relating to my use of electricity, I notice that there are a few items I use every day that are plugged into outlets. But it’s a very short list, consisting of my computer, phone, and desk lamp. Nearly every day, I notice that my laptop remains plugged into the wall even when it’s off and fully charged. Additionally, I turn on my dorm room light each afternoon, when I could easily rely on the natural sunlight coming through my window. These actions are a result of bad old habits that have become second nature. Yet these actions seem ridiculously unnecessary, and they are also (or should be) ridiculously easy to change.

So, everyone. Keep calm, and turn off the lights!


Werner, C. M., Cook, S., Colby, J., & Lim, H. (2012). ‘Lights out’ in university classrooms: Brief group discussion can change behavior. Journal Of Environmental Psychology32(4), 418-426. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2012.07.001

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *