Mom was right. Her admonition to “Turn out the lights when you leave the room!” is as valid today as it was a generation ago. And yet many co-op and condo buildings, while energy-conscious in so many ways, seem to feel it’s better to just leave the lights on—sometimes, 24/7.
Why? Well, the argument goes, it takes more energy, or produces more wear and tear, to start them up again than it does to just leave them burning.
And then there's the fashionable trend of using bamboo or cork for flooring, rather than traditional hardwoods, and replacing old-school incandescent light bulbs with new-and-improved models.
But do all these "greening" measures really do as much good as we like to think they do? Are buildings that encourage (or even mandate) that owners install low-flow toilets and spirally-shaped light bulbs really saving themselves money? The answer isn't always clear-cut, say some experts.
On, or Off?
“It’s a popular myth that turning bulbs on and off will make them die faster,” says Nancy Hazard of Greenfield, Massachusetts, former director of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) and a volunteer with Greening Greenfield.