Here's the Scoop: September 17, 2008

A real turnoff
It’s no secret that I’m cheap. Wait, that’s not entirely true. When it comes to investing in “quality products,” I am usually willing to spend the extra dollars to prevent hassles down the line. So, I guess it’s more accurate to say that I “save where I can.” One of those areas is in use of devices powered by electricity. All of our appliances are of the Energy Star variety (which leads to a pet peeve by me – why aren’t all appliances required to meet these energy-saving specs?). Making this investment keeps a bit of money from going to the utility bill.
I do, however, have a little problem with the energy-saving light bulbs that are on the market. I don’t like the harsh light they throw off. Plus, unless I’m mistaken (good chance there), I’m not sure if these compact fluorescents come in a dimmable form.
Being quite sensitive to light, I dim every bulb I see, every chance I get. This is not always a hit with those who share a dwelling with me. Still, I dim the lights because they bother my eyes, plus it saves money.
The anti-light thing is something I’ve done for years. I realize that lights are a pretty small portion of one’s electric bills, but it’s not like I go around turning off the refrigerator whenever it’s not being used! But I would if I could figure out how to keep the ice cream from melting.

Stop the power
The good news is that I have discovered other equipment that can be turned off when not in use. You’ve probably all seen the dire news reports about “electrical vampires” such as the newfangled TV sets. Apparently, while these devices patiently wait until their owners tune into the next episode of “The Daily Show,” they have nothing better to do but to suck huge amounts of energy to stay on full alert anticipating their owners’ TV watching demands.
After hearing about this, every time I saw the TV’s little red eye glowing at me, it sent visions of skyrocketing NYSEG bills dancing in my head. So, I started unplugging the set when it wasn’t in use. It was a very liberating feeling, kind of like taking off one’s shoes after a long day on your feet.
I wanted more.
The coffee pot was next. Sure, the coffeemaker now makes an annoying little series of beeps when turned on again, but at least it’s not caffeinating the power bill 24 hours a day.
Having witnessed this from across the room, I’m betting the toaster realized its days of nonstop power hogging (more little red lights) were over and knew that it had “butter” get ready to have its plug yanked.
My wife, of course, thinks I’m a bit obsessive about all this. And I am. I’m pleased to report, though, that consistently lower electric bills have softened the critical blows.
Still, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t occasional static over my over-the-top behavior. Just the other day my wife complimented my money-saving ways. I think.
“You’re really saving us quite a bit of money,” she told me.
Then, unfortunately, she added, “But if you’re so interested in saving power, why do you leave the radio on for the cat when we go to work?”
This was one of those questions that has no easy answer.
“Well, it’s either because I think the cat is lonely when we’re not around or the fact that, I swear the kitty meowed to me that she liked the NPR station because it stands for Napping and Purring.”
Even for a money-saving guy like myself, it’s hard to argue with a cat’s logic.